skis

Cletis

New member
Do any of you carry a short set of skis when your out in your snow cats or just snow shoes? Haven't done any cross country sking but it has to be easier than snow shoeing in deep powder. ???????
 

300 H and H

Bronze Member
GOLD Site Supporter
Cletis I have looked into this, and for deep powder you need longish ski's, not short ones. The real deal killer for me was the boots, or shoes that you must use with the ski's.They didn't look like you would just wear them when you snow cat. I think they would have to be carried along with the ski's. The retail store didn't have any boots that looked very warm at all. Maybe there are some that are...

Flat as we are here for the most part, cross country ski's would work well. Deep powder and steep slopes I don't know how well they work..

We need snow here as we have a trace is all. Lol I don't need a snow cat this year, much less ski's.

Regards, Kirk
 

mtntopper

Back On Track
SUPER Site Supporter
Do any of you carry a short set of skis when your out in your snow cats or just snow shoes? Haven't done any cross country sking but it has to be easier than snow shoeing in deep powder. ???????

Short skis or smaller snowshoes will work quite well as long as you follow your snow cat tracks back out to where your journey started. If you want to go cross country where there has been no snow compaction then the longer skies and larger deep snow shoes will be required. A five mile walk or ski on your snow cat tracks is much easier than a one mile walk in snow that has not been compacted. Use your head not your muscle if you find yourself in this situation and need to walk or ski out. Cross country can be a big unknown unless you know exactly what you are up against. The best route back to safety is usually your old tracks in the mountains where the snow is soft and deep. If someone is looking for you then most likely they are also following your tracks as best they can to where you are located. If you wait a few hours you find your snow cat tracks have set up fairly hard and are much easier to walk or ski on if you must leave the cat.

I often have a pair of snow shoes with me when I am further out than I think I can or would want to try to walk back in boots only.
 

mbsieg

awful member
SUPER Site Supporter
my personal opinion would be never go alone. It's good to have backup systems but if you avoid the problem of not going by yourself. it would be a lot easier to ride with your buddy then cross country ski or snowshoe out.
 

akmountaineer

New member
Snowshoes are probably the best idea IMO because they can easily strap onto any boots. With skis you can travel faster, but they require special boots. Articulating backcountry ski bindings minimally require a boot with toe and heel welts. You also need climbing skins and poles for going uphill on skis. In a pinch, I'd rather rely on the simplicity of snowshoes. Strap 'em on and go.
 

Snowtrac Nome

member formerly known as dds
GOLD Site Supporter
I have an old set of telamark skies with now obsolete silvarado bindings, they work well with traditional work boots you just need to add a groove in the heal for the binding cable. I also have a set of short snow shoes I carry around knock on wood I have never used them except for training you see I don't own a weasel or kristi.
 

Lyndon

Bronze Member
GOLD Site Supporter
Part of what got me into Snow Cats, some 45 years ago was skiing. So the first thing is you really need to know is how to ski if it is hilly terraine, or how to 'SKATE' if it's flat. An experienced skier can handel down hill on cross Ex skiis, but not recomended for a novice. That being said, ones best bet would to be to get cross ex skiis, and the associated bindings and boots. For both Mountaineering, and Cross-ex, there are fairly good small boots that one can walk around in and even possibly get your toe on the little gas pedal in a snow trac. The great big rigid Down Hill boot is great for the cold, but one could not drive any make or model of snow cat with them on.
I always bring skiis. When it's a radio tower or mountain climb in the Cascades, I bring Downhill skis and Downhill boots. When I bring Earl, I also bring Downhill equipment. Earl doesn't ski or snow shoe, so on the one ocassion that the Trackmaster De-tracked at 5000 ft, and a 10ft drift, I skiied back down to the truck (5 miles, in roughly 7 minutes!), unloaded the 'Spare' snow cat ( his ST4), drove back up and picked him up. It usually takes and hour and a half to get to one of several radio towers, in an ST4, or Thiokol, less than 10 minutes to get back down on skiis. I warm up both trucks, and get in a brief nap while waiting for the cats to get back down off the mountain.
Mountaineering skiis, and Cross-X skiis have the toe attached and a somewhat flexible boot the does not go very high, roughly to the ankle. The heel is free to flex up and down. This is essential for this type of skiing.
Down hill boots go clear up to your knee and are very difficult to walk in. The heel is attached making up-hill walking difficult.
Mountaineering Skiis have heels that can be locked down, or released. They would be the best choice for "Cat Extraction" in other words,... walking out.
With a little practice one can learn to 'Skate' with cross X or Mountaineering skiis. A good cross country skiier can even skate UP slight grades.
In deep powder on Snow Shoes one might cover 5 miles in 8 really tough hours. With Skiis, half the time in the same conditions. The Scandinavian folks that are credited with inventing skiis claim this is why they made the transition from Snow Shoes to Skiis. Have to check with the Swiss on that!
I usually carried the narrower 'Racing' snow shoes on the Snow Trac, just for looks and when I was showing at the vintage VW meets. But I always bring Skiis as a back-up, and rarely miss a chance for a run back down. There's always someone who whants to drive the Cat.
 

