By RAD Team member Lars Martinson
I do a lot of things to get ready for the ski season but the one thread that makes them all more effective are the friends I seek out to do them with. One of the most important things I do for ski season prep is to not get hurt early season skiing. For me this involves staying off of snow until the month of December as this is when rocks actually start getting covered up and while the snowpack is getting built up (here in Montana we aren’t blessed with year-round glacial skiing). I am only able to keep my fiendish mind from accomplishing this by a hobby I specifically picked up for this reason, hunting.
As with most sports, hunting is best enjoyed with friends. Stories over the campfire, a second set of eyes for glassing with the binoculars and a positive friend to help you through are almost mandatory to ensure success and a good time. Long days in the backcountry almost always take me into similar terrain that I ski in which lends itself to strong healthy independent leg movement and mental strength for those rough, low elevation bushwhacks. Hunting also gets you used to the pre-dawn wakeup calls, so when the snow starts flying you aren’t the one who is asleep on the way to the trailhead. The health benefits of Elk and Venison meat are innumerable as well, ensuring you get the best ski partners because you always share your Elk Jerky at snack time. Other benefits include that it is a really good way to practice backcountry communication with your partner, route planning, first aid and general mountain skills. Friends also come in handy when it is time to pack out an 80lb quarter of an elk, your knees will thank you and your friends later.
The best cardio I’ve been getting is from this really nerdy sport called Nordic Walking. This involves using specific trekking like poles but with fully wrapped hand straps and rubber walking tips. The straps and feet allow you to aggressively push hard with your shoulders and core, giving you a much better full body workout compared to running. My friends and I have a morning routine of meeting at 6:15am and whoever is hosting makes pancakes for the crew. We then form a gaggle of lanky men who crush trails at first light, receiving a lot of odd looks and questions from passerbys. Nordic Walking is also low impact on your knees, is the same motion as skinning and according to the American Heart Association the best exercise you can do for your heart. Nordic Walking with friends also helps you not take life to seriously, because let’s be honest, no one looks cool doing it.
Rock climbing at the gym crosses over to skiing and ski mountaineering extremely well and I don’t need to cover them all here. However, there are a couple things I do slightly differently here to ensure I am ready for when the snow starts flying. Between routes at the gym, with my shoes still on, and friends providing lively feedback, I slam out a quick 20-30 jumping telemark lunges on the gym mats. Having a friend to motivate you to keep going even though you are completely crushed helps direction and motivation stay focused. Doing this helps build my quads, core, is low impact on my knees and stretches my hamstrings. Another thing we don’t talk about as skiers is how uncomfortable ski boots can be (Scandinavian torture devices I call them). Even the best fitting boot with custom footbeds will crush your feet into a swampy blistered mess on a big spring touring day. Doing these lunges in your climbing shoes helps my feet get calloused and ready for the coming pain train that they will inevitably go through come ski season.
These three months leading up to ski season doesn’t have to be what everyone says; “hit the plates at the gym, join a class, run 7 miles a day.“ Make it fun, weird and fresh with your friends. These friends you surround yourself with will dictate how your season turns out; surround yourself with positive, motivated and fun people and your season will be sure to be just that.
Lars’ Elk Jerky Recipe:
Cut a 5lb Elk rump roast cross grain in ¼” slices.
Throw in a 1 gallon Ziplock baggie and add spices-
3Tbsp of salt
2Tbsp of pepper
Anything else you find interesting (Curry Powder, Anise Seed, You Name It!)
Almost anything from the fridge including but not limited to:
Mustard, all of them
Rice Wine Vinegar
Stir in baggie and let marinate in fridge for 36-48hrs. Smoke on your fancy smoker or dehydrator at 185* for 3-5 hours until not quite dry.
This will come out essentially as a juicy smoked steak that you now get to eat on the skin track.
Share with friends!