5 Ski Touring Tips

Ski mountaineer Greg Hill is on his way to skiing two million vertical feet in one year, and he's got a few tips for you. Listen up.

Backcountry Skiing     Photo: Bruno Long

Ski mountaineer Hill, of Revelstoke, British Columbia, has an audacious goal: become the first person to ski two million vertical feet in one calendar year under his own power. As of press time, Hill was just eight days behind schedule, with approximately 730,000 feet to go. Follow his progress at backcountry.com/greghill2mil.

1. STRIDE RIGHT
Lightweight alpine touring bindings that pivot at the toe, like Dynafits, will make your life much easier. The forward pivot allows a natural stride while skinning, which is 80 percent of your day.

2. PROTECT YOURSELF
Regular sunscreen works fine during the winter [ed. note: we like Burt's Bees Chemical-Free SPF 30, $13; burtsbees.com], but I switch to zinc oxide when it's sunny spring weather. Always wear eye protection—and keep it fog-free by wearing sunglasses for skinning and goggles for skiing.

3. TAKE ALONG SOME EXTRA INSURANCE
I always stuff an ultralight puffy coat in my pack. Two liters of water is enough for tours shorter than six hours; any longer and I usually bring a compact stove like a Jetboil [$100; jetboil.com). One fuel canister melts enough snow to make eight to ten liters of water.

4. PAMPER YOUR SKINS
Prevent snow from globbing to your skins by rubbing wax like Glob Stopper [$13; blackdiamondequipment.com], or even a candle, against the skins' grain. Once your skins are off, keep them warm by putting them inside your coat. Putting them back on should be the last thing you do before hiking.

5. STEADY DOES IT
Keep your pace slow enough that you can carry on a conversation while you're hiking—that's all skinning is. And take a break every hour and enjoy the lack of frantic lift lines.

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