Pre Season : Ski prep with Avalanche Geeks
With the first snows arriving in the mountains, thoughts are turning to the upcoming ski season. Everyone has different ideas on how to best prepare, but here’s our thoughts on what we do, and some of the training we’ve been focusing on to be ‘Strong Like Bull’ this winter.
Kit wise, we’ve pulled out our ski’s from the basement and given them a customary visual once over, paying particular attention to the bindings. Pin bindings should have been stored in the closed jaws position so as not to stress the springs. Likewise, frame binding should have had their springs loosened right off for the summer, so now’s the time to tighten them back up to your DIN setting. New boots this winter? Chances are the sole length will be slightly different from your old boots, even if the stated sole length is the same the binding length may well need adjustment. If you’re not sure how to do this then you’re better off taking your skis to a ski shop to let a tech do it for you. Finally, a quick blast of silicon spray on both your bindings and up inside the boot walk mode metalwork will get you off to a glitch free start this season.
Avi kit wise it’s time to put fresh batteries into your transceiver (alkaline only) and fire it up. If you’re still running on an old analogue unit, this is the year to upgrade to a three antennae digital unit - you owe it to yourself and the people you ski with. Hopefully you stored it sans batteries and away from any magnetic source that could potentially de-tune the beacons antennae. Quickly deploy your probe a few times: ‘Oh yeah, that’s how it locks out - now I remember’ and check your shovel blade attachment point to the handle is free of cracks – you know, after you used it to dig the car out from that ditch last spring! Probes and shovels are cheap. If they’re old and a bit shitty then replace them.
I had another round of knee surgery this summer, so my training regime for the ski season started way back in July as part of my rehab. I’ve been hitting the gym hard with weights. Leg extension sets and inverted leg presses have been my bread and butter in recent months but I’m also a huge fan of proprioception leg work when it comes to getting ski fit and spend several minutes of every gym session on the wobble board with my eyes closed or ideally with someone throwing a basketball at me to catch – but not both at the same time because I’m not Luke Skywalker. If you’re looking for a ski specific workout to slot in around a busy life Bruce and I recommend checking out befitapps.com who’s skifit program is very good.
Currently I’m in Malta. I try and get a trip in every November and it has become part of my pre ski season ritual. A solid week of cliff top trail runs and deep water soloing gives my aerobic fitness and core training a boost. It’s going to be long cold winter, so a final huzzah to the heat and sunshine helps smooth the road ahead - plus everyone knows you ski better with a tan.
Mike is an AMGA Assistant Ski Guide. He is a Professional Member of the American Avalanche Association (AAA), a collective group of dedicated professionals engaged in the study, forecasting, control and mitigation of avalanches. Mike has guided on ski for over 18 years, primarily on the west coast of North America from Alaska to California as well as Antarctica.
Mike holds Level 3 certification, the highest current certification available in the US. As well as guiding Mike has worked in a professional capacity in search and rescue programs for government agencies in Antarctica and Scotland. As part of his work with these agencies Mike has extensive experience of formal accident investigation within a legal framework. Mike has made winter ascents of prominent high altitude peaks in Alaska and Antarctica and first ascents in the Pakistan Karakoram and the Cordillera Blanca of Peru. Mike directs all our Scottish courses and presents on the Alpine courses.