What Is Your Backcountry Skiing Mantra?

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | September 8, 2015      
Do these skiers have a mantra?

Do these skiers have a mantra?

What is your mantra, your chant, your maxim, your catchphrase? What goes through your head after you’re done with the ascent, strip off your climbing skins, and ski down? Do you sing to yourself? Pray? Simply repeat “left-right-left-right?”

Or, what’s your mantra on the uphill?

Me, during the descent I tend to do a running dialog with myself, based on intense observations of what’s going on around me: Is that difficult snow up ahead? Trend left here to avoid that avalanche trigger zone! Open it up. Shut ‘er down.

But when the going is easy, say while doing rhythmic linked turns in consistent powder, sometimes a song will run through my head, often something I’ve heard recently, could be nearly anything with up lyrics but I like mountain related songs. For example, I’m recently enjoying John Anderson’s “Song the Mountain Sings.” A bit of web browsing for mantras also brought me “do it for love.” I’m going to remember that one and use it.

(originally in Hinduism and Buddhism) a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation.
– A Vedic hymn.
– A statement or slogan repeated frequently.
– Words repeated audibly or inaudibly while making a ski descent after climbing under human power.

In any case, I sent out an email to a few friends to prime the pump. Readers, please leave a comment with your mantra, humorous or serious, have fun.

– “Yahoo!” G.


– “Relax, breathe, believe.” S.

– “Jimi Hendrix ‘Little Wing’.” J.

– “Move your ass and the skis will follow.” L.

– “Don’t ski faster, but at a higher rate of speed.” T.

– “Weight underside.” B.

– “Free falling, Tom petty.” D.

– “Being in the present moment.” S.

– “Every time the snow hits my chest or face I am remember I am living.” H.

– “I think about how strange that world is. Here alone at 4-5am in the pure nature, cold snow and fresh air like it has been thousands of years. And when I take a breath from that beautiful moment I look into the valley and see the lights. And then think about the madness I will dive into in less than an hour. And then I think, hopefully we will be able to keep these islands of beauty for many generations to come.” B.


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45 Responses to “What Is Your Backcountry Skiing Mantra?”

  1. Ken M September 8th, 2015 8:33 am

    When skiing on glaciers- “think light!”

  2. Frame September 8th, 2015 8:47 am

    Generally not out loud, but I’m a bit of a singer. Or if it’s a bit of a butt clencher, then I might remind myself to breath.

  3. swissiphic September 8th, 2015 10:00 am

    uphill: – ‘halve the stride arrive revived”
    – “ooohhhhh, rest steppin’ my life away, looking’ for an easier way, to get the better vieeewwww’ (sund inside the head to eddie rabbitt’s ‘drivin’ my life away’)

    downhill – black sabbath ‘neon knights’
    – john fogerty ‘the old man is down the road’
    – beethoven’s 9th ‘ode to joy’ (don’t bore us, get to the chorus)
    – depeche mode ‘enjoy the silence’

  4. Charlie Hagedorn September 8th, 2015 11:29 am

    Uphill –
    Faster, not harder.
    “everyday I’m shufflin'” – LMFAO
    When the Levee Breaks – Led Zepplin

    Downhill –
    Earthbound Child – John Butler Trio

  5. Drew Tabke September 8th, 2015 12:11 pm

    Cool post.

    I enjoy skiing lots of different sizes, shapes and types of skis. So I try to relax to the point where I let the skis do their thing with me riding along on top. So:

    “Let ’em run.”

  6. RCL1 September 8th, 2015 12:51 pm

    “The woods are lovely, dark and deep
    but I have promises to keep
    and miles to go before I sleep
    and miles to go before I sleep”

  7. Gregory Foster September 8th, 2015 2:06 pm

    Be smooth. be the power. G

  8. Woody Dixon September 8th, 2015 3:24 pm

    If the snow is bad or I’m having a bad day:
    A constant aggressive critique of how my gear sucks, my feet hurt, my technique sucks, I’m out of shape, too slow, not aggressive enough, too far in the backseat, doubting choice of skis, boots, etc. Not to mention if skiing with a group, feeling like the worst skier in the group.

    If the snow is good or the snow is crap and I’ve got a good mental attitude:
    Totally blank mental slate, just thinking a few turns ahead and having a buzz of euphoria that only skiing can bring.

