When the lift lines are record-breaking or your recent holiday shopping has taken its toll on your credit card, ski touring is a cheaper and healthy option that allows you to still get out and enjoy some turns and breathe in some fresh, crisp air. The bonus to ski touring is that you aren’t relying on chairlifts so you can start as early as you want and go as late as you want allowing you to get the most out of your day.
Misadventures Often Turn into Memorable Adventures
This past weekend, my alarm went off at 6:30 AM Saturday morning. I was wide-eyed and awake and ready for a day of skiing. The original plan was to get Parc National du Mont-Orford before the lifts open which is at 8:30AM but Marie-Noëlle and I ended up a little behind schedule and arrived in the mountain parking lot around 8AM.
This wasn’t too big of a problem because we were able to follow a climbing path which ran alongside the ski run on Alfred Desrochers allowing us to hike while the lifts were open. We located the start of the climbing trail and took our time sipping on hot cocoa while we got our gear ready.
Soon we were off and cruising along through the trees next to the ski run with the sun at our backs. We couldn’t have asked for better weather – the sun was out and the air was crisp and fresh.
All was well until the path became slightly unclear and the terrain wasn’t ideal for climbing so we took a slight detour. To our surprise, the detour brought us back to the same spot we were trying to avoid so we improvised and eventually continued on. Not long after that, the path became unclear once again so we (Marie-Noëlle) eventually created our own, zig-zagging through trees and untouched fluffy stashes of snow.
I continued along and eventually realized we were no longer following a path but the hoots and hollers from excited skiers and snowboarders coming from the ski run told us we were close. Sure enough, within minutes we popped out at the top of the hill next to the ski lift and prepared our gear for the descent.
The snow was hard-packed and quite icy but we made the most of it and were still smiling from our little adventure through the woods. The experience is only as good as you make it, so even if you get a little lost and have to explore slightly, keeping a smile on your face and enjoying to the sounds of nature will keep the morale high. This is obviously a very different case if you are touring on steeper, more dangerous terrain where straying from a path could lead to consequences.
After a quick snack at the chalet and checking out the photos on the camera, we continued our day of ski touring and headed for Mont Giroux.
Everyone enjoys a day of ski touring a little differently but it’s the small things that turn mediocre experiences into inspiring memories. Here are a few tips to get the most out of your day of ski touring.
1. Early Birds Gets the Worm
The earlier you start, the longer your day will be and the better chance of getting fresh tracks. If you’re really keen, you can wake up before sunrise and start climbing by headlamp and enjoy the sunrise from the mountain top.
2. Dress in Layers & Bring Back-Ups
With the latest and greatest in base layer materials and technologies nowadays, you can rely on one base layer in your layering set-up for your days worth of activities thanks to moisture-wicking properties. Although your base layer may be bomb-proof, packing along a few back-up layers is always a good idea and if you have the space, why not utilize it. It’s always better to be over-prepared than not prepared enough so layer up and bring dry layers just in case.
3. Pack a Lunch & Snacks
Starting the day with an adequate breakfast that will keep you energized and sufficient for a better part of the day is always the goal but we are humans, and getting hungry throughout the day is normal. Of course, if you’re planning an epic day of ski touring, packing a lunch and some snacks is inevitable.
Easy-to-eat-on-the-go snacks like Clif Bars and Probars are convenient, tasty and energy-boosting so load up your pack and keep a few that are easily accessible so you can grab a quick nibble when you need it.
4. Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is imperative especially when you’re being active and sweating in colder environments. Pack along a water bottle that can accommodate a decent amount of water so that you can stay hydrated and aren’t searching for a river or creek after every 5 gulps. If you’re plan for the day involves a lunch stop somewhere along the way, pack along a small thermos of hot cocoa or even fill it with some hot soup. The liquids will fill you up while the warmth will heat up your body and make you feel good from the inside out.
Something to keep in mind too is that it is very possible your water bottle will freeze. You can try wrapping it up in the extra layers in your bag although sometimes Mother Nature cannot be beat and no matter what you try, you’ll end up with a bottle of ice.
Some backpacks such as the Gregory Targhee which is what I use, are hydration compatible so you can bring along a bladder of water. Once again, be aware that you may end up carrying around a block of ice by the end of your day so pack accordingly and be aware of hose mouthpieces which may freeze.
A rubber mouthpiece on a hydration bladder may be a better option because you can attempt to melt the ice by putting the mouthpiece in your mouth. A plastic mouthpiece would be much more challenging to de-ice as it is not easily malleable as a rubber or silicone mouth piece.
5. Smile & Have Fun!
The most obvious would be of course to smile and have fun. You’re outside, you’re with good friends and you’re enjoying the nature while benefiting from a healthy activity so of course you’re having a great time. Tell some jokes, share some laughs and take goofy photos.