Ski touring, ski mountaineering, alpine skiing…
There are many expressions and you can get lost. What is ski touring? Am I a ski mountaineer or a touring skier, or maybe a ski tourist?
Ski touring is a combination of mountain winter tourism and skiing, and of course it differs from ordinary hiking and alpine skiing in terms of equipment. A characteristic feature are skis with skins and special bindings with a movable heel adapter for going uphill. We can define it as skiing in the backcountry on unmarked or unpatrolled areas. Touring is typically done off-piste and outside of ski resorts, and may extend over a period of more than one day. It is similar to backcountry skiing but excludes the use of a ski lift or transport.
In the introduction, we wrote that ski touring is a form of winter tourism. We did not mention, however, that this is the best variant of walking in the mountains in winter! Ski tours provide incredible comfort of approach, speed of movement on snow-covered trails, not to mention the descents. The last last part is not always as pleasant as we would like, but they always give us great satisfaction. Ski tourism has won the hearts of many experienced alpine skiers who are bored with skiing on prepared slopes, freeriders looking for untouched snow, as well as experienced tourists who like winter hiking and appreciate the advantages of skis underfoot.
Ski touring and ski mountaineering
These are two very close terms, but in theory not entirely identical. Ski touring is hiking, ascending and descending, while ski mountaineering is a more technically advanced form of ski touring and involves the need to take off your skis for a steep climb, put crampons on your feet and use an ice ax. Often, ski mountaineering requires the skier to use climbing techniques and equipment: harness, rope, belaying himself or a partner, setting up positions, climbing in more difficult way, e.g. rocky ice terrain or descending into the gully which we want to slide down. However, the transition from ski touring to ski mountaineering is very smooth and it often depends on the current conditions on the approach.