10 Essential Mistakes for the Backcountry Ski Touring Beginner

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | November 16, 2015      

Aaron Mattix

The beginner in rare form: snowshoes, baggy pants, overloaded pack, cotton layers, blissful oblivion.

The beginner in rare form: snowshoes, baggy pants, overloaded pack, cotton layers, blissful oblivion.

Congratulations, you’re a beginner! Never again will you experience such enormous leaps in progression. From accumulating gear, to linking turns, you are taking huge strides into a brave new world of exploration.

As you move forward, it is crucial to take a few key missteps to verify the vector of your progress.

  • Buy clunky gear: You’re still not entirely sure about the difference between frame bindings and tech bindings, or what all the fuss is about fast & light gear. Since you plan to get in a fair amount of training runs at the resort, all the brodudes will tell you how much burlier frame bindings are for sending like the pros with names you can barely pronounce. Beginner status notwithstanding, you don’t want to be held back from hucking cliffs at any point in the future, so go with the setup that feels like Mafia dock party shoes. By the time you can make it up the skin track without getting lost, you will understand whatever “fast & light” means; it is not the gear you have.
  • Layer in cotton: The first time you check out prices on zooty underwear, it will give you sticker shock. So go ahead and tackle the peak in your favorite thermal waffle Wally World long johns, tattered frat party shirt, and treasured cotton hoody. On the way up the skin track, you will generate as much precipitation as the last storm cycle, and freeze solid as East Coast ice on your way down. You now have a much keener grasp of the factors behind weather patterns.
  • Go out too early: It’s your sophomore year of skiing. You are so stoked on the progress you made last year, you head out the first time snow falls on your local mountain. Congratulations, you have now added rock skis to your quiver.
  • Go out too late: Take a lazy day, sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast, don’t hit the skin track before 10:30 on a warm spring day. The snow glopping onto the bottom of your skis will amp your ski touring workout up to burn off the extra calories, and possibly the booze if a hangover was a motivating factor for sleeping in. By the time you make it to the top, you will understand how heat exhaustion can become a factor on snow.
  • Use snowshoes: Posthole the daylights out of the skin track like Allied bombers over Berlin. Digging yourself out of craters as sweat runs down your armpits will seem like a natural part of the backcountry experience of “earning your turns” until you see someone glide by on skinning gear, effortless as an albatross, while you wallow along with all the efficiency of a mastodon crossing a tar pit.
  • Bring too much gear: Find the most gluttonous pack in your collection, stuff it with every winter-related piece of gear you can find, including enough snacks & goodies to hold a Girl Scout bake sale. The reassuring heft will make you feel prepared for Arctic exploration, and serve notice to everyone that you know what you are doing. Perspiration oozing out of your pores will remind you to drink fluids. The guy in his mid-60’s on tele gear, provisioned with nothing more than a fanny pack, and sporty Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes who briskly passes you on the skin up with a cheery, “Thanks for breaking trail!” is probably suffering from mild dementia.
  • Wear pants instead of bibs: You don’t want to look like Farmer John or Fisherman Fred, so suit up in some baggy hand-me-downs that look like what all the park rats have dangling around their ankles. The first time you crash & slide down the slope headfirst, your pants will fill with snow, and sag even lower. You are now “steezy.”
  • Emphasize the “y” when pronouncing “Dynafit,” instead of a long “e”: This is an excellent method for learning to identify gear snobs. The more afflicted will not let you finish your sentence, or even get to the next word without an emphatic correction. Keep these people in mind when you don’t want to be bothered with searching the Internet, and would rather just ask someone, “What is the difference between Brand X, and Brand Y?”
  • Ski powder with groomer techniques: Easiest way to get that “Faceshots all day long, bru!” look.
  • Readers, your newbie nuggets of gold? Comment on!

