Well before the sport of uphilling surged in popularity, Aspen Snowmass embraced the activity across its four mountains. Now that uphilling is more mainstream, Aspen Snowmass continues to foster this mode of recreation with supplemented trail systems, clinics, ski school lessons, equipment rentals and social activities. Aspen Snowmass and the town of Aspen — as a whole — has gotten behind the sport, with Mayor Steve Skadron taking a lead:
“Our vision for the uphill economy initiative is to preserve our mountain-town culture and make Aspen the epicenter of uphill fitness in North America. It’s really about economic development tied to our mountain roots, without the development. When I uphill, my mountain adventure is freer, heartier and more authentic.”
What is uphilling?Uphilling — also called skinning or alpine touring — is climbing up a mountain with skis, skins, boots on your feet and poles in your hands. Once at the top of your climb, a simple transition of your gear allows you to ski back down the route you ascended. Uphilling requires a ski/boot/binding setup that is different from what you would normally use for downhill skiing. The boots have an adjustable cuff that can be locked stiff for skiing — or unlocked for walking. Similarly, a specialized alpine touring binding has two modes as well — one for skiing with a locked down heel and the other for uphilling where an unlocked heel allows for an easy walking stride. Specialized climbing skins are used for traction on the ascent and are removed when it comes time to ski.