Uphill skiing has gained an edge in the ski and snowboard community in recent years. While riding the lifts and getting the most possible downhill laps is something most every skier and rider loves, an increasing number of them are choosing to use human power to reach the top of their line.
Uphill skiing, or “skinning,” which utilizes synthetic skins that slide forward, but not backward, to assist in sliding uphill, is gaining traction due to a combination of things, including increased lift ticket prices, improved touring gear and an elevated interest in finding solitude in the mountains. In fact, according to the National Ski Area Association’s Kottke End-of-Season Survey Report from the 2020-21 season, 57 percent of U.S. ski areas now allow some sort of uphill access. That’s a 28 percent increase from the 2012-13 season, when the survey first began inquiring about uphill policies.
Ski resorts nationwide are recognizing and taking advantage of this trend, offering uphill passes and uphill-specific routes. And a small, independently-owned area — Black Mountain — is arguably at the leading edge of this curve.
Every Friday night during ski season, Black Mountain hosts an uphill ski-mountaineering, or “ski-mo,” event organized by Ski the Whites’ Andrew Drummond. Skiers and splitboarders from around the Mount Washington Valley and beyond show up with their own agendas. Some are interested in the beer, pizza and social experience that comes along with the weekly event, while others are looking to quench their thirst for competition. Others simply want to push themselves, getting into better and better shape as the season progresses.