Dec 25, 2020 at 3:16 pm #3690822
Last year I replaced my first pair of xc skis that saw 8 seasons of use, Rossignol BC65s 165 or 170cm, with the Rossi BC70 160cm. With the new skis I went from NNNBC auto and soft boots to NNNBC manual and the Alpina Montana Eve boot. My goal was to get a little burlier set up without going the AT route. I ski in PNW Cascades concrete, these days almost 100% ungroomed, mix of wide forest roads and winding single track. I’m gradually trying to expand my range, but stopping short of anything that would require avy training. Also, in case it matters, I’m only about 102lbs and usually carrying ~15lb pack.
Here’s the question part, actually there are a few questions – I haven’t been that happy with the BC70s. They seem to be slippery in all but the most perfect conditions. I’ve had trouble on both flat and sloping terrain. I know poor technique can be to blame, but I don’t think that’s explains everything. Having never skied on anything but Rossis, I have no point of comparison, though I’ve seen reference to other brands perhaps having more aggressive scales. Wondering if the difference would be noticeable to the point that it might be worth replacing the BC70s? And if I’m replacing them, any suggestions on brands and/or width/length? As you may have guessed, I know nothing about skis and don’t have a local ski shop to pepper with questions.
Another thing I’ve been wondering about is skins. I know nothing about skins. Most of my regular ski routes involve rolling terrain, but sometimes I like to tackles routes with lengthier climbs. Unless conditions are perfect, those climbs are often a frustrating battle against gravity trying to slide me backwards down the trail. Are skins a thing for xc skis? And if so, what kind should I be looking for? And how do they attach to the skis?
Finally, since the nearest ski shop is an hour away, I’m wondering about the feasibility of removing my bindings and installing them on new skis myself or if that’s best left to people with experience?
Thanks all for the ski tutoring!Dec 25, 2020 at 5:24 pm #3690834Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
I have two sets of backcountry (BC) skis.
1.) 190 cm. Atomic TM 22 Telemark skis with a good sidecut (110/70 105) They turn well on steeps but tour slowly.
2.)210 cm Asnes Combi Combat touring skis with little sidecut (80/70/80) Great for rolling terrain but not easily turnable on steeps.
I use the same G3 7 climbing skins (cut to 70 mm wide) on both skis as they are enough for the Tele skis. But I hear now there is a climbing skin that requires no typical “skin glue”.
As for your term “slippery” I assume you mean lack of grip for kick. That’s a function of the wax you use for the snow you are on. On ice you need climbing skins, period.
I’m happy to answer any other question you have.Dec 25, 2020 at 7:59 pm #3690842
New skins that fit the skis are the most painless way outside of getting better gripping skis.
For DIY and poor skiers.
An old school, cheap and fiddly way to improve traction is adding a bit of grip wax (for the snow temp at the time) to a few inches of the glide portion of the base either side of the scales. Keep adding a couple of inches of wax until you get the grip and glide you want. Leave the scales clear. You then clean this off when you get home and reapply glide wax for later trips as the snow temps may be different at a later date or location. Cement usually takes the warmer wax- red or purple.
A second cheap way is to buy old thin skins from from a consignment store/ebay etc. This works okay for touring as the hills are not steep. You may also need to learn how to clean and re-glue skins to make them work. Again a bit of a pain. For the general public, if you need full width skins, you prob. also need a trained partner, shovel, beacon and probe.
If you ever get really stuck in the backcountry with a sudden change in snow and can’t make any progress, or you lose a skin in a slide, you can make rope climbers by tying cord around and around your skis from front of binding to tail. Kind of hard to find the correct knotting system to keep them on at first, but doable with experimentation.
