Dec 23, 2012 at 1:28 pm #1297315
So I'm going to be taking some time off this winter and am thinking about spending some time on the Superior Hiking Trail in late January-early February. I also have the opportunity to borrow some Altai Hok skis. Does this combination seem feasible? I have't been on the actual SHT that time of year, so my question would be, in general would there be enough snow to make use of the Hoks. Or should I just go with some snowshoes?Dec 23, 2012 at 4:39 pm #1937779
Jim ColtenBPL Member
You might want to ask on the "hiker" yahoo group … focuses on the SHT as well as BRT, Kek and MN/WI parts of the NCT. (enough alphabet soup for ya?)
I'm not a skier but it's hard for me to imagine skiing most of the SHT. Most years there's plenty snow but most of the trail is quite narrow and not aligned for skiing. It does make use of ski trails now and then (Gooseberry State Park and Pincushion Mtn come to mind).
It's likely to be more ski-able between Duluth city limits and Lake Cty Rd 301 (not as hilly as the rest of the trail).
The trail is very showshoeable though. Maybe not so much right now unless it has snowed in the last couple days (weekly updated snowdepth maps)Dec 24, 2012 at 8:40 am #1937923
Yeah, I have most of all that figured out, just curious on the prospect of a "snowshoe-ski"Jan 3, 2013 at 5:57 am #1940483
Please post your findings after your trip.
I have a pair of Hoks 145 that I want to try on the SHT, but won't get there before mid-March.
I have snowshoed on the SHT, so the idea of using Hoks is interesting.
MitchJan 4, 2013 at 7:00 pm #1940888
I have been thinking that with the description of the Hoks and our local terrain, it would seem like a match made in heaven. We will need to get some more snow snow though, at least here in Duluth, right now it's pretty marginal for backcountry.
I think I would want to use them with 3pin bindings and plastic boots, as the video of the guy in the universal binding I saw wasn't confidence inspiring. As you know, the trail can be VERY steep and tight.Jan 7, 2013 at 12:07 pm #1941476
kevin timmBPL Member
@ktimmLocale: Colorado (SeekOutside)
I'm not a good skier by any stretch, but I took the hoks descending from 12.5 K over the weekend and they were fine. I was using the universal binding and a generic snow boot. IT was not super steep, but it was mixed conditions and steep enough to do some turns in.Jan 8, 2013 at 10:07 am #1941825
I don't expect them to be good on downhills.
Only expect them to be faster moving through deep snow than snowshoes.Jan 9, 2013 at 7:51 pm #1942356
Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
If you don't have the skills for steeper downhills just follow this "hillbilly skier" method:
1.grab yer poles near the baskets (about 6" above),
2.put the poles behind your shoulders at your armpits, elbows on the outside of poles
4.shove off and drag them suckers hard enuf ta slow ya down.
Works every time. Elegant it ain't – safe it is.Jan 28, 2013 at 12:29 pm #1948076
up in the bwca. enjoyed the heck out of them! i have done little cross country skiing in my life-routinely snowshoe into the wilderness for my winter camping. but i got the hang of the hoks and really was able to enjoy the little glide they gave me. i have the xtrace universal bindings on mine for now and wore some gtx hiking boots. light weight. i travelled a pretty flat route but was impressed with the traction on the gradual uphills i encountered. floatation was pretty decent-although the snow is still not very deep (midway up the gunflint trail) it is way better up there than anywhere else in minnesota. north shore and especially the southern reaches of the SHT may still leave a little snow to be desired though. i didn't have to do much downhill at all-wiped out dropping in off of a HUGE drift but had fun trying it: certainly the SHT is more up and down in sections and the hoks would make things interesting on those downhills. i think i would choose a flatter section of the trail-snow permitting-my first time out on them.
RichJan 28, 2013 at 6:32 pm #1948203
Thank you for your post. Now I am sure I will try mine out in early March. I am an intermediate downhiller so they might provide a good laugh.Feb 12, 2013 at 7:32 am #1953487
I tried my Hoks 145 this past weekend on local MSP terrain in deep, soft, mushy, snow. They performed well with good glide, flotation, and traction.
David Chanault described them perfectly in his Bedrock and Paradox blog posts last winter.
They have a very specific use where you would take snowshoes and not skis. I agree with David in that they are more efficient on traversing tight rolling terrain than snowshoes.
They have the flotation you would expect from a short "Big-Fat" alpine touring powder ski with 110 mm underfoot. However, at least for me, they are not for skiing downhill in the normal parallel or telemark fashion.
The flex is too soft for me at 180 lbs. Even when I distributed my weight evenly over the skis, I still bottomed out the climbing skin on each ski.
So I went back and watched the You Tube videos. I noticed that the users were not "skiing" downhill, but were "running" down the slopes.
The "running" downhill technique is probably more efficient and fun than running downhill with snowshoes.
My Universal Trace binding worked fine.
In short, the Hoks do a good all-around job for their light weight(about 3 lbs each).
I look forward to taking them to the SHT in March, unless I get side-tracked to the BWCA.
