March 8, 2012

Top 5 Do and Don’ts of a Skin Track

To Teton Pass South

Winter 2011-2012 has been one to remember. Epic pow records? No. Unreal backcountry conditions? Definitely no. Instead, we’ve had a notably lamer snow year that has created a mediocre (at best) to extremely shaddy snowpack (most days). These less than ideal snow conditions have lead us all to the same skin tracks over and over. Lapping Conies all season has given me ample time to ruminate on the best and worst of skin track etiquette. Follow this advice and be good the to rest of us on all them up hill bits.

DO NOT proceed in the following manner when traveling a skin track.

1. Do not boot pack in the skin track! Stop Stop Stop! You are causing damage to skin tracks and put yourself and others one joke away from being hated even more. Have some respect and posthole somewhere else and get the hell off the skin track.

2. Do not relieve one self on the skin track. Yellow Hansel and Gretel markers are not appreciated. Its terrible site is a disturbing distraction as eye sore possible odor for any outdoor enthusiast trying their surroundings.

3. Do not set bad choice switchbacks. Analyze your terrain and make smarter travel technique decisions. Know your slope angles, along with snow conditions and give the rest of the community a break from your agro uphill blitzes.

4. Do not distance yourself from the rest of your group. Being in ear shot can be helpful when navigating terrain and telling a good joke or story about their friends late night adventures.

5. Do not stop and turn around on the skin track. Moving forward is always the best option and you can stop at the top. If you talk loud enough you entire party can here the choices being made.

DO proceed in the following manner when traveling in a skin track.

1. Have fun! You are in the backcountry with friends and the time should be about the enjoyment of the scenery and game plan. Have fun planning what skin track you are taking, what line you are going to ski to the individual turns only the backcountry can provide.

2. Travel safe with a reasonable crew. Too many people too close together is tough. Too many captains is a tough ship to steer. Know whose in your party and double check the gear lists.

3. Get off the skin track. The only way to better understand the snow is to get in the unaffected snow. A couple of step off the track can give some good information.

4. Start a new skin track when the one you on sucks. Many skin tracks are focused on getting up to the top, while crossing potential avalanche slide paths

5. Soak in the surrounding landscapes. Looking at the skin path is boring. Look up and around to enjoy the view while paying attention to the weather.

Enjoy the skin track and following some simple etiquette rules can really help your fellow backcountry enthusiasts.

Skin in CBSkin in CB

About the Author

4. Seth Tucker
Seth Tucker has called Crested Butte home for some time learning the skills to explore the West Elk Mountains, whether it be mountain biking single track, hiking peaks or enjoying backcountry powder. Get out there and enjoy your mountain surroundings!