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Skin Waxing - Lessons from Skimo Racers
"My skins were glopping so bad, I was carrying the entire skintrack uphill."
Spring. Powder in the morning, corn in the afternoon. Leaving before dawn for long epic missions for those lines we think of all winter. Skin failure problems and glopping, which varies greatly depending on brands.
Lots of skiers carry small blocks of rub-on wax to prevent snow from sticking to their skins. This is a good emergency solution but hot waxing, in preparation for an outing is a lot more effective and offers much better performance. Skimo racers have been known to hot wax their skins to improve glide. This is also true for most backcountry skiing enthusiasts as most skins will benefit from this technique, independently of the kind of skiing you do. Iit will also effectively prevent glopping. By making the plush more water-repellant, colder snow won't stick to it as you change slope aspects or as snow conditions change.
Here's how to hot-wax your climbing skins:
- Use a non-fluorinated or a low-fluoro wax. To keep it simple, you can use a mid-range wax (-4 to -10 for example) and use it for all conditions. If it is really wet, low-fluoro wax can help make your skins even more water-repellant.
- With your skin attached to the base of your ski, simply rub the wax from tip to tail until the plush is coated with an even layer. You should see that the colour of the plush changes (gets a bit more pale).
- Set your waxing iron to a low temperature. What is usually recommended is approximately 60 degrees Celsius (140 Fahrenheit). Since my iron's adjustment knob only has temperatures over 100 degrees Celsius, I set it to a temperature that allows me to touch it briefly with my hand before it is too hot.
- Run your waxing iron evenly from tip to tail. If the temperature is high enough, you will notice that your skins return to their usual colour. This means that the wax has melted. Touch your skin immediately after it was in contact with the iron to make sure that it is not too hot.
- You might need to do a couple more passes to melt all the wax, especially near the edges.
- Repeat with the other skin
- Enjoy your fast and glop-free skinning and tell your friends about it.
Make sure that your iron is not too hot, you don't want to burn the plush.
I like to wax my skins once a week if go out on both weekend days. This way, I ensure that there is always some wax coating to prevent moisture from contaminating too much the plush.
There may be a break-in distance of a couple hundred meters where your skins might feel a bit grabby. As snow starts to abrade the surface of the wax the skins will quickly be back to their usual speed.