When October temps drop with the falling leaves, it is time to get ready for a new ski season. As bin after bin of gear is retrieved from summer storage, you can feel like an astronaut getting ready for a space walk when you realize this chaotic pile has to all fit onto your body and into your pack.
Forthwith, a few tips to make sure your equipment is as ready for the snow as you are.
Skis –- Preseason Tune
In the hurry to pull out your mountain bike, sport rack and other warm weather toys last spring, the storage wax had been forgotten again. But don’t panic if you now find insidious brown rust creeping along your previously shiny steel edges. It is probably superficial and will come off during your first tune. Hit those dry bases with universal wax. You can dial it in for colder temps later. Most importantly get it done now! If you bring your skis into a shop the night of the first big dump you could be sitting out that first powder day (or, you do still have those snowlerblades if all else fails?).
Boots — Allen Keys and Fit
If your boots have screws anchoring parts and pieces, check to see if any are loose (this is good to do a few times during the season too). Lock loose screws down with thread locker before your boot tongue falls off on the side of the skin track.
As for fit, if you were getting crushed at the end of last season, have your liners remolded now. Modern heat moldable liners can be baked several times (some companies claim as many as 10-12) It is my personal belief that you lose a little life from the liner every time you bake them, so unless you were in pain last year try to ski the kinks out.
Binding grease does hold up for years, but I have seen some seriously dry Dynafit bindings in need of lube. Each brand has its own proprietary grease, so check with a dealer to get the right one if you want to be super careful.
Click your boots into your bindings to check that spacing (forward pressure) and release values haven’t somehow changed. This may be a bigger issue for me since all my personal gear inevitably gets demoed at the shop, but I have seen it happen to many friends too. In case you forgot the time last spring when your brother-in-law’s cousin took your setup out for a test spin. It is a real drag trying to crank a posidriver screw a hundred times with a multi tool on top of a cold windy mountain.
Binding comparison here.
We are lucky that touring gear holds up for years, but skins definitely need replacing most often of anything. If the glue is balled up on one side when you separate the skins for the first time, do yourself a favor and get a new pair. It is this time every year when I find myself regretting offering skin re-glues. It can be done but you are guaranteed to make a mess. (Spring storage tip: always apply release/protective sheets to skins for summer storage. This adds quite a bit of life to the glue instead of letting it sit there and stew for months.)
This is more involved than checking the batteries, but if performance is under 50% replace, period. Check out the Wildsnow post on how to check range, drift and corrosion in your beacon.
Car Check List
Tape it to your steering wheel or tattoo it on your forehead! There may be a time in the middle of the season when your bag is packed at the door and you live in your base layers, but trust me it takes a few times to dial in the systems. Go through a checklist before you leave. There is nothing more frustrating then getting to the trailhead and having to turn around for home because you forgot something.
Blunder list, just from last season!
The list goes on… What early season mistakes have you made?
(WildSnow guest contributor, Doug Stenclik is an avid skimo racer, ski tuner, and backcountry ski traveler. Doug co-owns our local shop with Randy Young, Cripple Creek Backcountry in Carbondale, Colorado. If it’s ski related, they do it.)
Splitboard and ski touring packages available at Cripple Creek Backcountry.
On November 8, 2014, Cripple Creek Backcountry will host a backcountry only ski swap in Carbondale, CO — excellent deals on alpine touring, telemark, splitboard, skimo race gear, and more.
Doug Stenclik is an avid skimo racer and ski mountaineer who lives for sharing the amazing sports of ski touring and splitboarding. Since his first time on skins he was hooked and the obsession has taken him all over the United States and the world pursuing the human powered ski turn. He founded Cripple Creek Backcountry in 2012 and took over the Colorado Ski Mountaineering Race Cup in 2014 to spread knowledge and the love of the sport. In 2019 he took a step back from the ski shop and race promoter life to become a publishing partner with WildSnow.