There’s a group of Nords in the Tahoe area that love to get out and take extended skate tours in the backcountry. As with any other form of skiing, the majority of folks skate ski on a groomed track at a resort, a XC ski area, or Nordic Center. Conditions for good skating, a firm yet edgeable snow base, are most common at a resort, but when conditions are ripe, there is nothing better than a corn snowpack while it is still frozen, or maybe al-dente as it starts to ripen.
Skating across Aloha Lake, Desolation Wilderness, California. Photo by IMNXCGUY
At that point you get all the real ingredients of skating, with an icy surface that melts under the pressure of a ski edge, allowing the skater to glide large distances with each pump of the leg. Skaters know the thrill of that gliding sensation, but everyone else does not, including, or especially, alpine skiers for whom the act of skating is necessary on occasion, but laborious at best.