  9. Lou Dawson 2 September 8th, 2015 3:52 pm

    Hey guys, thanks for all! I’ll change the post title to “Skiing Mantra” so it’s inclusive of both up and down. “Do it for Love!”

  10. Iain September 8th, 2015 4:02 pm

    I start a descent of any commitment with the simple sentence “go gently Iain”, ripped off from Corey Richards in the film COLD

  11. pete anzalone September 8th, 2015 4:06 pm

    “I have no skills but I have a go pro.”

  12. DavidB September 8th, 2015 4:57 pm

    Uphill – 1, 2, 3 ……how beautiful is this 4, 5, 6

    Downhill – “Every day above ground’s a good day” & whatever song finds it’s way in.

  13. Bob Shattuck September 8th, 2015 6:42 pm

    Wow, something I can have an opinion on . . . I do a lot of backpacking and not as much touring as I’d like ( I’ve probably spent more time reading your posts, than actual skiing!!) but for some reason, I always get the song, One Singular Sensation” from Chorus Line, stcukl in my head on those long slogs . . . nice rhythm to it . . . (now back to chanting for snow in Tahoe!!!)

  14. Scott September 8th, 2015 7:41 pm

    From my telemark days…”Tight Skirt, Satellite Dish”
    Images for lower body, upper body positions through the turn.

  15. TIm September 8th, 2015 9:40 pm

    It always seemed after about the fifth or sixth day of a solo trip, the mind goes quiet.

    Then all sound is mantra.

  16. sock September 8th, 2015 10:12 pm

    Once I’m out of the city, everything else is gravy.

  17. Hayden Beck September 8th, 2015 11:00 pm

    I normally sing songs to myself that are in tune with my breathing. This can be anything from Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, to daft punk and Ratatat.

    But once I reach the summit, transition or a bootpack my mind clears. All I will think about it my surroundings and actions in the present. Put on Jacket, rip skins, lock bindings. As I drop in my mind is only in the moment. I love that focus.

  18. Tina September 8th, 2015 11:58 pm

    I enjoy skiing so much. I love your post and enjoy reading of it. Thanks for sharing this to us

  19. Wigs September 9th, 2015 6:07 am

    Not exactly a Mantra, but a favorite skin track song: Roger Allen Wade – My Baby she Loves Malt Liquor

  20. chase Harrison September 9th, 2015 6:10 am

    Just Breath!!!!!!!

  21. mike September 9th, 2015 7:07 am

    On the up, I count my steps. 50 steps then a 5 second break, sometimes it’s only 25 if it’s steep.

    On the down, ANGEL OF DEEEEAAAAAATTTTTHHHH. A classic hymn from the book of psalms. 😉

  22. Andrew September 9th, 2015 7:35 am

    I, too, count my steps on the way up, especially if its a really long push. I find myself skiing alone more days that not and I don’t like having music. I want to hear my surroundings, even if that is just the wind (or bears or moose or whatever else). I also am a firm believer in Skin Track Therapy and I have worked through some big issues at work while slogging up manky and gloppy snow that normally would irritate even the most seasoned skier. Sometimes I even thinking about putting it on my time card as billable hours.

    On the way down, when alone, its all about finding pure Flow. No music, no words, not thoughts, no mantra at all.. Just unadulterated Flow. Moving with the snow, the mountains, and the terrain. Being as light as a leaf on the wind. When you hit that state, and everything becomes so easy and clear. It’s almost like skiing in a dream, without a care in the world or a thought in my head.

  23. Lou Dawson 2 September 9th, 2015 7:41 am

    Andrew, thanks, I can relate… Lou

  24. Powbanger September 9th, 2015 7:49 am

    Here….hold my beer and watch this!

  25. Eric Steig September 9th, 2015 8:44 am

    Free your heel, and …. ah, never mind. Dynafit all the way.

  26. Jim Milstein September 9th, 2015 8:58 am

    On the way up my mind is often taken over by an odd kind of ear worm or mantra. If I have heard an interesting name recently, it will be repeated mentally as I climb. If the descent is untroubled, my mind empties.

  27. M. Wright September 9th, 2015 9:10 am

    Short skis still suck!

  28. Donny O'Neill September 9th, 2015 9:22 am

    “One edge at a time.”

