Working the Skin Pocket

| May 16, 2012

In XC/Nordic skiing, the term “wax pocket” denotes a certain zone on the ski where applying wax is going to give you the optimal blend of both grip and glide. A similar concept applies to climbing skins, although the “skin pocket” is fixed as you can’t adjust it fore/aft each day like you can by varying your waxing pattern. The sweet spot on a skin pocket will vary according to how steep you are climbing and what kind of binding you are using. The free-pivoting toe on most AT gear and some tele bindings means that it is almost impossible to pressure the front of your skin when touring, which in turn means most of your grip is going to come from your toe-pieces back.

As your climbing angle increases, the skin pocket becomes narrower and moves farther aft. This is not the end of the world, but it means that you have to be very aware of pushing through your heels on steeper climbs, which can seem unnatural at first.

One of the most common skinning mistakes it to bend at the waist. This has the unintended consequence of shifting your weight forward of the pivoting toe-piece, which makes it almost impossible to apply pressure to the skin pocket. To properly pressure the skin pocket on steeper climbs, keep an upright posture and press through the heels as much as possible.

Bending at the waist = blowing chunks.

Help support and master your skin pocket with a pair of K2 SideStash/SideKick Climbing Skins ON SALE NOW 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 (4)

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  1. Tim says:

    The title of this post sounded dirtier than the actual content.

  2. Matt says:

    That waist bender should be carrying a whippet!

  3. Great advice, I love how you make little drawings to your posts, they really help to explain everything in detail.

  4. Jason says:

    Good post! Thanks Andrew! I made a conscious effort this past weekend to stand up straight(er) when it got steep(er). Thought of your sketches the whole time. Ha! I’m definitely guilty of hunching.

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