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AT skiers, slipping up?


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highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion · · Colorado · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 35

I'm hoping some of you guys have some advice for me.I am trying to avoid signing up for too many websites and I know a lot of the same experts from those snowy websites probably climb.

I'm slipping uphill like crazy.

Usually it's on stuff thats steep enough for me to use the highest heel. At that grade, if it's packed at all, I can't move. On the first (flat) and second (medium) I'm usually fine. I feel like it's getting worse but it might just be that I'm encountering more steep stuff. I definitely slip on the medium height but not if I concentrate.

My setup, 122/80/118 X 175 with tech bindings. G3 straight skins of unknown makeup (mohair or synthetic, dunno) that are abot 75mm. Basically just the edge is exposed underfoot and lots exposed elsewhere. I got this setup used, I'm basically a beginner (both up and down). I expect to upgrade but I figure I can go a couple more winters before I get good to justify new stuff.

The skis are pretty skinny though, definitely less surface area than my wife's, even though hers are way short. Would getting a full coverage skin make them climb up well enough to go up some of the steeper packed trails (nothing absurd, just steep enough that I'd be using my tallest heel)?

I could see the exposed bottom essentially causing the ski to float, and that's why I'm slipping. I could also see also see on thin ski like mine, a wider skin isn't that much change in surface area, and it would be a waste of money. So which is it?

My father in law seems to think that as long as you've got edge to edge coverage, the overall width of the ski shouldn't matter. If true, this is a pretty easy $160 fix.

If I need new skins, I hear synthetic climbs better? Any specific brand to look for?

If I don't need new skins, can you tell me about ski crampons?

Jon W · · Bishop, CA · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 0

Your father in law is right. Your skins aren't even wide enought to cover the waist of the ski. You want them to be at least as wide as the tail width. Go to any skin manufacturers website and there will be a guide for sizing your skins.

Vaughn · · Colorado · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 50

I agree with your father in law. Edge to edge coverage would probably fix your problem. You also probably need to work on technique. Generally you want to stay off your edges and keep the ski flat on the snow surface. Also, its a bit counter intuitive, but you need to lean back to weight your skis more underfoot and stay off your toes. Think about walking like Frankenstein. Many experienced A/T skiers don't even use the highest riser because if you need that, the skin track is too steep.

Rodney P · · Ouray,CO · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 335

Some skin tracks are just plain old greasy af, but it sounds like the coverage might be giving you issues. Technique on steep shit is pretty important also, got to keep weight on the heels and don't lean forward to much like I tend to. Stomping deliberately with each step and pulling some new snow into the track sometimes works. Good topic and I'm sure that you'll get some good advice on here. I could go on but my phone is difficult to type on so I'm out 

William P · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 0

Conditions vary, but usually when I'm on something steep enough to warrant using my highest riser, I have to start making switchbacks. At that point, I'm relying on my edges to stop any downward slip. Past a certain angle, you're gonna slip, regardless of skin coverage or material.

However, the width of your skis might have something to do with your slipping. I'm a relatively small guy (160 lb, prob around 175 with ski clothes, gear, and backpack), and I'm riding 99 mm underfoot. I am also rocking G3 skins (nylon). For you, 80mm underfoot might be a little thin. As for getting wider skins to cover more of your skis, I don't think it'd be worth it. Underfoot is where most of your skin grip comes from, and with 75 mm wide skins on 80 mm underfoot skis, you can't really gain much. Getting thicker skins to cover more of your tip and tail sounds like a waste of $160 to me.

I've also bought ski crampons and found them to be useful only on icy terrain where there is no snow for the skins to grip. For me in CO, I've actually used them only once and have deemed them to be a waste of my money.

If I were you, I'd try to go out with an experienced backcountry skier and see if you slip while following their tracks. If you do, see if they can advise you on technique. If your technique is fine, then maybe look into G3's high traction skin (or any other brand's high traction option) or look into wider skis.

Tapawingo Markey · · Reno? · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 75

This^
I typically cut my skins to have a few mm of space on each side of the skin throughout the contact point of my ski. if you have rockered skis you can usually taper the skin in these sections to save on weight. In the case of fully rockered skis start the taper at the widest point of the tip and tail (usually the case with cambered skis as well).

