backTurns All Year year-round skiing                

Year-round skier:  Tom Szwedko




How I got started skiing year-round:  While living in Central PA in the 70's there was a lot of good snow and I started to really get into doing a lot of skiing, including late season skiing for back there especially in Adirondacs. In 1976 Kodak started the Medals for miles program to promote their sponsorship of XC at the Olympics. You kept a log of date/where and distance and got pins and badges based on milage. During winter of '79 that started great it turned so dry that they almost canceled the Lake Placid Olympics. I told my boss if it does not snow soon I'm moving to where it does. March 1980 I moved to Colo and found that I could ski some all year now. My amount of skiing kept increasing.
Criteria for what counts as a ski trip:  I have no real criteria for a ski day other than its got to be on snow. However I ski many more than 1 day in a month so I end up with at least several quality days.
Biggest threat to my streak:  About 8 years ago I tore a ligament in the ankle when hit while ice skating. Luckily it was just after the first weekend of November that I already got a good weekend trip on first deep snow of year. I could not even walk and Dr. mumbled something about it would have been better if I had broken it and probably would have to not use it for 6 months. It decided that would not happen. By Thanksgiving I found out that even though I could not walk without bad pain I could ski on soft snow on gentle terrain with a brace.
Type of equipment I use:  My first bought set of XC cost me $35 for boots, poles and wood Asnes skis in 1971, then it was to the tralon base skis that finally eliminated pine tarring. I go through so much equipment since I ski so much and I am hard on equipment I end buying whatever is on sale from last year stock and rentals. I have had Karhu XCD, Fishers, Chinourds, Black Diamonds, Kazamas and one pair of AT's. Ski most of the weekend more challenging tours using T3 boots now but use leathers during the week. I have light pair of Trak Escapes for long hike ins.
Strategy for skiing through the low season:  Drive up high and hike to some of the spots where the snow lasts all year most years. Hike in to some of our small glaciers or permanent snowfields. Visit the PNW for a change of ski pace in July or August. Get there as soon to beginning of month as possible but hope for new snow later in month.
Worst and best backcountry ski trips:  Worst: This is a matter of perspective. A few with very long backpacks in with lot of weight end up being the greatest tours, like Mt Olympus in August, Alaska basin in Tetons over July 4th, Conumdrum Hot Springs in May. Maybe enduring 7 feet of snow in three days and white out conditions on Ruth Glacier on Denali. But Ohh what scenery followed even though trail breaking was tremendous. Maybe worst real experience was Christmas 2000 while skiing with friends in Laurel Mountains of PA. Skiing across a small lake the ice suddenly started cracking and I in lead skied as fast as possible before swoosh ice gave way and I was in water over my head 40 feet from shore. Luckily friends were able to get to other shore. I found out you can tread water with skis on but it is almost impossible to climb out of water onto ice. I kept breaking the ice with my chest while still holding onto ice to not sink. After about 20 minutes I got close enough that a friend stuck a long tree branch out for me to hold on and ice break to a tree sticking out into water. Then it was a 2 mile ski back to car in 5F temperature!! Come to think that was probably my worst threat to my ski streak!
   Best: There are many bests. A 8000vt ski of 15200ft Monta Rosa in Zermatt in 3 feet of new powder; a night on the Harding icefield in Alaska, a day summer ski tour of Mt. Baker, 7 day ski hut trip in Austria, Wapta Icefield in Alberta. A 5000vt ski run from top of 14221ft Mt. Massive on perfect corn snow. A ski traverse from Aspen to Crested Butte. A 3800vt run on Treasury Mountain near Crested Butte at end of July in 95.





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