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Articles from
October 2006
Prepare Your Skis
Preparing for Winter
Bipolar Experiment

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Posts from October 2006
Get Those Skis Ready to Go!
Posted October 30, 2006

I apologize to regular visitors for the time gap between posts. I spent two weeks "on vacation" in Washington DC visiting my daughter and son-in-law and helping with their kitchen remodel. I tore out all the cabinets and moved all out the appliances. Then I removed most of the old plaster from the walls of her hundred year old row house. Finding the floor a little weak in a couple of places I decided to strip the old floor down to the joists. I rebuilt some of those then installed a new sub floor. Then my son-in-law Paul and I took out some remaining drywall and hung new dry wall on three walls. While we were doing that we replaced the exterior door. I spent the last couple of days taping and finishing the drywall. As you can see, it was not really a "vacation" but I did have a good time with Jeanette and Paul, caught up on things and accomplished quite a bit. When I left for the airport at 5 AM Jeanette was sanding the drywall the last time before heading to work for the day. Since then the kitchen was primed, painted and new cabinets have been installed.

I found the home range had begun to turn white in my absence but there was still not enough snow to ski.

Saturday Bud, April and I decided to hike to the summit of Elk Mountain in Glacier National Park. In the valleys the temps were in the low 50s and the larch trees were all gold. As we hiked higher though it got cooler and windy. By the time we approached the summit we were struggling against 60 mph winds and blowing snow with temps down to the 20s. We didn't think about the wind chill!

Sunday also started warm and windy. I noticed on my weather station that it was 58 degrees at 3 AM but by 8 AM it had dropped to 26. Snow began around noon and continued through the night. We only got 4-6 inches on the plains but I suspect there is substantially more in the mountains. It looks like I'll be able to get out for some road skiing this week.

Ski Preparation:
The new snow means I must get my skis ready to go. I should have done this earlier but I procrastinated until now.

Last spring I followed my own advice and coated my skis with a storage wax for the summer. Now it's time to get that off and prepare the skis for the approaching season. If you purchased new skis you should check out the article on Base Preparation from last season. You'll find it in the Archives link in the left column of this page.

For the rest of us follow these simple steps which apply to skating skis or the glide zones of classic skis.

  • First clean out your work area. Put away all those summer tools and toys and make sure you have a nice clean area in which to wax your skis. Set up your waxing bench. If you don't have one just click on the "Shop on Line" link at the top of this page order one from Ernie.
  • Clean the dust and dirt off your skis. If you kept them nicely stored in a ski bag they should be fairly clean. If not then use a rag to wipe them down and make them pretty.
  • Scrape the storage wax off the base with a plastic scraper. Try to get as much off as possible but don't overdo the process.
  • Melt on a layer of soft hydrocarbon wax like Toko System 3 Yellow or Base Prep Grey or Swix CH10 Yellow or Base Prep Glider. Iron the wax until it is all liquid and covers the base of the ski. These waxes melt at a low temperature so don't set your iron too hot! Then allow the wax to cool briefly.
  • Once the wax has cooled to a solid (this should take only a minute or so) scrape off all the wax. This hot wax cleaning is perfect for getting the last of the summer storage wax off your skis and helps remove any dirt that might have accumulated on the base. Scrape carefully to remove all the wax.
  • Brush the skis with a nylon brush to remove the rest of the wax. I follow up the nylon brush with a horse hair or fine nylon brush. These finer brushes get the last of the soft wax off the base.
  • Next select a wax for the conditions you will be skiing in. If you are unsure then choose a soft to mid range wax. Iron in the wax, let the skis cool for at least 30-45 minutes or until the bases are room temperature. Then scrape and brush again.
  • Finally iron in another layer of the predicted wax of the day. If you are not skiing that day or the next leave the last layer on the skis. I usually scrape and brush the evening before skiing.

These steps should result in nice clean bases that are ready for a season of skiing. A few more steps should be done to the kick zone of your classic skis.

  • Remove the grip wax you put on for storage. Use a scraper to get as much off as possible then consider using wax remover. This will get all the dirty wax off the base.
  • Let the wax remover completely dry. This may take more than an hour. If there is any stickiness or a greasy feeling to the kick zone clean them again.
  • Once the kick zones are clean and dry apply a couple of layers of cold wax in the brand of your choice. Put on a thin layer and cork it in. Do this two or three times to provide a good base for the wax of the day when you ski. Any of the warmer waxes should stick well to this base layer and your ski base will remain protected.

Now let's hope the snow comes quickly and we can ski every day until the end of April.


Photos by Bud Iszler.
Preparing for Winter
Posted October 9, 2006

Another wet snow fell on the east side of the Rockies over the weekend. That definitely tells me it's time to think about the coming ski season. There are several rituals that come to mind.

First and foremost is to try an develop a strategy for transition from dryland to on-snow activities. We began this over the weekend with a "training hike" on Scalplock Mountain in Glacier National Park. This little hike involves 3,200 feet of elevation gain on a well maintained 5 mile long trail that leads to the fire lookout on the summit. We hiked with a brisk pace most of the way pausing to rest twice at convenient vantage points offering great views. We also threw in some periods of easy pole bounding or ski imitation with poles. This develops the coordination needed for classic skiing and helps the muscles get ready for skiing. A much more detailed look at dryland training exercises can be found in the article Ski Walking in Ralph's Nordic Web Archives.

Besides trying to stay or get in shape for skiing I also take a close look at my equipment to make sure it is in shape for the winter. I'll be making a list and checking it twice to see what I might need to purchase this fall. April beat me to it. She already ordered new skating skis.

Last spring I covered cleaning and storage. It'll soon be time to get those skis out and prepare them for snow. I'll cover that in greater detail in a post later this month.

For now though, keep "getting your exercise" and start dreaming about those great days ahead when we'll be gliding across the winter wonderland.

Do you roller ski? I used to but after breaking my leg on the darn things I sold mine. I learned earlier today one of my good skiing buddies fell and separated his shoulder. While they are excellent training aids consider Scott Kyser's Miracle on Pavement. To see the full article visit Wear a helmet and take it easy!

The Bipolar Experiment
Posted October 5, 2006

I've been hiking and climbing for a long time now. In the early days I never thought of using a trekking pole or walking stick. Sure I used an ice axe when traversing steep snow but that was it.

A few years ago I noticed many mountaineers using trekking poles during their climbs. The poles looked like they would provide better balance so I tried one. I used a single pole when I climbed like Ron Gruber (the right most hiker) is doing in the top photo. Hey, that worked well and I was a convert.

Trekking poles come in pairs. You can't buy just one. When I needed to buy new poles this spring I had to buy two. I decided to try using the two poles while climbing.

I immediately discovered they were a tremendous advantage for climbing. Even on cliffy terrain they where they maintained balance and extended my reach.

On more gentle terrain like that in this set of photos I decided to use the poles in a fashion similar to skiing classic technique. Instead of just poling for balance I began using the poles to provide a forward push while trying to impart some aspects of correct arm swing.

As a result this season I developed stronger arm and shoulder muscles. I also know that the mountaineering poling motion while doesn't equate to the diagonal stride. As I progress into the winter season though, I hope that all the time spent poling this summer will allow me to transition faster into good poling technique on skis. - Only time will tell.

Photos by Brian Kennedy and Bud Iszler.