• Welcome to AlpineZone, the largest online community of skiers and snowboarders in the Northeast!

    You may have to REGISTER before you can post. Registering is FREE, gets rid of the majority of advertisements, and lets you participate in giveaways and other AlpineZone events!

Hiking vs. Skiing

riverc0il

New member
Joined
Jul 10, 2001
Messages
13,039
Points
0
Location
Ashland, NH
Website
www.thesnowway.com
Now reconsidering blacknblue's comments above, I can really see the appeal in backcountry skiing. I hope to get into it more once I feel my downhill skills are strong enough.
i only skied with you one day greg, but you are more than there from what i saw. as long as you can handle various snow conditions including bumps and powder, you're all set to ski B/C. there are lots of degrees of challenge in backcountry skiing that all levels of skiers can participate in. B/C is almost more about using your mind rather than your skis... knowing what you can handle, when to turn around, what to pack, being prepared for the unexpected, etc. it is the ultimate combination of the two activities.
 

Mike P.

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Jul 1, 2001
Messages
1,545
Points
0
Location
CT
Greg,

While you have just about nailed the hysical skill set of hiking down, you missed the mental skill set

Planning & decision making, especially if solo is where the learning process is.

How many miles can I do in a day (& enjoy)
Weather forecast is iffy, can I get back down before it turns bad? (What's bad)
Is rain & 50 MPH winds bad? Is snow & 30 MPH at 20 degrees bad?
It's November & your in the Whites, what can I do without crampons? Do I need them on 11/15?
Should I turn back?

Most of these decisons are made for you at the ski resort, someone at Sugarbush decides if the North peak summit which is bare & open should be open
Is a certain trail not covered enough or too icy, they close it Is there enough daylight for a last run, it's a non-issue, the resort either has lights or closes at 4:00 Heck they can close the resort if they choose due to weather

Consequence of poor decision at ski resort (I'm going to ski a double diamond run) wipe outs, being laughed at by family, friends & other skiers - especaially if I have to walk in the woods, injury, possibly serious or even fatal but medical help close by - won't help if you kiss a tree at 40 MPH

Consequence of poor decisions hiking: in summer an unplanned night out, a trip that ends at 11:00 PM with headlamp (unless not having a light was one of your bad decisions) Injury if you trip & fall - because you are walking in the dark - or on ice, if bad decisions from October to April in ADK's or Whites, why did I leaves crampons in the CAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRR
or I'd be there by now if I was not up to my waist in snow, there was only an inch at the trailhead


fatalitiy possibilities increase, some due to injury, more likely to hypothermia responsibilty for my safety, 100% me or a trip leader (read me)

Who is responsible at ski resort? While they coulda woulda shoulda closed a trail or got the Rescue people to me sooner, the law in most states does not allow you to sue them so even if you think they are to blame, you likely can't recover because of it, the ride in the stretcher is free though, in the Whites it might cost you some money & it may not be as smooth either.
 

Greg

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Jul 1, 2001
Messages
31,158
Points
0
Mike - I see your points. Mine was a bit more simplistic. Put a first time hiker who is in reasonably good shape on Edmunds Path and tell them to follow you up Eisenhower for a dayhike, they probably could do it with little trouble. They will also instantly get a very impressive big mountain hiking experience. Put that same person on skis on a very gentle slope at a local ski hill and they'll most likely have a tough time that first day. From a purly physical/technique standpoint, skiing is far harder than hiking. That physical challenge is what appeals to me. Nothing feels quite like that day when linking turns finally clicks, except that you strive to get that feeling over and over on any type of terrain and on all surface conditions. I agree that all the logistics of hiking/backpacking are exhilirating, but the physical challenge of skiing is what appeals to me more. Apples and oranges, really. I simply appreciate that I live in an area where I can do both.
 

ChileMass

New member
Joined
Nov 10, 2003
Messages
2,482
Points
0
Location
East/Central MA
Gotta agree with you, boss - skiing is harder than hiking because it's a sport which requires a lot longer to master. It's a precision sport to do well which takes perhaps several years of practice to learn (like golf!!). Mastering extended outdoor hikes is another matter, which is an other precision endeavor which could take years to master, but almost anyone can grab a copy of the WMF Guide and head off on an enjoyable day-hike. Almost anyone would also get in big trouble fast on their first day on skis.
 

Mike P.

