Kalen’s Zen and the Art of Ski Touring Stage 1 Motivation

“Sometimes it’s a little better to travel than to arrive”


Zen and the Art of Ski Touring

Photo: Chris O’Connell/Armada Skis


Now the stages of hiking can make or break a person. Some of you may not experience most of these and were born with an iron mind. I unfortunately was not. I hated hiking. The concept of walking a significant distance for hours just to arrive at your destination, snap a few photos, and turn around just to hike back down, was probably the most illogical concept my young little brain could comprehend. I’m not proud to admit this and wish I could say my youth was spent parading through mountain ranges in diapers or summiting peaks in a onesie. But sadly, it wasn’t; I had to teach myself how to become a hiker before I could fall in love with it. Like trying to learn a language when you’re an adult, this goal wasn’t going to come naturally and would require dedication and practice.


Many people are beginning to feel drawn to the backcountry and ski touring. The notion of untracked lines and skiing without boundaries is romantic, calculated, intimidating, and rewarding all at the same time. Inspired by the book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, here is some advice on hiking and the various mental phases to expect if you’re new or haven’t found joy in the world of uphill adventures.

Stage 1. Motivation

“It’s the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top.”



Ian Provo making moves. Photo: Chris O’Connell/Armada Skis


Yup, it’s the totally opposite feeling you have at 4 a.m. when your alarm goes off for a dawn patrol ski touring mission. A battle quickly ensues in your head; the excuses begin to form. We’ve all been there. You know it’s going to be a good day when you pop right out of bed, but sometimes that motivation is nowhere to be found. Even if you’ve managed to get yourself in the car, you still want to bang your head against the steering wheel…or at least fall asleep against it. But most of us are able to get moving by visualizing the rewards of an early morning skin; the untracked lines glowing from the sunrise; fresh snow suspended in the cold air. This thought alone gets me out of bed nowadays, but if you’re finding yourself struggling between the comfort of your Ikea bed and oodles of face shots, here’s a few more hints..


Stack the odds in your favor. Have your coffee timer set to brew before you even wake up, have all your snacks packed and ready, your water bottle filled, your clothes laid out, your skins on your skis, your avalanche gear prepped and ready (CHECK YOUR BATTERIES!!!), gas in your car, and your keys where you can find them. Trust me, at 4 a.m. if everything is scattered and unorganized, you can quickly make an excuse to abandon ship.


Eat a big dinner, get plenty of sleep, and have breakfast ready to go. It’s not hard to wake up early when you went to bed at 9 p.m. instead of midnight. Is that next episode of Breaking Bad REALLY worth it? Go to bed..


Have a reliable partner(s). Pretty self explanatory. If someone else is motivated to get out of bed and go hike, then you definitely can’t bitch out.


Remember, you’re always motivated to go, otherwise you wouldn’t have thought about it in the first place. It’s just a matter of whether you decide to make your ambitious voice stronger than your lazy voice. I promise you, the second you start up that skin track all doubts and defeatist thoughts will melt away. You begin to get into a groove. Your body starts to warm up and you’ll be moving along when slowly you feel a slight change in your mood; your stride; your overall presence. Something is happening internally. An engine has been switched on..


Stay tuned for stage II…


Story by: Kalen Thorien