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  1. #1
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    Fish scaled skis? Also: dumb idea alert.

    How well do fish scales work for “ascending” small hills?

    I live in the Midwest. I’ve never toured. I have no plans to tour by TGR standards. Nothing near my house qualifies as more than a glorified sledding hill.

    But, was thinking it might be a decent workout to up and down some of these a few times in the winter. But for a 5-10min (?) walk up I sure don’t wanna deal with skins. At least that’s my impression.

    And yeah this is dumb overall, but something different to do on a morning other than the elliptical. Also this would need to be really a low budget operation...

  2. #2
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  3. #3
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    Depends on the snow. Also depends some on one's XC technique, as patterned bases are not at all aggressive in terms of grip. Generally speaking, patterned bases are great for flats, and mild uphills, not for ascending the sorts of gradients that people would normally consider downhill ski runs. For rolling terrain, pattern is great even if you need to zig-zag up some short bits that are a bit less mild gradient, as it saves you the trouble of putting on and taking off skins.

    I never think of patterned base as a substitute for skins, though, and I pretty much always carry (and often use) skins when skiing on patterned skis.

    Advantages of flat-base (non-patterned) skis are better glide, better turns, and particularly better handling at any non-slow speed (the mid-ski friction messes with cruising stability). That, and if you're doing non-XCish touring, you'd need to be skinning up the hills regardless.

  4. #4
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    For midwest XC skiing waxless touring skis with or without metal edges will work fine. Some have textured bottoms (fishscales and the like), some have integral partial skins. They're wider than xc skis designed for groomed tracks so work better in ungroomed snow. Much lighter and cheaper set up than alpine touring or telemark gear. They won't climb like full skins; if the hills are too steep that's what herringboning or switchbacking is for. No need for skins unless you take them to real mountains in which case you'd be happier with an alpine touring or tele set up.

    I toured in the Sierra on XC touring skis with metal edges for years in the 70's.. I still have them. I did have skins for them, maybe I still do. I tele'd on them at resorts and in the BC. I dragged them out last winter when the lifts shut down.

    Check out the first 2 categories on this page to get an idea of what's available.
    https://www.rei.com/c/cross-country-skis

    Why do you think your idea is dumb? The 4 years I lived in Ann Arbor I spent a lot of time XC skiing on ungroomed terrain. Back then it was pine tarred waxed wooden bases. They worked fine too. It was a lot of fun, great exercise, it's not big mountain skiing but infinitely better than an elliptical. I strongly encourage you to do it.

  5. #5
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    Oct 2015
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    Apologize, I have explained poorly. I had read that article about The Farmer previously and was similarly thinking more about cutting fish scales in some alpine skis (or acquiring some) than XC skis.

  6. #6
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    Dec 2014
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    Any day spent sliding on snow with skis is a good day.
    Galibier Design
    crafting technology in service of music

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
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    478
    Now I am reading about Backcountry Marquette’s and LL Bean Altai Hok’s, but this is not exactly dirt cheap (new anyway) and I’ve never free healed.

    Seen some positive comments searching this forum on these things, for this type of purpose. 140-145 cm skis for a 215 lb rider though?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
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    199
    Fat fishscales and light tele boots are so much fun for places with low snow and small topography. Ski areas open or closed, parks, golf courses, quarries, and general bushwhacking on fishscales scratched the itch for me for a long time in Wisconsin and the U.P. Lots of real turns to be had with a little effort and creativity. Have fun!

  9. #9
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    My primary BC skis are Voile Charger BCs with scales. I always carry/use skins. Where they really shine is on approaches or small bits where you need just enough traction to get up out of a drainage or over a small hill. The guys with flat bases either struggle herringboning or out skins back on. I just kick and glide my way up and out.

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  10. #10
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    WOW...i like your post

  11. #11
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    Fish scaled skis? Also: dumb idea alert.

    Quote Originally Posted by dgilligan02 View Post
    Now I am reading about Backcountry Marquette’s and LL Bean Altai Hok’s, but this is not exactly dirt cheap (new anyway) and I’ve never free healed.

