January sees the arrival of ski mountaineering, the return of Park City Town Series

Park City Ski & Snowboard coach Adam Loomis climbs a hill while participating in ski mountaineering. The return of the Park City Town series will also include a ski mountaineering format.
Courtesy of Pete Stoughton

The sport of ski mountaineering will get a major boost in the Park City area with two events in January.

First, the Utah Ski Mountaineering Series was scheduled to stop at Park City Mountain Resort on Tuesday, then the return of the Park City Town Series to Utah Olympic Park later in the month will offer a distinct ski mountaineering format.

Pete Stoughton, Utah Ski Mountaineering board member and events and development coordinator for Park City Ski & Snowboard, defined ski mountaineering as “uphill travel in the backcountry” or some version faster in off-piste skiing. He noted that this was the first time the ski mountaineering series had held an event at PCMR.

“(Park City Ski & Snowboard is) really excited to showcase new sports that are growing,” he said. “The backcountry community is growing tremendously. In fact, backcountry gear is the fastest growing sector of the ski industry across all genres right now, so we’re really excited to showcase this diversity of the program we have.

January also marks the return of the Park City Town Series. The races will take place on January 28, February 11, March 4 and March 25 at the UOP. After the series was absent for a few years, Stoughton is thrilled to bring it back to the fore. It also serves as a fundraiser for Park City Ski & Snowboard, which offers a ski mountaineering team among many other disciplines.

“Not only are we bringing it back, kind of an old tradition, but we’re hoping to raise money and promote all the different sports that we have,” Stoughton said. “It’s something that hasn’t been on the table for a few years.”

The new race series will have two formats: a downhill race for alpine skiers and a ski mountaineering competition. And as Stoughton points out, it’s open to skiers of all skill levels.

“It’s a pretty fun opportunity for people to experience racing in a pretty laid back and welcoming environment, so we hope to get as many people to experience what a lot of our kids are up to,” Stoughton said. “With 800 to 900 kids from the community in our programs, it’s pretty fun to get the parents involved.”