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Wednesday
Mar282012

Hot Wax Your Skins

My first glopping experience was in Montana's Gallatin Range in 1992. Ten pounds of snow glommed to each of Brian's and my skis. Youthful muscles endured, but the next day I had trouble walking.  

Toshio Naoi examining the balast on his already robust Seth Pistols.

Glopping is the term for snow stuck to your skins. Glopping typically occurs in the spring, when sun heats the snow to its melting point and wets your skins. When you hit cold snow, the wetness freezes and snow cakes onto your skins. Glopping is an awesome workout, but bad for getting to the slopes.   

Skin hot waxing gear: iron & warm wax. Manshed optional.

The traditional cure for glopping is warm glide wax such as pink, yellow or red. If you like purple, and have some extra dollars, then buy Black Diamond's Glop Stopper. But if you're super-tech, and want to beat the glop, then hot wax your skins. 

Michael Silitch rubbing wax onto US Ski Mountaineering team member Nina Silitch's skins for an event Chamonix.

To hot wax your skins, start by warming your waxing iron to its lowest setting, well below the temp you would melt wax into a ski base, but still hot to the touch (around 50° C). Skin your skis as normal and put them on your waxing bench. Rub on an even layer of warm temperature red, pink, or yellow glide wax such as Swix’s CH8. Colder temperature waxes are harder and require higher iron temperatures that may damage your skins. If you’re fancy, or have a big rando race purse hinging on your glide and no-glop factor, then use high-flouro wax such as Swix’s HF8. Rub the wax in a continuous streak from tip to tail making several passes to get a thin, even layer. Applying too much will stick the fibers together and defeat the purpose. Always rub with the grain of the hairs to avoid ruining the directional integrity of the plush.

Michael ironing Nina's skins.

Slowly pass the iron down the whole skin, taking about seven to ten seconds per pass. Move slow and steady, just long enough to melt the wax. Remaining too long will burn and shrivel the hairs and ruin your skins. Take extra caution if you’re using a Salvation Army-style iron and set the temperature to LOW. Apply a second layer and check for an even finish.

The hot wax should last for several days before another coat is needed. This may seem time-consuming, but consider the alternatives: scrapping, glop-stopping, repeat, tear some hair out and haring-bone to the summit.