    Seen some positive comments searching this forum on these things, for this type of purpose. 140-145 cm skis for a 215 lb rider though?
    Hoks ski just fine in soft snow, up and down. I’m tall and not light. Perfect for what you want to do. Even better might be the Kom if you don’t have tele experience. The Hoks are a bit short for alpine turns with free heels, need to have balanced tele technique and keep them in the fall line. I’ve seen video of Don Portman ripping alpine turns on Koms with pins and plastic tele boots. Check out Altaiskis.com.

    If I lived in the upper Midwest I would likely have my hoks and buy some koms and ski in the woods all the time. So much fun.


    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums

  12. #12
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    Jun 2012
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    Quote Originally Posted by galibier_numero_un View Post
    Any day spent sliding on snow with skis is a good day.


    We get rad @ night too on the Hoks…


    "Steeps"


    These things are so much fun. If i'm skiing a hardpack day @ the mountain there's days I can't wait to get out in my woods for some soft snow on my 145's.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by dgilligan02 View Post
    Apologize, I have explained poorly. I had read that article about The Farmer previously and was similarly thinking more about cutting fish scales in some alpine skis (or acquiring some) than XC skis.
    Quote Originally Posted by dgilligan02 View Post
    Now I am reading about Backcountry Marquette’s and LL Bean Altai Hok’s, but this is not exactly dirt cheap (new anyway) and I’ve never free healed.

    Seen some positive comments searching this forum on these things, for this type of purpose. 140-145 cm skis for a 215 lb rider though?
    You can chug up gentle hills and along flats with locked-down heels, or skate, but I guarantee you it won't be fun for long. If you have a pair of downhill skis you don't use any more you can try cutting fish scales (I suspect Farmer Dave wrecked quite a few pairs before he figured out how to do it) but if you're going to spend money there's no reason to consider anything other than XC for the midwest unless you're in a particularly snowy or hilly part. Remember, Farmer Dave is at Alta, not South Bend, or wherever it is you live. Which is where? That might help

    Learning how to handle xc skis is ridiculously easy. Learning to telemark on steeper longer slopes isn't easy. Parallel technique works although you obviously have to learn to keep your heels down. Expect to do some face plants.

    This advice is coming from someone who grew up in the Midwest, now lives in the Sierra, has xc skied, alpine toured, and alpine and tele resort skied. Maybe it's not what you envisioned but it is what I think will work best at the least cost for where you are and what you want to do. As far as your budget, obviously consider used gear.

  14. #14
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    Oct 2005
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    Idaho
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    Tech talk? I picked up some Chargers with scales on the cheap from a poster here and put some old Dynafits on them. I've been looking for a couple years but it wasn't a priority so I was patient. Point being you can find some scaled skis inexpensively if you look around and have some time to do so.

    Haven't tried the scales yet but am looking forward to it. We have a zone of little shots between our resort and XC system that I think they'll be perfect for.

  15. #15
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    Feb 2010
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    TECH TALK!! Wrong forum.

    You're all slipping.

  16. #16
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    Oct 2008
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    Fish scaled skis? Also: dumb idea alert.

    Quote Originally Posted by RustyGroomer View Post


    We get rad @ night too on the Hoks…


    "Steeps"


    These things are so much fun. If i'm skiing a hardpack day @ the mountain there's days I can't wait to get out in my woods for some soft snow on my 145's.
    Awesome, your video perfectly illustrate my experience on Hoks.

    There’s a thinned out system of glades on the way to our local mountain, on busy weekends or when they’re closed I use my Hoks in there, terrain just like that. So much fun.


    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums

  17. #17
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    Idaho
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    Quote Originally Posted by Conundrum View Post
    Tech talk?
    Quote Originally Posted by Bobcat Sig View Post
    TECH TALK!! Wrong forum.

    You're all slipping.
    I wouldn't say all.

  18. #18
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    Jan 2008
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    Maybe we're just glad there's actually skiing on the ski page, other than masks, and passes, and smoke and fire.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Driggs
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    Just picked up some Voile ultra vectors. A hedge bet on what may happen plus a early season work out ski, replacing the Karhu 10th mountains.

