Fresh tracks early season (exposed grass as evidence) on the resort without a person in sight. These tracks were both earned and savored before the resort opened for the morning.
What's in Your Pack for Resort Uphill Skiing?
A successful day spent touring on the ski resort is largely determined before you leave the house. Equipment is very important when it comes to the world of uphill skiing, so packing the appropriate gear will set you up for success. The mountains are a harsh environment - the variable snow, strong winds, harsh cold, and radiant sun all conspire against you having a pleasant time out (or sometimes it seems). Hopefully, I can shed some light on what ski gear helps facilitate big smiles and human-powered ski turns.
The appeal of uphill resort skiing is the overall facility of the trip. The ski resort has an existing infrastructure that makes everything a little bit more hospitable. Trails are groomed, bathrooms are numerous [and maybe even heated!], and parking is plowed. There is plenty of food waiting slopeside in case you decide to take a coffee & cookie break or even a full-fledged, mountain-top, sit-down lunch. However, the most important appeal of resort touring is that ski patrol ensures safe snow conditions resort-wide. No avalanche equipment is needed and no knowledge of how to safely travel in avalanche terrain is necessary for resort uphill outings. This overall convenience provides the opportunity to get in a great amount of exercise without the added complexity of the backcountry.
This is my minimum kit for a day of resort uphill skiing. Of course, 'to each their own' with additions or subtractions to the gear shown. Goggles, a puffy coat, or a ski strap might be inclusions for me depending on conditions. Food is not shown.
Resort Uphill Skiing Packing List (starting from top left):
- 500 mL Soft Flask: I like using a soft flask for water because it packs down small once empty. Also, I have an attachment on the front of my pack that allows me to sip small amounts of water more frequently while touring rather than gulp down larger quantities every time that I stop. This tends to be a more effective form of hydration for me while touring
- Ski Helmet: The Salomon MTN Lab is one of the lightest ski helmets that is CE 1077 certified (approved for alpine skiing). I really like skiing on the resort with a helmet because of the possibility of collisions with other skiers. Goggles are a great addition if I see precipitation or low visibility in the forecast. Otherwise, I'm happy to ski with high-coverage sunglasses.
- Climbing Skins: I always bring two pairs of climbing skins while touring on the resort in case one pair fails (the skin glue stops sticking to the ski). These are the Pomoca Race Pro 2.0 skins, which seem to have the best performing glue and most durable plush. Top Skimo racer's use this skin, so I just follow suit. I recommend bringing a back up to anyone who tours on the resort with ski mountaineering race skis. Ski mountaineering race skins have a bungee tip attachment, no tail attachment, 100% mohair plush, and run only 75% the length of the ski. These attributes make for lightweight and high glide skins but are also more prone to skin failure. If you have a full coverage skin with a tail clip, there is little need to bring an extra pair of skins.
- Puffy Mittens: I like to bring an extra pair of extremely warm gloves in the form of down mittens. The CAMP Hotmitt'n mittens are very packable while having an extremely high warmth to weight ratio. These mittens are sleeping bags for my hands and make me happy in cold weather. Mittens work great for resort uphill skiing because dexterity isn't high on my list of requirements when all I need to do is hold a pair of ski poles [for the most part]. Also, if it's uncomfortably cold, I just go inside a warming hut or on-resort restaurant and warm up with a hot drink! A serious benefit of skiing on the resort.
- Lightweight Touring Gloves: I will bring gloves that are comfortable to wear while skinning uphill at an aerobic pace. The TNF Softshell gloves provide enough insulation [for me] on both the uphill and downhill without getting too hot. The desired warmth of gloves is a trial and error experience that tailors a lot to personal preference.
- Sunglasses, Buff & Sunhat: Sun and weather protection. Full coverage, photochromatic sunglasses (CAT 0-3) work great from low-light to sunny conditions. The Julbo Aerospeed Reactiv Performance sunnies are so light and provide a wide, uninterrupted field of vision that makes me feel like I don't even have sunglasses on my face. A buff and sunhat provide added weather protection.
- Wind Layer: I typically transition into a wind layer for skiing down. More weatherproof layers are typically more bulky and unnecessary unless snow is actively falling. A wind layer cuts the cold while skiing at higher speeds, but isn't as bulky as a puffy coat. A puffy coat is a great addition to bring if the weather is cold enough.
Here is all of my uphill resort touring gear packed into a ski mountaineering race pack. This pack is lighter than a traditional backcountry skiing pack and allows me to grab my skins, water, food, or a pair of mittens without even removing it from my back.
Hopefully, this packing list has included some helpful tips on how to best prepare for a day out ski touring on the resort. Feel free to add comments, alternations, or criticism below on how to improve upon this packing list. There's more to come for packing lists in part II & III: backcountry ski touring and overnight hut trips.
Sunrise skiing on the resort reaps the reward of fresh corduroy provided daily by ski resort snowcats (thanks snowcats!).
- Written by Slader Alpine, who can't hold himself back from a day of resort skinning when the following are included: freshly groomed trails, freshly tuned race skis, freshly compiled dubstep playlist -