Francovich: Uphill skiing well worth the sweat
Sun., Feb. 5, 2023
On a recent Sunday while skiing uphill at Mount Spokane, I saw roughly 10 other uphill skiers, all toiling against gravity.
We were taking advantage of Mt. Spokane’s dedicated uphill ski routes. As others waited in line for the mountain’s lifts to open, we took the slower and harder route up. It was a brilliant bluebird day, Spokane hidden from view by a thick layer of clouds, but the rest of the world in sharp relief.
Uphill skiing, as it’s called, is just what it sounds like. Users put nylon skins on the bottoms of their skis. Those skins, which are scaled, grip the snow in one direction and slide in the other. It’s an entry activity for backcountry skiing, one that allows users to practice their backcountry skills in a relatively safe area.
It’s also a great workout. Over the course of two hours I skied up nearly 3,000 vertical feet. Unlike lift-accessed skiing or boarding, uphill skiers clock way fewer downhill turns, earning – as the saying goes – their turns. And while this slower pace doesn’t lend itself to mastering carving down the mountain, the reward of reaching the top and then, blessedly, allowing gravity to do the work (mostly) can’t be overstated.
But what about the gear? Winter gear of all stripes is pricey and uphill gear is no different. Before taking the financial plunge, consider renting uphill gear from Rambleraven Gear Traders.
Mt. Spokane is the only area resort with dedicated uphill ski routes. An uphill pass costs $50. Skiers and boarders can also travel uphill outside the resort boundary. A Sno-Park pass, which costs $50, is required.
To purchase a Mt. Spokane uphill pass mtspokane.com/uphill-travel. To purchase a Sno-Park pass visit epermits.parks.wa.gov/Store/SNO/SnoChoice.aspx.
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