mtmogs

New member
All good points. I'm with Lyndon though in terms of skis unless terrain or bush absolutely forbids them. I have both skis and snowshoes, but snowshoes burn up much more energy than skis per distance traveled, and that distance is obviously covered much more slowly than on skis.

Modern backcountry XC skis are shorter/fatter/lighter than they used to be and provide excellent flotation and maneuverability. I was up at the cabin on Sunday, and was surprised by about 4' of light, fluffy powder. We should have taken the snow trac, but decided that taking our ski-doo tundras would be faster for a quick day trip of shoveling roofs. That was a mistake. We just could not get our tundras to stay upright and floating on the snow. After digging ourselves out half a dozen times or more (and getting sweaty at 0ºF), we donned our skis for the last couple of hundred yards to the cabin. Without skis, I would sink right up to my waist, but with them I was breaking trail a foot or less below the surface of the snow. I am not a small guy either at 6' and 210 lbs.

Here are pics of my skis and boots below. The skis are 6' long and 2.5" wide and have a metal edge in case you need to carve turns or stop going downhill. The boots weigh less than my winter hikers, and are actually smaller, so I have no problem finding the tiny snow trac pedals with them. My feet have never once been cold in these. The only real noticeable functional difference between these ski boots and hikers is that the sole does not flex very much and the tread material is harder and has less grip than a vibram sole. For that reason, I bring my hikers along for roof shoveling-trips, otherwise I'm happy to wear them as regular boots.
 

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Short bus

New member
I carry a stove and three days worth of food some parts and lots of tools snow shoes too back country skis if we are skiing.
 

Cletis

New member
I ran across some xc skis awhile back that were 6" wide and about 4' long that looked like the would work well. Just can't find them again.
 

Cletis

New member
Not sure if it was those that I came across but they were just like them.

Thank you, I'll have to check into these a bit more. I've done the snowshoeing thing, not because of break downs but supposedly for fun. I wasn't able to find the fun part though!
 

Lyndon

Bronze Member
GOLD Site Supporter
I used to snow shoe alot in the early 70's. If you live in a place that gets low ambient temperatures, like Nome, stay away from aluminum tubing frame snow shoes. They act like a big heat sink and cool your feet. It seemed impossible from my understanding of thermodynamics that the webbing material could actually conduct heat away from your feet to the outer aluminum tubing, which does not toch your boots. So I had to learn the hard way! Somehow it does.
 

Cletis

New member
Problem with snow shoes is that they are worthless in deep powder. It's like having two big scoop shovels hooked to your feet. Not sure if skis would be better in really deep powder. With a little moisture the snow shoes would be fine but in the western part of the state we don't get moisture in the snow until late Feb/March.
 

