Ski Touring

If you've given any thought to ski touring, aka cross-country skiing, here is a little info on the equipment and training you'll need and what it might cost.


| January/February 1980



Ski Touring

A ski touring MOTHER EARTH NEWS staffer and two friends break trail at the foot of New Hampshires's Mt. Washington. INSET 1: Stopping by the woods on a snowy day to rewax. INSET 2: The basic cross-country stride is as easy as walking.


PHOTO: JEFF COVEN/SILVA SKI COMPANY

Did you ever see otters sliding on the snow ... hear the firecracker snaps as frozen trees begin to thaw ... follow the tracks of deer and fox and read the tales they tell ... or know the forest's awesome silence in a heavy snowfall? No ... but you'd like to? Well, why not put on a pair of cross-country skis and explore the winter woods?

Whether you call it Nordic skiing, x-c, cross-country, or ski-touring . . . sliding on the snow has been a popular sport for centuries (there's even a 4,000-year-old cave drawing showing a person on skis!). Alpine schussing (the downhill variety of skiing) put cross-country in the shadows from the 1930's to the 60's, but—faced with creeping trendy-ism, high prices, and l-o-n-g lift lines—many folks have recently rediscovered the low-key, low-cost joys of ski-touring. Such converts soon recognized that cross-country skiing is a superb sport for conditioning the body, too ... and better yet—unlike its downhill "cousin"—ski touring can be enjoyed without dozens of lessons and years of practice! In fact, most people have a wonderful time on their first attempt at cross-country skiing ... and by their third tour, they're regular old-timers!

How To

Although you could learn to ski cross-country on your own, it's not a bad idea to start off with a lesson from a professional. Group instructions at Nordic ski centers will usually cost about $8.00 for an hour-and-a-half class ... and you can expect to learn all the basic skiing, turning, and stopping techniques in that brief period. You might want to join another class for your second time out if you feel that the extra training is necessary, but most folks like to get one lesson's worth of background and then practice what they've learned on their own. Later, when you're a pretty fair intermediate skier, it may be a good idea to get together a group and contract for a lesson in more advanced methods (this would also be a fine time to have your technique analyzed and any faults corrected).

Most ski areas offer a beginner's plan consisting of a group lesson plus a day's equipment rental, and such a "package deal" is by far the best way to start out in ski touring. Don't make an investment in equipment before you know whether you're going to enjoy skiing enough to justify the purchase! As a matter of fact, it's a good idea to rent equipment several times before you finally decide to buy. Try to lease different types of skis on each occasion, so you'll be able to make an informed choice when it's time to ...

Equip Yourself

Even though cross-country skiing—like most sports—was once quite uncomplicated, there's now a bewildering variety of equipment available . . . including close to two hundred different brands of skis alone! What you'll eventually buy will be determined in large part by the kind of skiing you intend to do: Do you want to race ... ski on prepared tracks only... both ski on tracks and break trails ... or ski-mountaineer and really get away from it all?

Each branch of the sport has its own gear: Racing employs fragile, very lightweight, and highly demanding skis . . . slightly sturdier "boards" are used for recreational skiing on prepared tracks ... the general all-purpose light touring runner is fine for tracks and limited bushwhacking ... and the heavier, wide, metal-edged touring skis are the choice for mountaineering. (However, most folks find that light touring skis are best for all but the very advanced or specialized skier.)





mother earth news fair

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Oct. 21-22, 2017
Topeka, KS.

More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, inspirational keynotes, and great food!

LEARN MORE