When young and poor we skied up Mt Hood using just some polypro rope for skins. It worked even on boilerplate.Dec 25, 2020 at 8:35 pm #3690845Sam FarringtonBPL Member
@scfhomeLocale: Chocorua NH, USA
Am such a nonconformist. I like the short fat skis. They are very easy to turn. Like the engraved bottoms that add to grip. There are fluids to wipe on that create more speed. Go only on old logging trax, and brushed out paths used for bushwhacking in the other three seasons. Live at the bottom of Mt. Chocorua, and it is straight up from the back yard. Do try to avoid areas where animals den (deer, bears, moose) in the winter, and so far haven’t disturbed any, at least AFAIK. Oh, and the bindings are spring ones with heels that lock and unlock. Right out of the last century. Post is over – return to the year 2020.Dec 25, 2020 at 9:28 pm #3690850Jenny ABPL Member
@jenniferaLocale: Front Range
Lisa, one of the unfortunate things about waxless XC skis like the BC 70 is that for many people they work well…under a very narrow range of conditions, generally flat to gently rolling terrain and snow with some moisture content. It sounds like those are the conditions that you are using the skis in unless you are on hard-packed or icy trails. I’m not sure why you’re not getting better grip on flat terrain. It might be technique to some degree, though if you did OK with the previous skis (also waxless?) technique ought not to be the issue. At your weight is seems like you did get the right length. What is the snow like where you are skiing? (Heavy and wet…?). I have heard of people applying temperature-specific kick waxes to waxless skis in front of the fishscale pattern to try to get a little better grip. Haven’t tried that myself.
Some people who really like your ski seem to be either a little heavier for the ski they are on or are using it with 3-pin telemark boots/bindings, which will allow one to apply a bit more leverage in the front of the boot while climbing. I also wonder if your ski came with the binding premounted, or did a shop mount them for you? If they are shop-mounted, I wonder if the binding wasn’t mounted on the balance point, which would mean your weight isn’t being optimally distributed?
Fischer, Salomon, Alpina, Madshus, and Asnes also make waxless BC skis in a variety of widths, and some of those skis use a nylon or mohair strip in the kick zone instead of the fish scales. That might provide better grip, but you’d want to check reviews. Over the years I’ve heard of people who weren’t happy with their Fischers, and other folks who loved them, so go figure. I once took out a pair of demo Fischers and tried to ski up the very gentle beginner slope at the local ski area – couldn’t do it, but the snow was fresh and very dry. My favorite waxless XCD skis are Karhu 10th Mountains – now Madshus Epochs. They are more about the “turn” than the “tour,” but they tour well enough and turn better than a ski with less sidecut, and they grip pretty well in most conditions.
AFA skins, they work because they have a one-way nap that allows you to glide forward but not slide backward. They are usually made of nylon, mohair or some combination of the two. They commonly attach to the tip and tail of the ski with loops and clips, but some companies offer proprietary skins that hook into slots or holes in specific skis. For many years Black Diamond sold short half-length skins called “kicker skins” that are ideal when you want a little more grip. Unfortunately, BD seems to have discontinued them and I don’t see any availability. Most skins now sold at outdoor shops are very wide (90-140mm) and quite expensive; they are marketing to the AT crowd.
Another option for you might be to go back to a waxable ski, one without the grip pattern on the base. The upside of waxing is that when you get it right, you can glide more efficiently and grip pretty well. The downsides are that sometimes it takes awhile to figure out the right temperature/color of wax to use, and if conditions change you get to change your wax. Honestly, some things are just plain getting hard to find these days: narrow skins, waxable skis, and even temperature specific kick wax for those skis. The pandemic has made things even harder to find this season.
Finally, I would never try to mount my own bindings on any ski. I would rather pay someone who does it all the time, and if they screw it up it’s on them. I don’t want to mis-drill or poke extra holes in my skis or get the mount position wrong. There are probably plenty of DIY videos on how to do it yourself if you want, but I’ve seen the pros mess up enough that I wouldn’t try it myself.
If you don’t live near a shop, you could just call a shop in the part of the world where you are and ask for their nordic backcountry ski expert, try to pick their brain on why you are having these issues. I’m no expert, but I have skied for a long time on many types of gear, and I’ve tried to provide a little insight on why you might be struggling. There is a website called TelemarkTalk.com that might address your issues, or you could post a question there. Maybe some of this is a little helpful.Dec 25, 2020 at 9:43 pm #3690853
Just a thought from my own experience when I first bought my Annums. They speed waxed the whole base for me, not just the tips and tails and I couldn’t get any grip until I cleaned off the skis with solvent and a stiff brush and re waxed myself; tips and tails only.
