Options instead of pattern base or skins

Discussion in 'Backcountry' started by axellotta, Jul 11, 2016.

  1. axellotta

    axellotta Active Member

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    Hi everyone, over the last year I purchased a set of second hand tele skis and stumped up for a brand new set of T2 ecos after becoming bored with resort fixed heel skiing in Oz (generally 1 day per season is about all it takes these days before the 2 minutes down, 10 minutes up wears thin). I am a keen hiker in the summer and snowshoe occasionally in the winter so a mate and I decide to give the backcountry ski touring a go. I am interested in learning to decently tele so I went with smooth bases and skins, my mate went with pattern base as he has no such aspirations. We did a single day of touring out the back of Falls the other weekend, out across the dam wall and towards Nelse, then across the Heathy Spur. It was a decent first day out but pretty poor visibility unfortunately.

    Here's the thing though, on the trails I felt like is was skiing with a couple of bits of carpet stuck to my skis (and they are very narrow 100% mohair, about 40mm wide), plus they were a pain in the butt to constantly take on and off. On the flip side, the pattern bases were extremely difficult to ascend on the unbroken snow at even a slight incline and on the very slight angle of the descents on that route meant he just crawled along.

    I can definitely see the advantage of skins for long ascents whilst yo-yoing but my initial impressions is for touring they are the pits. At this stage, personally I have no desire to think about moving to pattern bases.

    I got to thinking whether there might be a third option that is very easy to install and remove, giving the benefit of traction AND glide on the trails, decent grip on unbroken snow and the ability to ski with smooth bases. That option would be something similar to ski crampons but with flexible 'fingers' that bend up when the ski slides forward but grip when the ski is pushed back. The assembly is mounted in the gap between the binding and heel block and clipped into place.

    Firstly, has anyone ever heard of this being tried before? My basic googling has unearthed nothing as yet.

    I have a basic design, and a few samples of spring material. I have no desire to make a buck on this, much preferring if it could be crowd funded / developed and completely open source. I do need someone who has works with or has connections to a laser or water jet cutter, as due to the thickness of the spring material (0.2mm) the slots have to be very narrow and accurate.

    Any thoughts (positive or negative) are welcomed.

    Cheers!

    Axel
     
  2. stridercdh

    stridercdh Active Member

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    I've never heard of such an idea as you've mentioned but it does sound interesting. I know you said you're finding skins tedious but have you tried kicker skins instead of full length? I've not tried them myself but they seem to fit the bill as an intermediate option between patterned bases and full skins. Can anybody else elaborate on this?
     
  3. stansi

    stansi Dedicated Member
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    Axel, The third option is called "Nordic Kick Wax".

    A very simple system that should have come to Your mind.

    There is a market out there for it.

    Edit:- and don't forget about klister.
     
    #3 stansi, Jul 12, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2016
  4. snowgum

    snowgum Dedicated Member

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    Welcome Axel,

    You're experience (frustration) is not unique. Victoria's rolling high country is extremely challenging to the skinning/waxing mods of XC. Stridercdh is correct - get some Black Diamond kicker skins (1/2 length skins that have a front slider plate and nylon buckle plus the usual skin glue).

    Kickers are great (even for fish scales). They cope with Aussie ice ok and are generally quicker than ful length skins to attach. Depending on your balance it's certainly possible to remove and fold kickers without taking off your skis. With practice and patience (and flexible joints) it's also possible to mount skins without removing skis (might look weird but cares if it saved you 2 minutes a pop!)

    You can't really do all types of bc terrain with one pair in my experience. (think Ferraris and say SUVs).

    A modern patterned base ski (ESP some of the wider stuff from say Fischer/Rossignol) will cope with most conditions and be a lot quicker on formed trails and easy- mdedium terrain than even kickers' plus give you some fun turning on modest descents like parts of Heathy, easy areas of Nelse /back of Falls Cl etc...
    Such a ski will also be much more suitable if staying on resort XC trails at Falls, Stirling, Baw Baw and so on.... (I use Morotto Telemarks which aren't made anymore but could be OK second hand)

    On the flip side a good turning ski (sorry not sure what model you have). Will let you tackle much harder terrain with your solid T2 boots but is unlikely to be as fast or fun during the rolling access. Such skid are better for shorter, sharper ascents and descents - including Heathy Spur as a push (if you're descending the steeper runs on the east face of Nelse, South side of Spion Kopje Spur etc...

    Key points are have fun, stay safe and carefully watch your weather, ski with a mate unless within a resort, and carefully consider the merits of having at least two pairs of skis in the future. In time you may also want a lighter touring boot - I have Garmont Excursions they are great for touring and even a few easy resort runs. T2s can get a bit heavy on longer tours. T3/T4s could also work if you can find a pair?