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Jul 1, 2001
Messages
1,545
Points
0
Location
CT
So Greg bumped this thread to revive the discussion. I looked at another thread he started recently too, Do you hike ski areas in the off-season? As I looked at that my first thought was, what off-season do hikers have? Then I realized he meant the ski area's off-season.

Planning for new & bigger trips IMO has to go to hiking. Maybe backcountry skiing has similaraties but I don't see how resort would have same process.

I'm heading up to the Whites for a Memorial Day hike of unknown length & distance. I have three variations of the same hike, all over 25 miles, Thinking I'll aim to start at first light (5:00 AM) what time will I finish the just over 25 mile trip estimating my projected speed over the distance. I want to be at the trail junction that determines if I do 25+ or 28+ miles before 1:45 in order to do the 28+ mile hike. If I arrive later than that, I head down not up. To do the over 30 mile hike I need to get to the next junction by 3:00.

If I hit the times I want on the first two options I'll finish before dark, barely on the 28 mile trip. I need to be 16% faster than my estimated time in order to realistically complete the 33 mile hike with a couple of hours of night hiking on flat terrain. Starting a little earlier on flat terrain means I get home sooner.

What would the comparison be for resort skiing, trying to ski over 50 trails on Killington? Hitting the seven summits at Sunday River? Start time & finish time is decided for you, for expert skiers, picking the right trails not really an issue, for new skiers triple diamonds = pain or worse. Day selection would be important to try & lessen waiting in lift lines & lift time (also known as rest time)

The best way for me to make good time/better time is to shorten or skip rest time. (I've been on the first five summits; 4, 4, 7, 10 & 11 times so I've seen the view) 1/2 way out I can't decide to call it quits & hit the lodge. While in summer I could end up with a uncomfortable night out if I call it quits & sleep out when that was not planned, (as opposed to skiing in summer as portrayed in the Capital One Commercial - okay Summer skiing is harder) in the winter, that decision is fatal, you'd have to plan on the possibility in order to survive.

Skiing harder physcially from a balance & short term strength point of view
hiking harder on a long term (all day) strength & endurance point + safe planning has bigger repercussions if you get that wrong.
 

Greg

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Jul 1, 2001
Messages
31,158
Points
0
Mike P. said:
Skiing harder physcially from a balance & short term strength point of view
hiking harder on a long term (all day) strength & endurance point + safe planning has bigger repercussions if you get that wrong.
I guess I would agree with this synopsis. As a technique, skiing is obviously harder to master. Logistically, there's more involved in planning a hike. A BC tour combines both so that's the ultimate East coast mountain experience.
 

gustmouse

New member
Joined
Apr 26, 2006
Messages
30
Points
0
Hiking/backpacking and skiing are two totally different pastimes the only thing in common is they mostly take place in mountain terrain.
I’ll always remember a sign I saw while backpacking in Rocky Mountains National Park. At a designated campsite at 11000 feet named Treeline.
It stated that the Mountains Don’t Care referring to that they don’t care if you live or die! Further up on the Big Horn Flats at about 12000 feet
We found the gear of an party that we found out later bailed off the mountains from a snow storm that past November. The odd thing was one of the names on a pack was from our small hometown in Connecticut. So once we got home we were able to find out more about the event. They were just under prepared and a winter storm hit them at 12000 feet.They all made it out, but the Mountains Really Don’t Care!
 

gustmouse

New member
Joined
Apr 26, 2006
Messages
30
Points
0
sorry the name of the site was Timberline, that trip was over 20 years ago!
 

JimG.

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Oct 29, 2004
Messages
10,969
Points
48
Location
Hopewell Jct., NY
Mike P. said:
hiking harder on a long term (all day) strength & endurance point + safe planning has bigger repercussions if you get that wrong.

I don't believe this is a valid statement when discussing backcountry skiing. I would argue that BC skiing is alot more physically and mentally demanding than hiking because you are hauling (even taking into account that you can put skins on the skis and tour with them) even more equipment and you are operating in a mostly wintertime weather environment.
 

Mike P.

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Jul 1, 2001
Messages
1,545
Points
0
Location
CT
Is BC skiing & touring, skiing or winter mountaineering? Is winter mountaineering skiing or hiking?

Is a winter attempt of Katahdin (the East's biggest & hardest winter trip) where you ski into Roaring Brook, snowshoe to Chimney Pond & Use ropes to ascend the peak, a ski trip, a winter hiking trip or winter mountaineering trip? IMO yes, to all three

When getting into BC & winter travel, their is a blurring of events.

