Customising touring skis

I have made some minor modifications to my touring skis, which have made life a little easier/safer for me. Embedded nut for skin attachment

1) Climbing skin attachment points.
My climbing skins are the sort that only have a single attachment point, at the front. In principle the glue keeps the rest in place, but in reality they inevitably peel away from the back end, especially in loose snow. Many peole use duct tape to avoid this, but it's an ugly, messy procedure that gets through a lot of tape on a tour.
Instead, I have embedded a 3mm nut in the top surface of the ski, into which a small bolt can be screwed to make an attachment post for a rubber band attached to the back of the skin. The bolts are removed and stored with the skins for normal skiing. Drill the holes slightly wider and deeper than the nuts, and set them in epoxy glue. To avoid clogging the threads you can insert a well-greased bolt into each nut before adding the glue.

2) Packing tape on the bindings.
This simple procedure has saved me so much hassle with iced-up bindings. Any durable, transparent tape will make an unobtrusive protective layer on binding plates and heel plates, which will almost completely eliminate snow-balling.

3) Ski tip holes.
A drilled ski tip 12mm holes in the tips of the skis allow them to be tied together to make an emergency sled for an injured skier, or to carry the pack of an exhausted one. You'll probably never need to do that, but it's so easy to make the holes, and so hard to make a sled if you don't. You can also use the holes to padlock your skis in a dodgy area, to attach your windsack more securely, or to hang a drying line. Seal the inside of the holes with epoxy glue to prevent water penetrating into the core of the skis.

4) Reflective tape.
A 1cm-square of highly reflective tape turns your skis into a pair of beacons at night. Either for you returning to your snow cave after fetching water, or for rescuers.

5) Steel tethers.
I had nylon tethers once, until one broke after a fall and my ski disappeared into the forest. When someone found it 2 months later, I bought BD steel tethers.

6) Televates.
A customised tour ski Heel-lifters are great for saving your calves uphill. I can't believe more people don't have them.

7) Release bindings.
No-one else in Europe uses them, but I am convinced they have saved my knees in some nasty falls. But then I am old and frail. They do add a lot of weight, and you lose some precision as they give, so they are not for everyone. Maybe just for over-ambitious oldies. Mine are made by Voile, and they are probably the cheapest.

© Mark Harris 2001

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