    (Guest blogger Aaron Mattix grew up in Kansas, and wrote a report on snowboarding in seventh grade. His first time to attempt snowboarding was in 2012, and soon switched over to skis for backcountry exploration near his home in Rifle, CO. His skill level is “occasionally makes complete runs without falling.” In the summer, he owns and operates Gumption Trail Works, building mountain bike singletrack, and the occasional sweet jump.)

    For a ready-to-go starter kit, shop for BCA’s Tracker 2 Avalanche Package.



    64 Responses to “10 Essential Mistakes for the Backcountry Ski Touring Beginner”

    1. Lou Dawson 2 November 16th, 2015 11:11 am

      I’ve found that pronouncing Diiiiynafit and Deeeenafit both ways, depending on company, is key. I’g glad Aaron brought that up, almost as important as what brand airbag pack.

      Got me curious, is there an equivalent in road cycling, e.g., Pinarillo or something like that?


    2. Rod November 16th, 2015 11:40 am

      Btw, if your technique is Sun’s, you will ski powder with the same technique that you ski groomers with, perhaps with a bit more weight on the inside ski.

      Otherwise, same flex to release, certainly not up unweighing.

    3. Aaron Mattix November 16th, 2015 12:00 pm

      @Lou Dawson2 – Bianchi, and Marzocchi (both Italian brands) come immediately to mind as examples of cycling names often mispronounced by beginners.

    4. Lisa Dawson November 16th, 2015 12:11 pm

      Don’t forget the GoPros. Mount one on top of your ski pole for a nifty selfie stick.

    5. lem November 16th, 2015 12:23 pm

      Bibs? Do they still make those things?

    6. Harry November 16th, 2015 12:50 pm

      I have heard Giant bikes pronounced “geant” like they were French.

    7. OMR November 16th, 2015 1:34 pm

      How about skinning while dressed in every layer you own, looking like the
      Stay Fresh marshmallow man?? Talk about a sweat producer. If you’re not freezing at the trailhead, you’re way over dressed for the skin track.

    8. Andy Carey November 16th, 2015 2:00 pm

      LOL. some good points. If I had bought really good gear when I started skiing I would be such a beter skier today with fewer disabilities due to ski injuries! My mantra is now: “Beginning skiers benefit more from the best ski gear than the best skiers do.” Just like fly fishing. I have seen this over and over again when guys buy budget gear for their non-skiing significant others and then are chagrined when she doesn’t enjoy/progress as far as they would like in skiing. In response to how to produce Dynafit–if you are using American English it is with the Y (Dinah fit); if you are faux Uropeein, its with the eee. I still bring too much gear 🙁

    9. Tyler November 16th, 2015 3:26 pm

      AT stands for All Terrain right? and Randonee is pronounced like RAN-doe-knee?

    10. Matt November 16th, 2015 3:46 pm

      Tyler, it is just “rando” as in Rambo, bro.

    11. ZB November 16th, 2015 3:47 pm

      Apparently Patagonia is pronounced Pa-ta-goo-chi?!

      @Aaron Willier too.

    12. JRD November 16th, 2015 4:04 pm

      The only way to progress beyond being a clueless beginner is to log some time as a clueless beginner.

    13. Anthony November 16th, 2015 4:09 pm

      SRAM is one of those pronounced many ways in the biking world. I have heard “scram”, “shhhram”, and “ssram”. Seems the latter “ssram” is more correct?

    14. Stevie November 16th, 2015 5:08 pm

      “Posthole the daylights out of the skin track like Allied bombers over Berlin”. Haha, great! And on the way down, link those perfect figure eights across the skin track.

    15. Camilo November 16th, 2015 5:53 pm

      @OMR “If you’re not freezing at the trailhead, you’re way over dressed for the skin track.”

      Agreed! I don’t mind changing pace for slower skinners, but I hate stopping 5 times to remove shell/puffy/vest/long sleeves/hat&gloves. It’s a hard thing to teach though. It’s taken my wife 10 years to be okay with starting out a little cold.

