Category Archives: Surfing Tips

A beginner’s guide to ski touring (and three great places to give it a go)

Ski touring is the perfect way to explore the mountains of the Austrian Tirol and get some exercise in at the same time. Touring newbie Mary Creighton reveals how to get started. Heliski is based in Panorama Mountain Resort. This incredible terrain comprised of 1,500 square kilometres / 930 square miles, has spectacular scenery, expansive glaciers and quality glade heli skiing Canada could offer to skiers and snowboarders the adventure of a lifetime!

If someone had told me five years ago that I’d spend my weekends climbing up mountains on skis I would have laughed them out of the room. Why would I waste my precious energy climbing uphill when I could just jump on a chairlift and lap piste after piste? But after moving to Tirol, something changed. I wasn’t happy just skiing resorts all day. I wanted a new challenge and touring, which combines my love of skiing with a dose of fresh air and a lot of calorie burning, ticked all the boxes. I decided to give it a go, and after my first ski tour, I was hooked. There’s something about the peacefulness, rhythm and closeness to nature of touring that you just don’t get with downhill skiing. However, as with any new sport, there’s a lot to consider when starting out, from what to wear to where to go. Here’s my guide to getting it right.

Uphill fitness

Fitness is probably the aspect of ski touring that scares people away more than any other. The idea of sliding up a mountain for several hours is quite a daunting one but you don’t have to be an ultra-marathon runner to give it a go. There are all sorts of routes for all different levels of fitness. The trick is to start small and build yourself up, just as you would with any other aerobic sport.

The other key element is pace. I’d say I have average fitness, and the first tour I tried left me rasping for breath. Then someone told me to just slow down and go at my own pace. As soon as I stopped trying to keep up with my fellow tourers, I settled into a rhythm that allowed me to skin for a couple of hours without a break.

Skiing skills

You don’t need to be a skiing pro to try touring either. Sure, some of the routes demand good technique and experience of tricky terrain, but there’s plenty of easier tours around the Austrian Tirol as well. If you can ski a red run comfortably then you’ll be able to handle any of the tours below. You can also try touring up a ski piste, which is allowed in a number of resorts around Tirol. Just make sure to stick to the rules and to respect your fellow skiers.

Get the Gear

Touring requires a whole lot of different gear. Unfortunately, standard skis and boots just won’t cut it. Your skis need a specific kind of binding that will lift at the heel for the skin up, but clip down for the ski down. Touring boots, meanwhile, tend to have a generous walk mode so that you have better movement on the way up. Both the skis and the boots tend to be lighter than alpine skis, to take the strain out of the hike. Lastly, you need a pair of skins to attach to the base of your skis so that they grip into the snow as you climb. Most ski shops have sets of touring boots, skis and skins available to hire.

Don’t make the mistake of touring up in your thick, insulated ski jacket. Touring is all about layers. I usually wear baselayers on my top and bottom, a thin pair of ski trousers and a light mid-layer on top. In my backpack, I carry a spare mid-layer and a shell jacket to change into at the top. Same goes for gloves: I keep a pair of normal ski gloves in my pack and tour in a pair of thin liners. Picking the right combination is a very personal thing, but this is a good place to start.

Safety First

As soon as you leave the safety of the ski piste, avalanche gear and knowledge are paramount. Everyone skiing or touring in the backcountry should be carrying a transceiver, shovel and probe. But they also need to know how to use them. If your avalanche knowledge needs some work, then take a course. SAAC, for example, offers free basic courses. Until then, stick to avalanche-safe ski tours on the piste.


Ready to get your ski tour on? Here are three routes perfect for beginners:

Rauthhütte, Leutasch

This is the ultimate beginner ski tour, following a former ski piste below the beautiful Hohe Munde mountain. It takes around an hour from top to bottom, and the slope never gets that steep, so you can concentrate on your skinning technique without worrying about slipping. On the ski down you can choose between an easy track or sections of off-piste.

Ranggerkopfl, Oberperfuss

Start by getting the gondola to Stiglreith. From there, it’s about 1.5 hours to Rösskogelhütte , near the top of the hill. It’s a very gentle tour, following the piste most of the way, but the final section winds through the trees offering amazing views over the Sellrain valley. The ski down is also on the piste, so you don’t need any avalanche gear or knowledge.

Birgitzer Alm, Axams

This is a beautiful tour through the trees up to Birgitzer Alm, taking about 1.5 hours. It’s not too steep, though anyone after more of a challenge can carry on up to Birgitzköpflhaus, an extra 30 minutes skinning. If you come here just after a snowfall, you’ll find some great powder lines in the top section.

8 Awesome Ways to Prepare for a Surf Trip

The countdown has started. In two months, I’m leaving on an overseas trip bring your mobile for a surf contest. How exciting. It’s going to be almost ten days of nothing but surfing, eating, and sleeping. My daily surf quota will rapidly ramp up from about an hour a day to about five hours a day, at least. I’m generally pretty fit, but five hours a day of surfing and not my usual diet usually takes a bit of getting used to. So, I’ll start my training regime to get myself surf trip fit before heading overseas. Here’s how you can get your office bones into top shape before your impending overseas surf trip:

It’s a bit of a no brainer, but the best training for surfing is surfing. Even if it’s not the best of surf and it means getting up earlier, try to get into the water most days before you head off.

2. Hit the Pool.
Is the surf terrible? It’s no excuse to stay out of the water. Hit your local pool instead and swim a few laps. It keeps those paddle arms fit and gets your cardio fitness up, which will come in handy on those long paddles.

