Climbing Skins 101

Less futzing with climbing skins means more time skiing. Here are a few helpful tips.

Nov 18, 2008
Outside Magazine
Climbing Skins

GO WIDE Forget what the skinny-skied old-timers say. Get a skin as wide as the broadest part of your skis, and trim it to fit the sidecut for maximum grip on steep, firm slopes.

TRIM RIGHT To cut, affix the skin to the ski and trim from tip to tail, holding the cutter with the fat side down and the blade on top. Use the ski edge for stability by pressing the blade against it as you cut (1). After you've finished the first half, shift the skin over to expose one cm of the base on the side you've cut, then trim the other side. When you center the skin, it will leave five mm of edge on either side of the ski to sink into anything dicey.

FOLD SMARTER Common error in the field: folding skins in half. Save your muscles, and avoid wind-induced flapping, by folding the skins into quarters. Starting at the tail, peel half of the skin. Now fold that half onto itself, glue to glue (2). Peel the rest of the skin off to the tip, and do the same (3). Finally, fold the skins in the middle (4).

DE-ICE If your glue freezes, scrape the ice away with your ski edge. Then thaw it out by stuffing the skins into your jacket pocket, instead of your pack. Backup plan: Bring three or four 12-inch Voile straps ($4; and tie skins in place.

Supplies: Skins and Cutter: Black Diamond, Blackcountry Access, G3, Colltex

Filed To: Backcountry Skiing