    16. Ben W November 16th, 2015 5:59 pm

      Skinning with helmet and goggles on. Switching heel lifters every fifty feet. Skinning on tip toes up a steeper section.

    17. Eric Steig November 16th, 2015 6:06 pm

      An employee in the ski department at un-named big-retailer the other day told me that he just learned the difference between randonée and A.T. “So what is it?” I asked him. “Randonée is when you ski with your heels free,” he said. I could have confused him further by telling him that it’s French for “can’t telemark,” but I thought better of it.

    18. fred larke November 16th, 2015 6:10 pm

      Try pronouncing “Campagnolo” – most cyclists just say Campy.

    19. Aaron Mattix November 16th, 2015 6:18 pm

      Rhymes with “yo-yo.”…

    20. See November 16th, 2015 7:00 pm

      … and now, from the world of bicycle cycling, weird style diktats!

      (agree about the cotton, though, mostly)

    21. Jim November 16th, 2015 8:19 pm

      Among the road bike high society
      1) no cat 5 tattoo,,,
      2) matching bibs and jersey ( and socks and arm warmers & wind vest you get the idea)
      3) make sure your tire label lines up with it valve stem, ohhhh you people you know who You are
      4) white bar tape & I mean white not with sweat & grease on it wimbelton white got it, how else does some one know you have a full time mechanic keeping ur steed in prime condition
      5) cable tits seriously bro you use cable tits have some self respect and soder those freyed ends & oh by the way you’ll save about 3 grams
      6) don’t carry a extra tube surely ur team car is right behind you right? ( don’t be that guy every one hates that guy)
      7) Carbon wheels dog gotta roll some carbon, ya my max wattage is 176 and I’m 245 lbs but surely a deeeeep hoop will make up for that on my ” training ride ”
      8) ever talking about wattage if ur fast ur fast, if your not ur not seriously stop the wattage war
      9) and everyone’s fave waaay too much cham cream I admit it’s a guilty pleasure of mine as well but streaks of white running down ur legs isn’t worth the warm tingle..
      10) being a total wanker to any one who doesn’t follow the rules as laid out above.
      I’m new to the bc scene I really hope it’s not like the roadie scene I left years back

      Ps can I still use Cham cream on the skin track?

    22. See November 16th, 2015 8:40 pm

      The valve stem/tire label thing makes sense so you can find whatever caused the puncture.

    23. XXX_er November 16th, 2015 8:52 pm

      exactly See, stem at logo is so you always know where the tire was on the rim in case you are getting punctures from something lodged in the tire

    24. Mike November 16th, 2015 9:12 pm

      Using a hydration bladder and getting dehydrated when the tube freezes.


      Bringing water bottles and getting dehydrated because they’re too inconvenient to drink from.

    25. Jim Milstein November 16th, 2015 9:14 pm

      Hey, Ben! I’ve been skiing forever, and just this season I have resolved to wear helmet and goggle uphill and down, always. Breaks–you name it! I have a reason: Less Gear Fiddling. So far, six days out in the wild snow, it’s working. (Hint: use well-ventilated helmet and google)

    26. Rilly November 16th, 2015 9:56 pm

      How do I pronounce Dynafit? G3.

    27. Bard November 16th, 2015 10:37 pm

      OMR, my GF is notorious for overdressing at the trailhead! I just shake my head knowing that we will have to stop in five minutes so she can strip five layers:) Skiing and road biking in one thread, heavenly!

    28. Bard November 16th, 2015 10:42 pm

      The ol’ tomato joke can be applied here. I say “Deenafit”, my wife says “would you shut the hell up!”

    29. Alf Hartigan November 17th, 2015 2:01 am

      Brilliant Aaron! Our merry group of tourers ticked sooo many of those boxes first time out.

      Can I add that all this should be tried out on something like the Haute Route. (yes we did this!)

