Skiing: Which Discipline is For Me?

"A pair of skis are the ultimate transportation to freedom." - Warren Miller


When the snow starts to fall, we at Adventure East can't help but dream of skiing, whether it be cross-country, alpine, or backcountry. Let's explore which type might be right for you!


Do you enjoy trail runs, long bike rides or just love to explore the outdoors? Cross-country, sometimes called Nordic skiing, focuses on flatter, sometimes groomed terrain. Cross-country ski bindings attach at the toe, and skiers kick off using wax, skins, or scales on the bottom of the ski to slide forward. Different techniques of cross-country skiing include skate skiing, classic skiing, and lightweight touring is sometimes included as well. Cross-country skiing is excellent low-impact aerobic exercise, while providing skiers the opportunity to enjoy rolling winter landscapes and is typically less expensive than the latter two disciplines of skiing. If you are new to all skiing, trying cross-country is a great way to get comfortable sliding on snow.


Enjoy high speeds, flowing through graceful turns, and a chairlift to help you do it over and over again? Alpine skiing is a great option for you. You'll be clipped into your skis at the toe and the heel, providing you more downhill control over your heavier skis in comparison to cross-country skiing. There are several types of alpine ski racing, however recreational alpine skiing at local ski mountains allows you to explore all terrain accessible by chairlift. Alpine skiing gear is typically more expensive than cross-country; many mountains and ski shops have reasonable rental programs and can walk you through what you will need. We recommend starting with a lesson with an instructor at your favorite mountain if you have never skied before. And don't forget a helmet!


Are you an experienced alpine skier looking to broaden your horizons? Do you want to explore all of the skiing terrain Western MA has to offer? Backcountry ski bindings free your heel - similar to cross-country bindings - to tour through uncut trails on climbing skins that prevent you from sliding downhill. Then, when it's time to ski down, you can re-attach your heels, remove your skins, and enjoy a run through a more remote winter landscape. Backcountry skiing combines some touring aspects of cross-country with the downhill ability of alpine skiing, and the equipment can be more expensive. Be sure to always tour with a buddy, as many backcountry skiing locations are challenging and remote.

Knowing what you want to do is only half the challenge; be sure to check out our next post on some of our favorite spots to ski in Western Mass!

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