Skinning, Skin Track
Backcountry skiers and some snowboarders ascend slopes using climbing skins attached to the bottom of their skis.
To travel through mountains in deep snow, skiers and some snowboarders attach climbing skins to the bottoms of their skis or splitboards. Historically made of seal skin, the modern version is constructed of a one-way carpet-like plush that allows traction in one direction and glide in the other. Affixed to the bottom of skis using a combination of tacky glue and tip and/or tail clips, they allow backcountry travelers to break trail in deep snow and to ascend steep slopes. Prior to descending, they are removed from the bottom of skis.
Setting a skin track up a mountain slope is truly an art form, always seeking a balance between efficiency and safety. Experienced skinners know how to set a track that takes the path of least resistance, maximizing use of the terrain to keep the skin track at a consistent pitch. During periods of questionable snow stability, the trail breaker must avoid avalanche terrain as much as possible, using dense trees, lower angle terrain, and ridges whenever available. A safe skin track is critical since so much time is spent on the climb and the track often gets used multiple times.