Ski Mountaineering Disciplines

Ski mountaineering (often shortened to skimo) is an exciting winter sport that combines skiing uphill with skins, sometimes some boot packing and downhill skiing. First person or team to the finish line wins!

Skimo is widely popular in Europe and there is a rapidly growing skimo community in North America. Most races offer recreational and elite level courses so that racers of different skill and fitness levels can compete. The World Championships of Ski Mountaineering is held by the International Ski Mountaineering Federation every two years. The World Championships involves each of the following type of races:


The Individual race involves ascending and descending sections of a ski hill or mountain using skis with touring bindings, a split board or telemark equipment. Competitors use skins to ski up snowy slopes and some climbing is done by bootpacking (hiking) with the skis or board attached on a backpack. Different coloured flags mark the uphill, downhill skiing and transition sections of the race. Recreational category racers can expect under 1000 metres of elevation gain and loss. Elite category racers can expect over 1500 metres of elevation gain and loss.


The Sprint race is a condensed version of the Individual race. It typically takes less than five minutes to complete a circuit of skinning, bootbacking, skinning and descending. The ascent and transition platforms are marked by flags. The descent is marked by gates just like in alpine racing. Competitors complete the circuit once individually so that they can be put into the appropriate heat of up to 6 racers. Elimination heats take place until the final heat where 1st, 2nd and 3rd place are determined.


The Vertical race only involves uphill skiing with skins on. The race is a mass start and follows a specific flagged course up to 700 metres in vertical. The first competitor across the finish line wins!


The Teams race is a longer version of the Individual race (over 2000 metres of vertical) that is completed in teams of two athletes. Some fixed ropes may be included in the course and competitors may be required to use harnesses, via ferrata kits and or crampons.


The Relay is a longer version of the Sprint race that is done in teams of four male athletes or three female athletes. It is a mass start with one member from each team at the starting line. After completing a lap, the first team mate tags the next team mate in the start zone. First team to have all members complete the circuit wins.


Race Categories

Recreational – Great for those entering the sport! This course is the shorter option with less vertical ascent. Some races will keep descents to green and blue runs, while others may include more challenging runs. Check for each race.

Elite – Great for those more experienced with ski mountaineering. These race courses involve more distance and ascending and good physical fitness is required. Some race courses involve challenging double black diamond terrain.