There's definitely a technique side of the equation and it took me awhile to fine the appropriate balance of stride length and location of the pressure through my foot when skinning. I typically try to push from the ball of foot through my heel rather than my toes. Also, slide the ski up the slope don't walk with it, the sliding and then stepping motion helps those hairs set into the snow.

I've had good luck with the mohair blends from BD and Pomoca for a good mix of glide/traction. BD Ascension Nylons seem to climb the best and are usually on the more affordable end of the spectrum if you want to go all out synthetic but are fairly bulky.

TLDR; Get new skins that are cut properly and go from there.

highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion · · Colorado · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 35

Thanks guys. For sizing, I have the G3 cutting tool from my wife's skins. It seems to make cutting and sizing easy and fun.

Do you like the dimensions it creates?

Tapawingo Markey · · Reno? · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 75

Both the G3 and Pomoca tool work great. With your skis I wouldn't worry much about the taper in the front but as you get wider skis It's nice to cut down on the bulk and weight of the skin.

csproul · · Davis, CA · Joined Dec 2009 · Points: 325

Im a BC ski neophyte, but I have a couple different skins that I’ve been using. The G3 high traction alpinist skins are crazy grippy, they go up most anything that I’ve thrown at them. They also don’t glide at all. But compared to the mohair and the mixed skins I have they are super grippy.

Bill Mustard · · Silt, CO · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 76
https://skimo.co/binding-riser-heights 
good info, should help a bit 
Luc-514 · · Montreal, QC · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 9,523

Happy with the BD Ascension (good for damp east coast snow), trimmed with the G3 tool at full base coverage. I'm 200# with Helios 95mm 175cm skis.

And yes, if you have to use the tallest lift you should be using switchbacks for better efficiency.
If you have no choice to go steep, stomp your ski down to settle a flatter surface and keep your weight on your heels.  be aware of the angle of your poles because they can slide if they're too shallow on the slope.

Forthright · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 110
highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion wrote
I'm slipping uphill like crazy.

Usually it's on stuff thats steep enough for me to use the highest heel. At that grade, if it's packed at all, I can't move. On the first (flat) and second (medium) I'm usually fine. I feel like it's getting worse but it might just be that I'm encountering more steep stuff. I definitely slip on the medium height but not if I concentrate.

My setup, 122/80/118 X 175 with tech bindings. G3 straight skins of unknown makeup (mohair or synthetic, dunno) that are about 75mm. Basically just the edge is exposed underfoot and lots exposed elsewhere. I got this setup used, I'm basically a beginner (both up and down). I expect to upgrade but I figure I can go a couple more winters before I get good to justify new stuff.

My father in law seems to think that as long as you've got edge to edge coverage, the overall width of the ski shouldn't matter. If true, this is a pretty easy $160 fix.

If I need new skins, I hear synthetic climbs better? Any specific brand to look for?

If I don't need new skins, can you tell me about ski crampons?

1. Try to stay out of the highest riser if possible #deathtothehighriser. Tons of skin tracks out there are made by people with honestly shitty technique and are too steep, don't be afraid to cut your own. Watch how/ ask how a guide sets a track, if you can't hold a conversation while you're skinning on an established track, it's probably too steep. 

2. Yes some slightly wider skins will help you, but you aren't really solving the problem just a symptom. I've run 70MM waisted short G3 skins on 86MM waisted longer skis that I only had a problem when the skin track was starting to get high, or on a steep cross slope angle. Your G3 skins are probably Nylon.

3. That full edge to edge coverage for the entire length of the ski usually leads to these shitty skin tracks and bad technique in the first place. There is no need for full edge to edge for Nylon. Also pushing around that much nylon plush is only slowing you down. Look and see how small and relatively low coverage skimo skis and skins are, you don't have to be full spandex to learn good things from racers.

