Death by a Thousand Missteps

| January 30, 2009
I’m always tormented when I see ragged skin tracks as I feel compelled to say something, yet at the same time it’s hard not to come across as being rude.  “Excuse me my friend, but do you know your skinning technique is all phucked up?”  It’s kind of like seeing someone with an open fly – maybe they like it that way and it is none of my business.  ??  In any case, having an efficient stride is way more important than owning the lightest, sexiest gear as an inefficient stride burns up far more energy than just gliding along.
Exhibit A - lift & seperate works well for somethings, but not skinning.

Exhibit A - Lift & Separate works well for somethings, but not skinning.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.  Slide & glide is ideal. Slide & stomp is, uhmmm, not so good. Romp & Stomp should be left to the Rec Room.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Slide & Glide is ideal. Slide & Stomp is, uhmmm, not so good. Romp & Stomp should be left to the Rec Room.

Two friends go skinning... the one on the left is working much harder than the one on the right.

Two friends go skinning... the one on the left is working much harder than the one on the right.

There are many potential reasons for ragged skinning technique including mis-mounted bindings, blown boot cant adjustment or just natural physiology.  The first thing to do is just be cognizant of it, which usually fixes the problem and then with enough thought and practice, an efficient stride becomes habit.  Think of two pointy arrows sliding in parallel over the snow.

Help support and slide along with a pair of Scarpa F3 Alpine Touring Boots from Click on the photo below…


Category: 05 Uphill

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

Comments (10)

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  1. mark says:

    So what you’re telling me is that my carbon fiber F1 mod is not enough to offset my pigeon-toed gait? Damn. That was expensive.

  2. kim says:

    I want photo credit for that first skin track picture!

  3. Andrew says:

    Sorry Kim, this was a repeat offender in a land up north and the guilty shall remain anonymous.

    PS, is your fly open? :)

  4. bert says:

    macy sez “you have to get your feet on the right legs”

  5. Montana says:

    The chronic curse of riding with split boarders…how do you tell them that their skin track is wack?

  6. CesarO says:

    Hey Andrew, enjoying all the skin track discussions of late… I’ve always enjoyed going up, going way back to my road racing days, the climbing (stages) was always my most favorite and that seemed to naturally translate when I moved into mountaineering and AT skiing to going uphill, whether bootin it or on skins, you suffer but there is something euphoric about it that is hard to explain.

    Thought this may be an appropriate occasion to ask something I often wonder as I’m skinning up steep terrain. Assuming ‘good skinning’ snow conditions, at what slope angle do you abandon the skis and go to booting it. It seems that you can keep cutting switchbacks as the terrain steepens and stay on skis. On most of my day trips, I often try to stay on my skins, if not just for the practice (always in need of more practice) on steeper terrain, with efficient kick turns, laying the ski flat, or edging, etc, etc. I know there are at of other factors not mentioned. Thought you may have some good advice here? Thanks.

  7. Andrew says:

    HI Cesare – I try to stay on skins as long as possible. I’ll go to booting if it’s a narrow chute with a booter in it or perhaps if its too slick to get your skins to stick. On the slope angle, since you can adjust the relative angle of ascent by varying your climbing angle, it doesn’t matter so much as long as you can stick.

  8. doubleA says:

    I just bought my wife an AT set up and it was funny to see her “duck walk” her first hundred feet or so. Now that we’ve toured together about 10 times she has a much nicer stride and she doesn’t feel as tired.
    I usually wake up very early to start tours and breaking trail is commonplace. I feel setting a skin track correctly leads by example for those that follow me.

  9. d3 says:

    Some might think ‘pshaw!’ while others will be thankful beyond measure for the simple lesson. Sometimes it’s the simple things that have the peeps all phucked up.

    I’m sure you know ‘barn door’ can be substituted for ‘fly’ to add levity. But without deep thought, I come up empty on substitute terms for icky skinning technique.

  10. Rob says:

    I’m still somewhat new to this touring game, but on Saturday I was breaking trail in knee deep pow (with mid-fat skis, when I forgot to put my touring locks back in place after a bit of a downhill, I found that it was hip or waist deep booting it), and I definitely had a slide-and-stomp stride. What’s the best way of doing it proper like? When I got over to a crusty section, I had no difficulties.
    – R

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