Take a Tour of Saddleback!
Saddleback will permit uphill access on days the mountain is closed due to wind or weather events. We will not sell tickets and uphill travelers will proceed at their own risk, understanding the fact that on-mountain emergency services are not available. This policy supports Saddleback's belief that life is better outside and the desire to make the mountain accessible to all.
The Art of Uphill Travel at Saddleback
Before there were lifts, there were rope tows and before rope tows, people hiked to snow covered mountain tops to earn their turns. For the past 5 years, people took to the slopes of Saddleback to climb, take in the spectacular views and make some nice turns down the natural snow pack. Saddleback is now back and it is our mission to support the community of skiers and riders that choose manpowered fun and winter exploration.
Photos courtesy Allspeed
What is Uphill Travel?
Uphill travel, also known as skinning or alpine touring, is climbing up a mountain with skis, skins, boots on your feet and poles in your hands. The equipment set up differs from the normal downhill alpine setup. While skis do not need to be touring specific, we recommend a light ski. Bindings are specialized alpine touring that has two modes, one for skiing with a locked down heel and the other for uphill travel where an unlocked heel allows for an easy walking stride. Boots have a walk mode or adjustable cuff that can be locked for skiing and unlocked for walking. Lastly the climbing skins are applied to the bottom of the skis to use for traction on the ascent. These skins are removed once you reach your destination and start your transition into the decent.
Where to Uphill?
To minimize uphill and downhill traffic conflicts and maximize the natural joys of winter travel in the Maine outdoors, Saddleback has its very own dedicated uphill route. Our single track departs from the base lodge and maneuvers through the wooded terrain on the western slopes of Saddleback. It leads to the top of the Kenebago chair to reach our most advance terrain while also giving travelers the option to dip out early, lower on the mountain, if you so choose.
Where to Rent Gear?
The Saddleback Rental shop carries complete uphill alpine and split board setup rentals. A basic alpine touring set up includes: skis or a split board, boots, bindings, a pair of skins sized to the skis, adjustable length ski poles.
How Much Are Uphill Passes?
Passes will be $15 for a day pass or $135 for an uphill-only season pass. If you are a season passholder, uphill access is included.
New to Uphill? Check Out Saddleback's Guided Tour Offerings
Our guided tours embody the art of uphill travel and address the various elements of efficiency, preparedness, and respect for the winter landscape that will have guests on their way to confident navigation into the backcountry. Your guide will cover proper use for boot/bindings, clothing choice and layering, techniques and skills for efficient travel, kick-turns, and ideal hydration and nutrition. By utilizing the Saddleback side country, we provide a safe manageable environment for all skill levels to practice, learn and explore all that uphill travel has to offer on the slopes of Saddleback and beyond. Saddleback's Outdoor Programs department will also offer uphill touring lessons and group classes. Participants must be 18 years of age or older and an intermediate or above skier/rider. All should feel comfortable with hiking uphill.
Uphill Access Map & Travel Route
2.2 MILES 1100 VERTICAL FT GAIN
From Base Lodge: start skinning far looker’s right on the Wheeler Slope and look for the wooden “Uphill Access” signs leading you into the woods. Follow these signs through the woods and up the mountain, crossing the Hudson Highway ski trail several times until you come out at the top of the Rangeley Express. To access the summit, proceed up Tricolor looker’s left.