- I’ve never raced before and I don’t really know what ‘Skimo’ is.
“Skimo” is short for “ski mountaineering” but most skimo racing isn’t as extreme as that term suggests. It can also be called “randonee.” Skimo races includes skinning uphill and skiing downhill as fast as possible, and can include bootpacking and technical rope work. There are multiple race formats. The Individual race is the most common format in North America. Other race formats include Teams, Sprint, Vertical, and Relay.
- What equipment do I need?
You will need some sort of touring set-up that uses climbing skins – alpine touring, telemark, or splitboards all work. Unfortunately, nordic gear is not allowed even if you have kicker skins and neither are snow shoes. You’ll also need a helmet and a headlamp.
- What avalanche gear is required?
Not for the Tuesday night races! The courses are set in-bounds at the resort. You are more than welcome to bring your avalanche safety gear if you want, but we do not require it. You will, however, need avi gear for bigger races like the Wasatch Powder Keg or Crowbar that go into the backcountry!
- How about a backpack?
Not required, but you can bring one if you like. The Tuesday night races are designed to take an hour, so bring whatever you think you might need for an hour of exercise. If it’s your first race, a pack isn’t a bad idea so you have a place to stash layers you shed or bring extra in case you need them.
Sometimes the course setter will be sneaky and set a boot pack and will suggest you bring a back pack. In this case, wearing a pack will A) ensure you don’t drop you skis and B) be good practice if you think you want to do other races like the Powder Keg (which you should) where you will be required to wear and use a back pack.
- Wait, did you say boot pack? What’s that?
The boot pack is the trail the course setters and other racers have put in that often has steps packed down to make climbing on foot much easier.
- Oh yeah , what should I wear?
Skimo racing is highly aerobic and you will see people wearing literally nothing but a full body spandex suit. In the middle of winter. While it’s snowing. And the wind is howling. Yup. But before you jump into the spandex, a good rule of thumb is start with what you could wear for a day of ski touring and then go a little lighter.
On your first race or two, bring a few different layers so you can adjust as needed. Many racers will wear a warmer layer to warm up before the race and an area will be available to stash layers and backpacks before the race so you don’t need to be freezing from the moment you get out of your car. Everyone’s body is a little different, so it may take some adjustments, and what might work for your friend might not work for you.
- Are there prizes?
At the night races, baked good are awarded to the ‘winners’. Generally the categories are first male and female, but other categories may be added at the race directors’ discretion. You can only be awarded the winner’s prize once per season. Races are not timed. There are no numbers.
- How much does it cost?
Please see our Membership page for details about cost. You can either pay per race or join Utah Skimo as member – and membership has it’s benefits!
- Where does the money go?
The majority of the money we receive goes to insurance. Boring, but necessary. Other than insurance, we use the money to put on races, build a fleet of demo race gear, and help support the youth teams and other skimo programs across the state.
- Where are the races, how do I find the start?
Read our home page! We’ll do our best to put the night race info and start locations right on the landing page before each race so its easy to find. You can also follow up on our Facebook page for all the latest details.
Expectations and Rules of Engagement
- Sign all waivers and pay to participate. These are events for our paying members. You can buy a season membership, or you can purchase an ala carte event membership, and you can find all the details on our website.
- Abide by the our COVID mask and physical distancing mandates which are outlined on our website.
- Skis, skins, poles, helmets, headlights are required. Any form of ski or splitboard is allowed
- Anticipate cold, harsh conditions and plan your backpack and attire accordingly
- Faster skiers have right-of-way. If someone is coming up hard behind you, step aside or ask the other skier if he/she wants to pass.
- Be courteous. If there is a slower skier in front of you, please don’t scream or demand to pass. Ask politely or wait until there is a safe opportunity to pass
- All ski poles must be placed flat on the snow at every transition. Ski poles are sharp, and you don’t want to impale your fellow skimo’r
- Be careful with your skis at the transition points. We have had skis hurdling down the hill at uphill skinners and booters.
- If you find someone really struggling, it does not hurt to offer help.
- If you come across someone who has lost a ski, offer to help find it. Imagine if you lost your ski in the dark and cold at the top of the slope. It is a daunting feeling
- If you see someone injured or sick it is ABSOLUTELY YOUR responsibility to stop and assist. Get as many people to support the victim and send someone to notify our staff. We will then coordinate a rescue with Ski patrol, SAR, and EMS if necessary.
SkiMo Tips and Tricks
- How to transition from skinning to skiing
- How to transition from skiing to skinning
- How to do the final transition to maximally beat your friends
A Little More about Utah Skimo
First and foremost, what is SKIMO? Short for SKI Mountaineering, skimo racing is a competitive sport which challenges participants to move through technical, mountainous, winter terrain as fast as possible. While not all events include dangerous, high-alpine ridgelines and steep icy couloirs, there is an expectation that every “skimo” event will have some technical elements, such as difficult skinning, technical uphill switchbacks, boot-packing, and challenging skiing. In short, skimo is not simply “fitness skiing” up and down groomers. While our courses are entirely in-bounds, expect an exciting, mostly off-piste course for both the up and downhill sections.
Our events are meant to be fun. Hammer as hard as you want (or don’t want), but remember the goal is for everyone to feel welcomed and to finish safely.
Average skinners with above-average fitness and intermediate skiers should feel comfortable with the terrain. While it is our job to find a challenging, entertaining, and safe course, we cannot mark every rock, tree, and terrain undulation. You will be skiing with only the light from your own headlamp, and of course there will be other skiers on the course. Hence, there is a degree of risk that every participant must agree to and accept when entering one of our events. We mandate skiing with caution and well within your own comfort level. Choose the course based on an honest assessment of your own fitness and technical abilities. You may have noticed that we don’t have “race” in our description. Our events are not timed, and there are no official placings or points. We open our events to all ages, experience, and abilities. On any given night we have accomplished world-class athletes, enthusiasts, first-timers on touring gear, split-boarders, and kids. All are welcome.
Utah Skimo is a non-profit organization run entirely by volunteers. We do this because we love this sport, as well as the community which supports us and our series is the envy of the US skimo community, due to our high level of participation, youth development, and incredible enthusiasm. Our sponsors and others solicit us because they know we have the biggest and most successful skimo series in the country. Our success is predicated on all of you skiing responsibly and respecting and supporting each other.