No lift lines, no expensive lift tickets and miles of un-tracked powder.
If that sounds like no ski resort you’ve ever heard of, that’s because it’s not a ski resort.
It’s backcountry “skinning” — a type of skiing that combines the intense physical conditioning of running, the beauty of hiking and the adrenaline of downhill skiing.
As a downhill, or Alpine, skier, I’ve done almost all of my skiing at resorts and have only visited the backcountry on a few occasions. But I decided to give it a go while I was in Wyoming for the holidays this year.
It’s not an easy activity to do — given the risk of avalanches in the backcountry, going with an experienced guide is highly recommended (you shouldn’t even consider going backcountry on your own if you don’t know what you’re doing). And you need to be in good enough shape to be able to get yourself up the mountain without the benefit of a chairlift.
I’m not exactly in exemplary shape, so — aside from the fear of an avalanche — my biggest concern was whether I’d be capable of completing the journey.
The climb was even more grueling and exhausting than I expected. But the great thing about backcountry skinning is that the experience is so amazing, you keep pushing yourself. And the payoff is unforgettable.