      Is there a word that combines cringe & shudder – the memory still brings out cold sweats.

    30. JCoates November 17th, 2015 2:12 am

      -Heavy Gore-tex clothes vs soft-shell in most conditions.
      -45 degree skin track.
      -Avy beacon flopping around on the outside of the clothes instead of close to the body.
      -Lifting the feet up off the ground with every step.
      -Frame bindings w/ boots w/ lots of buckles (because “I am such a rad skier!”).
      -Kamikaze downhill with every skier headed down at once.
      -Forgetting chocolate.

    31. Wookie November 17th, 2015 2:50 am

      Carrying knives (ski crampons to Americans) in January.

      Putting skins in backpack at -30 C when there is a second lap coming up

      and my favorite:

      Taking the wrong pair of boots, skis, or skins from the hut in the morning – only to discover the error when the boots cannot be engaged into the binding for the downhill. I have seen this happen so often that I have “NOT YOUR GEAR” written on all my stuff in big letters.

    32. Apingaut November 17th, 2015 5:34 am

      Experience and learning.

      We all have been through the easy stuff and continue to gain and build.

      The process shouldn’t be defacto mockery.

      Maybe I am reading this wrong but seems a bit like an elitist bitch fest, because no one is perfect and some of the silly things above even experienced people do.

    33. GeorgeT November 17th, 2015 6:01 am

      11. Forgetting to bring essential avy gear is a big SNAFU.

    34. Rob November 17th, 2015 6:44 am

      I pronounce it “DIE-nafit”…just to see who corrects me. It’s usually out-of-season roadies…the type who line up their tire labels with their valve-stems.

      PS No one’s mentioned “Bottecchia” yet?!??

    35. Aaron Mattix November 17th, 2015 7:03 am

      ….and you guys know that all efforts at lining up tire labels with valve stems are null & void, unless the rim has been laced to the hub so that the valve stem hole lines up with the hub label as well..right?

      Perhaps the next “Beginner’s Learning Curve” observation could be, “Why Telemarkers are the Singlespeeders of the Skiing World”?

    36. Scott Newman November 17th, 2015 7:17 am

      The Italian brand of bike Ciocc comes to mind. Sure there are ways to justify labels and valve stems but according to the Rules the only justification is because pro mechanics do it or shortened, Its PRO.

    37. Lou Dawson 2 November 17th, 2015 7:48 am

      Wookie, I’ve seen that happen as well, and even almost done it myself. Luckily the boots felt kind of funny when I put them on in the morning and I realized my error. But I have indeed grabbed someone else’s hut shoes and got dressed down by a big German guy who scared me. (grin)

    38. Karl November 17th, 2015 9:13 am

      Posers who conceal that most of their mileage and elevation gain is done with snowmobiles.

    39. walter November 17th, 2015 10:59 am

      Quick question as a beginner: if i want to do more backcountry and touring, but none of my ski buddies are at that level and I do not want to go out by myself, how do I find a group who wants to take a Beginner out for ski-touring, back-country?

      any ideas for finding a group?

    40. Foster November 17th, 2015 11:50 am


      Not sure where you’re from but many cities and regions have clubs dedicated to this sort of stuff (Mountaineers, Alpine Club of Canada, etc.).

      You can also do a search for Facebook or Meetup groups (i.e. [your city] skiers).

      The benefit of the club systems is a little more organization, oversight, and training available.

    41. dewam November 17th, 2015 2:03 pm


      1. Head down with one skin still on
      2. Get to the bottom and find one heel elevated, or both.
      3. Leave gloves on roof when driving.
      4. Leave boots in the parking lot
      5. Leave the rocket box open
      6. Forget to check all beacons.
      7. Forget one of the necessary items. (ski, boot, gloves)
      8. Forget one of the convenience items. (poles, skins, apres ski beer)
      9. Put the liners in the wrong boot.
      10. Lock yourself out of the car

    42. Don Gorsegner November 17th, 2015 5:35 pm


      If your in N.W. Washington check Turns all year.com.


