New skins " already butchered | AspenTimes.com

New skins " already butchered

John Colson

This is a tale of good intentions gone slightly awry, but with hope for a happy ending.

First, a little history.

Since 1989, I have relied on a pair of 30-millimeter, black Coll-Tex synthetic skins for my backcountry and ski-area climbing requirements, and they have done yeoman’s duty over those heady years.

They have carried me to ski huts tucked into woody dells at 11,000 feet, or up the slopes of our local ski areas for my aerobic workouts in preparation for those hut trips, using skis that were little more than 200-cm shafts of wood or composite materials. And all those skis were rail-thin, with almost no side cut.

But recently I bought some shapelier skies, a pair of K2 Heli Stinx that, at 185 cm, were far shorter than my old sticks.

But, with tips measuring 102 mm, waists at 70 and tails at 93, they actually have a greater amount of surface that contacts the snow. It is quite a departure from the old standby skis, and my old 30-mm skins just didn’t have the grip to get me up the hills without a lot of backsliding.

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So, I popped for a new set of orange Black Diamond Ascension Nylon STS (90 mm), retailing at $134.95. The guy at Ute Mountaineer offered to trim and set up the skins for my skis for the mere fee of $15, but in my pride and hubris I said, “Naw, I can handle it.” Stupider words were never spoken.

The skins are sold with a tail strip of stretchable plastic and a bracket to secure the tail of the skin to the tail of the ski already attached. But they’re a little too wide for most of the ski, so I have to trim away a few centimeters myself using a cute little trim tool provided in the box. It is also up to me to cut the tip end of the ski to fit the tip loop.

So far, I have completely butchered one side of the first skin, to the point where, when I adhere it to the ski, the edge has the appearance of a long track left by an eel moving along an orange tide line.

I did better on the opposing edge of that skin, keeping the trim tool a little steadier and resorting to scissors more than once because the control is so much better. And when it comes time to cut the tip, it will be a strictly scissors kind of day ” believe it.

I have yet to tackle the second skin, partly out of fear, but also because of the fact that there’s no snow outside to ski on.

And the way the weather is going, I figure I’ve got at least a month before the true test of my skin-preparation abilities will be staring me in the face ” my first hill climb with my new gear.

Wish me luck.

John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com.

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