Gear and waxing are big topics to break the ice with random skiers you meet or chew the cudd with pals.
My gear? Well I reckon i had outgrown my Fischer PowerWax tour skis but this year the soft going has shown that 2 inch broad tour skis are useful and enjoyable in new snow and lighly pisted runs with or without "tram lines".
I have standard rottefella amateur button release bindings, not the moutain heavy weight ones as often are fitted to powerwaxers. I actually broke one on ice last year at Årstøl, with the heel section loose. This actually really messes up your balance so i demounted them after one more tour and found my old completely knackered atomics had the same binding and after cleaning clister and rust off them i found them to be in good order. So one was transfered over, touch wood it has been fine.
The skis themselves are Fischer's "short-cut" design, allowing more pre load or curve in the kick zone for a shorter ski. This makes them really good for a heavy guy like me, being broad while holding my weight. I often do need though to toe-up to get speed on downhill so there is something not quite right for me. The sidecut (in swing) is more pronounced in action probably because of the short cut prebend arch, so you get better downhill steering at the expense of some odd tracking in the tram-lines.
My edges have been damaged a bit in icey conditions, so i recommend actually getting used or old stock powerlight steel edged skis for use in harder southern conditions or on a combi back woods / light mountain tour. At the moment i found no other light tour ski with track touring classic centre arch with steel edges. The fischer E89 and the similar Åsnes Vikefjell are long arch mountain skis which will clap a lot in tram line tracks or harder pisted sections. Fischer steel lights are training skis with steel edges, the only i can find on the market and more or less made to order. Madshus Lillehammer have a steel reinforced egde and are a good trainer / distance racer ski apparently.
The powerlights come into their own versus training skis on tracks with a firm base and new snow on top, where their breadth helps them float and track quite well. Also down hill the full side cut in swing helps turning on softer hills. This week in 15cm powder on a semi firm base I was able to lift the tips a bit down hill and keep the skiis accelerating while the poweder fizzed ! Also for carrying any weight in a ruck sack then a touring ski is better.
My poles are a bit fancy as i did a bit of a haggle for them in G Max Skien, stating my budget and they sold me way-over- spec swix carbon racing 160cm with half glove velcro grips. These are a bit too fancy for my level of confirmed "mosjonist". But they are light and encourage proper modern technique of shoulder high swing and long back pole at knee height. Also they are ideally strong and light for the " falling forward/tip toeing" efficient lean in with poles vertical planted at the ski tips. Which showed their weakness in soft snow, having a small bail : scallop formed and only about 4cm broad. I did a menacing face plant as they duly disappeared into meter deep snow. Over cooked.
Fun and Fitness Equipment Reality?
This got me thinking that maybe as a fun&fitness skier, a "mosjonist" , i should go back to the older fashion of arm pit high poles and not shoulder high ones. Then i could get them planted verticle nearer the centres of gravity and effort, making a body weight driven poling less extreme. Also interchangeable bails up to full mountain bails would be a good plan. I will try and borrow modern mountain poles to arm pit height to see how they go.
This theme of down sizing the best racing techniues for Fun&Fitness level is big for me!
This year i got a "purchase power" from Coop Obs . They have bought in a shed load of Alpina racing boots. I was recommended to use combi style boots (ones for classic and skating with an ankle bail and velcro support system). I had to up a size to EU 46 to get the width but i now too find the legnth gives me better balance and comfort. Alpina RC combis are really way too bling bling for me but have proven themselkves a boost already
Combi boots are more cumbersome but are good for those of us not born on skis looking for more support and control from the ankle and lower leg. Also they make skating on ordinary skis easier and of course you can jump onto skatin.g skis, tighten the ankle binding and off you go.
I fjind that i have more confidence in manoevres especially plough and step turning. Partly the boot also seem to fit the binding better too, but mostly it is the well fitting bootie, sole and the ankle straps which help.
Just to be super fancy, Alpina also include a heel clamp system with an adjustment bail and ratchet above the heel. Since i have very big "spurs" on my heels, this has also been good for eliminating heel lift while not having to over tighten the laces.
It is now recommended to wear only one pair of thin sports wool socks in modern, insulated , breathable fabric boots. I find this a little cool, but right enough i have not had sweaty feet. Being about half a size bigger than perfect, i can also wear an bigger sock and lace less for minus ten degrees or less. The boots outer shell are waterproof, breathable and seem very tough.
The only draw backs are 1) a tight and awkward zip and 2) that any snow trapped inside while putting on or takin.g off stays cold between the outer shell and the booty, leading to a wet boot later on.
I feel much more confident in these boots so turning youtube tips into hard wired technique is going very well this year.
Me clothes are merino wool underwear with a pertex jogging jacket down to minus 10, when an extra layer fleece or double pertex is layed on.
Trousers are both Bjorn Dæhle touring pants, a light, p-tex fronted, mesh lined trouser with a calf long boot zip and refective flashes. Oh and they are like sacks on anyone, not a flattering cut.
I also now have a pair of overly fancy OW three layer pants which are shape hugging and so far better for down to minus 6 in activity, but need wool underwear in bigger wind chill or with a more.plodding pace. I had to get XXL to my shame, but the beer belt coverage also means good, high back coverage. They also have a good top boot fit with soft rubber keep-me-up ribs to do the exact opposite , keep them on the boot at speed. A little cold for plodding about in, they do however have front insulation p tex to help downhills after an energetic uphill.
On the subject of back fit - "kidney coverage" - i also got a Madshus drinking bottle belt bag, which I discovered is actually as much a kidney warmer as it is a drink, wax and cork carrier. It probably has a foil inner layer. Great buy once again at Coop Obs.
My usual longer tour set up is a camel back style mountain biking ruck sack sans drinking system, but with a synthetic towel for sweat,x and a rolled up oversjized p tex jogging jacket in either sides webbing lattice. I find the double ptex set up for stops, downhills or sudden drops in temperature is ideal as long as stops are not more than 10-15 mins and the condensation has not become really heavy on the first layer. So for colder days or longer stops a light fleece layer is carried jin the sack.
P tex double is light, highly breathable and offers surprising warmth or wind cheating. Buffalo had this in fact with their over jacket. I must also try light over trousers.
The sports towel gets used on interval training or when the wind chill is negligible and i sweat.
I use just buffs as head gear , having up to four on me, but i have purchased a wee proper ski bunnet in light synthetic, Norsk flag an' all. Just forget to take it with me. B uffs get saturated and dont stay warm so i do have some wool ones which however make you sweat more in the first placed. So often in cooler stuff i go double layered, get up a sweat and take the outer wool off, and when the syn.thetic buff is saturated and icing, towel me off a tad and plonk on wool round head and a new buff round chin and neck.
My other trouble area is gloves and condensation or wetness. I seem to sweat a lot in gloves when skiing and i do fall over once i.n a while. I found single layer fleece running gloves too thin for wind resistance and too cold when dampened by snow. Double fleece layer too warm! Bjorn DÆhle with letherete palms, they'll do the job when on offer ? Nope, hold sweat and water like a magnet and freeze in the finger tips after an hour at minus 10.
Bula win.d cheat layered ? Nope, too clammy again, although they seemed highly water an.d wind resistant.
The perfect glove is maybe out there and probably the price of two months in a nice warm gymn.
Waxing remains for another blog another day!