Snowtrac Nome

member formerly known as dds
GOLD Site Supporter
I have both kinds of shoes I have a set of bear paws with ice cleats they work real well on crusted or drifted snow .I also have a full size wood set that would be a first choice for a long walk. the skies I have are some old wood telamark style skies, I picked up at a thrift store for 15 bucks. they were already outfitted with the Silverado bindings that will work with my military mountain boots. but because I have a snow trac and not a krusty I have never had to use them. other than to get out and walk around the snow trac to take pics.
 

mtmogs

New member
it was most likely a hybrid snow shoe and ski.
http://altaiskis.com/products/the-hok/
let us know how it works.

I have some experience with the precursors to these skis, and it looks like the design hasn't changed much. The Altai Hoks are based on the Karhu Meta skis and whatever Karhu's precursor to the Meta was. I've had both since 2001.

They are great fun and useful if you are boondocking around in tight bush or forest in soft snow - more maneuverable than a traditional ski, less maneuverable than a snowshoe, better flotation than both. But they have some serious drawbacks that forced me to abandon them for a traditional ski.

First off, the bindings will break. Karhu's first wide ski has a flexible PVC binding that broke without too much use, leaving me stranded. The principle upgrade to the Meta ski was that it used an aluminum binding. These bindings held up better than the PVC ones, but these too eventually broke on me, leaving me stranded. My third attempt at a more sturdy binding was to have NNN backcountry bindings professionally installed on the Meta. These held up best of all, but required use of the boots I show above, but no big deal there. The NNN bindings eventually failed leaving me stranded again. The anchor screws tore out of the ski in this case. This is because the ski is very thin below the foot where the binding attaches, so there's not much thickness of ski to hold the anchor in place. The principle reason for binding failure is that, because the ski is very wide it acts essentially as a wide lever, you can put very large lateral forces on the binding. Moreover, because only the toe of the boot is anchored, the large lateral force is concentrated at the hinge point and is also accompanied by a twisting moment as well. The bindings will fail. By contrast, my conventional backcountry skis with NNN bindings and boots have yet to fail me over the last 7 seasons.

Second, the synthetic mohair on the base can cause big problems. It is grippy, which is great for climbing hills. But, under the wrong conditions, it can really ruin your day. Near the freezing point, wet snow will really stick to this stuff and is a bear to get off. You are done sliding on these things at this point. I got the worst case of heal blisters in my life several years ago trying to limp home on these with a couple of pounds of snow stuck to the base. Another time, I traversed some slush while skiing on a river and it froze to the hair wonderfully (awfully?) - there's so much surface area to grab onto. I had to stop and build a fire so I could melt the ice off, then had to wait for the skis to cool before moving on.

Third, for better or for worse, you don't get much if any glide from these skis. For worse, the wide cross section generates too much friction. For better, they may keep you from breaking your neck when going down steep hills.

Fourth, they offer very little lateral stability on hard or packed snow or ice - including a trail made from a Snow-Trac track. This is because their width and surface area prevent them from sinking into the snow in these conditions. You spend a lot of effort flailing about trying to keep them under you and pointed straight ahead. Yes, they have a metal edge, but you really need to tilt the ski sideways to use it effectively in hard-snow conditions and these are precisely the type of sideways forces that hasten breaking of the bindings.

I love the concept of these short/wide skis as a hybrid snowshoe/ski. Using them in soft powder will minimize their shortcomings. But given my experience with them, I would never rely on them for self rescue.
 
R

Reddog

Guest
+1 on snowshoes. Keep it simple....
I had a long, wide, scaled, waxless pair of XC skis a while back. Good in alot of places, but kind of a handfull in others.
 

Snowtrac Nome

member formerly known as dds
GOLD Site Supporter
if I owned a krusty the distances I would have to walk out of skies are the way to go. our terrain is pretty flat to,but if the walk is a couple of miles I reccon, snow shoes wouldn't be bad. plus bear paws are easy to stow to
 
R

Reddog

Guest
Yeah Don, but since you tow airplanes around, you could just fire up the plane lashed to the trailer and push anything that failed you....
 
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