I have downhill skied weekly (every winter) since I was a toddler until I got an injury in my teenage years…. and since prices for lift tickets kept going up, it just became a once a year thing. Entering the endurance sports world / life outside of the 4-wheel motorized prison world, my perception has changed. It is a 3-hour trip one-way to our closest slopes (you always hit LA / Vegas traffic). Then when you get there, $60-80 for a one-day lift ticket… where you maybe get 5 runs in due to long lift lines. Mind you, my a$$ hurts sitting in that chair… I just sat for 3 hours, and need to sit for a 15 minute ride, to go down 2 minutes, and sit another 3 hours back!? Hey this sounds like a desk job scenario.
No more I said… when one day I saw a couple going up the mountain slope, who told me about alpine touring. It is basically cross country skiing up the mountain, then downhill skiing on the way down. Never do you need to pay for a sit (err I mean lift) ticket again! The mountains here allow this, because the climb up is so tiring you will want to buy some beverages or food at the bottom. Here is a video explaining more:
It was my first time, and my challenge wasn’t just to do one peak and go home, but since they were all near – big bear, snow summit, and snow valley all in one day. Being a newbie, mistakes were bound.
1) Waxed my skis like for downhill alpine style: Every time I hit ice or steep parts, sent me going backwards to start over again. Next time I need skins, straps that you put under the ski for grip, so its more like snow shoeing.
2) Not enough water. This is a taxing workout, and I became dehydrated quick having 1L of water, that I started eating snow. It was also unusually warm (60*) that I was drenched in sweat.
3) Poles were too short… alpine downhill poles are perfect for making turns, but going up hill need to be long like cross country poles. My forearms got one hard workout.
Ok so my first time, I was only able to hit mid peaks since there beginner trials turned to more steep advanced ones quickly. I did have a reward for myself at each top, some quest bars.
It took 1 hour to go up each slope of about 1.5+ miles… then 2 minutes to go back down! When I hit the third mountain my technique was on point and I was hitting the runners high doing this. Welcome to my new sport… now if I can convince Bessy to change her bindings and join me. 🙂
As a triathlete you always seek benefits of a sport, in particular cross country skiers have the best VO2 maxes in the world. So this was perfect for upping my fitness and preventing burn out.