Last Friday four us climbed Mount Saint Helens. We all skinned up from the parking lot, topped out just shy of the summit (because, cornice), and then skied back down.
One person in the group was brand new to the challenges of skinning. The conditions were generally good, but there were some steep spots and areas of hard snow that made good kick turns and edging a must.
I don’t know about anyone else who’s learned to skin, but when I learned there was a lot of bruises (mainly from falling on my own skis), a lot of sliding backwards (mainly from falling on my own skis on the steep bits), and a fair bit of frustration (mainly from falling on my own skis on the steep bits when everyone else seemed to be ascending just fine).
But this time, I was the one that (mostly) wasn’t falling, having finally gotten a few skins under my legs. And that meant the pace was comfortable for me. We had plenty of breaks, took it a bit slower for our friend to learn, and generally made a day of it.
So, by the time the day was all said and done, despite having climbed 5,700ft with a round trip of ~11mi, I felt great. I mean, hungry and a bit sleepy, but mostly great. We did a swim the next day, and climbed the day after. I was a little tight, but nothing worth noting.
This isn’t a miracle (though, it kind of felt like one), it’s just because we were going at a pace that was comfortable for the fitness level I was at. All of which is a good reminder that slowing things down, even a bit, can make the difference between feeling really good and wanting more, and feeling completely beat. I think the former is going to be key.