Why Do We Ski Uphill?

It was the depths of winter, during one of the long Arctic Outflow events that brought plunging temperatures and crystal blue skies to the Pacific Northwest this past year. I was out on a mid-week run to pick up some piece of gear or another from Mountain Equipment Co-op, and had been (as per usual) distracted by some piece of gear that I couldn't afford.

Near me, a couple were looking at alpine touring gear, scratching their heads over the weird looking bindings and the high priced boots.

"Why not just take the chairlift?" one asked, matter-of-factly.

I laughed it off and returned to my mental arithmetic, wondering how many days I could subsist on rice and beans in a row to liberate the capital to afford an avalanche airbag backpack. But as I left the store, and kept getting out in the backcountry all season, I couldn't stop thinking about that question - why not just take the chairlift.

Obviously there were reasons – good ones even – but I couldn't articulate them in any kind of concise way, so I made a video about it. Check it out above.


Cameron Fenton