Also rather than herring bone try and skate up hills, the new boots should offer enough support to do that but then I wear Terminators or T-2s with the big skis, it’s enough boot.
And here if I can’t get up a slope easily it’s ski crampons I need or an ice-axeDec 26, 2020 at 8:12 am #3690868
I carry a nubbin of this in a zip lock in my pack in case the scales aren’t gripping enough. Crayon just in front and behind the scales and rub a bit with a cork or palm of hand.Dec 26, 2020 at 8:16 am #3690871
bivysack.comDec 26, 2020 at 12:00 pm #3690890
I’ve done a fair amount of ski touring in the Northwest, on a variety of gear. I will say this:
Waxless skis are great for our climate. Using wax is a pain when the temperature is near freezing (which is often). You would have to switch waxes several times a day to get decent grip on a typical outing. They make sense if you are touring around the Methow, when it is cold and dry, but for a typical west Cascades (or Olympics) outing, they are too much bother.
Waxless skis vary a lot in terms of grip, but for the most part, if you are backsliding, it is simply a matter of weight. Basically, you won’t weigh enough for those skis (eat more cookies!).
The other issue is camber. Some skis have very aggressive camber — you really have to jump on them to avoid backsliding. I don’t think that is an issue with that particular ski. You might do a search (or just ask about it) on Telemark Tips. That is also a great place to ask about alternatives. One thing to consider is that Fischer offers waxless skis that also have “Easy Skins”, which make it easy to apply skins. I think kickers would be just about as easy (more about kickers below).
When looking for skis, the main thing you want to avoid is trying to drive a ski with too much weight or sidecut with a flimsy boot. The combination you have avoids that. If anything, your boots could drive a bigger ski, but your combination is good. A firmer boot offers a lot more control for those skis than a regular cross country boot would.
Consider buying kickers, not skins. They are easier to apply, tend to be cheaper, and serve the same purpose. They don’t work quite as well as skins, but are a huge improvement over fish scales. They can easily be used for different skis as well. I have relatively narrow kickers, and I use them for my Inbound Crown (68-58-64) as well as my Vector BC (123-92-108). Just get kickers as wide as you can for your skinniest skis (in my case, it would be 55 mm, for your skis, 60 mm). The only time I wish I had “real” skins, is when I’m following a skin track that is too aggressive (in my opinion). But that is rare — I can usually follow most skin tracks with kickers (if not just fish scales).
I can offer some opinions as far as destinations (and related gear) as well. Another great place for that is NWHikers.Dec 26, 2020 at 2:00 pm #3690898
OK, an update from Telemark Tips (where it is hard to search for anything containing “BC”, like ” Rossignol BC 70″). I ran across this, from a thread about Rossignol BC skis:
The BC70s, which I have little time on, seem like a faster, stiffer cambered version of the 65s.
Stiffer cambered means more work to get them to grip. Then there is this, from someone who posts there a lot (and skis a lot):
BC70: weird XC ski; stiffer than both the 65 and the 68; short lengths; no waxable base; terrible traction- really didn’t like this ski.
This suggests that your ski really isn’t appropriate for what you are trying to do. I would get on the site, and ask if they have a recommendation for a different ski. You can describe our climate (lots of wet snow, often deep, sometimes crusty). I wouldn’t even mention that we sometimes get powder, because skiing powder is great with just about any ski — it is just even more fun with fatter skis. I would also stick with your boots (assuming they fit you well). There will be folks who might suggest three pin (better control) but I’m sure you can find a ski that will work for those boots (I have a pair of Atomic Rainiers that work great, but it’s probably tough to find them nowadays, especially in your size).
I would still get kickers, but if you get better climbing skis you won’t bother using them that much. I use them on the rare occasions I go on something steep, encounter a lot of dry snow, or I’m braking trail and it is really, really deep. It doesn’t add much weight to just throw them in the pack.Dec 26, 2020 at 4:42 pm #3690914
Thanks all for the info…still absorbing.
