LilCliffy's Nordic Backcountry Touring Waxing
My father and mother met in Dublin in the mid-60s. My mother from Ireland- my father from Wales-they did not grow up skiing.
My mother is Irish- from Armagh- and has a ridiculous number of relatives in Boston/New England, New York City and California. In 1969, my parents flew from Shannon to Montreal- via Gander, NF- planning on a tour of North America- planning on visiting all of my mother's relatives.
(My parents had spent a few years touring all over western and southern Europe in their little Mini- expecting North America to be similar.)
When they landed in Gander, they thought- we are here!!! They were shocked that the flight from Gander to Montreal was longer than from Shannon to Gander!!!
The short version of the story is that my parents did the whirlwind tour- from Montreal, to Boston, to NYC, to southern California and back to Shannon.
BUT- they fell in love with Canada and Quebec. They immigrated to QC in 1970.
In 1970 they experienced their first real winter. They were completely infected by the Quebecois/Canadien love of winter and snow. My parents started touring the winter landscape on XC skis.
I came along in 1973- my sister in 1975- we XC skied in the Laurentians, the Eastern Townships, the Green Mountains, and the Adirondacks. My sister and I were indoctrinated.
So- WAX. Nordic grip wax.
Over the years, I have tested and experimented with many different approaches to waxing for Nordic touring.
My conclusion is that the current Nordic wax expertise and wisdom is obsessed with groomed track racing performance.
All of that is quite impractical and irrelevant when it comes to backcountry Nordic ski touring.
Here are my current conclusions as a starting point (and it happens to be very similar to what the locals told my parents in the early 1970s):
1. Avoid glide wax- PERIOD.
2. No matter how much I try to pretend- grip wax does not bond effectively to glide wax.
3. Softer kick wax bonds very effectively to a harder grip wax.
4. Base-binder- though clearly effective in performance racing context- seems a waste of time and money in the backcountry.
5. Using very hard grip wax as a base wax for the entire ski is the bomb for backcountry Nordic touring. It grips and glides when it is cold enough. It simply glides when the snow is warm. Softer kick wax binds to it effectively. It can be touched up in seconds with a can and a cork on the trail!
6. Using very hard grip wax as a base (e.g. Swix Polar) enables one to extend hard grip waxes onto much warmer snow than recommended for performance track skiing. For example: with Polar as a base, I can use Swix Blue as a kick wax in warm snow temperatures that would recommend Swix Red!!
My current system:
1. Iron in very hard grip wax into the entire base (e.g. Swix Polar).
2. Thoroughly buff in the base hard grip wax.
3. Cork and buff in a thin layer of kick wax for the day (e.g. Swix Green/Blue).
4. Use mohair kicker skins when the snow is temporarily hard to wax for (e.g. warm and wet; icy and refrozen).
5. Switch to very soft kick wax once true spring temperatures have come.