backcountry ski

The Adirondack backcountry ski conditions were awesome last weekend!  I thought I had seen the end of the ski season with the warm, sunny, spring-like weather that we experienced two weekends ago.  I was wrong.  There is still great snow in the High Peaks region!  I had one of the best skis of 2013 last Saturday through McKenzie pass on the Jackrabbit Trail.  Three inches of fresh, powdery snow had fallen on the trail the day before and I was surprised when about a mile in (I started from the Lake Placid side), just past the Lake Placid Lean-to, I found myself on an unbroken path.  I thought for sure someone else would have come up before me, since I didn’t even start my ski until 9:30 am.  The descent down to McKenzie Pond was amazing, making turns through fresh powder, floating all the way down the pass.  I probably could have done laps all day but I decided to head back up to the height of land and back down to my car on the Lake Placid side.  Eventually, I will have to put my skis away for the year and in the process do a little maintenance on them.

I will admit, I don’t always take care of my gear the way I should.  I live in my outdoor gear due to the nature of my job, so the idea of cleaning it and then getting it dirty again seems pointless to me.  People have started to notice though.  It was just last week that a client commented that I should really wash my backpack.  I thanked him for his concern but soon brushed off his comment and forgot about it.  This apathetic attitude usually extends to my skis as well.  I like my skis and it has been one of the best investments I have ever made but I usually just throw them in my car at the end of the season.  Eventually, I take them out and store them on my back porch where they will await the next ski season.  Maybe this is the year that I should do some maintenance to my skis.

I asked the advice of Marc LoIacono, who is part of our maintenance team at the Adirondak Loj since he also works part-time at Cunningham’s Ski Barn during the winter. Marc suggested that there are three things that you should do at the end of the ski season.  The first is to clean the bases of all the kick wax, glide wax and other debris that may have accumulated during the season.  “You don’t even need to use a special ski cleaner.  You can use any type of orange degreaser that you have lying around the house,” he suggested. “Once the bases are clean, you want to clean up your edges a little bit also.  You want to knock down the metal burs that have formed during the season which will end up slowing you down if you don’t take care of them,”  said Marc. Marc uses a diamond file but steel wool would also work to knock off the burs and rust that has developed.  Marc suggests, “Put a little oil (motor oil or WD40) on the edges to keep them from rusting over the summer.”  The third thing that you should do is put on a coating of hot wax on the bases of the skis so that they don’t dry out. This sounds like the most complicated part of the process to me.  Marc warns though, “If you have waxless skis, make sure you don’t put the hot wax in the fish scale part of the skis, put it only on the tips and tails.”  At the beginning of the next season, scrape off the wax.  These three points, clean, sharpen and wax will help maintain your skis for years to come.  It doesn’t sounds that bad, right?  I think I’ll give it a try this year.

The end of the ski season is fast approaching but I will try to get out on my skis as long as possible.  Experiences like last Saturday on McKenzie Pass gives me good closure to the ski season.  I’ll make sure to do maintenance on my skis this spring so that I’m ready to have a great day enjoying next season’s first snow fall.