How does one deal with deep, wet, sticky snow?

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woodchuck

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How does one deal with deep, wet, sticky snow?

Postby woodchuck » Fri Feb 09, 2018 6:58 pm

Twice now I have been completely defeated in deep wet (fresh poured cement) snow. Skinning was pretty miserable and downhill was worse. I've seen others ski this stuff, so it's obviously possible. Both times I was on 88 under foot skis... maybe that was mistake #1. I didn't do any special base prep... I'm hot waxed with "Hertel Hot Sauce" which is just a relatively inexpensive all temp base wax. After waxing, I scrape and go ski. I don't brush or structure or wipe $1.25 / gram Dominator Butter on them.

Don't care about fast... just care about not abruptly stopping!

What I get from searching the site: probably I should get a better hard plastic scraper, a stiff brass bristle brush (I gather some brush after waxing) and some type of (more economical I hope) fluorinated wax. Would a 70 under foot ski be a better option? Sort me out please!

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fisheater

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Re: How does one deal with deep, wet, sticky snow?

Postby fisheater » Sat Feb 10, 2018 12:35 am

I believe your problem is the scales. I now hot wax my scales. I hot wax and immediately wipe them while still liquid with a paper towel. F-4 is recommended for scales in these conditions, but I have had F-4 paste treated scales stick badly. I really have not been in those conditions with hot waxed scales, so no guarantees.
I would like to hear how things work out, so keep us posted.

Harris

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Re: How does one deal with deep, wet, sticky snow?

Postby Harris » Sat Feb 10, 2018 6:04 am

Wet snow is just a bitch. But some things that help:

1) Base structure is very important. What you have to understand is that the main phenomenon going on when skis get grabby in wet snow is that they are in fact suffering from water suction much like two wet panes of glass getting suck stuck together. A "course" stone grind base structure (ridges) helps break that suction effect (to a degree).

1.5) If your bases are old and oxidized, wax will not absorb into the base material. A good stone grind opens the base pores up again (but only to a degree on old, poorly maintained skis).

2) Wax is also really important, don't poo poo it. A fresh application of a quality warm temp, hot iron applied "HIGH Fluorocarbon" wax (HF) rather than a LF or cheap CH wax is really helpful (to a degree). Warm snow HF is a hard wax that reduces micro friction, which in turn reduces the water formed under the ski. A lot of folks don't realize that a cold temp wax is actually designed to promote micro friction in order to create a desired micro film of water between the snow and the ski in cold snow conditions; that is what makes them glide easily; that said a cold temp wax will exaggerate the water suction effect in warm snow conditions where increased water promotion is most certainly most unwanted. And same goes with an all-temp, cheap wax; it promotes too much friction induced water formation. But HF wax is expensive, right? To help with the expense of HF wax I crayon my wax on and then spread it with an iron rather than drip wax. Crayon application requires a lot less scraping too and reduces waste profoundly. I can easily get 5 plus pair waxings from a single small block doing the crayon method. For normal conditions I use cheap all temp CH.

3) And with wax, scraping and brushing enough to expose the base structure is critical (to a degree). You don't want to ski on wax but instead on a base that has absorbed and is conditioned by wax. I mention this because a lot of folks don't realize that and leave way too much wax on their skis. If after I scrape, during brushing my brush drags in certain spots because the wax is thick there, then I re-scrape those spots and brush again. Brushing cleans the wax out of the structure's valleys. You should be able to feel the exposed structure after waxing. Otherwise you will suck down bad.

4) And... Throughout the day applying super HF Butter also helps. Immensely (to a degree). But ultimately no matter what you do in really high water content snow that isn't corn (wet dense snow with a little dusting of fresh is the worst), you are going to get suction super bad on low angle slopes where the skis aren't constantly rolling from edge to edge profoundly and breaking the suction.

4.5) And an FYI, wider skis really pronounce the suction effect on flats (semi flats) for obvious reasons (more surface area to suck down).

woodchuck

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Re: How does one deal with deep, wet, sticky snow?

Postby woodchuck » Sat Feb 10, 2018 9:08 am

Thanks Harris, that's a helluva lesson. No scales on these skis (BD Havocs), but thanks Fisheater.

I haven't been brushing the wax out of the structure. I'm certain there's too much wax on the base.

Both trouble days involved new snow with a lot of water, temps just above freezing, incredibly cohesive snow (i.e. reach down, scoop up a throwable snowball), but as I say... I saw other people sliding on it, it's possible!

As far as wax goes... is this good enough, or would the snow gods deem this an inadequate sacrifice? http://www.racewax.com/racewax-fluoroma ... mperature/

Harris

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Re: How does one deal with deep, wet, sticky snow?

Postby Harris » Sat Feb 10, 2018 4:09 pm

woodchuck wrote:Thanks Harris, that's a helluva lesson. No scales on these skis (BD Havocs), but thanks Fisheater.

I haven't been brushing the wax out of the structure. I'm certain there's too much wax on the base.

Both trouble days involved new snow with a lot of water, temps just above freezing, incredibly cohesive snow (i.e. reach down, scoop up a throwable snowball), but as I say... I saw other people sliding on it, it's possible!

As far as wax goes... is this good enough, or would the snow gods deem this an inadequate sacrifice? http://www.racewax.com/racewax-fluoroma ... mperature/


One issue you might have is that the Havocs are an old, fairly straight waisted ski compared to more modern skis, but I don't know. I have Havocs and had serious wet snow drag issues using them. Issues that were greatly improved when I bought new skis. In fact it was a bad enough issue as to drive me into buying new skis. But then the conditions you mention are routine here. I'm not sure if the afore mentioned is why or if it is because they had a pretty smooth/fine grind, or that the bases were so old, but yeah, they skied thick wet snow with super suck.

Like I said, that is a normal snow here in the PNW. I heard someone joke once that it is the kinda snow schools outlaw snowball fights over. When I lived in Colorado wet snow usually meant corn snow, and corn snow is so granular is doesn't suck like the snow you mention. My first year skiing out here in the PNW required a bit of mental recalibration as far as dealing with "Mashed Potato" snow. You learn to avoid as best you can the low angle slopes (like the plague). Sometimes getting down the green runs at the bottom of the mountain is the most exhausting run you'll do all day; all you can do is aim for the freshest packed tracks and get ready for it to try to face plant you. Those are runs you really wish you had a heel binding.

Almost a worse snow is when the temps start dropping and that stuff starts really setting up. It isn't quite frozen, but it becomes so dense it is almost unturnable; a true horror show for the knees. Aka Sierra Cement.

That wax is the equivalent of what I use (Toko or Dominator); should work as good as anything.

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lilcliffy

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Re: How does one deal with deep, wet, sticky snow?

Postby lilcliffy » Sat Feb 10, 2018 9:53 pm

Harris knows what he is talking about.

It's a lot of work. You either do the work- or pay a tech to do it for you.
The pursuit of XCD balance: cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry


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