Ski Touring: Skiing with Added Mountaineering

Ski Touring keeps it real with participants eschewing such soft touches as lifts prefering to literally climb up the mountain with their skis themselves, sometimes on the skis, and then skiing down. Long term advocate and avid ski tourer Christopher Shonn explains his passion for his sport which is rapidly gaining in popularity here in Romania.   

My name is Christopher Shonn, I am a 49 year old American Citizen.  I come from Akron, New York a small town in Western New York near Buffalo.

I have been an athlete since I was very young.  As a youth I was passionate about cycling and raced on a national level in the US. I had also spent all my family holidays in the Adorandack Mountains in Upstate New York hiking and skiing.

After finishing University in 1993 I left the US and initially worked in as commercial real estate agent in Budapest Hungary. I came to Romania in 1996 to start a real estate agency for Colliers International and eventually became an entrepreneur in the real estate industry in 2000.

 After a decade of living and working in the fast moving Bucharest I decided to build a holiday home in Bran – that was 2007. The experience can only be likened to that of Peter Mayle’s “A year in Provence”, but the experience brought me back to my childhood of growing up in the countryside and back to my love of mountains and sports. 

 As time has gone by Bran has slowly become home. My business is still mainly in Bucharest, so I travel between Bran and Bucharest.  Basically, my modis aparende is when the phone rings I jump in the car and race of to Bucharest for work and when things are quiet I am in the mountains hiking, running, mountain-biking or skiing.


In the years since I have lived in Bran I have averaged approximately 60-70 days of skiing per year.  Many people, especially in Bucharest, ask me how I manage to ski so much and the answer is that on most days I am practicing my “Ski Touring”.

 Ski touring is the “original” ski sport. In ski touring you fastens synthetic “skins” to the bottom of your skis and climb up the mountain using a technique similar to that of classical cross-country skiing. At the top of the mountain/slope the skins are then removed and the bindings locked-down to allow the skier to descend in the same manner as an alpine skier.

 The advantage of ski touring is that it can be done anywhere there is snow and a hill. With ski touring you are not reliant on the ski lift schedule. This is how I manage to ski so many days per year. For example I can make a ski tour in Sinaia on Monday morning between 07.00 and 10.00 am and still be in Bucharest for a lunch meeting. I can even make a ski tour on a Friday evening using a lantern with friends and climbing to Cabana Postavaru in Poiana having left Bucharest at 17.00 after a days work.

 Many people ask me if ski touring is difficult. The answer is that you can make it as difficult as you like. The effort necessary is similar to that of cycling. Both in ski touring and cycling you can either go at a leisurely pace or you can race.

 I am also regularly asked if the sport is dangerous. At the basic level it caries the same level of risk as alpine skiing and the best place to learn ski touring is on a ski piste. As one gains more experience with ski touring it is normal to begin to try ski touring off-piste where the level of risk depends not only upon your skill level as a skier, but also on your knowledge of the terrain and on the conditions. Generally, ski touring off piste is best done with a guide.

 Ski touring can also be an excellent form of fitness training and for anyone passionate about skiing, running and cycling it is an excellent cross-over sport. In Romania there are 6-8 ski touring races per year. The best race for a beginner is Postavaru Night, which is a candle light race from the bottom to top of the Poiana Brasov ski resort.  The race is held each year on the evening of the last Saturday in March. •

 For more information I would recommend the following:

Tabere si Circuite de Alergare, Schi si MTB for guiding and ski touring camps for beginners in Bucegi Mountains and Poiana Brasov and is a portal for general information about ski touring and racing in Romania. 

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