The Climbing Popularity of ‘Uphill Skiing’ In The Mountain West

An industry trade group says uphill skiing is one of the fastest growing snow sports in the country, especially in the Mountain West.

The sport is also called alpine touring, or “skinning,” because of the Velcro-like skins you put on the bottom of your skis that allow you to climb upslope before skiing down.

“From the data from retail sales we can see that the spike in uphill gear are driving the industry much like snowboarding did up to 10 years ago,” said Snowsports Industries of America spokesperson Eric Henderson, who noted that sales of alpine touring gear is up more than 20% over last year.

Henderson said many resorts used to ban uphill skiing, mainly for safety concerns. Uphill skiers can trigger avalanches on ungroomed snow, or collide with unsuspecting snowcat drivers. But now resorts in the region are embracing the sport.

“Certain resorts are actually looking at it as a revenue maker, or an additional accessory to people’s seasons passes,” he said.

And some, such as the Aspen Skiing Co., are providing dedicated lanes for uphill skiers to recreate safely.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.