There’s this thing about ski mountaineering: it’s pretty taxing on your body. Thanks to Hyperice's recovery tools, I don't need to worry about back to back big days in the mountains taking a toll anymore. | Lily Krass photos.
There’s this thing about ski mountaineering: it’s pretty taxing on your body. Now that it’s spring (and I work a desk job most days of the week), getting up early every Saturday and Sunday morning is the only way to cram in as much mountain time as possible. Sure, the glamorous moments of skiing with pointy things and ropes get all the attention, but there’s a whole lot more that goes on behind the scenes, preparing yourself for skiing in big mountains. Aside from all the requisite safety skills and mountain knowledge, there’s also the part where it’s really physically hard to drag yourself and all that gear through the backcountry in the dead of winter. Getting yourself strong and physically fit is just as important as knowing how to tie into the end of a rope or assess snow stability. Truth be told, I hate actively training in the gym, but also know that taking care of my body is crucial to being able to do what I want up there. Of course, recovery time is part of training, and for me, recovery is often the best part. I recently got the opportunity to add some products from Hyperice into my training and recovery routine’s mix, and they have been a total game changer. Sure, waking up early is still hard, but at least I’m not waking up with legs so sore I couldn’t fathom putting skins on my skis another day in a row. Thanks to tools like Hyperice’s Normatec 2.0 Compression Boots, Hypervolt GO massage gun, and the Venom Back vibrating and heating wrap, packing in a season’s worth of big ski missions into the calendar of someone with a 9-5 job suddenly becomes realistic.
For me, ski touring is one of the most fun forms of endurance sport. From an athletic performance and training standpoint, I need to get my body ready to output low to medium levels of energy for 10-12 hours at a time (skinning or booting uphill), and then still have enough left in the tank for a few 30 to 45-minute high-output bursts throughout the day (skiing downhill). Not too bad on its own, but given my other responsibilities in life, I tend to stack big days on top of each other and then do nothing but sit at a desk for a few days at a time. My physical therapist hates when I tell her I do that, and I agree with her that it’s not great for my body. I’m not a professional athlete, I don’t have contests to win, and I don’t have access to many of the tools our film athletes utilize, but I was genuinely curious to see if Hyperice’s tools could make me feel stronger and perform better in the mountains. After all, my bud Caite Zeliff recently brought her Hyperice tools along while filming for TGR in Alaska, telling me that “The Normatec recovery pants take away that heavy lead leg feeling that comes on after back-to-back big days in the mountains. After a 30-minute session, I’m fresh and ready to go for more! And there’s always more in Alaska.”
The trifecta: the Hypervolt GO, the Venom Back, and the Normatec 2.0 recovery boots. | Hyperice photos.
Hearing what Caite said, I was particularly excited about how the Normatec recovery boots and the Hypervolt GO could be used to help my own body recover after long days, particularly if I was planning to do multiple big days of ski touring in a row without resting. Like so many of us, I also suffer from lower back pain, so the Venom back compression wrap was also on the list for me to try.
The best part of the Hypervolt GO is its small size and long battery life. Keep it in your car for some immediate relief after a long day like this one! | Lily Krass photos.
Living in the Tetons has its perks, like the fact that there’s several lifetime’s worth of skiable terrain in the mountains of my backyard, and we have good snow for most of the winter. Sure, the terrain accessible from the lifts of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is about as good as it gets, but for me, the fun really starts when I slap a pair of skins to my ski bases and head out into the mountains of Grand Teton National Park. January and February of 2021 blessed us with historic amounts of snowfall, filling in some of the big lines I’ve dreamed of skiing since I first moved here, and giving my partner and I the opportunity to ski a bunch of low-hanging-fruit lines in stable powder. Then, after nearly seven weeks of non-stop snowfall, the faucet turned off abruptly and the sun and wind came out to join the fun. The snow in those easy-access lines turned into what I can only call total dogsh*t, forcing us to change our mindset, and look into the higher elevation nooks and crannies of the range to find good snow. That meant putting our bodies to the test and racking up the vert in pursuit of dry, stable snow up high.
Dropping into something steep and consequential with exhausted legs and a tired brain isn’t really the safest option, so I was glad to be able to confidently ski and deal with technical rope work on the way down. | Lily Krass photo.
Throughout March, I was lucky enough to spend nearly a dozen quality days up high, but one week in particular was worth mentioning, namely because of how the Hyperice tools allowed me to pack in a substantial amount of skiing into just a few days. With the weather holding up, and a dusting of fresh snow giving these lines a much-needed refresh, I managed to squeeze in climbing and skiing the Middle Teton, a few afternoons of either Snow King or JHMR laps, a linkup of several technical couloirs under Buck Mountain, and skiing the Apocalypse Couloir in a foot of powder all into a seven-day window. For me, a few of these were lines I had been waiting to ski since I moved to Jackson four years ago, so it was a special moment to check them off the list. Minus the Snow King and JHMR laps, each of these days required technical mountaineering skills, and the endurance to do at least 4,500 vertical feet of uphill skiing. Dropping into something steep and consequential with exhausted legs and a tired brain isn’t really the safest option, so I was glad to be able to confidently ski and deal with technical rope work on the way down.
Couloirs and big alpine lines were on the menu this spring, and big vert was no problem with the recovery boots and massage gun back at the truck. | Lily Krass photos.
The funny thing was, my partner and I didn’t actually intend to ski so much, we just felt good enough every morning to keep adding more to the mix. The routine? Get up before the sun came up, stretch for a few minutes, walk uphill, ski back down, spend 45 minutes in the Normatec boots and the Venom Back wrap, and finally work out any sore muscle spots with the Hypervolt GO. Then get some much-needed sleep and do it all again.
It’s hard to pick a favorite of the three tools, as I found that they all work best together. The Normatec boots are the perfect cure for excessive lactic acid buildup (a large part of why your legs get tired and sore after high-output days). Basically, the massage-style compression they provide prevents muscle fatigue by moving excess fluid and lactic acid out of my muscles, ultimately promoting bloodflow to speed recovery. The Hypervolt GO is a personal masseuse that you can carry in your own hands. The percussive therapy it provides allows me to target exactly where it hurts, whether it’s my quads, my IT band, or a sore shoulder from carrying a heavy pack. It’s tiny, rechargeable, and I found best kept in your vehicle to use right when you get back to the trailhead. Finally, the Venom Back is like a nice warm hug for my lower back and core. It’s essentially a lumbar compression strap with a heating element and vibration built in, perfect for promoting bloodflow and loosening up sore abdominal and back muscles. Hyperice also has a mobile app that connects to some of the devices, and provides guided warmup, recovery, and maintenance routines. When I’m exhausted from a long day in the mountains, it’s nice to have the app give me some guidance on what to hit and for how long.
So, in the end, can Hyperice’s products make you a better skier? Well, these tools aren’t going to give you the ability to make that perfect jump turn, but what they can do is allow you to ski a whole lot more. And in my book, that’s a clear advantage. I can’t wait to go skiing again.
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