The Sound of One Skin Slipping

| January 11, 2013

Although I worry about it all the time, last weekend was the second time in my skinning history that I actually lost a skin while skiing, which creates a dilemma; do you posthole back uphill through deep snow in the hopes of finding it, or accept the loss and sacrifice your lone skin to the experience gods?

The first time this happened to me, I saw the skin go flying off the ridgeline, over a cliff and into a valley with a powerful wind gust, so the decision was pretty easy.  The second time I had to ponder it a bit harder, but as we were on a schedule, I pulled out my Leatherman Micra knife, channeled my inner Aaron Ralston and sliced my single skin down the center.


While obviously less than ideal, a two skinny half skins are still way better than booting, especially in soft snow with miles to go. I saved the tip/tail connectors on one side, then created a tip loop with a short piece of thin accessory cord on the other, and held the tail in place with a Voile strap.


In dry, powdery conditions, I prefer to stash my skins inside my jacket after each ascent as just a few minutes of body heat are often enough to melt any snow crystals, which are often the bane of blown skins. I can usually count on my pack waist belt to secure the bottom of my jacket, but I’ve been skiing with a light pack lately and just using the sternum strap, so a skin fell out somewhere on the 1,800′ descent.  Ooops.  Lesson learned I guess.

Help support and cut through your skinning tears with a Leatherman Micra Multi-Tool from Click on the photo below…



Category: 02 Gear

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 (5)

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  1. Jim Knight says:

    Let’s see you trim those skis down to match those skins.

  2. JD says:

    Kinda look like some new fancy version of the BD ascension skins. Macgyver’s got nothin on you Andrew.

  3. Cody says:

    I forgot my skins once (or twice) and came up with and acceptable solution. I took a 5 mil. cornice rope and cut it a little more than twice my ski length and made a loop in the middle of the rope that fit snugly over my ski tip. Then i did a single hitch on the top of the ski and an alternating single hitch on the bottom of the ski and repeated this till I reached the tail where I secured it with a volie strap. The result was a diamond shaped pattern on the ski. It climbs very well but does not glide. I made it to the top of UFO bowl from Aspen Grove TH and did a few laps. I also had to do it using NRS cam straps.

  4. tyler says:

    I’ll look for yours if you look for mine. Bottom of Short Swing on the down after getting stuck in deep snow and throwing them back on in order to get out. Been a year or two though ….

  5. Andrew says:

    Good one Cody! I’ve done a similar thing on sleds to slow them down on descents and can see how it would work as an emergency skin as well.

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