4. Yes Nylon grabs better, brand really doesn't matter for nylon skins anymore.

Not mentioned in your question but also make sure you're "standing tall" and taking shorter strides when you're skinning. Usually those too steep skin tracks also don't help you have efficient body technique either.  https://youtu.be/N7yYv5yKqiE

And yeah the G3 skin cutting tool is the tits! You just slap the skins on the skis and cut, no moving or adjusting.
slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,107

i pretty much agree w/ norcal.  it's been a while since i have done much skinning, but i used to do a lot of it.  i had skins that were really skinny compared to my (still pretty skinny) skis.  when i would go out with new partners they would be concerned that my skins wouldn't work, but i never had any problems.  i also never used the heel risers, i tend to hike pretty flat footed when i am going uphill anyway, so i never bothered with them.  like norcal said - short steps.  also, don't lean forward or you will slip.  it's just like walking down a steep slippery trail, when you lean back your feel will blow out from under you.  so, stay on top of your feet, which is a lot easier to do with short steps.

i also agree with norcal about boneheads that set really steep ski tracks.  usually it is young guys, who aren't known for being the smartest demographic.  it's way more efficient, enginewise, to set a moderate angle track.

Mike Robinson · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 240

all good comments.  biggest issue I see with beginner skiers (classic technique or in the skin track) is when they don't have kick, they hunch over, putting their center of gravity over the tips of the skis.  this is the worst location for kick. NorCal mentions it, but I'll emphasize it, stand tall when you start to slip, look to the top of the track.  This puts your COG over the 'kick zone' of the ski.  Short strides help as well, watch any pro classic nordic ski race and you can see when the slope angle increases, the stride length decreases dramatically.  I don't think you need new skins, I think you need some practice in the skin track.  Oh and most skin tracks are too steep in NA, throw some kick turns in and you should be gtg.

highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion · · Colorado · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 35

Thanks for the advice guys.

I'll work on form. I actually don't think it's quite as bad as many of you think. Remember, I get to a certain grade and can't go anywhere, regardless of body position and I try them all!

I can't really go cut track up 3' of powder whenever I can't get up the skin track. I can't really fault people for going too steep if I'm the only one who can't make it up. Seems like I'm the problem.

Taking advice from several posters (and going against a few other, sorry guys, I read every word and will try to learn from you) I went ahead and got much wider BD Ascension skins. I have full coverage now. I won't use them again until next weekend but just looking at them, I'm encouraged.

Rodney P · · Ouray,CO · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 335
https://www.backcountry.com/explore/touring-tips-skinning-techniques I found this article while poking around and it pretty much sums up my thoughts on skinning, kinda funny too, maybe you can find it of use.  Try pulling some fresh snow into the track if it's available also, works good for me , especially when the steep section only involves a few moves to get past it      
pkeds · · Broomfield, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 30

Echoing what others have said. Full (or more) coverage skin. I used to have the Bd skins that had a strip going down centerline of no hair to save weight and slipped everywhere. Also echoing what was said, technique is big. Focus on keeping your head up, not leaning forward, pelvis forward, weight on heels, deliberately stopping, shorter stride lengths, and rolling your ankles on traversing terrain to maximize contact with snow (unless it's steep enough and hard enough you are scribing).

highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion · · Colorado · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 35
pkeds wrote:scribing

Great, more words to look up. 

Forthright · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 110
highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion wrote:

Great, more words to look up.

Think this is more what above is talking about. 


highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion · · Colorado · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 35

Next question, really a subquestion.

As I mentioned upthread, I got a brand new pair of BD Ascension skins yesterday. I've got them cut to length and trimmed and they're pretty much perfect as far as coverage goes. I'm pretty excited about that.

I had the skins stuck to my skis while sizing and trimming. A couple hours because I work slow and babysit at the same time. I noticed in that time the skins were coming up from the skis. Now this is at room temp, also with no weight on the skins to push them into the skis. So I bet that the pressure once I stand on them and use them will cause them to adhere better.

It's odd to me though, they are clearly not as sticky as my G3's. Does glue "break in"? Is there something I need to do prepare the glue for the first use? Is this by design, has BD come up with a way to get the skin to stick well without being so stuck?

Tapawingo Markey · · Reno? · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 75

They'll be plenty sticky so I wouldn't worry about it, if anything the Ascensions were "too" sticky out of the box and got better over time. I also wouldn't leave your skins on your skis for any extended period of time unless you're using them, they'll take the wax of your skis and dry out the bases.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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