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Skinning should be banned!

January 08, 2019 2 min read

People backcountry skiing on Hagan alpine ski touring skis.

Skinning should be banned. Yes, banned. Stricken. Banished. Forever rid from our minds.

Oh, not the activity. The activity is wonderful. The term. The term is dreadful - the term "skinning."

Yes, it's short and simple. Yes, it rolls off the tongue easily. But the term is stupid. When we get in our cars, we don't go "tiring." And we aren't actually skinning animals. 

True, actual animal skins were originally used for climbing traction. And the first manufactured climbing "skins" were developed in Austria and called Felle. (German for skins.) But Austrians don't go "Felle-ing." They go ski touring, or alpine touring, or just AT.

It's similar to rock climbing or trail running. Rock climbing isn't called "rocking" and trail running isn't called "trailing." Two words describe the activity better.

Don't be lazy.

"Running" is okay, but "trail running" is much more descriptive.

"Touring" is okay, "ski touring" is better (for those in the know) and "alpine ski touring" is best (for those who have never heard of this sport and for whom "ski touring" conjures images of old-timers meandering down a snow covered trail slower than walking.) 

(More on that in another blog post. Hint - "Uphill Skiing" is also banned.)

We call those devices we use for uphill traction "climbing skins." But the activity itself is alpine ski touring. In the summer we go hiking or running, we don't go "shoeing."

(Okay, we do go bicycling. You got me there. And when we take off the climbing skins and we start descending we are... skiing. Crap.)

Back to my argument.

Ski touring – it is a much more descriptive, a much more accurate, simply a much better term. "Skinning" is casual, flippant. Almost silly. Really. Think about it.

Stop using it.

The sport of ski touring is invigorating, exciting, exploratory, sometimes challenging, but definitely not casual, not flippant. Leave the slang terms to the park rats. They don't get it, anyway.

Let's not try too hard to be cool. Nobody thinks of ski tourers as the cool kids on the block. We don't think of ourselves as cool. That's why we leave the block and head up the mountains. So we can be alone or with a few of our also not-cool friends.

So stop saying it. Stop saying "skinning." Ask your buds, ask your gal pals, to stop saying it, too. Ask them if they want to go "ski touring" this weekend. Not skinning. If someone asks if you went skinning, say no. "No, I didn't. I went ski touring. It was wonderful."

Oh, if you haven't caught on, I'm jesting. Kind of. A tad. 

Every time I catch myself saying "skinning", I cringe. It's a hard habit to break. But make the effort. It is worth it.

Be woke. Cancel skinning.

Go "ski touring"!

Promise? If you do, I promise to not go shoeing.

People backcountry skiing on Hagan alpine ski touring skis.

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