    43. Billy November 17th, 2015 6:14 pm

      Learning to ski in the backcountry on lightweight gear not in the resort with appropriate alpine gear, causing you to always flail and sometimes fall in powder, both waisting good snow and creating a need for sweaty bibs instead of pants.

    44. Ryan November 17th, 2015 7:03 pm

      Buy klunky gear?

      Is that what we are calling non-tech bindings now? Historically speaking, a Marker Baron or Fritschi freeride aren’t exactly klunky. 20 years ago they would be considered, ultra light, slickly engineered bindings. They also cut out the learning curve of a tech binding. And most importantly cost. Proper tech bindings are 600$. Plus you then have to buy special boots. And likely your instructions would be that they need a special light weight ski. This is bad advice, not to mention that this is the classic backcountry snob comment.

      The easiest way to get into the backcountry is a binding like a freeride or marker baron. It reduces the learning curve and the cost to entry. In fact, if I was taking a newbie into the backcountry I would want them using more familiar gear and these types of bindings dumb it down. A good metaphor is the Tracker beacon. The original tracker was promoted by a lot of people, including this site, because it reduced the learning curve. There is a lot to learn when you are in the backcountry. Understanding your bindings and boots is just one part of the equation. There is no reason to figure it all out on your first day!

    45. geoff November 17th, 2015 9:00 pm

      Apingaut & Ryan : True. My first thought exactly. My second thought: not all of us can afford every new gear iteration and “clunky” gear or not we get around just fine, thank you (on titanals)

      But Dewam saves the day: even truer – and way funnier.

    46. geoff November 17th, 2015 9:04 pm

      and Dewam – forgot the:
      “have a crap run down and find boots still in walk mode”
      and the opposite
      “find one foot blistering half way up and find one boot still in ski mode”

    47. Ryan November 17th, 2015 9:31 pm

      Dewam will have to add to his list:
      Trying to save the hassle of removing skins and attempting to ski down that little pitch with skins on and bindings disengaged.

    48. Aaron Mattix November 18th, 2015 6:28 am

      On klunky gear, continuing the bike analogy: 20 years ago, the Bridgestone MB-O was an ultra-light, slickly engineered bike. Today it’s 8 speed thumb shifters, 3 ring circus crankset, fixed seatpost, cantilever brakes, and road bike geometry, not to mention the (gasp!) 26″ tires, put it in the same category as Ramer bindings when compared to even entry level mountain bikes of today, equipped with dropper post, hydraulic disc brakes, geometry designed for actually riding trails, 1x clutch drivetrain, and efficient suspension.

    49. Bruno November 18th, 2015 7:26 am

      OK, I can’t resist. @Apingaut, Ryan, and Geoff. I agree, it’s an elitist post, but, then again, buried therein are nuggets of wisdom for beginners like me. I also agree that the latest and greatest pin bindings might not be all that great. As I warned/threatened/begged/pleaded in comments to another post on this blog…I recently set up some fancy new carbon skis with new Diamir frame bindings. Mostly, I did so for piece of mind. I just don’t have to think about them. Gear that disappears. For me they are easier to use and superior to pin bindings in just about every area except weight. And I’m not sure weight really matters that much anyway. How fast I skin uphill is rarely or never the limiting factor for how much fun I have on any given day. Pin binding users…I really want to know, for anybody thinking about a Kingpin or a Beast or something similar, what are the advantages compared to a good Diamir binding?

