Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ Sign up for Outside+ today.
Beat Blisters | Going Up on Skins | Stay Fueled
Ski Any Conditions | Adjust Your Poles | Descend With Control
Kick-Turn Like a Pro
Shorten poles so that you don’t have to overextend your arms or overreach with each step. You’ll conserve energy, prevent triceps fatigue, and improve balance and stability.
Lengthen your poles to approximately armpit height so you can push off with each step, extending your arms behind you. (Think of Nordic skiers with opposite arms and legs moving together.) If the snow is slick and your skins are off, poling may allow you to glide and gain more speed than on typical hiking-style tours.
Shorten your uphill pole by as much as a foot (when on steeps). If your poles aren’t adjustable, create a handle at the shaft’s mid-point by wrapping it with cork grip tape (find it at bike shops). Tip: On steep or slick sidehills, plant the basket of your downhill pole an inch or two downhill of your intended track. Ski over the basket (on the pole’s uphill side), making contact between your ski edge and the pole itself. The tip provides purchase and acts as an anchor against slipping.
Lengthen your poles. Your arms should be at 90-degree angles when you’re holding the grips and the tips are planted.