Category Archives: Skiing

Stories and images from my cross-country and backcountry skiing adventures, from family- and beginner-friendly to expert-level trips.

January 13, 2019 At Kaweah Gap, Sequoia National Park, California.

Why I Endanger My Kids in the Wilderness (Even Though It Scares the Sh!t Out of Me)

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skiing   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   14 Comments

By Michael Lanza

A glacial wind pours through a snowy pass in the remote mountains of Norway’s Jotunheimen National Park. Virtually devoid of vegetation, the terrain offers no refuge from the relentless current of frigid air. Some of the troops are hungry, a little tired, and grumpy; mutiny doesn’t seem beyond the realm of possibility, so I don’t want to add “cold” to their growing list of grievances. I coax everyone to push on just a little farther, down out of the wind to a sun-splashed, snow-free area of dirt and rocks for lunch.

But I don’t like the looks of the steep slope we have to descend. Blanketed in snow made firm by freezing overnight temperatures, and littered with protruding boulders, it runs hundreds of feet down to a lake choked with icebergs—in mid-July. A trench stomped into the snow by other trekkers diagonals down to our lunch spot. It’s well traveled, but someone slipping in that track could rocket downhill at the speed of a car on a highway. I turn to our little party—which ranges in age from my nine-year-old daughter to my 75-year-old mother—and emphasize that we have to proceed extremely carefully. Continue reading →

January 2, 2019 Ski touring the Elkhorn Loop, Boise National Forest, Idaho.

New Year Resolution: Getting Unplugged

In Family Adventures, Skiing   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,   |   6 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Right before New Year’s Day, for the tenth year of the past 12, my family and another did something we have eagerly anticipated annually for almost as long as my children’s memory reaches backward. It involved skis, backpacks, and spending four days at a yurt tucked away in snow-covered mountains a few miles from the nearest, very lonely, winding, two-lane road. But the details matter only inasmuch as they steer us toward our ultimate goal: We really go there to get completely unplugged.

We do that mostly for ourselves, of course. But I think we need this notion of disconnecting to catch on more widely, to save us all from ourselves. Continue reading →

December 17, 2018 Teenage girl descending off the Fenetre d’Arpette on the Tour du Mont Blanc in the Swiss Alps.

The 10 Best Family Outdoor Adventure Trips

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skiing   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   8 Comments

By Michael Lanza

As a parent of teenagers who’s taken his kids on outdoor adventures since before they can remember, I’ll share with you the biggest and in some ways most surprising lesson I’ve learned from these trips: Our outdoor adventures have been the best times we’ve had together as a family—but not only because of the places and experiences themselves. The main reason is that these trips have given us innumerable days with only each other and nature for entertainment—no electronic devices or other distractions that construct virtual walls within families in everyday life. These times have brought us closer together. Continue reading →

December 15, 2018 A backcountry skier at Baldy Knoll, in Wyoming's Teton Range.

How to Dress in Layers for Winter in the Backcountry

In Backpacking, Gear Reviews, Hiking, International Adventures, Skiing, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

If hiking, backpacking, and climbing from spring through fall teaches us the fundamentals of layering our clothing for comfort in variable weather, the backcountry in winter confers a graduate degree in layering. In mild temperatures, getting wet with perspiration or precipitation merely risks discomfort. In freezing temps, it can quickly lead to hypothermia and actually become life-threatening. Drawn from three decades of Nordic and backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, climbing, camping, and trail running in winter, these tips go beyond the usual layering advice to help you stay comfortable and safe by customizing clothing systems according to activity and body type. Continue reading →

December 10, 2018 Wallowa Mountains, Oregon.

12 Pro Tips For Staying Warm Outdoors in Winter

In Backpacking, Hiking, Skiing, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   18 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Staying warm while Nordic, downhill, or backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, or hiking in winter is a constant challenge: We sweat, our clothes get damp, then we get cold. But as humans have known for thousands of years, it’s a matter of smartly managing and insulating our body’s furnace (and today we have much better technical clothing than animal skins). As someone who runs hot when moving, cools off quickly, and gets cold fingers and toes easily, I’ve learned many tricks over nearly four decades of getting out in the backcountry in frigid temperatures. Follow these tips and you will be vastly more comfortable outdoors in winter.

Continue reading →

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