Spring is here and the time is right for skinning in your top pegs. I don’t go out of my way to always pick the steepest skin line possible, but there are times, actually, a lot of times, where a steep skin track angle is much safer, faster and more efficient.
Few things in backcountry skiing piss people off more than a steep skin track, but that is probably because they don’t know how to ascend it properly. Once you get the hang of it (details to follow in this week’s postings), setting a steep track can be way faster than wandering all over the hillside at the prescribed 12-degree perfect angle.
A few steep skinning myths:
A lower angle skin track is more efficient.
Not so. Walking up a low angle handicap access ramp is technically easier step-by-step, but no more efficient than going straight up a flight of stairs. It takes a set amount of energy to climb a mountain and the variables are time and distance traveled.
The fastest racers in world all use lower angle skin tracks.
True, but that has as much to do with using bindings which only have one elevation setting and skins which glide better than they climb. The top guys/girls are also plenty speedy on steep tracks as well.
Steep tracks are set my macho jerks with something to prove.
Perhaps. Then again, maybe they are setting a steep track as an ability barrier to keep a powder stash from being overrun once the track is in. If people can’t get up, they can’t ski down. See the “no friends on a powder day” rule for further clarification.
Category: 05 Uphill