Story of a Skinbased™ adventurer: From the Appalachian Mountains to the fells of Lapland
What draws one to explore? What pulls some of us to go and see for ourselves what is over the next hill, around the next bend, or on the far lake shore? I believe we each have our individual reasons. For me, it is a calling for adventure. Answering that call has taken me from my birthplace in the Eastern U.S. to a small village in Finnish Lapland, where I am privileged to now live amongst the fells and unspoiled nature. I believe that this same desire for adventure is also what draws me to Skinbased™ skiing.
Growing up in the Appalachian Mountains of the Eastern United States, I gained a passion for outdoor adventures early on. My parents and I would go for day hikes in the warmer months, and resort skiing during the winter. As I grew older, I started to plan and undertake my own trips, both with friends and through the local scouting organization. By the time I had finished my secondary education, my passions were clear: climbing, hiking, and telemark skiing.
First taste of Skinbased™ skiing
Moving to Tampere, Finland in 2013, I was soon introduced to Skinbased™ skiing - it came at a perfect time. Having long been a resort telemark skier, I had been craving a way to go skiing beyond the groomed slopes, in a more natural environment. I was drawn to the idea of skiing off the beaten path and in the forest, leaving the crowds and long lift lines behind. I dreamed of visiting my favorite summer hiking spots on skis, combining two of my passions. The discovery of the newly emerging sport of Skinbased™ skiing allowed me to do just that.
There is elegance in the simplicity of skiing on Skinbased™ skis. The transition from uphill to downhill travel is seamless. While I had done some traditional ski touring in the U.S., dealing with all of the complex equipment, specialized boots, and removable ski skins took away from the natural experience. With Skinbased™ skis, one can make telemark turns down the hill and at the bottom, straight from the last turn, go into a diagonal stride, climbing uphill again or heading back across the flats. There is no having to stop to replace your climbing skins, no need to open boot buckles, and no switching your binding into tour mode. Changing terrain types is as simple as when you are walking, but so much more fun!
Feeling the draw of Lapland
During the fall of 2019, my spouse and I decided we were ready for a change. The promises of long winters, an abundance of snow, frequent Northern Lights, and beautiful nature beckoned to us north. For one year, we traded our urban world in Southern Finland for life in a small village, on the edge of a Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park, in Western Finnish Lapland. Gone were the afterwork Skinbased™ ski outings to my favorite hill nearby the gravel pit. Now it was time to explore my new backyard of fells, forests, and frozen swamps.
For many reasons, it has long been important to me that I can have fun adventures in my local surroundings. Whether it's the environmental implications of always having to travel far, basic upkeep of my mental health, or not owning my own car, being able to get out and recreate locally is essential. Skinbased™ ski equipment is lightweight, simple, effective, versatile, and fun. It has always allowed me to make the most of my home terrain, city or country. These days my Skinbased™ skis often accompany me on easy wilderness ski hikes that start from my backdoor, as well as long outings spent exploring the different fells that surround the village. Sometimes, I’m even able to share the joys of Skinbased™ skiing with others through my work as a wilderness guide.
Lapland, much like Skinbased™ skiing, can become quite addicting. Our one year in Lapland turned into two, and then to three. Every year we find ourselves choosing to stay here “just one more year”. Thankfully, there are still plenty of new Skinbased™ adventures to be had, and terrain to explore. In fact, just last week I got a good tip about a certain fell’s north face that I need to go and check out…
Alan Goldbetter is originally from Winchester, Virginia, U.S.A. Currently, he resides in the Ylläs area of Finnish Lapland, where he works as a wilderness guide. Before moving north, he worked at our ski production facility in Kangasala, Finland, and now is a member of our media and marketing team.