  20. #20
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    Mar 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by angelpokers View Post
    WOW...i like your post
    Ah yes. The angelpoker from Indonesia makes a good point. Nice photos, sweet pow. Unusual screen name and first post
    “Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.”
    Hunter S. Thompson

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
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    Like most people are saying, get going on whatever you can that slides, and have fun.

    That said, I have my opinions about the category of skis that are basically downhill ski specs (though lighter weight and lighter duty), with patterned bases (either from the factory or roll-yer-own). In my opinion, they have approximately three reasons to exist:

    1) What's basically low- to moderate-angle topography, but with enough 3D snow (open terrain crud-crust-powder-cement-etc) that would make the otherwise more appropriate narrower gear difficult to manage, even with good skills. (This is probably the best application for fat+patterned gear)

    2) Low- to moderate angle topography, but skier wants to feel right at home on gear that behaves a lot like what they're used to from downhill skiing, doesn't want to bother cultivating skills and balance to be on XC or BC-grade gear. (This is almost certainly the most popular application for fat+patterned gear).

    3) Challenging downhill skiing destinations with particularly long approaches. (Eh, I'd be more inclined to go flat-base and use my 35- or 50-wide skins, or kick-wax if it's cold out, for grip, or use less sloggy patterned skis and then do the downhill with a bit less style.)

    For most low-angle and rolling type stuff, narrower more XC-ish gear is going to be a lot more lively, once you learn how to get around on them. Given a choice, I like to feel as unconstrained as I can get away with on any given ski tour. And it isn't just the ski weight. Wider skis need beefier boots to edge the skis effectively, and beefier boots need beefier (and more constraining, "active") bindings. For the bulk of the day, on the kind of day when patterned skis are the best choice, I don't want to be clomping around with that much stuff clamped onto me.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    For cheap exercise sliding on snow in the Mid West, any $50 Craigslist ski with scales would be just the ticket. What I've done for 5 decades. No real need for metal edges. A pair of Whitewoods boots to match the bindings and call it good. I've got a few pairs of 3 pins with scales laying around. You can have for the cost of shipping if you come up empty finding local used.
    A few people feel the rain. Most people just get wet.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    Strong and Free
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    408
    Quote Originally Posted by dgilligan02 View Post
    How well do fish scales work for “ascending” small hills?

    I live in the Midwest. I’ve never toured. I have no plans to tour by TGR standards. Nothing near my house qualifies as more than a glorified sledding hill.

    But, was thinking it might be a decent workout to up and down some of these a few times in the winter. But for a 5-10min (?) walk up I sure don’t wanna deal with skins. At least that’s my impression.

    And yeah this is dumb overall, but something different to do on a morning other than the elliptical. Also this would need to be really a low budget operation...
    Nothing dumb about this. Sliding on snow beats the elliptical no matter how insignificant the terrain.

    You should be able to get up pretty much any sledding hill with scales, as long as you have room for switchbacks. As a reference point, I can ski straight up the green run at my small local ski area on fat fish scale skis (Vector BC) but I need to do switchbacks on the steeper parts of the blue runs.

    You don’t even need fish scales. XC grip wax on flat based alpine skis works too, especially if you put it on tip to tail for max grip. Wax tends to work better than scales for cold dry snow, and scales are better for warm wet snow.

    Consider xc skis too, especially wider ones intended for off-trail use. They are more enjoyable than heavier AT or tele gear for flat terrain, and the relative lack of downhill control makes small hills that much more exciting.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    450
    Quote Originally Posted by TrueNorth View Post

    You don’t even need fish scales. XC grip wax on flat based alpine skis works too, especially if you put it on tip to tail for max grip. Wax tends to work better than scales for cold dry snow, and scales are better for warm wet snow.
    How in the wide world of sports haven't i thought of this? Are you finding your descent slidability to be terribly compromised? I guess it would be just like xc skis though

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by NWFlow View Post
    How in the wide world of sports haven't i thought of this? Are you finding your descent slidability to be terribly compromised? I guess it would be just like xc skis though
    Just remember you will need a lot of kick wax on a powder ski and even using citrus solvent, it can be a mess to remove.

    Also, if it’s a longer approach, keep the wax with you as it will rub off more quickly than with a double cambered XC ski as your pow skis have no wax pocket.

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