By ccrossen | October 24, 2012
I usually keep the early season skinning fairly mellow, taking it all in, especially this season when we went from beautiful golden fall to mid-winter conditions overnight, and easing the legs and flexors into the haul. So you have a lot of time to check things out, talk with your friends, think, etc. Things have changed a lot during the past few years in Tahoe; seems like the number of people heading up the hill on their own power has increased dramatically with the advent of a lot of great new gear, more exposure and lots of regular updates, movies, and general interest as people tire of the resort scene and get out into the side or back.
During the early season, especially the past couple of seasons, a lot of people have been hitting the resort slopes before they’re actually open for the winter. It’s easy access, close to town, a relatively high elevation start, the slopes are cleared, not a lot of downed logs to worry about, and a safe bet for a lot of people whom might not know exactly where to go in the actual backcountry given the storms/conditions. Consequently, we’re seeing a lot of relatively new “backcountry” skiers and snowboarders working for their turns.
This is great, but, of course, we run into the old skin track dilemma and how to best deal/educate/inspire those whom don’t really know what’s going on. The basic tenet that I believe most people would agree upon is that it is a “skin” track. If your board or skis have skins (maybe scales), use the track. Great. No problem. If you’re booting or snowshoeing, don’t use the skin track. Pretty simple. A skin track takes work to put in, but it’s incredibly efficient when it stays a skin track and not a skin track with a bunch of post-holes plunging upward in it. Skin track without post-holes = beautiful, saves energy for next lap or followers, makes everybody happy. Post-holed track = bad, way less efficient, selfish, lazy.
If you haven’t gotten a skin-able setup yet, kick down and get with the program. If you don’t want to do that, use snowshoes or put in a booter, next to the skin track.
Next subject: How to instruct others to use the skin track correctly without bumming them out and causing strife? Without being pedantic? Most people get pretty offended when you tell them it’s really not that cool to post-hole up the skin track. Either they don’t get it or don’t want to hear it. Fine, perhaps people need to do a better job pointing out exactly how they should do it and what’s best for all parties - not easy. Or go with the “Hey, it’s really not that cool to boot in the skin track; I’m mellow about it, but I know this guy coming up whose a real hard-ass about it…”
This issue happens a lot more at places where the access is super easy for the more resort/side-country/newbie crowd, and there’s always going to be a learning curve. Patience and understanding required on both sides, and people have to learn the etiquette. So do your job, but do it nicely.