Crowded slopes and lift lines got you down? We have just the thing to remedy your skiing claustrophobia: Night skiing! And we don't mean lift-serviced night skiing. We're talking about a good old-fashioned skin-up, ski-down workout … in the dark.
When I lived in Crested Butte, Colorado, I used to skin up the mountain all the time. It was a great workout, and when I didn't have a pass, I was able to get a run in for free. However, I never skinned up at night—always in the morning, or just after the lifts had come to a halt at 4pm.
Recently, however, Casey, my fiance, and I decided to head to Loveland for a nighttime skin and ski. We headed out around 6pm, and pulled into Loveland's delightfully desolate parking lot about an hour later. Unfortunately, it was cold—really cold. Maybe in the low teens range? It was also snowing lightly. Shivering, we put our skins on our skis and got all of our things together.
I had gotten a free uphill pass a few days before when I was downhill skiing, so I strapped that to my arm. I forgot the trail map of uphill travel routes that they had given me when I got my pass. When we got up to the base, I saw that Route A was closed, so we needed to find Route B. Casey studied the big blown-up map and somehow figured out where we were supposed to go. Next time, I'll definitely bring the map.
We began skinning up the cat track toward the run we'd be ascending. We brought our dog Uinta with us and she was having the time of her life, sprinting across the snow and sniffing every tree. We strapped one of our headlights around her neck so that just in case if she got ahead of us, the groomer driving the cat would be able to see her (and so we could keep track of her). It took us about 30 minutes to get almost to the top of the route—we stopped a little early because Casey was fighting a cold and it was frigid out there.
Then we removed our skins from our skis, added back layers, got our selfies on, and skied down the freshly groomed corduroy! It was awesome to have the whole resort to ourselves, and to experience Loveland in serene solitude. It was also a pretty romantic way to get some exercise. And one more bonus: no traffic!
If you're interested in some night skiing, here's what you need to know.
What You Need to Night Ski:
-An uphill pass. Often times, resorts require you to get an uphill pass and display it as you travel. These are usually free or low-cost, and you don't have to have a normal pass to be eligible for one.
-If you ski, skis with AT or telemark binding.
-If you ride, a split board.
-If you don't have ATs, teles, or a split board, you can also hike up and carry your skis if you're so motivated. A backpack or a strap to help you do so is key!
-Skins cut to fit your skis. These can be ordered from a local shop or online and fitted to your skis.
-A headlamp. You know, so you can see what you're doing. Unless of course, there's a full moon.
-Motivation. It will be cold out there!
Tips for Night Skiing:
-Know before you go. Most resorts that allow uphill travel have prescribed routes so you don't get in the way of grooming cats. Ask for a map or info on the uphill routes.
-Speaking of cats, stay out of their way! If you get off-route and encounter one, head to the side of the slope and make sure your headlight is on.
-Pay attention to any closed uphill routes. Usually, the resort will prominently display this at the base area by the big resort maps.
-Wear reflective clothing to help you stand-out to cats and any other fellow night skiers.
-Dress in layers. You will go from being freezing to super hot to cold again.
-Bring a backpack to store your skins after you remove them, as well as extra layers.
-Got glasses or clear lab goggles? Where them. You're eyeballs will thank you on your way down.
And if you want to try out night skiing, but don't want to have to get yourself up there, some resorts do offer night skiing. While you may not be the solitary rider on the mountain, we guarantee
slope-traversing tourists will be scarce, and crowds will be low. In Colorado, both Keystone Resort and Steamboat Springs offer night skiing.