Back Country Skiing in the Gatineau Park: Great Change of Pace!
By: Andre Marchand (2016/03/07)
After a few months of skiing and training in the Gatineau Park it can sometimes be uninspiring to head out for a three hour ski on the parkway. If you still want to go for a long ski, but want a bit of a mental break, I strongly recommend going for a back country ski and trying out some of the many amazing back country trails the Gatineau park has to offer!
Other than the obvious benefit of going for a long ski, and the mental break of doing something different, back country skiing also challenges your balance on skis, and ski handling skills in narrow windy trails. The constant challenge of staying upright in an un-groomed track combined with the steep and sharp turns forces you to remain alert throughout your ski. Consequently, time flies! Two hours will easily go by in a flash!
The other great part of back country skiing is the sense of adventure. The trails are usually less crowded, and often bring you to some beautiful views!
Here are a few quick notes and tips about back country skiing.
Back country skiing only works in the CLASSIC technique, not skate. Stride and glide with grip wax, you'll need good grip to propel you along the narrow soft snow trails. Using a pair of softer skis, that might be a little slow on the parkways, is much better in the soft back country than having a stiff ski with no grip!
Back country skis are shorter and wider than race skis to help them float over the soft snow, and to make them more maneuverable. If you only have race skis, use your shortest, softest, and LEAST FAVORITE PAIR! All this talk of exciting challenging downhills usually means you will have a few falls, so be careful with your favorite skis (and poles). Don't worry, the snow is soft...
If you don't have back country skis and boots, usually pursuit (combi) boots work well. They're stiffer than classic boots, and give you more control!
Finally, the best time in my opinion to go for a back country ski is when it is cold (below -5 C), and a day or two after a big snowfall. The cold soft fresh snow provides the best control, and waiting a day usually means someone has gone out and packed the trail down a bit for you!
So if your looking to change things up, and try a new fun challenge, go for a back country ski!
Hope to see you out there :)
An overgrown trail sign on trail #17, fantastic trail that runs parallel to ridge road!
Awesome view from within the back country, you'll usually stumble onto some beautiful sites!
Note: All photos credit to Rodd Heino, a back country skiing master!
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