      Because this thread had drifted toward bikes an analogy from the cycling world might be appreciated. I spent many years deeply involved in cycling. I was a better road racer than I will ever be a skier or alpinist. In my later years of racing, I made a switch from tubular wheels to clincher wheels. Its not worth getting into the differences, but, basically, tubulars are expensive, hard to manage, high performance, and light, while clinchers are cheap, easy to manage, lower performance, and inherently heavier. Professional riders almost exclusively use tubulars. Showing up at a high level road race on clinchers is not unlike showing up at a skimo race with frame bindings. So why did I make the change to clinchers? Somewhere in a road race, as I was being dropped on a long climb, I had an epiphany, and understood that no matter what I was riding, no matter what wheels or bicycle, I would still be dropped. So I made the switch to clinchers, and was much happier thereafter, racing for some years with heavy wheels.

      Last @ Aaron, I see you point, but I would argue that the MB-O from years past is actually better suited to how the majority of people ride most of the time. Compared to an inexpensive entry level MTB of today, the MB-O is lighter, fits better, handles better on a variety or terrain, and is generally more versatile. It’s just not as capable for the very limited use of riding fast downhill. I know that’s not a popular opinion, but, I would say, even more than skiing, mountain biking is not “all about the down.”

    50. Lisa Dawson November 18th, 2015 10:54 am

      dewam, I like your list! After many years of skiing I still have to go thru a mental checklist before I hop into the truck. “Skis, boots, poles, beacon, shovel, probe.” Then I overlook something basic like a thermos or heavy gloves.

      An uber-organized friend has a clever solution. In her mud room she has 3 index cards tacked up. One for cross country skiing, resort skiing and backcountry. Each is a basic gear list. One of these days I will do that too.

    51. See November 18th, 2015 11:56 am

      OK Aaron. For fit skiers who aren’t trying to win skimo races, but whose top priority is skiing performance (that is skiing serious terrain and/or letting ‘em run on the down), which is better, “klunky” Barons or tech bindings?

    52. See November 18th, 2015 11:58 am

      Maybe one is an “enduro” and the other is an xc race bike?

    53. Aaron Mattix November 18th, 2015 1:15 pm

      My advice would be to go touring with the setup you have.

      For the record, I ski Atomic Tracker 13 bindings, but have a set of Speed Radical bindings, and TLT 6 boots awaiting skis. My plan is to have a resort/sidecountry setup, and a genuine fast & light touring rig. On dirt, I ride a steel singlespeed with a 6″ fork, 26″ wheels, and well on the hefty side of 30 lbs.

      I think the “enduro”/xc analogy is spot on. Given a decent set of bike handling skills, one can ride a very wide range of bikes on an equally wide range of trails. While not everyone may be able to take full advantage of the performance envelope of a modern enduro bike, it allows riders to access a greater range of trails/terrain than they ever could on a bike tuned purely for xc performance, even though a bike like the MB-0 may well be more closely aligned to the skills of the average rider.

      In skis, as in bikes, the correct answer to “what gear do I need?” is always n+1.

    54. JRD November 18th, 2015 3:08 pm

      I put hundreds of thousands of vert on my used Barons (including some 8000′ days) before I finally managed to scrape the cash together for some Dynafits. It’s certainly doable, especially by young folks with plenty of time to work out and limited funds. Used frame bindings can be pretty easily found for about ~$100/pair.

      That said, I left the plate bindings behind as soon as I could afford it.

    55. Matt N November 19th, 2015 12:15 am

      @Lou Dawson2
      Much to the dismay of embrocated Europhiles worldwide, your question regarding cycling ingroup Shibboleths comes at least a decade too late.
      English is now the lingua franca of the peloton. Thanks to the dominance of Postal/Discovery & Team Sky this new millennium, a squad is no longer an “équipe” it’s a “Pro Team.” Colnago’s technology is so far off the back, no one talks about them, much less rides them anymore. All my European friends now ride Cervelo, Specialized, or Trek.
      When I cut my teeth on the sport, your ability to pronounce “Ciocc” or “Vitus” was every bit as important as the little Italian flag on the leather shoes you painstakingly soaked & shaped to your feet in the bathtub before your first ride.
      It’s a hard road nowadays for elitist velo-pedants: the barriers to linguistic entry are lower than ever before. Phil & Paul explain how to pronounce “peloton” in the first 15 minutes of each year’s Tour broadcast, & the unwashed Anglophonic masses are good to go.
      Sigh. Oh for the Shibboleths of yesteryear…

    56. Jim Milstein November 19th, 2015 7:42 am

      Matt N, I question your use of embrocated; otherwise, a fine post.