@rossbleakney When you suggest kickers, I wonder if you could point me to any specific ones? The only thing I’ve found that I think clearly matches what you describe are the BD GlideLite kickers (https://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en_US/glidelite-mohair-mix-kicker-skins-BD163711_cfg.html), which as Jenny notes no longer seem to be available anywhere. In my googling, I haven’t found anything that appears to be similar to these, but I really have no idea what to be looking for. Thanks!Dec 26, 2020 at 5:51 pm #3690920
That’s the idea. Unfortunately, everything backcountry is hard to buy this year. My daughter tried to rent cross country skis the other day, and every place, everywhere, was out. They only had skate skis (something my wife and I talked her out of). This was on a Tuesday (albeit a few days before Christmas). The same is likely true for A. T. and telemark gear, as well as snowshoes. No one is at the gym, very few want to ride the lifts, they are all going to the backcountry.
Anyway, it is also quite possible that only Black Diamond makes kickers any more. They make high quality gear, but without competition, it isn’t cheap (although still cheaper than full size skins). The bigger problem, for you, right now, is that no one has them (so far as I can tell). Akers is a great ski shop, but they are out of 50mm and 65mm (https://www.akers-ski.com/product/5821.html). They have 8o mm, but that is too wide (even if you trimmed them by your foot).
Kickers are best bought used, or at end-of-the-season sales (that’s where I got mine). Unfortunately, that doesn’t do you much good this time of year, and this year. Adding to the problem is that it isn’t an easy thing to search for on places like EBay (“kickers skins” resulted in underwear, for example).
Anyway, that’s what you are looking for — you might try other forums as well. You never know when someone has a pair that is gathering dust, but hasn’t bothered to sell them.Dec 26, 2020 at 6:09 pm #3690924
@rossbleakney I just stumbled across this article, that’s pretty helpful. Curious if you have any thoughts on the skinny skin approach?Dec 26, 2020 at 6:48 pm #3690930David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
Metal-edged, waxless skis . . . . “They seem to be slippery in all but the most perfect conditions.”
Everyone who ever rented or bought metal-edged back country skis from us always had that complaint.
Two annoyingly facts:
For the metal edges to do anything, they need to present themselves to the snow surface with some force. i.e. the edges need to take some of your weight.
For the wax-less scales to do anything, they need to present themselves to the snow surface with some force. i.e. the kick section needs take some of your weight.
Combined, that means that to the extent the metal edges are biting into the snow/ice (the reason you wanted them), the wax-less scales are taking less of your weight and you get less climb. Each kick gives you less propulsion and you resort to herring-bone steps on shallower slopes.
A more aggressive technique (compared to your non-metal-edged in-track skis) helps. A harder, slightly more downward kick will give you better propulsion and a more downward stomp will give you better climb. Going a size down (for your weight) helps*. You could test that with another 20 pounds in your pack some day.
* Nordic skis should be sized by weight, not height. If you’re slim, someone may have sold you a size based on your height and then you’ve got a ski that is very hard for you to overcome the camber and get the scales to bite into the snow. We’d put people on the skis in the store and confirm by sliding a plastic card under the kick section that with 1/2 their weight, they’d glide and with all their weight, they’d be planted to the snow (carpet).
Ultimately, metal-edged backcountry skis are a trade-off and going downhill is never going to glide or turn as well as an alpine ski while climbing won’t be as good as an edgeless waxless ski nor a well-waxed ski. Randonee skis are the reverse – fabulous climbing with the skins on (but NO glide) and fabulous glide/carving turns with the skins off (but NO kick).
