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Skiing Mt. Sentinel

Skiing Missoula's Mt. Sentinel
Skiing Missoula's Mt. Sentinel
When pow fell and the craving hit, this skier turned to a local peak.

The day after the biggest dump in 65 years at Lolo Pass, I taught an avalanche class to local high school kids. I love teaching and I love evaluating the snowpack, but I also love skiing.

Brian spent all day with local middle school kids roasting marshmallows around a campfire and playing team building games while he watched skiers and snowboarders lap the fresh powder on Mount Sentinel.

The Skinny on Skinning

Skinning is crucial in the side- or backcountry because it’s more efficient and less tiring than hiking in deep snow. The fur-like surface of skins flattens as you move uphill, allowing your skis to glide, but it grips to keep you from sliding back after each step.

Don’t be afraid. Skinning isn’t as painful as it sounds. In fact, it’s the most efficient way to propel yourself uphill. It’s a crucial skill for ski touring in the back- or sidecountry, where you don’t have the aid of a chairlift to get you to the top of a peak. Pete Swenson, Director of the U.S. Ski Mountaineering Association, says that almost anyone can do it. “If you’re capable of a slow jog, you can skin up the side of the hill,” he says. But before you venture out on your first sidecountry adventure, you’ll need the right gear and some sound advice.


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