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Cross-train like Robbie: part 2

by Robert Britton
Thursday 18th February 2016
Here’s the second part of ‘Cross-training the Robbie Britton way’. This time it’s ski mountaineering, which seem to work pretty well for Kilian Jornet as a winter supplement to his running! Seems to be working pretty well for Robbie too out in Norway at the Ice Ultra!  
What did it cost?
Quite a lot. Apart from having to be next to some mountains, the kit isn’t cheap but it does last. France has great big second hand sales at the start of very season and if you grab a bargain you could be all set up for under £500 but you need skis, skins, poles, boots and bindings just to start. If you want to go off piste or do a race you’re going to have to get your hands on an avalanche probe, an avalanche beacon and a lightweight shovel. 
You can rent a set up from ski shops and it’ll cost you about £30-40 a day or £200 for a week.
Basically it’s a money black hole as there is always better kit, lighter bindings or gadgets that you might need.
At least you can avoid the cost of a lift pass though.

Robbie skiing 3


How much preparation was required (equipment, clothing etc)?
As mentioned above there is a lot of kit and you need the conditions to be right too. If there isn’t enough snow then you might as well get the micro spikes out. 

Knowing what to do with all the kit is helpful too and it took me about 15 minutes to figure out how to get my bott into the bindings first time round. 
If you’re renting gear then just the guys in the shop can make sure you have everything you need and normally give you some advice on where to go to. Hiring a guide is wise if you want to venture in the wilds.
How hard was it on a scale of 1 - 10?
Technically it is a little difficult at first but the skins (what you stick to the bottom of the skis to make you stay on the mountain) are easy to figure out. The more surface area you have on the snow, the lest likely you are to fall down the mountain.
Oh, and you have to be able to ski down as well, unless you jump in a lift.
As for physically, I find it range from a moderate (easy is difficult with all the gear) to lung busting. If you want to work hard it is easy to push your heart rate through the roof going uphill. Downhill less so.
I’ve done two uphill only races now and my heart rate was about 90% for the entirety and it felt like I was going to cough up one of my lungs. It was awesome.
How much did you ache the next day on a scale of 1 - 10?
Not really much at all. Even when I started at the beginning of the Winter I felt fine the next day as the impact is minimal. If you fall over that may hurt the next day but there’s a reason Kilian and co do this for countless hours all Winter.

robbie skiing 5

What muscles did it work?
All of them I reckon. Both arms and legs are pumping to keep you going uphill and the heart and lungs have to work hard too.
Could you do it if you were injured and couldn’t run?
The lack of impact could help with some injuries I guess. It would be difficult with a broken leg though.
How good or bad was it for your street cred (with 1 being very bad and 10 being awesome)?
It has to be a 10 right? “Just off to ski UP a mountain”. How nails is that?
How likely would you be to go regularly? 
Depends on where you live. In the UK you really need to wait for the right weather but I saw plenty of pictures of Ben Bardsley, British Skimo Champ, touring in the Lakes when it snowed recently.
If you live in the Alps then you can go every day and I’ve often been skinning up before the pistes open and back in time for breakfast with 1000m of climbing in the bank.
Random Tips:
Want to know how good your friends are? Check out their shovel size as it’ll be for digging you out of an avalanche and they have to carry it.
Good for: Your fitness. Getting a workout in when you go away with the family. Arrange to meet them at the top of the first lift, set off early and then spend the day skiing with them.
Bad for: Your bank balance. Your face if you fall over. 

All photos by Natalie White (@natsmountain)

About The Author

Robert Britton

Robbie is a 100 mile runner who is a member of the Great Britain 24hr Running Squad and Team Centurion and likes to run ridiculous distances as quickly as possible.

To provide enough food to feed a monster running habit, Robbie coaches other ultra marathon runners through www.robbiebritton.co.uk and is also a member of the coaching team at Centurion Running. He likes to dabble with a bit of writing so that others can learn from his mistakes and enjoy the sport as much as he does.

Robbie is also a is a Profeet ambassador.


"Pain is inevitable, suffering is just part of the fun"


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