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November this year, for many of us, was characterized as a fitness purgatory: The bikes banished to the garage, the cross country skis in the closet, the novelty of skiing the white ribbon of death worn off, and hiking remained in some netherworld between snowy enough for winter peak-bagging bragging rights and just cold, dark, slippery and annoying.

For many of us this means it’s time to dust off those gym memberships, but for those who like to play outside, this routine starts to get frustrating the more Mother Nature proves frugal. I’ve learned that in Colorado, if the weather doesn’t do something, getting a good cardio workout outside can become a challenge if you aren’t fond of running or hiking, often in the dark. If there isn’t enough snow, cross country skiing, snowshoeing and alpine skiing are hard-pressed to become the brunt of your winter workouts.

And if there isn’t enough snow to winterize your workout, there still seems to be enough to make biking annoying, uncomfortable and downright scary.

So what are we supposed to do while we wait for winter? I pondered this after running outside for the sixth day in a row. I pondered it while looking wistfully at my awesome new AT setup, sitting in the corner collecting dust. And then it hit me.

My AT setup! That was the key! Skinning uphill to get to that pow is a beast of a workout. Always. And while there wasn’t and still isn’t enough snow to really get anything going in the backcountry, I figured utilizing my AT setup to skin up the open trails at the resort would be a good workout. Plus, I could avoid crowds and lift lines.

I was a bit wary to try this on my own, wondering how much trouble I was likely to get in if someone saw me. So one late October day I headed up to A-Basin after work to see what this skinning thing was all about.

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