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Author Topic: Skinning vs Hiking  (Read 1398 times)
Paul Belitz

Posts: 409

Skinning vs Hiking
« on: 08/08/03, 05:37 PM »

I've noticed that some people insist on skinning whenever they are on snow, even on hard frozen corn, while others hike unless skinning is mandatory (eg deep snow). So who hikes and who skins? I must admit, when it's easier to hike, I'll hike, but when it's easier to skin, I'll skin.  

Posts: 382

Re: Skinning vs Hiking
« Reply #1 on: 08/09/03, 04:37 AM »

Hey Paul...what I forgot to tell you before our Baker trip (when we were over at Sky's house) is that it clearly is a preference.  Obviously, there is a safety factor when on glaciated terrain.  I don't remember if you said you took the course or not, but they teach you in the Mountaineers Crevasse Rescue Course for ski mountaineering that it is obviously much safer to travel on skis than on foot.  This is of course due to the fact that your weight is distributed over the length of your skis.  Consequently, the likelihood of punching through a snowbridge is much less on skis than on foot.

Besides this, I think it comes down to slope steepness and conditions.  When it's HEAVILY runnelled like it was for us last week, it's pretty hard to go straight up or even traverse the slope; meaning walking up may be more efficient.

The snow conditions (besides skinning ability) dictate how efficient one can skin up (i.e. straight up versus traverses).  When it's quite firm (and any degree of steepness), it's probably wise to use ski crampons.  I've taken some spills on rock-solid frozen glaciers before when on skins and have chewed up my wrists, etc.  Conversely, Ben Kaufman (once quite a regular partner) always seemed to amaze me how he could skin the frozen solid stuff (suncups, etc. present) and never slip.

The runnells that Amar and I encountered west of you guys were HUGE (12-18" deep in some cases with narrow ridges in between) and hiking would have arguably been less efficient, which I think, in my early touring days with Volken, is what it's all about.  Cool

Posts: 358

Re: Skinning vs Hiking
« Reply #2 on: 08/10/03, 05:51 AM »

I prefer to skin pretty much always, until it gets to the point where I am slipping a lot or I have to make so many switchbacks that it just seems to be too much work.  Of course, if there is already a nice bootpack, that can make hiking easier.

For winter touring though, skins are almost always better because often times one would be stepping up to their thigh.  However if you go with someone who likes to boot and generally busts ass (Sky comes to mind in this category), it might be easier to follow in the nice bootpack.

Posts: 634

Re: Skinning vs Hiking
« Reply #3 on: 08/11/03, 05:05 AM »

I know that some of my preference for booting comes from doing the large majority of my backcountry every year only after the lifts close, and by then the consolidation usually allows you the choice to boot. I imagine most TAYer are more die hard about backcountry all year. And also I'm either snowboarding, or even when going two boards I probably still have the insiduous snowboarder attitude of "dude, like traversing sucks" stuck in my head, and the straight boot will seem like less work than the wending skin-up.
The down side of this is when I do go up earlier in the year, my skinning technique sucks and I lose a lot of efficiency.
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