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How to deal with rolling terrain and short uphills

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
This past Saturday I skied the backside of Wildcat near Jackson, NH. Significant parts of the trail consisted of rolling terrain and lots of small uphill sections. There wasn't enough sustained uphill climbing to justify putting on skins. Consequently I was slipping and sliding all over the place and it did not feel very safe. The gear I was using was Fritschi Freeride bindings mounted on Salomon Scrambler skis. I was skiing with a group of tele skiers who were putting a special sticky wax on their skis to help them on the uphills. When I inquired into this later at an XC shop, I was told that type of wax would not work on my skis and that skins were the only way to go for any climbing.

Does anyone have any advice for me on how to handle this? I want to be able to do more backcountry stuff like what I did, but I also don't want to have to get a whole new setup since I just invested in the bindings and I love my skis.
post #2 of 6

The sequence you describe is arguably the one scenario where tele gear is significantly better than AT. Those rolling ups and downs are quite difficult on AT gear and pretty easy on tele.

As to the wax (which would help a lot), I'm not exactly sure why you couldn't put that on the bases of your skis. Maybe some of the tele'ers here will chime in, but I can't figure out why it wouldn't work. I've occasionally used a little kicker wax on the middle section of my AT ski bases for long, flat stretches and I can't figure out why you couldn't do it. I think it would help on the up sections of your trail.

What's the harm in trying some kicker wax on your bases? Have a little bit of base cleaner available just in case it turns into a mess, but I'd give it a try.

As to the little downhill sections, you'll probably be able to negotiate those better with time. You can ski down moderate pitches with your AT bindings in freeheel, but you have to be pretty careful. When I do it, I plant myself on my heels and try to make certain that I don't ever get my weight at all forward because if I do, I'll go down nose-first in a heartbeat. This is one situation where weight back is the prime ticket.

Give both a try. I think as you get a little more experience the process won't be quite as difficult.

Good luck.

post #3 of 6
Stryder, how were the snow conditions behind Wildcat? I have spent the past three four weekends staring at icy windswept NH trails coming to the conclusion it wasn't worth it. I prefer to keep my bases attached to the bottom of my skis.
post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
Astro--The conditions were quite variable. We saw everything from blue ice, boilerplate, powder, crud, corn, you name it. It was the first time for me on that trail, but everyone in my group who had done it before said it was the least amount of snow they had ever seen in February. The steep section just below the summit was quite icy and hardpacked and skied very fast. The birch glade was fun, that was one of the better sections. We took the Dana Place trail back down and in parts of it the snow had really degraded from the warm temps, so there were a lot of rocks and leaves exposed. If you were thinking about doing it any time soon, I would say don't bother until we get some much better snow.

Bob--Is there a brand name or type of wax that I should look for? The tele people in my group were using something that to me was reminiscent of a thick lip-balm type material. It was very different from the crayon-type hard wax I normally use. I don't know why I didn't use it on my skis, it probably would have made things much easier!
post #5 of 6
I’ve skied that same route, as part of a big loop up Avalanche Brook Trail to Pinkham, then Stony Ledge Trail to Wildcat, skin up Wildcat, down Wildcat Valley Trail, then Dana Place Trail back to where we started. (Well, actually, only I made the final trudge back to the car at the FS parking lot, while my wife and her friend got started on dinner at Dana Place Inn - pricey, but worthy not having them kill me for such a long tour.)
Anyway, any kind of plastic double-boot turning-oriented setup is way overkill for that route, fixed heel or free (except maybe for some extreme rando race setups). We used kick wax for the long annoying sections you describe. If you have really good classical kick-and-glide technique, then tele gear is more effective with kick wax since you can weight the kick zone better (or whatever it is you’re supposed to do). But kick wax still helps significantly with AT gear too.
As for the unfamiliarity with the type of kick wax, maybe your parterns were using klister (yech!) instead of hard wax?
Were we to do this tour again, we would use our Salomon Raid boots and Fischer Rebound skis. Actually, we even bought that gear in large part based on our experience on that tour, coming to the realization that New England has more way low-angle tours like that that it does true turning tours.
Kicker skins are another useful option. I got some mainly for the terrain upper limits of our Rebound skis, but I also used them in the Bretton Woods randonnee race last month with AT gear.
post #6 of 6
You have hit on the #1 problem I have w/ AT binders. Rolling terrain and ridgelines will take some getting used to. I keep my skins on for ALL ridge traverses and Rolling terrain. I cannot go uphill w/out them. but I can go down mellow skin tracks very easily. The stiff flexing sole of the tele boot keeps you from eating the front of your skis, AT binders have NO Flex or Retention Springs. Very easy to go over the tips. Put a 60 lb pack on your back and try. Practice will make perfect(or at least doable).

cheers Scott
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