The World From A Pair of Skis, Friday 8 Th February


Reporter: John Hodgkinson

Twenty-two members met at the David Lloyd Centre to hear Peter Folkman give an informative and interesting talk on Ski Touring.

He started right near home by showing us a slide of how St Christoph looked in 1950 - a few of us present had just returned from this high resort in the Austrian Alps.

His father had been a ski importer and he had been introduced to skiing at the age of two.

One of the objectives of ski touring, Peter explained, was to get away from the crowded pistes of the downhill slopes of the Alps. However, although they are crowded, in a sense there is still plenty of space for ski touring and 300 huts in the Alps provide refuge in remote parts.

He talked at length about ski touring equipment. The skis need to be very light because touring includes going uphill and there are only two speeds—slow and very slow.

He reminded the older members present of the leather straps that served as bindings and ski edges that were screwed to the skis. He had brought examples of these and modern equipment such as touring boots, probe and shovel, avalanche transceiver, avalanche air bag, ski crampons and skins and various very wide skis.

Ski touring is usually undertaken with a guide and on Peter’s holidays a helicopter is used. He has skied in British Columbia, India, Greenland and Russia. He had experienced the lawlessness of Sochi ( Russia ) on the Black Sea which is the location of the Winter Olympics in 2014. He had found it interesting to compare such skiing with that on the Pacific Coast in Eastern Siberia, on the remote Kamchatka peninsula where skiing is in the midst of 160 live volcanoes where there is ever present danger.

Skiing in the Himalayas had been a cultural experience which made it unique.

Greenland had presented Peter with skiing mainly on ice as there is very little snow. A true wilderness where society was extremely corrupt. Sex and drinking were the only activities and the only gainful employments was ice fishing and bone carving. The indigenous society was such that four out of five children were sexually abused.

Peter concluded by saying that ski touring was about seeing the world on a pair of skis. It was possible to experience different cultures, interesting people, different topographies and different types of skiing and every conceivable type of snow.

It is always undertaken with a guide who will recover anyone who had the misfortune to go down a crevasse providing, of course, that the unfortunate skier is wearing the required harness.

I suspect that most of us who were present, enjoyed a truly illuminating talk but were put off heli ski touring by the weekly cost which is £6000/£7000.

The Ski Club of Great Britain tour operator for ski touring holidays can be experienced at normal ski holiday prices.

Perhaps we could think about a holiday like this!