Yes, even ski tourers can benefit from chairlifts
In my last post, I discussed the need for resistance training. Despite the pleasant sensation of skiing, the reality is that gravity and your body weight combine to put tremendous force on your muscles, tendons, cartilage, and bones. So a training program that includes both power and endurance is critical to a skier’s general well-being in the short and long term. Many skiers have a list of friends who were diehards, but after a youthful life in the sport find themselves changing ski adventures for golf adventures. After a decades of ski mountaineering, I can attest that this notion runs even deeper for people who have spent a lifetime climbing to obtain their ski turns.
As a committed in-bounds skier as well as a ski mountaineer, one trend that I’ve noticed is how the mantra “earn your turns” is frequently the basis for related problems. Too often, the hardcore skimo or backcountry enthusiasts jump to the conclusion that the only way to go is to earn or climb to obtain their skiing. Chairlifts are a perceived opportunity to forego the needed training to gain peak performance for what these folks truly love: skiing down. Bluntly, there is a feeling in the BC world that using the ski lift is for “fat” or “lazy” people that don’t have what it takes to “earn your turns.” There’s some truth to that, not that all people who ski resorts are fat or lazy, but that many people who ski have no interest in the backcountry or earning turns. And that’s ok in my mind. Different strokes for different folks.
But, something is lost in this almost unwritten battle: the missed opportunity for diehard backcountry skiers to take advantage of a lift to enhance their overall ability to “access the goods”, and — more importantly — to make every hard earned turn even more satisfying. Lift-service skiing is not only enjoyable, but critical for success in skimo, and climbing and skiing the backcountry and high peaks. The farther and higher you plan to go in the backcountry, the more important the need for lift-service skiing becomes.