As the world Wide quarantine continues, we’re putting together a series on influential ski tourers who are abstaining from skiing during the crisis. Whether by injury, summer temps or a global pandemic, breaks from skiing are part of life; no matter the length or reason of a hiatus, we remain ski tourers at heart.
Stano Faban is the editor of Skintrack.com and a passionate lifelong skier. We caught up with him over email last week.
W.S. What got you in to ski touring?
S.F. My parents had been taking me to mountains since I was about five years old. Then my father took me ski touring for the first time when I was 12. He used to go with his friends and I listened to their stories. I always liked skiing and ski touring just naturally stuck with me.
W.S. Do you remember your first set up? What was it?
S.F. I was using my mother’s gear at the beginning — red Dynafit boots from the early 90’s, the bindings were blue Silvretta 400 model, and the skis I don’t remember…but they were around 70mm and weighed like today’s powder skis.
W.S. How often do you typically ski tour in the winter?
S.F. I skied less the last two seasons, perhaps about 30 proper days, but I still had some really great adventures!
This season is a wash. I moved to northern Italy where we have been under tight movement restrictions for the last five weeks due to the coronavirus… mostly, just sitting at home with some short “law breaking” walks and runs in the forest. This very restrictive lockdown is supposed to go on until first week of May.
Before, for about 12 years, I was doing close to 50-70 backcountry days, plus training for skimo races, perhaps another 30-40 days. It was great and I learned a lot about mountains and myself in them.
W.S. What are you most drawn to in the sport?
S.F. Winter or summer, adventure and love for the mountains was always the biggest driver for me.
Ski touring and ski mountaineering offer so much to one’s life, soul and body if you are open to embrace even the difficult days.
Then skimo racing, in my opinion, is the best competitive sport there is. After finishing my triathlon competitive years, I naturally jumped to skimo as I was already touring a lot. Skimo allowed me to align many things that I like – adventure, training, time with friends, traveling, and pushing myself to improve.
W.S. When did you start SkinTrack.com website? Any plans for its future?
S.F. I started the site in 2009 and have been working on it on-and-off since then. It has been alive due to sheer passion and some help from friends.
I do have some future plans for it but have to decide on few things… there could be radical changes.
W.S. What were some particularly memorable tours of the 19-20 season?
S.F. I was busy with other things and once I was ready to ski more, as I moved to Bormio in Italy, the coronavirus became an issue.
But I definitely had some nice days with girlfriend and friends, just enjoying the mountains, and I did a nice tour on a very windy day with my father in Slovakia. He will turn 60 this year and I can see we will be able to go out together for a 1500m day and ski fun lines in the years to come.
W.S. What are the current conditions where you are living? Are you able to get outside at all?
S.F. As I mentioned earlier, I am participating in the Italian lockdown for the last five weeks. Basically, if you go out of your house/garden for other than to buy groceries or a five minute dog walk, you are breaking the law. I heard you can outsmart them but I wouldn’t know how… but definitely not skiing.
I am in a small village in a mountain valley and the various authorities have been very active in policing movement and fining people. I have not started my car for five weeks.
W.S. How are you filling the time that you would be spending skiing?
S.F. Surprisingly, I haven’t been bored yet, maybe a little at the beginning. Then I came down with fever and other symptoms so maybe I got coronavirus behind me, who knows. Since then I am busy with work for clients (website design and development), reading, studying local maps, and I started some woodcarving projects which is something new for me.
W.S. What do you miss most about skiing?
S.F. I guess I miss most to read and interpret terrain around me, and to set a nice skin track up a snowy valley.
But overall, I am somehow in peace with the current situation.
W.S. In a month, 2 months or next season, what is your next ski mission?
S.F. I am optimistic that we will be back on skis here in Italy around May 10. Then it will be lots of early mornings… I would love to ski lines on two-three local iconic mountains, do one three-four day ski traverse, and finally ski with local friends that I haven’t seen since the lockdown started.
Doug Stenclik is an avid skimo racer and ski mountaineer who lives for sharing the amazing sports of ski touring and splitboarding. Since his first time on skins he was hooked and the obsession has taken him all over the United States and the world pursuing the human powered ski turn. He founded Cripple Creek Backcountry in 2012 and took over the Colorado Ski Mountaineering Race Cup in 2014 to spread knowledge and the love of the sport. In 2019 he took a step back from the ski shop and race promoter life to become a publishing partner with WildSnow.