In olden days, many skis intended for mountaineering had useful holes in the tips and tails. While some skis still make a nod to this, most backcountry ski makers now ignore the concept. Besides a chairlift conversation starter, such “rescue holes” make building an emergency sled with your skis quite a bit easier, add an anchor point for retrieving your skis from a crevasse, and more. We like rescue holes and decided to find out if they’re easy to retrofit in ski touring skis. Turns out doing so is a piece of cake. Follow along as we do a boring activity.
|To begin this scary procedure on our BD Verdicts (after playing around with some dumpster skis), we did a layout that located the center of the tip holes 23 mm from the tip, and the tail holes 28 mm from the tail. The holes will be 1/2 inch diameter. After layout, we pre-drilled a 1/8 inch starter hole on layout.|
|Next, with a light water spray for cooling and lubrication, we drilled to 1/2 inch with a step bit.|
|We drilled from both sides of the ski, and allowed the bit to lightly chamfer the edge of the hole. If the step bit leaves a bit of an edge inside the hole this is easy to clean up with a file or rasp.|
|Result is a nice clean hole that looks “factory.” After the hole had a chance to dry from the water lube, we sealed the inside of the holes by smearing with epoxy. Don’t forget this important step! In the case of our Verdicts the holes ended up in a plastic lamination that was not the core material and didn’t appear vulnerable to moisture damage, but care was in order nonetheless. It is also possible to seal and protect ski holes by using a 1/2 inch brass grommet epoxied in place; a good idea if the hole looks vulnerable.|
|All important tool selection for this DIY project! Step bit is essential. Use a spray bottle for the water misting (don’t just dump water on the project), and don’t forget to seal the hole after it has a chance to dry.|
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.