10/28/2021 Skimo Co Employee Preseason Rituals
This time of year is a mixed bag. By late fall, the mountains have gotten a frosting or two but there’s not usually quite enough snow to really get busy. So while we (im)patiently wait for more snow to pile up, a few Skimo Co staff members took the time to talk about how they prepare for the upcoming season during this agonizing shoulder season.
Cole: As the summer heat recedes and the days get shorter, I start to let my mind wander to the winter highlight reel from last year. Immediately, I think of those rare but addicting perfect turns from previous winters. Also on replay is that one time when we scored South Superior in perfect conditions. There’s no way Will and Jeff have forgotten that day either.
And as the skiing itch grows, the more I feel the need to get out often. Each day we are getting closer to five am alarms and skiing five times a week. As I wait for snow, I also start focusing on my fitness and run around the ski areas. Not only am I getting fit, but I can keep my eyes peeled for mellow slopes that are clear from large rocks. This beta will come in handy the first few days of the season when it’s still thin coverage. My preseason workout regimen is important to me since I can focus my energy on getting into ski shape and keep my mind on winter by selecting grassy terrain that I imagine will be perfect for first turns.
Will: Come October 1st, or honestly anytime it drops below 70 degrees, the snow science gears begin to turn in my mind. It starts off like a resurfacing addiction - fast and diving in way too deep. Usually, my partner has to tell me to ease off the gas, otherwise, I end up spent by the beginning of the season, completely disillusioned by the amount of SWAG Guideline data codes. So now I try to take a more mellow approach to brush up on my information intake. Granted, I might dive a bit deeper than most as I also work as an avalanche educator, but the tactics I use are applicable to the everyday skier.
My first thing is to begin tracking when and where snow starts falling, and whether it stays around on north-facing slopes. Despite those mountains being beautiful when covered in snow and paired with the changing colors of fall, that typically will be an indicator of where the season's persistent weak layer will start out. This is great cross-training as well as it usually incorporates some ski training via trail running.
When I’m recovering at home from abusing my legs, I’ll begin skimming through Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain. It doesn’t really matter what your level of avalanche education is, it’s a great resource for everybody. Even if I’m not reading it cover to cover, it still helps to refresh myself. Along with this, I try to attend snow and avalanche workshops. The biggest benefit of the Covid-19 era is that all of these have moved online (for the time being) and now I’m able to watch talks from the East Coast to the Pacific Northwest, gathering different information with regards to different types of snowpack.
Patrick: Getting ready for the winter ski season takes focus and comes with a real need to carve out time dedicated to hard training. As a dad, that just will not happen. So instead, I use our three kids as a strength training substitute. Piggyback rides and carrying loads of laundry up and down the stairs increase strength, while furiously cleaning the kitchen, bathroom, and bedrooms - all after cooking dinner - increase cardio, footspeed, and works on body awareness. Speaking in a calm, measured voice after someone has Jackson Pollocked the wall with spaghetti sauce is fantastic for mental toughness.
James: I’m not a morning person. No matter how much I love skiing deep powder at sunrise, getting up for dawn patrols is rough. So in anticipation of groggy wake-ups, I spend the preseason making huge batches of breakfast burritos and then freezing them. That way, I can roll out of bed, throw one in the microwave, and then eat it on the way to the trailhead. But the real beauty of this is that I get to pick exactly what I want to go in them and they’re hefty enough to fuel me for both short tours and long days. The main ingredients are eggs, cheese, sweet potatoes, jalapenos, bell peppers, onions, and sausage. But the sky's the limit so long as I don’t have to wake up earlier to make one fresh.
Also, I try and watch Valhalla. Still the best ski movie ever made. Change my mind.
Jeremy: I plan on dialing in my training to be more ski specific. I plan on doing more core work and lunges and piling weight in my pack and start hitting more vert. I envision myself doing box jumps and picking up the weights that have been sitting in the corner for a year not even collecting dust because they are under other things.
I plan a lot, but in reality, I don’t do much more than I normally do because talk is cheap and shoulder season sucks. In the end, like a lot of people, I scour the interwebs for new gear and pore over maps looking for that next magical tour.
Ian: We’re all familiar with setting goals prior to a season, whether measured in terms of vertical feet, lines skied, race results, or even simply the number of ski days. But there is also something to be said for spelling out less quantifiable objectives - something I’m encountering for my first season in the Wasatch. For example, I hope to deepen my understanding of the local environment, improve my awareness and response to risk, and strengthen mental resilience when placed in unfamiliar scenarios. I like the fact that these metrics are environmentally independent—something to improve upon every day regardless of the conditions.
Jason: Unfortunately Skimo Co's owner could not be reached for comment. He was out lapping Main Chute in low tide conditions.