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The UpSki: Are Ski-Sails the Next Big Thing?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hey everyone,

 

As some of you might know, I write articles over on Skiessentials.com for the Chairlift Chat section. I recently went looking for new content, and came across this Kickstarter campaign for a wind powered ski sail that brings you up the mountain. 

 

I wrote up a quick article and posted it here, but I also wanted to bring it up on EpicSki. After doing a quick search on it, I didn’t see anything in the forums so I figured I’d make a post.

 

Anyways, what do you guys think of this? Is it practical enough to be the next big thing? Is there something about hiking a mountain that just can’t be replaced with a wind sail? Personally, I think its a great idea but have a lot of questions about things like ease of use, weight, etc.

 

Those are just my thoughts though, what do you guys think?

 

post #2 of 8
I'm not a hardcore backcountry skier but it looks like a niche product that a few talented skiers will be able to take advantage of, similar to flying suits that base jumpers use to "fly" downslope in mountain valleys. I think these guys will get the kickstarter funding and they will go into low volume production.

My biggest concern would be changing wind patterns close to the peak and getting blown over the edge of the ridge or peak by some serious wind gusts, or a change in wind direction that might start to blow you downslope. I see that they have a rapid deflation device and without looking at it firsthand this is speculation but I would be concerned about the deflation mechanism getting clogged with snow and ice and not functioning properly.
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

Getting blown over the ridge was one of my big questions too. The tops of mountains can be especially windy, and it's pretty easy to imagine getting caught up in the wind and not being able to stop. Maybe there's a way to give it a really short lead so you can control your speed a bit more?

post #4 of 8

I kind of understand how one can upwind with a sail/kite but i don't see how one can go upwind with these so they'd only work if wind is blowing from the base.

 

am i missing something?

 

I guess the solution is to choose the correct apsect slope...

post #5 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by yann View Post

I kind of understand how one can upwind with a sail/kite but i don't see how one can go upwind with these so they'd only work if wind is blowing from the base.

am i missing something?

I guess the solution is to choose the correct apsect slope...

I was thinking the same thing, gotta have good winds going upslope for it to work, and the turbulent air going over the top can get pretty wicked, like crash light airplanes wicked.
post #6 of 8

I'm not understanding how this product is more useful than a kite made for snowkiting...? If you're kiteskiing, your wind can be blowing in any direction and you can still make it upwind. This thing looks like a big spinnaker, which would limit how much you can change your course... 

 

BTW, it's easy to have a "kitemare" when kiteboarding, potentially resulting in injury or death. Nobody should ever try it without supervision of an instructor. Not sure how this product addresses safety and beginner issues.

 

That said, I do like to see innovation. Just not sure how this innovation outperforms what's already out there.

post #7 of 8

Hey, riding on snow is riding on snow.  I'd try it out (i.e., rent one) if it were available on a safe enough slope.  It gives something to do when it hasn't snowed and there is nothing covered with snow except the WRODs.  Would I buy one?  Never.  On a crowed slope it is a lawsuit waiting to happen.


Edited by quant2325 - 12/13/13 at 9:50am
post #8 of 8

Put me in the puzzled camp. And the camp that asks-- why this instead of a normal 4-string kite like used in Kiteboarding? 

 

I see the breakdown in two areas:

1. Danger. Kiteboarding is risky, on snow or water. Bad things can happen quickly when attached by a harness to something that can lift you, no matter the simplicity of the safety releases. But at least kiting provides a lot of control (avoid obstacles or to shut it down in an emergency), and there are makers with long track records. And it's mostly learned on flat, warm water with cross-onshore wind . Not in the vicinity of mountain obstacles. 

 

2. Maneuverability. So what happens when the wind isn't pointing upslope-- or upslope enough? At least with a kite you can go upwind much like one can when sailing + tacking.

 

I'm open to the idea. And I love innovation. But this looks like a big, ungainly, potentially dangerous contraption that doesn't kill mice better than the alternative mouse-killer (kite). 

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