Tech Tip: Steep Skinning and Switchbacks

Bumped from an older post…

Skinning up steep switchbacks can be a frustrating experience, and can be really energy-intensive without using good technique. First, let’s look at how most people do it (thanks for the demonstration):


The “baby steps” technique has a few problems. For one, there are lots and lots of steps. For another, it’s difficult to maintain balance and keep from sliding backwards in the middle of the turn when both skis are facing directly up the fall line.

A better method is to make a big turn in just a couple of steps:

This way feels awkward at first, but with practice it turns out to be much easier.

On a steep skintrack like heart attack ridge where these photos were taken, there may be roughly 50 switchbacks. Good technique may result in 5 less steps being taken per switchback, for a savings of 250 steps over the course of the climb. There is a pretty substantial energy savings there, one which can be used for the skiing :)

Frank Konsella

Frank loves snow more than anything... except his wife.  He ensures his food is digested properly by chewing it 32 times before swallowing.He is a full-time real estate agent serving Crested Butte and Gunnison and would be honored to send you his monthly newsletter.

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