    There was something around called a Nordic Claw or similar - I think it was to help light trail skis on ice etc...it would be very hard to find now in Aussie - may second hand online? I have no idea if they were any good - I have doubts or more people would have them.

    You can sometimes find ski crampons that attach to skis near the binding. Good shops might sell them - they work apparently but are usually for serous ski mountaineering / harder terrain I understand. They'd be overkill and heavy for most high plains work - could? be OK on Bogong/Feathertop but you'd need advice from your shop etc....

    Good luck and keep using the forum to bounce ideas.
    SG.
     
  5. Telemark Phat

    Telemark Phat Part of the Furniture
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  6. teckel

    teckel Old And Crusty
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    Lol. About to say grip wax or klister.
     
  7. sbm

    sbm Dedicated Member
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    If you're frustrated about speed, what about learning to skate ski? Skins are always gunna have friction and wax is always going to be a slightly messy dark art.

    The Wildsnow tip for klister wax, was to put duct tape on the wax zone of the ski, and apply the klister to the duct tape. Then when no longer required, rip it off hey presto no wax on your bases.
     
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  8. sbm

    sbm Dedicated Member
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    The "flexi ski crampon" idea is actually kind of cool, but I suspect you have a very small group of interested people to start with. I'd say the majority of the Australian BC & Nordic community gets skins & patterns to work for them. Overseas, they have mountains big and steep enough to require skins and metal crampons, or otherwise snow cold enough for wax.
     
  9. sbm

    sbm Dedicated Member
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  10. rowdyflat

    rowdyflat Active Member

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    unfortunately the Bogong High Plains are very frustrating until you reach the Mt Nelse region.
    you could get better pattern bases,use wax ,skate + skins.
    i have done all of these over the years eventually I decided it was better just to go to the Snowy Mts, depending on where you live , for touring and use full length skins.
    The weather, terrain and snow is usually better anyway.
    Also stamping on the snow as you climb up increases the grip.
    i have some old skis w a better grip pattern than Morottos if you want .
     
  11. Endless_Winter

    Endless_Winter Dedicated Member

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    I think you'll find that with something that doesn't run most of the length of your plank, it may not grip the snow if there are undulations underfoot. This might be OK for mellow approaches, but even somewhere like the Razorback has enough short steeper sections that would make the energy involved in side-stepping/booting/whatever outweigh the weight saving of even a pattern base.

    I'm a split boarder, so personally I go for maximum grip. If it's any consolation, I'm always floundering around on icy traverses while skiers swan past giggling :metun:. I don't care about the drag, although I know it slows me down.

    Welcome to ski touring! :p

    Transitioning is all about practice and you'll get quicker, particularly if you're a skier. For tour-to-ride the show-offs just lock their heel, pull the skin off from the tail and stuff it down their jacket!
     
  12. tele-whippet

    tele-whippet beard stroker
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    Attach kickers from the tip of your skis so they cover the front of the skis, this option gives good kick'n'glide, and enough grip for low angle ascents and you have the option to put them under the mid section for moderate ascents.
    I use some old skins cut in half for undulating terrain and full length ones for steep ascents.
     
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  13. Ziggy

    Ziggy Addicted Member
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    Yeah, Nordiclaw was a short pivoting paddle that fitted to the ski wall. Never took off. Might get somewhere on firm snow, and you need a vertical wall.

    The answer is technique.

    XC skiing is not bushwalking on skis.

    Various grip options are just tools with different mixes of costs and benefits.
     
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  14. mr

    mr Part of the Furniture
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    the flip down version just sounds alot like the hair strips that amundsen used 100 years ago.......

    there was also the solid scale 'skins' someone posted a while back
     
  15. tele-whippet

    tele-whippet beard stroker
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  16. SkiMountaineer

    SkiMountaineer Active Member

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    Good reason to stuff it down your jacket - keeps them warmer making the glue stick better.
     
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  17. Kieran

    Kieran Addicted Member

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    ^^^^^^^
    This.

    Also has the advantage of being cheaper than skins or new skis. I'm yet to find anywhere in Oz (well, NSW/ACT) that absolutely required skins over pattern based skis.
     
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  18. Endless_Winter

    Endless_Winter Dedicated Member

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    Most people think I'm just pregnant!!!
    [​IMG]
     
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  19. Ziggy

    Ziggy Addicted Member
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    Yes. With a decent diagonal stride you can get some glide happening uphill on PBs in common conditions. And if you've got thighs of steel (they come in time) skate uphill.

