“You’re on the ski mountain. It is all perfectly groomed. There’s really no one around, it’s super quiet,” Ted Mahon, ski extraordinaire and talented mountaineer, described reaching the top of a mountain just as the sun was rising in the morning. “You just had this amazing workout, you climbed a mountain in the process and you’re getting ready to ski down. You’re just getting into the warmth of the sun and it’s an incredible start to the day. It’s almost dream-like and that’s why I keep going back.”

Mahon has been on some type of skins for more than 20 years. Once a fringe activity, Mahon has watched as skinning, uphill skiing or alpine touring has grown in popularity and hit the mainstream. Skinning is the process of ascending a mountain instead of taking the ski lift. Skins are nylon-like strips with a grainy material on one side that attach to the bottom of skis. They are specifically designed to prevent sliding backward when climbing uphill. For Mahon and other skinners, they earn their own turns on the mountain. It’s an addictive activity.

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