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nordic skis on local mountain hiking trails?

Original Post
Chris D · · the couch · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 2,230

Loads of snow up in the local so cal mountains (San Bernardinos). I have a pair of old salomon nordic X-C skis and boots from back when I lived in Wisconsin, where i mostly skiied track on groomed trails, along with a very little bit of skating. Haven't even taken them out of the closet in about 15 years. My forays into alpine skiing were pretty much disastrous, and limited to my pre-teen and early teen years in western PA.

I was thinking about shoeing up one of the local trails in this new powder (assuming i'd just sink in the skinny nordic skis) and just maybe skiing down the trail or down some lower-angle terrain. Thoughts? Am I certain to die, or only likely to die? I do lots of dumb stuff, so I'll definitely appreciate a frank "this is a stupid idea" though I doubt it will dissuade me.

Thanks in advance!

Climb To Safety · · california · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 40

you will most certainly die :)

Tim Stich · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,470

Go for it. But keep in mind, you want a trail that goes up gradually so that you can ski down slowly and in control. If you choose a trail with a lot of switchbacks or that is super steep, you're going to have a bad time.

DavisMeschke Guillotine · · Pinedale, WY · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 210

Unless your Nordic skis have edges and a side cut, turns will be pretty tough. If you're cool with pointing em straight and riding down, you'll be fine. Just learn how to fall correctly or you're gonna have a bad time.

Patrick Shyvers · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 15

Just start out easy/flat. XC skis, especially without edges and sidecut, don't offer tons of control, but just because you can't carve, doesn't mean you won't have fun.

Especially since the snow is fresh and not icy/packed, I would think you can snowplow or hockey-stop even without edges. I find sidestep turns are more difficult in loose snow though.

KevinCO · · Loveland, CO · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 60

There are a few tricks to skiing downhill on XC Skis.

>It is possible to make Telemark turns, but only in perfect conditions such as powder if not too deep and corn.

>You can slow down with the snowplow, but again only if the conditions are right. You will have to exaggerate the technique to make it work.

>The snowplow turn works well for changing direction and controlling speed.

>Use your poles held together-two in one hand as an outrigger and drag them as a brake. Really lean into them. If your speed is too great, it will not work.

>Falling is a valid technique for controlling your speed as a last resort.

>Beware of the snowshoe track. It is very difficult and unpleasant to ski.

> Skins are great for climbing steeper than climbing wax will. Also, keep your skins on for controlling your speed going down. (takes away the fun, though)

>If you don't have skins, you can turn your skis into snowshoes by wrapping/braiding a polyester cord in the middle section of the ski. I used to do this and it worked quite well. At first glance, I couldn't find instructions on google, probably because skins are vastly superior. I found the technique in a Backpacking magazine before the internet.

>Wear a helmet

>Have fun!

caribouman1052 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 5

The first person to ever BC ski in So Cal? Awesome. I would say go to it, but why not stick to some fire roads? They should be all over the San Bernardino Mtns. This way you can be on relatively low angles, not have to thrash through buried manzanita or trees, but still get out in the mountains.

As far as shoeing, I used to do two trips on shoes to break low angle trail, and then come back and ski the third trip. Otherwise you have to break trail; without skis with stiff enough tips &/ metal edges, it's going to be really tough. Have you ever skiied breakable crust?

Without some pretty serious BC turning skills, and without metal edges, I can't recommend you getting into tree skiing. The difference between on and off a pounded trail is huge, and turning ability is even more critical in the trees than on an open steep slope. Put tough snow conditions together with trees and a lack of skills, and no, you will not die, but you will be injured.

If you get hooked, the very best thing you can do is get hold of the Allen & Mike's books on backcountry skiing & 'telemark tips'. And Paul Parker's book on skiing...

Chris D · · the couch · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 2,230

Thanks, everyone, for the tips.

This is kind of just a lark…I know I should have more legit equipment for this sort of skiing, but just thought it’d be fun to see what I can do with these old sticks. My plan was to snowshoe up a trail that climbs a couple thousand feet to a long flattish stretch of ridge on the north side of San Bernardino and just monkey around on that ridge. My skis don’t have edges, and I definitely know my equipment and skill limitations. If the whole thing turns out to be a big fail, it’ll still be a beautiful day in the snowy mountains.

The fire road tip is a good one. There's dozens of them, and most are moderately graded. Moderate enough that the shells on my skis might be adequate to do some uphill stuff without skins, but probably least in deep powder.

I expect to see more than the usual crew of backcountry skiers out there this weekend…this is the first good snow we’ve had in forever!

Chris Re · · Boise, ID · Joined Apr 2003 · Points: 15

Los Angeles crest where the gates are closed. We used to ski up many of the different trails up there

Pine mountain

A lot of people ski these places nothing new

Tim Stich · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,470
Chris D wrote:Thanks, everyone, for the tips. This is kind of just a lark…I know I should have more legit equipment for this sort of skiing, but just thought it’d be fun to see what I can do with these old sticks.
Dude, I skied for years on skinny skis without metal edges. Sure, compared to what I run now it sucked, but I didn't know better at the time and had fun. You too could squeeze some fun out of those old sticks. Just pick something easy.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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