*Guest Post* First Ski Tour With Mama

I am pleased to welcome Katie to the blog today.  After emailing me a few months back and mentioning she lives in a cabin in the mountains with her husband and young daughter, I knew she would have some good stories!  I was thrilled when she finally agreed to share one with us all.  As always, please feel free to leave her some love in the comments!

It snowed.  Finally.  I can’t believe it’s taken until February for the snow conditions to be good enough to take our baby for a ski tour.  We’ve had more wind, rain and ice crusts this year than snow.  Typically by now, I would have been out skiing a good 30+ days; even last year, when I was pregnant.  But this winter is different for another reason; we now have a sweet 7 month old, S. 


It was a beautiful day for a ski tour, at least at first.  We typically like to get an early start, but after figuring out what gear we needed and how to fit it all into the kid carrier (we attached a separate bag), making breakfast and packing lunch, feeding and changing S again, getting the skis ready, and putting her pacifier on belay, we finally headed out at the crack of 11:30.  We were familiar with dressing her in the cold:  long sleeved Capilene onsie with pants, baby leg warmers to keep her legs warm while changing her outdoors, knitted socks, booties, wool mittens, a thick fleece one piece suit with handwarmers in the hands and feet, a little hat with a felted wool earflap hat over top, sunglasses to protect her eyes and a bit of sunscreen on her exposed face, all under a toasty down outfit.  We planned to be outside for up to 5-6 hours and wanted to be prepared for anything.   We’d done plenty of cross country skiing and snowshoeing with S on our backs or in her ski trailer, and a little skinning uphill before our local resort opens in the morning.  We like to take her on an outside adventure at least 5 days a week.  But this was the first backcountry ski tour that I skinned up and skied down with S.  I wanted to carry her so I knew I could do it, even though my husband usually carries the heavier backpack.  Note: we are both experienced skiers and have excellent backcountry travel skills.  We completely avoid avalanche terrain while traveling with S. 


As we were putting our boots on, S actually fell asleep in her carrier, but she woke up and looked around as soon as I lifted her up.  We started skinning up the mountain.  It was flurrying and the sun was poking out of the beautiful, puffy clouds.  My husband checked on her every so often to make sure she was warm and alive.  We attached her little “ducky” blanket as a loose balaclava so she could safely breathe warm air and keep her face protected.  She smiled.  She was good to go.  About 30 minutes into the skin up, my stomach started to growl.  “Didn’t I just eat a good breakfast?” I thought.  I looked at my watch, yes, I did just eat, but it was 4 hours ago at this point.  So I grabbed a sports gel and continued on.  Thirty minutes later, S let me know it was time for her to eat, even though it seemed as though I just fed her too.  We decided to stop so I could nurse her.  We packed down a spot next to the trail; got her out of her carrier and she ate.  My husband ate his lunch and got the diaper changing station ready.  It started snowing a little.  After S finished eating, I passed her to my husband so I could eat while he changed her.  He laid her on his backpack under a low hanging branch and hung his coat on the branch to protect her.  

Then, things went downhill very quickly.  The clouds came in and wind picked up.  It started snowing harder and was blowing at us sideways.  She was bare bottomed and now screaming.  We use and love cloth diapers, even on the trail, but they can be a bit cumbersome to use, especially in a snow storm.  We were getting colder by the second and there was now an inch of fresh snow on our skis.  Then, our dog came over and started chewing on the branch that held the coat that was protecting S from the wind and snow.  Snow flew all over her.  Great.  By now, we were all cold and cranky and we decided to pull the plug on the outing.  We quickly finished changing her, packed her and everything back up to head home.  We got so chilled in that 20 minutes that we decided to continue uphill for 5-10 more minutes just to warm up before heading down.  Within 2 minutes, S was fast asleep.  Within 5 minutes, the snow stopped.  Within 10 minutes, my fingers thawed out, the sun was back out, and we had to take layers off.  We were all happy again.  So, we continued on.  We realized that we stopped during the only 20-minute snow squall of the day, which almost cut our day short.  Almost.


We crested the ridge to a beautiful view of the valley.  The wind was only a little gusty and the sun was out.  We bundled up, checked on S and decided to continue skinning up the ridge to the peak.  We got to the peak and the wind howled.  We looked around, snapped a few photos and then backtracked down the ridge a little to where the wind was nearly calm and the sun warm.  Keeping the carrier on, I was even able to pull off my skins without taking off my skis.  This is definitely a balancing act as it is.
My husband skied down first, our dog followed.  I took a few hesitant turns, just to see what it was like to ski with S.  It was just fine, in fact, it was easier than skiing with a heavy backpack like we take on our backcountry hut and yurt trips.  So I relaxed a bit and took in the powder turns.  I found myself yelling “weeee” to engage S in the fun.  She chimed in and started hooting and hollering.  I think she liked it.  No, I know she loved it.  I could feel her moving side to side to look over each shoulder as I made turns.  We continued down and I even made some telemark turns.  When we encountered more difficult spots to ski, I just slowed down and side slipped.  Though heavy on the uphill, fat skis and stiff boots make skiing downhill easy and very stable.  I felt empowered to complete my first backcountry ski tour as a mountain mama.  In fact, it was one of my favorite tours ever because I could share it with S.  A typical 4 hour ski tour took 5 hours.  But that’s ok.  We did it.  With a baby.  And we’ll definitely do it again, maybe even tomorrow…and we did.


Katie lives in a cabin in the woods in a high mountain town in Utah.  She is excited and determined to continue her outdoor adventures with her little baby. 

5 thoughts on “*Guest Post* First Ski Tour With Mama”

  1. Wait, putting her pacifier on belay… is that a climbing mama joke or is that a real technique/trick you use? 🙂 What a great story! I can totally relate to almost wanting to give up, glad it all blew over and turned out to be a great adventure. Thanks for sharing, Katie!Amelia, I love every time I stumble on your blog. I think about your 15 minutes a day rule often, and the kids are so much happier on the days we go outside. Thanks for the motivation to just get out and play, rain or shine!

  2. It’s a term one of my friends used and I just got a kick out of it, so now I use it. It’s just attaching her pacifier to the backpack with a string/rope so when she spits it out, we don’t lose it. I don’t have one of those fancy clips for it, so that’s our way to attach it. We are careful that it’s not too long and we’ve since just kept it attached to the backpack. I’m glad you liked my story and thanks for your comment.

  3. Thank you so much for your post!! We are avid skiers and just had our daughter in October’16. We hope to take her on some spring ski tours and your story is very encouraging. May I ask how old your daughter was at the time? (I realize you posted this long ago, but I still have hope 🙂 ) Happy New Year!

    1. Hi Magda – that was a guest post and her daughter was 7 months 🙂 We also backcountry ski and took our babies when they were around 8 months for the first time. As long as they’re sitting well in the pack and staying warm, they’re great! Goggles help immensely too!!! Enjoy it!!!

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