You can wax a waxless ski. A universal glide wax on the tips and tails and an appropriate (to the temperature) kick wax in the scale section can really improve the performance of a waxless ski, including an metal-edged one.Dec 26, 2020 at 8:41 pm #3690938
@davidinkenai As with everything in my life, I get the smallest size the thing comes and have to just deal with it being too big. Story of my very petite life. So going smaller probably isn’t an option, unless there are great kids’ size backcountry xc skis out there. Maybe I’ll just start adding bags of cat litter to my pack…
I do use a universal wax on tips and tails, but haven’t tried waxing the scales. Is there universal kick wax that doesn’t require a process to apply it?Dec 26, 2020 at 9:29 pm #3690940
Silver or Gold klister
Universal grip wax
if you can find any that is
Last season I grabbed the very last tube in my usual store and was told that was the last of the stock in the resort. So 2020 in the Northern it might be in very short supply
Link to Australia with current stock of a slightly different product
https://www.rhythmsnowsports.com.au/products/kx-40s-silver-klister?variant=32561497276478&gclid=eaiaiqobchminsg1pqnt7qivkwbych0vgaykeaqybsabegk74fd_bweDec 26, 2020 at 9:40 pm #3690943
Rhythm still have some BD kickers skins in stock
Old stock because 2020 was a very dead season, a combination of Covid and no snow to speak of
https://www.rhythmsnowsports.com.au/collections/all/products/black-diamond-glidelite-mix-kicker?variant=32049328390206Dec 26, 2020 at 9:52 pm #3690947Jenny ABPL Member
@jenniferaLocale: Front Range
Really good find on those kicker skins! It is sad that BD no longer has any. Am tempted myself.Dec 26, 2020 at 10:13 pm #3690950David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
Lisa: There are definitely youth sizes of Nordic and Skate skis (and then can be a bit cheaper) – lLocal high-school teams equip some pretty small women. For metal-edged backcountry skis, I haven’t looked, but I’d be surprised. A niche size within a niche market, alas.
It has often occurred to me that if one manufacturer committed to very large and very small sizes in more of their products, they’d have tremendous customer loyalty. A 6’2″ GF really appreciated that Nike company stores stocked through at least women’s 12 in shoes.Dec 26, 2020 at 11:03 pm #3690954
I just bought myself the last set of 80mm kickers to go with my Annums. I was tempted to save cash and get the skinny tho. I hadn’t realised BD no longer made them.Dec 27, 2020 at 12:12 am #3690956
That Rhythm site is in Australia and appears to only be shipping in AU.Dec 27, 2020 at 3:24 am #3690957
Lisa if you want them I’ll forward them to you.
Internal post with Rhythm is only $10-AUD
Small satchel to the USA is $35-AUD
PM me if interestedDec 27, 2020 at 3:27 am #3690958
Also Bogong but they also don’t ship O/S
It’s too difficult for small businesses to do the GST buyback paperwork I guess.
Australian GST is 10%Dec 27, 2020 at 8:52 am #3690970
@David — I’ve had three pairs of metal edge skis, and they all climbed quite well. My Viole and Alpina Lite Terrain had very little camber. My Atomic Rainiers had a bit more camber, but nothing like a “regular” cross country ski. They weren’t as good at climbing as my non-metal edged, but still pretty good. So you have a point — the fact that they aren’t as good and have less camber is saying something (although weight has something to do with it).
Anyway, I wouldn’t dismiss metal edged waxless skis. Based on the reports about skis, I think she just got skis with too much camber for what she is trying to do. Even though they have the “BC” label, they seem more appropriate for a groomed area, or a groomed/backcountry mix when there is ice. A “quiver” ski at best, and one that would gather dust for most users, and a lot of dust for her. There are decent medal edged skis for what she is trying to do — she just needs to find a pair.
Speaking of skis I don’t like, I thought the Alpina Lite Terrain was terrible. I think they just took an Alpine ski and put a waxless base on it. It has very little, if any, camber. I suppose it could work for an A. T./Telemark ski, but it is extremely heavy. If that is your goal, you might as well get a big backcountry ski, like the ones Viole makes — especially since the Alpina skis weren’t very good going downhill either, on anything but hardpack.Dec 30, 2020 at 4:41 pm #3691436Paul McLaughlinBPL Member
I have spent many days traveling many miles on waxless metal edge skis, with few complaints other than my lack of skiing skills. But those Rossis do not have a good reputation as far as the efficacy of the pattern. Fischer, Atomic, Voile, Karhu all have better reps , pattern-wise. With any given ski, shorter will have more grip, and less glide. Finding the balance that is best for you is s personal call. I would rather have more grip and less glide, so I lean short. But your case is tricky, since probably nobody makes a ski in the right length for you. Almost certainly the skis you have are just too long, and too stiff for your light weight.
You really shouldn’t need skins, I think, for what you want to do. I have covered a lot of terrain without needing to use my skins, except for really steep and/or icy stuff.
Asnes makes some skis that are intended to be women-specific and may work for your weight. you might check into those – though they can be hard to find.
I suggest posting on telemarktips.com – you will get a lot of input from the folks there.
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