I made this gate a few months ago. Pulled the planks from our “board pile” up in the attic. Somewhat random in my choices, ended up with a fun run of nostalgia. From left to right:
1. Tua Excalibur MX, 1998? These are light and skied ok, but a bit nervous. 71 mm waist. Lots of ski tours on these, and passed around through family and friends. They were some of the early “cap construction” touring skis. I have to laugh at how much hype “cap construction” got back in those days, when in reality it was mostly a less costly way to make skis that usually skied no better and no differently than those with sidewalls. I of course was taken in by the hype. You can probably find all sorts of kudos to the cap in my old reviews.
2. These Dynafit FT 10.0 were one of Louie’s go-to skis during high school around 2006. They skied nice but tended to delaminate after a while due to a manufacturing defect. Result was a funny day in the backcountry when Louie quite suddenly lost his ability to ski in any meaningful way. Waist 97 mm.
3. Ramer Grand Tour of the 1970s had a honeycomb core and was one of the lightest skis out there. Wasn’t the best performer on the down, but made a good slogger I put to use doing long approaches and a few multi-day ski traverses. Waist is about 66 mm. Note the funny looking immense tip rise. This helped with trail breaking but did nothing to make the ski perform better on the down, though the theory was a “powder tip” would help the skis float. This same tip geometry was originated for modern skis in the famed red Rossignol Haute Route ski touring ski of the 1970s/1980s.
4. Late 1980s Kastle Tour Randonnee. With their 70 mm waist, metal topsheet and “Durable lightweight construction with carbon fiber” these truly were excellent mountaineering skis. I owned several pair and probably skied them about 300 days over a number of years. One of the skis that made my Ski The Fourteeners project successful. Made in Austria and endorsed by Reinhold Messner. I was using these about the time we transitioned from Silvretta 404 bindings to Dynafit. These skis were drilled for both bindings. Swiss cheese. Interestingly they cracked under the Silvretta binding plate feet, not where they’d been drilled a zillion times.
5. The outlier, in the 1980s Rossignol and Dynastar tried to sell telemark skis. They did some re-branding of the same skis, resulting in no small amount of confusion when we ended up having different magazine review ratings for what they claimed to actually be the same ski only with different top skins. To this day I swear the two skis were different, but the scolding I got from the then top guy at Rossignol is what remains in my mind. Lesson learned.
6. Hagan Alpin Carbon dedicated ski mountaineering ski, circa 1990? I skied a bunch of Colorado peaks on these. They’re a sweet metal-sandwich lamination that did just about anything well. Weird graphics however, with a guy displaying his armpit. Waist 73 mm.
7. Rossignal FP is one of the beefiest skis I’ve ever cut in half. Fully two layers of metal and a dense wood core. They were my favorite bump ski. Yes, I was a mogul wriggler for a short time. Even had a black onesie. I don’t have photos, fortunately.
8. Not sure how we ended up with these K2 810-F0 GS alpine skis — probably out of a dumpster for binding mount testing. They’re beefy as well; the blocky wood core is easily seen as the secret to making a solid performance plank. Waist 65 mm, perfect for filling a gap in a ski fence!
9. Black Diamond Mira was one of the best backcountry skis of its era, circa 2001. I had quite a few pair of these. They came around about the time I was coming into my own as an internet blogger/publisher. “Mira” simply means “look at this, or that” in Spanish, it’s also the name of a gigantic mountain face on Mount St. Elias that yielded the first ski descent of Elias in 2000 by Andy Ward, James Bracken and Lorne Glick — one of the greatest ski mountaineering (BIG mountain skiing!) successes of our time (and also a source of some confusion due to Bull Hype).
For those of you wanting the technical details of building a ski gate, here’s how I did this one: The gate posts are key due to the weight of the skis and wide door frame (we like our gates wide for moving the inevitable broken dishwashers and clothes washers — not to mention European packed ski bags). These are 6×6 landscape timbers planted in nearly 3-foot deep holes. No need for concrete post beds in our soil, we just tamp the sandy-rocky dirt back in with a sledge hammer. The funky plastic post caps are an Amazon purchase that keep the posts from getting too much moisture in the end grain. Gate is welded from 1×1 inch angle steel, with a diagonal brace to stiffen it up. Three hinges are welded to the steel and screwed to the wood. Skis are attached with 1/4 inch machine screws and nuts, through holes in the angle steel. I’m letting it rust naturally but did throw some caulk on the welded corners to slow down the rust.
Oh, and how to cut skis? Best method I’ve found is to use a metal cutting chop saw with an abrasive blade. Outside, with dust mask.
(Note, I pulled some of the dates above out of my hat, if anyone cares to correct I’m happy to do some ghost edits.)
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.