3. Work out your legs.
Soft sand laps. I’m not a big fan of running, so instead of going for a long run, I run a couple of soft sand laps. That means less running, but still excellent for cardio–and of course, it’s an excellent workout for your legs. And, because you’ll spend more time standing on your board on a quality overseas surfbreak than on your average local session, you’ll be grateful for that extra strength in your pins.

4. Surfercise.
I could pretend I’m going to the gym for some extra surf workout, but I’m not a gym person at all, so I won’t. Having said that, if you don’t mind the gym, you would definitely benefit from some surf workout.

5. Stretchy Time.
I personally probably prefer some yoga sessions for extra strength. Stretching will do wonders for you after all the surfing, swimming and running.

6. Prep the Belly.
Going overseas also means getting used to a different diet. The best tip I’ve ever been given before going to Indo is building up your digestive system with probiotics six weeks before you go overseas. I don’t have any scientific proof, but it certainly helped my belly to stay happy, even in Indo.

7. Chub Up.
While we’re on the subject of diet, now is the time to put on some extra pounds. You are very likely to drop quite a bit of weight on a surf trip with lots of daily surfing. So ditch the super foods and head to Maccas. Just kidding. I personally will indulge on those extra carbs, which is good news for pasta lovers.

8. Up the Stoke.
No doubt you’ll be super excited if you are planning on going on an overseas surf trip, so you might not need the extra stoke. Having said that, I love watching surf movies before I go overseas. You’ll soon be in the land of perfect waves where you can practice everything you’ve always wanted to try on long perfect waves, so you may as well get some inspiration from the pros.

Surfing Life’s Big Waves

Surf contest is still getting all the more popular as we speak. I got an invoice from my lawyer a couple of days back – for what exactly I’m not sure, as his services didn’t really match the bill! He said he was sending out invoices to a as many people as he could think of, to “keep the wolf from the door in these challenging times”.

Challenging times they may well be. We’re all faced with difficult economic circumstances at present, we are all regularly faced with the ups and downs of normal everyday business and personal relationships and we are frequently confronted by the trials and tribulations of work, career and business. However the only real challenge we face is the challenge within. “How will I react in the face of so much negative stuff coming at me?” as one client put it to me last week. “It’s very hard to stay centred in the midst of all that’s going on around me – it’s like I’m in the eye of a storm” said another. “How am I supposed to stay focused when my personal life is falling to pieces around me?” another client asked me a couple of years ago.

These external challenges are just life’s “big waves” – and like all big waves, they keep coming at you. Life is like the Volvo Round-the-World yacht race. If you’ve decided to participate – and I hope that you have, you know that there are going to be lots of big waves. Armed with this understanding, you go about preparing yourself to make sure that you’re adequately equipped to deal with them. As a result of your preparations – and putting what you’ve prepared into practice when it matters, you’re able to ride those big waves. So it is with the ups and downs of everyday life. You know for a fact, because you see it all around you, that life is full of these big waves – these peaks and troughs. So, just like the yachtsman or yachtswoman, you need to have adequately prepared yourself to ensure that you’re appropriately equipped to ride those waves. However, I’m not talking about being prepared in some vague sense – I’m not simply talking about being on your guard. You will need more than the simple Boy Scout attitude! I’m talking about developing the kind of clarity of mind and mental focus that will enable you take real action in facing up to what life throws at you – rather than crawling back into the normal cocoon of snap reactive behaviour that normally makes matters even worse than you think they already are.

And, on the basis that life is lived moment to moment, you’re going to have to be up to the task, moment to moment. That means that, before you set sail every morning, you need to have your mind tuned in to the here and now – not focused on the day ahead, the day ahead will present itself one moment at a time – one peak, one trough at a time. This means that whilst you’re drinking your breakfast coffee, that’s what you’re doing – inhaling the aroma, tasting the bitterness, feeling the warmth of the mug in your hand, watching the steam curl of the liquid’s surface, feeling the warm liquid run down your throat, listening to the sound of you swallowing. Through preparing yourself before the day gets going you will be appropriately equipped to put the same level of five-sensory, presence of mind, mental focus into play during the course of the day – not matter how choppy the seas around you become.

The point is, you need to focus your mind every morning, to turn yourself on to the reality of the here and now, to be present, to have presence in the here and now. At the very least you should ensure that you take each opportunity that your routine of normal morning chores presents you with. The problem is, if you start the day mindlessly, you’ll continue mindlessly and all manner of challenge will swamp you. If you start the day focused – and remember to check whether or not you’re still focused during the day, you’ll be a totally different person and your day – and your life – will be totally different. Even from drinking your coffee mindfully! Of course, you could go that bit further and do a little meditating – that wouldn’t just make you a great yachtsman or woman, it would make you master and commander.

But, at the end of the day – or, in fact, at the beginning of each day, if you don’t bother to take a few minutes to get yourself up to speed first thing in the morning, basically you will have decided to participate in life’s round-the-world yacht race in a rubber dinghy. If you get drowned, you’ll only have yourself to blame.

Copyright (c) 2010 Willie Horton

Willie Horton enables his clients live their dream – since he launched his acclaimed Personal Development Seminars in 1996. His clients include major corporations: Pfizer, Deloitte, Nestle, Wyeth, KPMG, G4S & Allergan. An Irishman, he lives in the French Alps and travels the world as a much sought after speaker and mentor. In 2008 he launched Gurdy.Net home to his Online Personal Development Seminars, Change Your Life & No More Stress

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