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Hike Up, Ski Down?

Hiking up Tecumseh

On my hike up Mt Tecumseh this weekend, I met a handful of skiers and snowboarders climbing up the Mt Tecumseh hiking trail in order to ski down the slopes of the adjacent ski resort on Tecumseh's southern slope.

Each of them had a different reason for this. One told me it was purely an economic decision, since he couldn't afford an $80 lift ticket. Another wanted the exercise, and a third wanted a challenge. He had climbed up and skied down Tuckerman Ravine on the east slope of Mt Washington a few weeks prior and wanted more of the same.

I think this is cool. There are a lot of ski slopes in New England where you can hike up an adjacent hiking trail and ski down the nearby ski slopes. The Mt Tecumseh trail is very convenient for this, but there are resorts in New Hampshire such as Wildcat and Cannon where I bet you can hike in from adjacent mountains. Same in Vermont.

But is it legal? Is skiing down a commercial ski slope permissible if you hike up on adjacent public land and don't use their chair lifts? I don't really know. It probably violates all kinds of liability provisions with the ski resorts. It might even be trespassing. But, from what I gather, it's a tradition in parts of the US.

Whatever, I think this kind of thing should be encouraged by ski slope operators.  What is the rush, after all?

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  1. I just got skins and touring bindings this year to do this very thing. But I sure wouldn't be looking to ski down resort slopes. The whole point (for me) is to ski the backcountry – no people, no grooming, just wild mountain.

    Some resorts are fine with backcountry skiers using their slopes – Mad River Glen comes to mind, and I believe Wildcat and Stowe have backcountry gates. I hear that others will not look kindly upon it.

    I hope to be skinning up a mountain one of these days and come upon you hiking it!

  2. Awesome. I guess I was thinking about New Hampshire too much – trees everywhere. It seems like the only passable slopes are clear cut ski runs. Obviously, this is not the case other places (Doh! – I'm not a skier).

  3. Well… they DO call it a "Lift Ticket" and not a "Ski Down the Slope Ticket" right?

    Here in Colorado, we do a lot of "backcountry" skiing. Honestly, I do not know anyone who regularly hikes up the back side of a resort to ski down. Generally, the real reason to hike up, then ski down is to go where no one else has been!

  4. I don't know what the land ownership is like on the East Coast but out here in the West all the ski resorts are on land that is leased from the U.S. Forest Service. The resorts typically own the land where the chalet and parking lot is but 90% of the skiing is USFS. Some resorts in conjunction with the FS enact a "no uphill traffic" policy that is in place to keep downhill and traffic safe from hitting uphill traffic. No rules about uphill traffic outside the ski area boundary can be enacted because that is public, federal land. People wishing to hike uphill can then enter a ski resort (this is still federal, public land) and ski downhill.

  5. Seems every ski resort I've been to had a skinny, long bearded guy telemarking down the black diamond run. They ought to get paid.

    Now those little 3 year olds zipping by and making me look like a skiing imbecile…juvenile detention.

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