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  • Writer's pictureHenry Kvietok

Fitness for Backcountry Skiing

Fitness recommendations for backcountry skiers.


Safety Disclaimer: Recreating in the backcountry is inherently dangerous. It is the responsibility of all users to inform themselves of proper backcountry safety protocols, especially in regards to avalanche conditions. It is your responsibility to make your own decisions. This is not a complete guide to avalanche safety or backcountry skiing. I assume absolutely no liability or responsibility for the use of information provided here.

Affiliate Disclosure: All opinions presented here are my own and have been formed through years of experience and rigorous testing. There are product links where I may earn a small commission from purchases made through those links (at no charge to you). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Backcountry skiing is quite different from resort skiing when it comes to fitness. It requires a lot of work to skin uphill with all of your gear and still save enough energy to enjoy the descent. Many first timers exclaim that they appreciate the lifts at resorts a lot more after going on a backcountry tour!

Exhausted after a long trail run. Putting in the work during the off season pays off each winter!

Be prepared to feel out of shape even if you are fit from doing another sport like running, weightlifting, or biking. As with any activity, there are certain muscles that are worked in different ways and it takes some time for your body to adapt. Be patient with yourself and take it slow at first. Lots of injuries happen because folks are too tired from the uphill work and get sloppy when they ski down.

Cycling is another way to stay in shape for backcountry skiing

Here are some backcountry specific fitness resources to check out for more information. Remember, though, you can work out as much as you want at the gym but at the end of the day there is no substitute for getting out there and skiing!

If you are really looking to dive into the details and commit to training, then be sure to check out Training for the Uphill Athlete: A Manual for Mountain Runners and Ski Mountaineers by Steve House, Scott Johnston, Kilian Jornet. It's an incredibly information rich book for all mountain athletes.

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