    Upshot is to take a few lessons and leave bushwalking behind. You'll learn how to move efficiently and safely.
     
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  20. Majikthise

    Majikthise Sage
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    ^this^ not much touring terrain defeated my old stefanised Morottos, even less the E99s. the skins only went on for repeat yoyo.
     
  21. DagdaMor

    DagdaMor Active Member

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    You can kick and glide full skins uphill too...just not for very long :p It' s a great way to rub it in when you overtake people on skinny gear in a skimo race, kick and gliding your NTN powder planks past them with a cheery hello (followed by frantic gasping once you're out of earshot...)
     
  22. BilbyBill

    BilbyBill Well-Known Member

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    I have only used skins once and they were kicker skins. I was on alpine skis with telemark bindings. I used them to get from the top of Ruined Castle lift at Falls Creek to ski the the Rocky Knolls. From memory (it was a long time ago) I could get some glide on the flats. They were able to climb any thing I tried. But it was a pain to put them on and remove them for the down hill. Because of this I skated without them where I could. From my limited experience I came to the conclusion that on the rolling terrain of the High Plains they were more trouble than they were worth and that pattern bases were better.

    It depends I guess, on what you want to do. If its just touring around, pattern bases. It it is to climb bigger hills for the ski down, kickers would be my choice.
     
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  23. Ziggy

    Ziggy Addicted Member
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    From OP:
    the pattern bases were extremely difficult to ascend on the unbroken snow at even a slight incline and on the very slight angle of the descents on that route meant he just crawled along.

    Sounds like your mate was a beginner too?
    There's things you can do. Choosing the line first off - an upward traverse may be best. 'Setting' the skis with each step. Shortening the steps and avoiding leaning forward so the weight stays over the pattern. Herringbone if you have to though that's tiring for any distance. Getting a bit of push from the poles.
     
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  24. SkiMountaineer

    SkiMountaineer Active Member

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    What @Ziggy said. Shortening your step is critical if you are losing grip.

    Setting the ski with each step means not loading the ski immediately with your weight. When you let the unbroken snow compress it will bond together giving you a firm platform when you do weight the ski. This works really well in boot packing through very steep deep snow too. Setting the step before weighting it will make you progress with less frustration.
     
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  25. Ziggy

    Ziggy Addicted Member
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    The odd thing about PBs is that out of the same tool you want both grip and glide. Seems contradictory and means that neither is going to be optimal. You try to square the circle by weighting changes.

    Modern PB skis aren't that good for this as what's popular is a single camber, soft at that, to make nice turns but that also means more drag on the glide with diagonal stride. Fischer 112s (and maybe others in that range) are an exception, with a fairly stiff camber. You pay for better touring performance with the requirement to work harder in the teles.

    There's been a lot of variation over the decades in the pattern: from positive, neutral or negative to fishscales (pointing forward or backward), half moons (beloved by ski hackers and Stefan), crown shapes and lord knows what else. But Aussie snow over a season is pretty variable and a pattern that makes you a hero skier one day gives you the shites the next.
     
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  26. stansi

    stansi Dedicated Member
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    ^^^^^
    And bye the way, How is "stefan"?

    It's many years since I had a glass of Slivovitz
    with Him at breakfast time.
     
    #26 stansi, Jul 15, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2016
  27. Ziggy

    Ziggy Addicted Member
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    Don't know Stansi. It's been years too.
     
  28. Ziggy

    Ziggy Addicted Member
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    We haven't talked about edging which is critical to BC progress regardless of what the base looks like. And one reason why the Nordiclaw and Voile's Snake Skins had serious limitations.
     
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  29. axellotta

    axellotta Active Member

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    Hi everyone, thanks for all the feedback. Sorry, despite my best intentions I have not had the time to sit down and respond.

    Despite me being very new to BC skiing, I had done a bunch of research and heard about most of the options you all have suggested, choosing my setup based on the theoretical best fit for the kind of skiing that I would most likely do. Basically a reasonably light weight setup that allowed me to hike in to the snow-line, tour about and camp out and do some yo-yoing with decent control. The setup I have is a K2 World Piste ski soon to be mounted with Voile SwitchBack binding (the last trip I had a pair of Telebulldog 3 pin bindings that were installed on the ski when I bought them). Skins are full length, 2 inch wide 100% mohair. Boots are T2 Eco. Everything is second hand apart from the T2s.

    I still have no issue with the setup I have chosen for the kind of skiing I have described above, and I know there is no 'all mountain, do everything' ski but it was a bit demoralising when not only the lycra clad skinny ski skaters passed us by but when the young lady just wandered past us wearing yetis :( Despite all the theory it seems nothing really beats on the ground experience though does it...