  29. Swiss Hoser September 9th, 2015 11:47 am

    My mantra reaches out to all other skiers:

  30. Andy Carey September 9th, 2015 7:57 pm

    Here is a weird one, an oldie and I don’t know why it has become my mantra upon dropping in on a really steep slope or when the snow conditions are iffy (breakable crust or potential glop): Going to the Chapel of Love (by the Dixie Cups and also sung by the Shirelles–decades ago).

    I guess the upbeat rhythm and out-of-place lyrics prepares me physically for rhythmic movement while drowining out any intellectual/emotional anxiety.

  31. Wookie September 10th, 2015 9:08 am


  32. peterK September 10th, 2015 9:55 am

    smooth as butter, glide like teflon

    downhill (especially if the gopro is on):
    please don’t let this run end up on Oprah

  33. Patrick September 10th, 2015 2:07 pm

    Put in your mind Tom T. Hall’s tune – Faster horses, younger women, older whiskey, more money.
    In the up track, sing:

    Fatter skis,
    Harrier skins,
    Tranquil uptracks,
    No kickturns.

    Written while at Valhalla Mtn Touring many years ago…

    On descent, I agree, the Flow.

  34. Lou Dawson 2 September 10th, 2015 2:28 pm

    Didn’t Tom T. Hall write “Put Another Log on the Fire” as well? Lou

  35. Lou Dawson 2 September 10th, 2015 2:40 pm

    One of my mantra songs, both skiing and climbing. I just realized has been “Sunshine of your Love” by Cream. Sung out loud with melody as da da da da, dah dah dah, da da da, and so on… Lou


    And check out Jack’s hat in this live performance! And Ginger Baker banging those tom toms.


  36. Shawn September 10th, 2015 4:58 pm

    “Put another log on the fire” was written by Shell Silverstein — more famous for his children’s books. It was a hit for Tompall Glazed. Thanks wikipedia.

  37. Shawn September 10th, 2015 5:00 pm

    Glaser, not Glazed. Cursed autocorrect.

  38. Lou Dawson 2 September 10th, 2015 5:11 pm

    Thanks Shawn, I mucked around in the Wiki for a while but didn’t find that. Silverstein has some pretty funny songs out there. I’ll never forget “Cover of the Rolling Stone…” Lou

  39. Mike September 11th, 2015 5:33 am

    Uphill I think only of each step–my lungs are burning. Before decent I yell “let’s ride” (3 Amigos). Downhill its Widespread Panic.

  40. Patrick September 11th, 2015 7:39 pm

    Yes, Cream and Sunshine of Your Love! Great song for any moment; I’ll up-track sing it this winter.
    Winter 1966-67, my first big road trip. From Alberta, down the west coast and over to the US Rockies. Skied Mammoth, Alta, Jackson, Vail and, running out of money, stopped to work/play in Aspen (as snow-backs, we worked at the Village Pantry). My travel buddy followed music closely and opened my ears to the transition from bubble-gum pop to psych pop. Cream was among the best at that time.

  41. Mike MacDonald September 11th, 2015 10:23 pm

    I try to find a cadence. It is never the same. Sometimes I growl when my fitness is lacking. How could I let it go. When I find it, I feel like I could climb forever. This illusion is comforting and makes me feel strong or at least in synch. There are moments that are nothing more than a blur. A wash that cleanses. Confirmation that this was meant to be. I am not sure what euphoria sounds like, but I know it comes from a beating heart, receptive lungs and a willing mind. I take that back, I think euphoria sounds like a yodel.

  42. Jim Milstein September 12th, 2015 1:29 pm

    No! Anything but a yodel!

  43. Darrell September 14th, 2015 1:21 am

    “Please God, don’t let me suck”

  44. Martin September 27th, 2015 3:39 am

    On the up, when it’s hot (I generally sweat a lot, and I hate it) I envision myself returning to the car, after a glorious day, exhausted but happy, no one got hurt, throwing the skis back in the car.

    On top, if its cold and windy and a difficult descent lies still ahead, I often experience this extreme focusedness. “Pull on jacket! Put on warm gloves! Unskin! Fasten boots! Don’t let the body chill too much! Take some pictures!”
    I may have spent hours and days getting there, but when I finally made it, I’m completely busy with routine tasks, trying to get the job done.

    On the down, thoughts vary from complete, utter joy to mental cursing (breakable crust, white out). And of course: “Hope this holds!”

  45. Lou Dawson 2 April 26th, 2016 5:22 pm

    Should we bring this back to the top this spring?

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