To Emphasis the role of planning (no pun intended as the site I'm about to offer for an example is a financial planning site) I look at the Bernie Dahl's rescue a few years ago on Mt. Washington. He mentions he had climbed 2 of the 7 summits, major peaks in CO & elsewhere but IMO he needed a rescue based on bad decisions he made. At some point initially (I believe) he claimed to be a mountaineer, I don't know if that is still true. I argued he was a tourist who went on guided trips where the guides make all the decisions on going up or down, where to camp, when to turnaround, what is in your daypack & what do the porters carry etc.

Walking where you are told is easier than skiing, being responsible for yourself & others, telling them where to walk whether you need winter gear or might be in avalanches or crevasses is much different

Bernie Dahl's site is www.mtwashingtonmisadventure.com If I was selling financial planning I might call this Spam.
 

JimG.

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Oct 29, 2004
Messages
10,969
Points
48
Location
Hopewell Jct., NY
Mike P. said:
Is BC skiing & touring, skiing or winter mountaineering? Is winter mountaineering skiing or hiking?

When getting into BC & winter travel, their is a blurring of events.

OK point taken...when I refer to BC, I'm talking about hiking/touring, climbing (but without ropes in just about all cases), and skiing. You can argue that helicopters and snowcats are BC, but that's not what I was referring to when I compared it to hiking.

Looking at it from the opposite way, hiking can be anything from a nice walk on a carriage path to a fairly technical climb/rock scramble that may even involve a ladder or two. Hiking doesn't become rock climbing to me until ropes become an issue although I'm sure free climbers would not appreciate me calling that sport hiking and I don't mean to imply that.

So, to be specific when I compare hiking (based on a fairly strenous walk with some significant elevation gain that also involves ledges, slides, rock scrambles, and/or ladders) to BC skiing (based on a fairly strenous walk/tour/skin up a significant elevation gain that also involves ledges, slides, rock scrambles, steep snow covered slopes, crevasses, falling ice, and possible avalanches that culminates in a graceful set of turns down a steep slope), I think that BC skiing is a little more difficult and requires more planning and expertise.
 

Mike P.

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Jul 1, 2001
Messages
1,545
Points
0
Location
CT
Do you mean like the guys I see on Warren Miller commercials or worse, the guys trying to be like that?
1.) I think their nuts, isn't some of that bungee jumping without the bungee (skier's version of free climbing but downhill)
2.) I'd classify those guys as pending accident victims...

In both cases, the devil is in the details & planning, if you want to graduate (not that moderate trails at Bretton Woods or just hiking rail trails aren't fun, recreational, relaxing & exercise) to the higher levels in each, being fit & good planning is the main difference.

Climbing I'd say is harder than either with a zero margin for error in big mistakes.
 

JimG.

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Oct 29, 2004
Messages
10,969
Points
48
Location
Hopewell Jct., NY
Mike P. said:
Do you mean like the guys I see on Warren Miller commercials or worse, the guys trying to be like that?
1.) I think their nuts, isn't some of that bungee jumping without the bungee (skier's version of free climbing but downhill)
2.) I'd classify those guys as pending accident victims...

In both cases, the devil is in the details & planning, if you want to graduate (not that moderate trails at Bretton Woods or just hiking rail trails aren't fun, recreational, relaxing & exercise) to the higher levels in each, being fit & good planning is the main difference.

Climbing I'd say is harder than either with a zero margin for error in big mistakes.

My answer to your first question is no...Warren Miller stuff is not BC, that's Hollywood. I mean, some of it may be filmed BC, but there are alot of support services like helicopters on site that the common guy like me doesn't have; we have to pay extra for that stuff. Besides, I think it's funny that some folks think that Warren Miller stuff is spontaneous. It isn't. Most of those crazy cliff hucks have been planned and scoped out for months if not years in advance. Then, filming is done when conditions are optimal. Skiers like me don't have that luxury, so you won't often find me flying off of 50 foot+ cliff drops.

I totally agree that planning and good fitness are required for either hiking or skiing if one wants to graduate to more difficult hikes/lines. I'll add experience to that list too.

And I also agree that rock climbing makes both pale in comparison when it comes to difficulty and room for error.
 
Last edited:
Top