Winter is here and it’s already shaping up to be a great season! If you haven’t gotten out yet, don’t worry it’s still early season and you’ve only missed a few powder days. Here are some tips to get you all set for an amazing time this winter.
Preseason Ski and Board Tuning
First make sure you have all the tools necessary. Check out this kit we have with an iron, wax, edge tool, file, wetted stone, metal scraper, plastic scraper, brush, p-tex, lighter, razor blade, some rub on wax and a tool/screwdriver.
Step 1 – Inspect your skis or board
Look for huge core shots, delaming, cracked edges, ect. It might be time to set them aside as your rock skis and go ball out on a new set up. Or finally make them into one of those cool ski chairs you’ve always wanted.
Step 2 – Clean your base
Usually I’m on top of it and my base is already clean and waxed before I put it away for the season, but I did a summer trip to Mt. Shasta and rode through some stuff I probably should have unstrapped for and then mountain biking and rock climbing got in the way of doing anything productive.
If you ride pretty good conditions you shouldn’t need to clean your base with a base cleaner. But if you’re skiing closing day at your local mountain going for that 100 day season you might want to get some of that muck out of your base. I recommend some cheap base cleaner. This will dry out your base so don’t use it too often but you’re going to wax your skis or board right after it, so don’t worry about it too much. You can also do a hot wax and scrape cycle to clean your base which you’ll read about in a second.
Step 3 – P Tex your core shots
If you skied anywhere in California last season you got a core shot. Don’t worry they are easy to fix with some P-Tex. P-tex candles are pretty cheap and come in a few colors. Light it with a lighter and drip the P Tex into the gouges. Hold it close to the hole and drip slowly. After it cools, scrape off the excess with a razor blade. It may take a few passes to fill in the deep ones.
Step 4 – Scrape your base smooth
If your skis or board have a lot of small scrapes and feels like sand paper you might want to take it in for a base grind. But you can usually take out most of them with a razor blade or metal scraper. Just a quick pass with a razor can shave off some of those small bumps and hairs slowing you down.
Step 5 – Tune your edges
First take a wetted stone to remove any burrs. Sharpen your edges with an edge tool next. First start by sharpening the base first then rotate your ski or board and sharpen the edge. There’s a few different angles, so check with the manufacturer to get the correct one.
Make sure you do clean, smooth, overlapping passes with the edge tool. After sharpening your edges detune the contact points on the tip and tail. Use a file to round off the edge. This helps you initiate and come out of turns smoother.
Step 6 – Waxing your skis and board
First start off doing a few hot wax/scrape cycles to clean out the dirt and old wax. Set your iron to just hot enough to melt the wax then drip it from tip to tail and edge to edge. Make sure it’s not too hot and smoking. Next rub the iron onto the ski to spread the wax around. Keep the iron moving around and make small movements. Next scrape the wax off immediately after spreading the wax around. Do this a few times until the wax you scrape off is clean. For your final coat drip the wax on like before and iron it on, but let it cool before scraping it off. Scrape off as much wax as you can, the wax should be in the pores of the base, not on the base. Finish up brushing it smooth with a brush or pad. Now your board or skis are ready for some winter action.
For skis it’s best to take them in and get the din settings checked once per season to make sure they release at the proper level.
For snowboards tighten up all the nuts and bolts on the base plates and straps. Sometimes bolts get stripped out, so you might want to get some new ones in there or add some loc-tight.
Preseason Backcountry Essentials
Refresh on your backcountry skills
Check out this website and refresh your knowledge and skills for the backcountry.
If you don’t have a Level 1 Avy cert, look into getting one. If it’s been a few years go take another one as a refresher.
Read through your AIARE field book and check your notes from last season. It’s good to always go back and reflect on what worked and what didn’t as well as good decisions and poor ones.
Put in new batteries in your avalanche beacon. This is really important, even though most brands have a battery level reader on them, it’s so cheap and easy to replace the batteries before the season starts. While you’re at it, bring it with you on a day hike with a friend and play around finding them. The best beacon is the one you know how to use, so refresh yourself with how to use it.
Get your shovel and probe ready to go too. Voile orange straps are really handy to bring with you in the backcountry.
Airbag systems are getting more and more popular and cheaper, check into those to see if one is right for you.
Check your climbing skins out
You can wash your skins in cold water to get a lot of the dirt out of them. Use tweezers or needle nose pliers to pull out pine needles or small wood pieces.
If your skins aren’t sticky anymore you can reactivate the glue by laying out some parchment paper and using your waxing iron to heat up the glue and spread it around. Let the glue cool and dry before peeling off the parchment paper. If they are really bad, you might have to do the dreaded full re-glue, but we won’t cover that here.
Some people might not have the nice splitboard set up, so pull your snow shoes and trekking poles out and make sure they are good to go.
There’s also several great guidebooks out there that show you all the amazing backcountry lines, with detailed approaches and ratings so you can find that perfect line. Start reading now to plan your season and set some goals to get rad.
Miscellaneous winter items
Get your clothes ready
Dig through your closet and make sure you have your jackets, pants, ski socks, gloves, thermal pants, synthetic layers, beanies, face masks, goggles, helmet, pads or braces and anything else you need to stay comfy out there. Check them for rips, tears, holes and cracks and buy new ones if needed (or wanted). Remember the more comfortable and prepared you are, the longer you can stay out with taking fewer breaks.
Put roof racks on for the season
Hopefully you took them off for them for the summer, or maybe you have a sky box that you keep on year round. Either way, make sure you have the keys to them and they are ready to go.
Buy season pass
Early season is the best time to buy one. There’s several cool ones out there, especially some that allow you to ski at different resorts around the US. Some have blackout dates on holidays, which is fine because you usually don’t want to be in a huge crowd of gapers on those days.
Get your chains ready to go
Even if you have AWD or 4WD, you should carry chains. Practice putting your chains on at home so you aren’t trying to figure them out in a blizzard with semi trucks ripping past you. I also have a tow strap that I can use to pull someone out of a snowbank or a ditch. Be nice to the tourists this winter, it might score you a free 12 pack.
Some other things to keep in your car are an extra set of clothes, gloves, and blankets incase you forget some stuff or need to stay the night in your car.
After you’ve followed these steps to get yourself ready for winter reward yourself with a Pat’s Backcountry Carbonator Bottle and some Beer Concentrate. Do your snow dances and have a safe, fun, epic winter! Cheers!!!