Training for the Pacific Crest Trail without hiking

Yes you read that right! The 6 months leading up to the PCT, I have done a grand total of zero hikes but I still have managed to be ready to haul a heavy pack, set up an efficient camp, and to be on my feet in the mountains all day.

I did all of my training by backcountry skiing, a sport where you attach climbing skins to the bottom of skis designed to ski up mountains. As avalanche dangers are very real you are required to carry safety gear that weighs a fair amount. There are many overnight camping trips, which due to winter conditions my backpack weighs between 35-45 pounds, all of this adds up to a great way to prepare for the trail doing something I love!


Image: Unconventional PCT prep, but in the most fun way possible!

Ski touring is a sport I began to dabble in at the exact same time I made my decision to hike the PCT. Thankfully living in Canada it is actually possible to get turns all year if you are dedicated enough and willing to hike a bit in ski boots. 

Image: Skiing in mid July in the Canadian Rockies, talk about earning your turns!

As the end of my first full season of ski touring came to a wrap up as I prepare to head South for my PCT hike, I began to challenge myself to get into ski mountaineering. Learning the “ropes” literally has given me a new skill profile that may very well come in hand this high snow year on trail. I have rappelled down into steep couloirs and boot packed up steep faces using crampons and an ice axe. 


Image: High Sierra training ground

Maybe I didn’t take a single hiking or walking step all winter but I sure hope I am in the right kind of shape, and I look forward to hiking again which I haven’t done for quite some time.

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