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Any sand dune skiers out there?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Here in Nevada, we got sand dunes up the kazoo. Have any of you been out on sand (or maybe other terra firma terrain like scree slopes or ???) Some friends of mine and I have traveled to neighboring Amorgosa Valley to drop lines in pre-season on the “Wandering Dunes”.

These dunes have about 350-400’ of vert and on a good day, the faces that retain some residual moisture from the cold desert nights have an exquisite texture not unlike powder. These slopes with the “dew” on them have an angle of repose of 33 degrees and straight lining them would prove disastrous. As the slope dumps out into the flat desert, the slope angle transitions too abruptly and the flat desert sand is soft (immediate deceleration to a stop).

Although this is a blast, the hike up in ski boots a bit strenuous, and bindings become permanently impacted with sand and making these skis forever committed to this media.
post #2 of 18
I've wondered if that was actually any fun. In Utah, we have our fair share of sand dunes, it being a desert and all. Does it cause any damage to the skis or boots, aside from the bindings becoming packed with sand? But what sand was really meant for. . . ATVs.
post #3 of 18
Vegas 777:

I've only done it once, but it was a hoot. If I can find the link, I'll post our outing in July of 2000. We went to Sand Mountain state rec area in Utah (about 2 hours south of Salt Lake City).

We went *early* in the morning (we were already hiking up by 0645). The "surface" was best right when we started. As it heated up, we sank further into the sand and the skiing got slower.

Sand Mountain supposedly has almost 700 vertical feet, although I've never looked it up on a topo map. It sure as h*ll felt like a lot of vertical, I know that. We had so much fun on our first run that we not only went back up but then hiked off to another ridgeline to "ski" a really cool-looking chute.

The whole thing was a riot. The incredulous looks from the dune buggy and dirt-bike riders, the lizards and snakes we saw while hiking, the unbelievably good taste of late-morning beers in hundred-degree-plus sunshine back at the cars. I wanna go again.

Andrew McLean posted some pics of our outing and I'll see if I can't locate them. One of Andrew's shots is of a well-known and incredibly good Wasatch tele skier. The photo was taken about three milliseconds before his nose impacted the sand.

post #4 of 18
Ok so Do you need a good pair of Powder skis? or is that a sand skis? Would a shorty slamon ski be better?
I can just hear it now The "Utah Has more Sand then Colorado." "Oh yeah Colorado sand has better texture Then Utah Sand." Let the sand wars begin.
I does sound kinda fun. I might just have to find an old pair of skis at goodwill or DI and give it a go.
post #5 of 18
While Colorado MIGHT have more sand (and that's a big might), Utah's sand is much better. It's drier here, making for better, finer sand. [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]
post #6 of 18
Colorado sand dunes rule.

<blockquote>Nestled in southern Colorado, North America's tallest dunes rise over 700 feet high against the rugged Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The wind shaped dunes glow beneath the rugged backdrop of the mountains. This geologic wonderland, containing 30 square miles of dunes, became a national monument in 1932. </blockquote>
post #7 of 18
My best sand skiing expience was March of last year, when my brother and I decided to try a first decent (I assume) of the big sand cliffs at Fort Funston in the southern part of San Francisco. This is where they often hang-glide from and gives you a good 250+ plus of vertical right down to the beach. It's fairly steep (40 degrees I'd say) and conditions were a little variable... The looks of the people walking their dogs down on the beach were priceless. And watching my brother get chewed out by one particularly vocal woman who was afraid we'd "hurt someone on the beach below" was classic.

Anyway, if you can't wait for Tahoe snow I'd recommend it. Just be sure not to make the one mistake we made and hike up your path before you drop in so you can check out where the hardpack is (very tough to turn on and painful to slide on).
post #8 of 18
sounds oh so fun and potentially painful. Can you actually carve on it?

Oh yeah Colorado and Utah ain't got nothin on the Sahara
post #9 of 18
Originally posted by hot_sauce:

Can you actually carve on it?

On the contrary. It's actually very difficult to *skid* on it because your edges sink in so easily that making a skidded turn is pretty hard to do.

One thing I can tell you - speed control is definitely not a problem. Your body tends to go down the hill a lot faster than the skis.

post #10 of 18
Never skied a sand dune but I have skied a 200' wood chip pile at a pulp mill.
post #11 of 18
post #12 of 18
Ah yes ......the pleasures of skiing the sand.

All the posts have some merit. Since there are no lifts that service sand dunes, so you gotta walk or have a dune buggy take you up.

On a hot bright sunny day its a lot of work. I suggest that you don't climp in ski boots, but rather use some wide bottom shoes or sandels, and put your boots on at the top while you recover from the hike up.

If you can get there early in the morning, right after a soaking rain, if will be like skiing on a consistant breakable crust that you can't skid.

In dry sand, the more flotation the better, wider skis do help. Can't make skidded or carved turns no matter what the sand conditons, unless of course frozen. Step turns seem the most efficient. Equal weighting, or almost equal weighting is a must until turn initiation, is the way to go.

I have seen some boarders do the sand and they seem to get a little bit of the carve working, but just minimal edging.

Unless you have a ride up, it is a lot of work for a few runs. Of course if severe desparationis setting it, due to not being able to ski withdrawal symtoms,are dominating your psyche, then go for it.
post #13 of 18
Originally posted by Tourista:
Never skied a sand dune but I have skied a 200' wood chip pile at a pulp mill.
Where did you ski the chip pile at? We use to on the coast of Oregon and also Sand ski during the 60's.
post #14 of 18
interesting topic, just a quick question does the sand getting into the bindings reduce their effectiveness or increase friction and stop them from clipping out when they need to. this doubt is the one thing that has stopped me trying it. Here in Australia we have real big sand hills
post #15 of 18
Yes, Sand Skiing.... When summer withdrawals become severe, there is always a dune north of Bodega Bay, CA, which is short but steep enough for about three turns. Plus, it drops directly into a creek, which provides "pond skimming" practice as well.

Skiing sand is similar to wet, heavy snow. Lots of effort required to make turns. I use an old pair of 195's and don't worry about sand in the bindings, as they will never see snow again.

The ptex base will slide on sand. However, I have found after trying both aluminum and formica, that masonite (glued or screwed to the bases) works much better than ptex. Curiously, waxing helps enormously. Also, I have had no luck sliding on wet or even damp sand. I've been told that on a long run, the heat generated by friction will cause a ptex base to melt into ripples.

I tried fat skis once, and they seemed to help slightly, but not much.

As previously mentioned, the best part is the strange looks from "normal" beachgoers.

Nordic enthusiasts can search online for information regarding Bill Koch, who skis on sand in Hawaii. I believe he skates on the thin film of water just between the waves and the dry sand.
post #16 of 18

I've seen some folks trying to board down a dune at Fort Funston. Must've been the wrong time of day, and/or the wrong wax. They won't going nowhere fast!


A post today about a coming indoor ski facility in North Carolina got me wondering if anyone's ever tried skiing the dunes at the Outer Banks in eastern NC. I think the large dunes at Kitty Hawk/Kill Devil Hills are protected/off limits, but just down the road in Nags Head looks like it's allowed...




Unfortunately only from Oct 1st through March 31st!  :-(


More links here for the Jones'n having trouble getting through the next 2-3 months...




Wonder if the new rockered/reverse cambered skis would be good for sand skiing? Maybe water skis?


post #17 of 18

Havnt tried sand but i did a 50 ft pile of corn in nebraska, corn powder :P

post #18 of 18

Matt Lauer dune skiing on The Today Show




That looks like some big fun!!  ;-)

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