Controversy over uphill skiing in the US

15th January 2014, by Abi Butcher

Skinning or

Skinning or "uphilling" is banned in some resorts in the United States

Skinning — or ski touring up the piste — has become so popular in the US that increasing numbers of resorts are introducing rules to ensure skiers chip in with running costs and stay safe on the mountain.

Skiing up the side of the piste is commonly termed as “uphilling” or “fitness skiing” in the States, and the US Forest Service has proposed a rule change that would allow ski areas to charge a fee for such skiers. At the beginning of this season roughly 40 US resorts had rules in place to control the burgeoning sport.

While some skiers favour the peace and quiet, others see skinning as an excellent form of exercise — and a free way of skiing. Walk up, ski down.

Rich Burkley from the Aspen Skiing Co said that the number of people skinning or snowshoeing in their four resorts has grown “exponentially” in the past few years. While Aspen and Snowmass have had rules in place to control “uphilling” for around the past 20 years, other resorts are now following suit.

Breckenridge no longer allows people to skin up the pistes while the lifts are in operation, Steamboat requires “uphillers” to report to the ski patrol for an update on conditions and be issued with an armband pass, while Copper Mountain and Arapahoe Basin require “uphillers” to obtain a hiking pass and sign a waiver. Some Colorado resorts ask skiers to buy a lift pass.

Arapahoe Basin chief operating officer Alan Henceroth said there has been a “tripling” of use in uphill travel last season.

“With the increased use, we decided to review our policy and we a felt a few changes made good sense,” he said. “We see 20-50 uphill users per day.”

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