P.S. I noticed that Altai skis has a new and different ski at 147 cm for the 2012-2013 season. The ski is stiffer than the Hok 145s. Apparently, it overcomes the problems with too much flex found in the Hok 145s.Feb 12, 2013 at 8:13 am #1953500
Michael GillenwaterBPL Member
@mwgillenwaterLocale: Seattle area
Thank you for the report back on your experience. But where did you see this announcement of the 147cm stiffer Hok. I do not see anything on their website.
ThanksFeb 12, 2013 at 1:01 pm #1953614
apparently they are in the pipeline:Feb 12, 2013 at 1:04 pm #1953617
I was wrong above: the Kar 147s re being sold in Finland now.Feb 12, 2013 at 2:03 pm #1953647
Michael GillenwaterBPL Member
@mwgillenwaterLocale: Seattle area
Thanks Mitchell. The Kar looks exciting and worth waiting to see how it compares to the original HokFeb 12, 2013 at 4:31 pm #1953698
Jim ColtenBPL Member
they are more efficient on traversing tight rolling terrain than snowshoes.
just be aware while the SHT does have some stretches of "light rolling terrain" you'll want to choose chose your segments carefully:-)Feb 13, 2013 at 9:03 am #1953920
The purpose of my trip would be to see the limits of the Hoks.
From my prior winter experience on the SHT, I am not worried about the terrain and will take it as it comes.
If a climb or descent is too steep for the Hoks, I simply put them on the pack and kick steps or plunge steps.Mar 10, 2013 at 4:53 pm #1964008
Took my Hok 145s to the BCWA (Sawbill Lake Region) for a couple of days of field testing this past week.
I had the universal trace binding with a pair of gortex adverture racing shoes.
I carried about a 30 lb. backpack.
Here are some of my observations:
1. The Hoks excel at breaking trail in 1-2 foot snow. No need to lift your foot like with snowshoes. The Hoks just glide up onto the snow and the snow collapses. Very sweet!
2. I did not like my shoe/binding set up when following established snowhoes/sled trails, which were filled with skinny ski tracks.
When I tried to glide on the uneven surface, the Hok ski would tend to tilt into the skinny ski track. This caused some torsional motion between the ball of my foot and my shoe. I was also worried about twisting my ankle.
On such uneven terrain, I found it best to walk with the Hoks like you would wearing snowshoes instead of trying to glide with them.
Next trip, I will replace the Universal trace binding with a 75 mm 3-pin binding and use my Scarpa T3 plastic telemark touring boot.
This much beefier step up with ample ankle support should work better on uneven terrain.
3. The Hok's short legnth was good when moving around obstacles on the portage trails.
For areas like the BWCA, the Hoks will be my "go-to" tools from my quiver of three types of snowshoes and 10 pairs of skis.
I still need to test the Hoks on the SHT.Mar 14, 2013 at 9:17 am #1965497
Jeremy GBPL Member
Thanks for the feedback on this! I have skied and snowshoed a fair amount up around the boundary waters and been wanting to do segments of the SHT in the winter on skis, but wasn't sure if I could handle the hills… I was thinking the hoka would be a good option…Mar 16, 2013 at 8:40 am #1966239
Why do you prefer the Hoks in the BWCA? The shorter length doesn't do you any good on a lake. Is it just for the portages? Wouldn't the extra speed of a regular backcountry ski on the lakes make up for more hassle on the portages? Perhaps with some skins to be able to skin up a narrow portage trail and slow down on the descent?Mar 18, 2013 at 4:00 pm #1967127
I believe that the Hoks had two big advantages over my partner's nordic touring skis when breaking trail in deep snow on the BWCA lakes.
First, you have a lot rocker on the front of the Hok that causes the ski tip to glide up and over the snow, whereas my partner's skinny skis burrowed straight ahead under the snow when he broke trail.
Second, the Hok provides a lot of float with 110 mm underfoot, so I did not sink down like my partner did with his skinny skis.
Although this is a minor advantage at best, I was able to staddle downed trees on the portages without having to take off my Hoks.
My partner was the same height and weight as I was, and we carried the about the same weight in our packs, so we had a pretty good real time comparison. However, we should have switched gear to get a better one-to-one comparison.
In the past, I have used Karhu 10th Mountain BC skis (68/55/60), NNN BC bindings, and Alpina BC boots in the BWCA. Those are great if you are not breaking trail or the snow is consolidated.
Jeremy: About 20 years ago, I took my BC skis mentioned above to the SHT. That trip lasted about 1 hour, before I concluded that long skinny skis had no place on the SHT. I walked back to my car, got out my snowshoes, and had a good trip.
If I was not busy the next two weekends, I would take advantage of this cold and snowy weather and take the Hoks to the SHT.Mar 19, 2013 at 7:32 pm #1967653
I can definitely see the tree issues on portages.
I think I will keep my S-Bounds for the lakes though. At 188 x 99-69-85 I bet they have more surface than the Hoks, and I have not had major issues with them 'submarining'. Since I have SNS BC bindings getting in and out of my skis for an obstacle is pretty quick too.
I saw the Hoks and Marquette skis at the outdoor shop in Grand Marais a few weeks ago.
I still might get some for the SHP and BWCA routes with more portage %.Mar 20, 2013 at 2:12 pm #1967922
I bought my Hoks last winter for 2012 Bob Marshall Wilderness Open, which I ended up not doing.
Since I live in MSP, I would not buy them for my once/year BWCA or SHT winter trip.
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