    The issue we had on the day (apart from the inexperience, especially with 'setting' the pattern base ski before loading it, was that at least for me with skins, the vis was so poor that I could not tell whether this next downhill section was long enough to warrant the removal of the skins or whether it was just another slight dip preceding the next uphill section. Yes, I tried skating but the trail was so chopped up with icy blocks from the groomers tracks that it was a short lived experiment.

    Regarding the 'market' for such a idea of removable 'friction fingers', like I said I'm not particularly interested in the commercial aspect, if it helps a very small bunch of people in the BC community its worth it I'd reckon, especially if it is cheap and relatively easy to manufacture. I envisage it being not a replacement for skins, but a addition to your kit that is extremely small and used for rolling terrain and trails, when the steeper sections approach (or edging in sketchy conditions is required) you would stick on your skin of choice. Unlike the NordiClaw (of which I have been unable to find and images) it does not rely on the sides of the ski being vertical.

    In regards to my choice of ski area, I'd absolutely love to get up to the main range and tool about for a few days, unfortunately I have a 18 month old toddler (with another on the way) and live in Melbourne so the 6 1/2 hour drive is a bit hard at this stage. Day trips or overnighters around Falls and Hotham are my options for at least a few years.

    Cheers all,

    Tristan
     
  30. Ziggy

    Ziggy Addicted Member
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    If the fingers interfere with the edges (and in what I'm visualising what you mean, they do) they are likely to inhibit edging - which you need for teles, side slipping, skating, herringbone on hardpack and the like.

    But if memory serves one variety of ski crampon is hinged and the tines get bumped up when you push forward.
     
  31. SkiMountaineer

    SkiMountaineer Active Member

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    The G3 Ion ski crampon is hinged. The Fritschi Diamir clip onto the bar and lift with the foot.
     
  32. Serenity

    Serenity Active Member

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    So axellotta , nice to meet you today at Gwinear today. How did your little experiment go?
     
  33. axellotta

    axellotta Active Member

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    Hey Serenity nice to meet you too. Let's just say that good data was obtained for v2....

    For those on the forum who didn't cross path's with me on the weekend, I spent a few hours in the evenings this past week making up a very basic prototype that I tested at Mt St Gwinear on Sunday. Here is the a couple of pictures just before the test.


    Basically a couple of bits of 1.5mm aluminium sandwiched between the top sheet of the ski and the binding (no extra holes drilled) in which was mounted two lengths of M6 all thread that protruded about 20mm each side. On these 'studs' two 'traction plates' were secured pieces with a couple of wing nuts. The traction plates were just some 6mm nylon in which, 7 slots were cut at an angle of 25 degrees and 6mm wide 0.2mm spring steel fingers were inserted and secured with a slightly thickened epoxy resin. I envisage the final design to be a lot more streamlined with machined pins instead of all thread and the traction plates locking into position with an integral spring clip.

    Results of the first test was too short (I think someone had already thought that might be the case), and the spring steel too narrow and not robust enough. See after-test photo:

    V2 will be double the width (1/2"), three times the length and will probably double the thickness of the spring steel to 0.4mm. I think with the extra length I will need to use aluminium or Delrin and the process of hand cutting the slots with a dremel was a PITA, so I'm still on the scrounge for any one here who works at or knows someone who works at a laser or water jet cutting business and wants to be a part of the project. I'm also happy to put the CAD files up here if anyone wants to make a set for their skis, or if V2 has any modicum of success, happy to mail my parts to forum peeps who would like to do some testing for themselves.

    Finally, I'd really like to get in touch with the person responsible for the famed 'Nordiclaw' but as yet I have not even been able to find an image online of the item, let alone any contact details of it's creator? Ziggy, you seem to have the most knowledge of the product and mentioned in another post of split boards that the inventor was from NSW?

    Cheers all,

    Tristan.
     
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  34. Ziggy

    Ziggy Addicted Member
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    Hey Tristan. Yeah, it's a little bit of engineering history that preceded the web.

    Google thinks it knows better than I do what I want to search on and forces "nordic law", even when Advanced Search is used. Bing allows me to force it under Images but returns nothing.

    My collection of old XC books isn't accessible to allow a search and scan. Anyone else got some dog eared references?

    Added: pretty sure this device came out of the US.
     
    #34 Ziggy, Aug 1, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2016
  35. axellotta

    axellotta Active Member

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    Ha, ha, yes, Google also gives me the same Nordic Law suggestions as you (as well as what looks to be a very useful pair of handles for climbing out of frozen lakes that you have fallen through with your snow-mobile).
     
