Forums Splitboard Talk Forum I suck at skinning
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  • #579890
    12 Posts

    Beginner Needs some advice… This was my third time out on the same hill (Powderhouse off of the 89 near south lake tahoe)… First two times, I made it up to the peak fine. today, in some glorious conditions, I was unable to make it up and I can’t figure out why. I kept slipping backwards and had to bootpack some sections and eventually giving up 80% of the way up. Some of these may or may not be factors leading to today’s failure.

    1. New board – I was using a homemade Malolo split for the 1st 2 trip. Today, I took the Jones Hovercraft out for the first time.
    2. Use old skin with new board? – these are the Spark R&D skin trimmed for the Malolo so narrower than the hovercraft.
    3. More aggressive skin tracks? felt like today’s skin track were a bit steeper.. Could be my imagination and ego speaking
    4. Skin track was firm packed

    Aside from improving my technique, which would be most helpful?

    -new skin that fits the Hovercraft better? Any recommendations for skins with super aggressive grip – I’d gladly give up glide for grip.
    -Crampon? would the crampon have helped in firmly packed powder?


    460 Posts

    1. Different board might be a small percentage of your experience. Just like there is an adjustment period riding a new deck, the same can be true of skinning a new split.
    2. Narrower skins will grip a little worse but a couple mms is probably not a huge deal a cm maybe.
    3. Roadside attractions (like Phouse, Jakes, the Wasatch) often have steep skinners. I was there on Tuesday and I think there were 2 different skin tracks when I left and both had steep slippery sections which were probably worse today (it was cold and clear last night so there was likely some near surface faceting which really makes steep skinners rough). It is much easier ascending mellow skinners.
    4. Definitely a little extra challenge.

    Practice is helpful. Weight back on your heels, stand up straight, grip your poles on top not like a resort skier and don’t hold them far in front of you, don’t be lazy and cut switchbacks (this just makes them steeper). Try to relax and be efficient. Volken’s BC Skiing book has a good chapter on skinning tech.

    Learn to recognize when skin track suckage outweighs the benefit and just break your own mellower skinner past the slippery section. This is what naturally happens when steep skinners go bad. In an ideal world the first crew would put in a mellower track but you can’t really blame folks breaking trail before work for going straight up.

    If the skins fit decently, they should be fine but I think the orange BD/Voile skins have the most grip/worst glide going.

    Crampons would help but it’s better to just learn how to skin better and reserve crampons for more slide for life scenarios, which powdery Phouse is not.

    Failure is good. Learn from it and hopefully you enjoyed the ride down from your highpoint.

    298 Posts

    If your skins are narrower than your board, put them on so they are closer to the inside edges. it will likely be your downhill ski that slides back, and you want grip on the inside on them. Just leave the metal edge clear, and run them along the inside edge as best as you can.

    Go around the steepest sections and make a few zigzags more. It’s less effort than sliding back or walking.

    220 Posts

    Agree with the above.
    For me it was lack of heel pressure caused by looking at my skis rather than where I was going. This caused me to not stand straight and therefore my weight was not transferring to my heel causing me to slip and struggle.

    1490 Posts

    I find the most important tip is to stand up straight, and weight your heels aggressively. Be sure not to bend forward at the waist, it may help to think of thrusting your hips forward as well. As soon as you bend at the waist you will loose grip on a steep skinner. Additionally, for short really steep sections, try to keep moving and use shorter strides as it gets steeper. Slide your ski forward, aggressively weight it, and move forward and through in one motion, no hesitation. By moving through, and aggressively weighting the ski, you can generate more force on the skin for a short time, but note this will not work if you hesitate at all.

    679 Posts

    All good suggestions so far.

    When I take a step forward, I give my ski a very slight rearward ‘slap’ when placing it on the snow. Just a tiny bit, maybe 1/4″ of rearward movement as the ski touches down. It seems to encourage more hairs in the plush to stand up and engage the snow. This may be a placebo effect that has its real basis in allowing me to step more confidently onto the ski with an upright posture, which is where most of your real traction comes from.

    675 Posts

    ^^^^^^ this.

    Sometimes if I’m slipping out I just ‘stomp’ each step a bit. But like Barrows said, step confidently! Keep it movin and try not to stop, seems like that helps.


    I would encourage all of this and then also add that you shouldn’t be afraid to set your own skin track. Someone on here might tell me that I’m wrong, but at a roadside attraction where the skin track is super steep, do everyone else a favor and set a good not to steep-not to flat skin track.
    Breaking trail I have never experienced slippage

    136 Posts

    If I learned anything important in engineering school, its that friction force (how well you stick to the snow) equals the coefficient of friction (you skins) times the normal force (the portion of your body weight that is acting perpendicular to the contact area of the ski. So put as much weight as you can directly over the center of the ski as you can. Like others have said, trying to walk as straight as possible will help in most situations.

    Im not a board nerd so I don’t know the specifics of your ride but if your new ride is rockered and your old one wasn’t, that will have a significant effect on your snow stickage. Rockered boards have less contact area under foot so less area for the friction forces to do their thing.

    I also like the stomping technique when Im slipping. If nothing else it digs the skis deeper into the snow and helps you stay put that way.

    Most of all, since this is only your third time out, be patient. you are a fledgling as far as skinning goes. Being on skis is probably awkward for you. Especially ones with splitboard bindings and soft boots.

    Im sure the most hard core skimo racers cuss the skin track every now and then. Sometimes it certain parts of the track just suck. Making your own parallel track is a great idea. Even if you don’t make it that much mellower, freshly crushed snow usually grips better than packed snow. That’s why some tracks end up steep. The guy breaking trail is gripping the snow pretty well so he can make a steeper skinner.

    I wouldn’t blame the skins. When I first started out I was convinced that they were the reason I was sliding all over the place. I eventually ended up getting new skins and realized my original ones gripped slightly better.

    Just stick with it and you will find what works best for you. You will get better. You may even eventually become nuts and enjoy it.

    61 Posts

    Agree with blazing your own trail, if i ever find myself following something i dont like i cut my own. Just cause there is a track there doesnt mean you have to follow it or that they knew what they were doing. i tend to make a track as mellow as i can so i can keep my energy for the sliding!

    385 Posts

    all very good tips! the best two iMO are:

    take small steps and lean back on your heels when its slippery or too steep

    make a new skin track and show them how much better it COULD be, I like to do many laps with any easy skin track instead of being tired from using some ones shitty skin track for one lap…( granted, the before work excuse has changed my skin track to be faster as well. so I understand) 😆

    12 Posts

    thanks for all the awesome advice…

    I went back out today to a mellower beginner spot (don’t laugh, sunrise bowl out in Tahoe Donner) and decided to practice blazing my skin track.. that definitely helps with the traction but man, it was quite the workout. I’d rather work harder and make it up then continuously slide backwards.

    are there any etiquette one needs to be aware of when making a new skin track?

    668 Posts

    @tomtnt wrote:

    are there any etiquette one needs to be aware of when making a new skin track?

    I would avoid avy terrain and terrain traps, and also try not to zig-zag across prime riding terrain. Try to follow ridges if possible. But hey, it’s your track, go nuts.

    235 Posts

    The no-doubt lovingly crafted Splitboard 101 articles on this site are well worth reading.

    Here’s the one on skinning: “The Approach”

    298 Posts

    Here’s some good info about skinning also. I’m sharing this dropbox link for a few days only, so download it for yourself. This was a free chapter from the ebook, they no longer offer this chapter for free now. But I didn’t steal or copy it myself. I actually have bought the book and the ebook myself too, and recommend it.

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