Ski mountaineering is a sport that combines the techniques of skiing (often ski touring) with those of mountaineering. The goal of the ski mountaineer may be to climb a beautiful mountain by a worthy route and then ski the mountain down an elegant line, preferably from the summit.
But ski mountaineering is really distinguished from ski touring by a willingness and desire to travel over any part of the mountain, not just those areas with sheltered powder snow fields or other nice descending conditions. This may include significant rock, ice or broken glacier sections, as well as traverses and enchainements rather than just single peak ascents.
While using skiing techniques for much of the time, ski mountaineers climb otherwise inaccessible or dangerous slopes on foot using a range of mountaineering equipment - typically crampons, ice axes and ropes - while skis are carried strapped to their backpack. This either permits access to extreme slopes, or more often allows transit through otherwise impassable terrain in order to continue beyond on skis, where normal ski touring equipment such as skins and harscheisen (ski crampons - also called couteau or cortelli) are used.
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