  36. skifree

    skifree Part of the Furniture
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    I think Nordic claw was NZ, and often skis in Oz.

    Last version I saw moved the claws from the side to a single claw at the tail to avoid traverse issues.
     
  37. chriscross

    chriscross Dedicated Member
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    Just buy the Voile Vectors advertised on this site in "Gear Swap/ Buy".
     
  38. Ziggy

    Ziggy Addicted Member
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    If they were 170s they'd be gone.
     
  39. roymathew

    roymathew Just Registered

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    thanks for the information's,
     
  40. Ziggy

    Ziggy Addicted Member
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  41. Ziggy

    Ziggy Addicted Member
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  42. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Well-Known Member

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    OMG those must be really old stock
     
  43. Kieran

    Kieran Addicted Member

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  44. axellotta

    axellotta Active Member

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    Thanks a bunch Ziggy, much appreciated with the detective work! I'm planning on going to take a look sometime in the next week or so and see if they will fit my K2s. I'll keep you all posted.

    By the way, see below for version 2 of my design that I tested out a couple of weeks back up at Hotham. Even with double the width, triple the length and double the spring strength, they did not give any discernible traction in soft snow. Still, an interesting experiment if nothing else that all told cost about $15 and a couple of hours in the shed...
     
    #44 axellotta, Sep 10, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2016
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  45. axellotta

    axellotta Active Member

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    Hi guys, so I picked up a set of the famed NordiClaws last week for the grand total of $18.00. Yes, I'd say they are pretty old stock as the Canadian company that made them (Easy Climber) was dissolved in 1989...

    Regardless, they look like an interesting idea and I'm going to mount the up and give them a shot.

    They are not spring loaded and therefore I cannot see them being used in the same way as my 'finger plates' were designed to be (used instead of skins or PB on flat or gentle terrain). The instructions specify that you lift the ski up 6 inches which allow the flap to fall into the vertical orientation and drop like a spike into the snow giving traction on step uphill sections similar to a crampon (they are designed to be an addition to the PB on skinny touring skis).

    So therefore I figured that a reasonable setup (for touring) would be kicker skins mounted on the front section of the ski as per TeleWhippet's advice with the NordiClaw used only for steeper uphill sections. You would therefore get decent glide and grip on the flats, decent grip on the steeper uphill sections with the gumby crampon style action and still be able to get some glide on the gentle descents by leaning back on the ski as per Ziggy's advice.

    Thoughts?

    One last question though, the instructions mention that I should mount them 1/2inch behind the rear of my boot but due to the fact that my switchback bindings have a wire climbing riser at that very position I am considering mounting them almost directly below my boot centre as the top sheet is clear of any other binding hardware there. I figure the only reason the instructions suggest the rear mounting position is because the lightweight touring setup they are originally designed for does not have clearance under the boot. Again, any thoughts here about the relative merits of both positions would be much appreciated. I am still in the initial stages of getting the contact details of either Easy Climber's directors but so far I have learned that one of them has registered over 8 companies, all now defunct...

    Lastly, what do people wax their skins with? Does it change depending on whether they are a pure mohair or mohair mix?

    Cheers,

    Axel.
     
    #45 axellotta, Sep 26, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2016
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  46. Ziggy

    Ziggy Addicted Member
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    Full marks for persistence.

    I hear some folk hot wax with general purpose glide wax. Or if just insuring against balling up use Globstopper.

    Why the Claws never made the company millions .... 1. Difficulty in penetrating icy or packed snow and poor purchase in soft snow and corn. 2. Lifting your skis with every step on uphills will bugger you (how much does your rig weigh? mine's 3kg per side).
     
  47. Ziggy

    Ziggy Addicted Member
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    PS I had been assuming that the Claws mounted on the inside edge. So they won't mess with edge use as much as I'd thought. They will mess with side-slipping and probably with kick turns.
     
  48. satanas

    satanas Active Member

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    Just stumbled on this thread...

    Re hot waxing skins: I've done this using BD Glopstopper and found it lasted several days, didn't diminish grip as far as I could tell, and worked dramatically better than rubbing the wax on ever did. In summary: well worth doing. If you want to make sure the skin glue doesn't get into your ski bases (=> zero glide) then glide waxing the skis regularly is also essential. And never try drying skins by leaving in the sun on poorly waxed skis on a hot day. You'll be sorry if you do this!
     
  49. CarveMan

    CarveMan aussieskier.com
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    I think you need to have a word to my mate Jock:

    [​IMG]
     
    #49 CarveMan, Jun 25, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2017
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  50. satanas

    satanas Active Member

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    That does not look pleasant! Grass skiing with klister is also to be avoided. :)
     
    Majikthise likes this.