swish. click. glide. swish. click. glide.
The soft whoomph of compacted snow beneath skis joins an uphill symphony. Breathing steadies, finding its place evenly in concert. Your partner matches your track’s tempo, a muffled duet, instrumental—this movement does not necessitate words. And this chorus, at its core, is movement.
Ski touring is misunderstood by many: an action sport revolving around risk calculus; a more dangerous version of an in-resort leisure activity. But adrenaline needs a partner, and movement is meditation.
“Earning your turns” emphasizes the downhill glide… but what if we’re in it equally for the climb? The skin track is not merely a means to an end. It’s an intentional process; the practice is the result.
Time blurs in those pale blue hours before dawn; minutes turn to hours. Oblivious to such feeble constructs, we climb. Upward progress is not measured by speed nor distance, but by where one travels in the mind.
Meditative movement brings unparalleled mental clarity: simultaneously hyper aware of the intricacies of our breath and our movement; at once unaware of the arbitrary trials of our lives off snow. Thoughts distill into something simpler, pure, lain clearly atop a clean dendrite slate for examination.
We shelve our daily search for consistency, embracing the ephemeral environment. Every step changes the snowpack beneath our feet; a degree change could signal a tectonic shift. Yet the volatility of our surroundings as reciprocated by our actions gives us a keen sense of connection—the feedback loop is smaller out here; our movements can have tangible, real-time results.
A winter waltz through old growth groves humbles us; even the most experienced among our group have no seniority on our arboreal elders. They keep a watchful eye as we move through them, their trunks providing our bearings: turn here, now there.
And so we go, and so we flow—like a braided river, the track madly meanders. Yet every turn, every contour is an intentional appreciation of micro terrain—seeing the details of a bigger picture. We find a meditative connection with the Earth: a grounding. Lines drawn upon the mountains we’re drawn to. Our skis flow like water along the path of least resistance, embracing land’s and life’s undulations.
The skin track is a teacher, a platform, a friend, a temple. The blank canvas of skiing’s yoga mat is always there for those who seek it. A daily practice for some, a twice yearly occasion for others, each individual will find a unique interpretation. It’s not a pursuit of perfection, but purpose: slowing down in a sped up world, making space to breathe, making space to be.