    57. Tom November 22nd, 2015 11:28 am

      Replace “Buy clunky gear” with “buy tele gear” and its spot on. I kid, of course… well sorta. I still tele from time to time and there is something intrinsic with that technique that is just flat out FUN, but I finally switched to AT a couple years ago after making too many tele-mark turns in the BC. As a life long alpine skier, I felt it was just safer for me to keep my heels locked down in the BC where the consequences of fall and/or injury are significantly higher. Props to the tele guys who absolutely shred in the backcountry, but I’ll save the freeheeling for the resort.

      As for the ‘clunky’ frame bindings, I still think for the vast majority of bc skiers who may only ski a handful of days a year in the backcountry and don’t get pro deals or anything like that, the frame binding is the way to go. I still cringe when I see people beating around the resort day after day on tech bindings, so for the many people who can’t justify a dedicated bc setup, the frame binding and resort boot with walk mode is the way to go.

    58. Lou Dawson 2 November 22nd, 2015 12:09 pm

      Tom, good point about frame bindings… It is indeed amazing to see the good deals on used ones, perfect for getting started on a budget. Lou

    59. Lou Dawson 2 November 23rd, 2015 7:10 pm

      Hey Walter, sorry I missed your question about how to get started. Club, for example in Colorado, the Colorado Mountain Club, or in Europe any of the major alpine clubs. Going with a guide for a few days can help with networking. Lou

    60. atfred November 24th, 2015 8:53 am

      +1 for Colorado Mountain Club (CMC). They offer schools for anything from snow shoeing and cross country skiing to basic backcountry, AIARE I, telemark and full on alpine touring / ski mountaineering. Good way to learn, make new friends, and be in the backcountry with knowledgeable folks.

    61. Chris November 26th, 2015 6:02 pm

      I’d like to add ‘forgetting to put boots into ski mode for the decent’ as a requisite right of passage for the newbie bc skier. So fun to watch newb’s ski down an entire run while flailing in the back seat, and then casually reach down and flick their walk/ski mode lever when they pull up next to me.

    62. MarkL November 29th, 2015 3:51 pm

      A couple things:
      To those saying this is “elitist”, please find your sense of humor. I read it as satirical, since I suspect many (most?) of us have done these sorts of things. I saw the point being that you always end up learning some things the hard way.

      To Walter, depending on where you live there may also be a backcountry ski patrol to hook up with. Joining one, as I did about 20 years ago, also can give you access to very cost-effective first aid, avalanche, and mountain travel training, while providing a service to the backcountry community. My patrol, Cascade Backcountry Ski Patrol loosely based out of the Seattle area, has nordic skiers, moderate backcountry weekend warriors (like myself), and extreme rippers on tele, AT, even a splitboard or two. Fun folks to hang around with.

      I still sometimes get out too early, too late, carry too much stuff, etc. And I have taken half a turn with a heel riser up before a huge face plant. Part of the fun is in the learning. 🙂

    63. Lou Dawson 2 November 29th, 2015 5:04 pm

      Mark, I’d agree the learning phase is fun. Good memories, and I’m still learning!

    64. dan January 5th, 2016 4:48 pm

      as a newbie I can add one that’s happened to me the first AND second time I put on a touring setup with the intention to go uphill. when starting, on a flat, I tried to propel myself by pushing with the sticks only to promptly fall directly on my ass! third time I knew to just start walking…

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  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

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    Backcountry skiing is dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. Due to human error and passing time, the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use.

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