The Definitive Indian Peaks Flyweight Ski Touring Exposé


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Double D

Dec 12, 2009 - 08:41pm PT
It's all in the details Tar Baby! Nice post, fun times.

Stay warm.


Social climber
The Greeley Triangle
Dec 12, 2009 - 09:14pm PT
Outstanding work as usual Roy, but please don't ever tell me to "talk to the hand"! Have you ever thought of doing "how to" manuals? On a more noobious note, are yoos guys using wax or waxless in these parts?

right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 13, 2009 - 01:44am PT
Robb said:

are yoos guys using wax or waxless in these parts?

As if.
I mean like to so totally awaken the flamboyant OCD gearhead in me.

I'll bite.

Gary Neptune was most definitely using wax in his kick zone in those pictures upthread.

I prefer short skins in the kick zone and swear by them!

I also take good care of my tips and tails with hard glide wax.
(Waxing is the next installment before I get on to the tours themselves, because it needs to be done and I have a camera).

With kicker skins, loss in glide is more than accommodated by the huge reduction in sidestepping or herringbone up moderate rises.

And all these tours bristle with moderate rises.
Lots of folks nowadays go with waxless fish scale.

A waxless base is less fussy than kick-wax but nowhere near as traction yielding as short skins.

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Dec 13, 2009 - 09:22am PT
Another quote from that California visitor I mentioned upthread:
"You only need blue or green wax here!"
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Dec 13, 2009 - 01:51pm PT
Just about the funniest thing I've ever seen is someone cross country skiing with a cowboy hat on!

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Dec 13, 2009 - 06:21pm PT
Bump for the 'Buster!!!!

Mountain climber
San Diego
Dec 13, 2009 - 06:38pm PT

If you look like that 2nd Cowgirl posted after the Flyweight Ski Touring season, you must be getting a lot of marriage proposals, is all I'm saying.

Flyweight, free-heeling, or massive heavy clunky AT for the real downhills, its all good!


At the resorts now, I just use my AT gear, no need to have multiple sets of everything anymore. ;-))
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Dec 13, 2009 - 08:47pm PT
So Roy, you let me know if you see any ladybugs, eh? Looks like the sort of place that they might like to overwinter.

Trad climber
Dec 13, 2009 - 08:56pm PT
Tarbuster, you seem to have left out a crucial piece of ski bum gear. You have the lighter but not the rest of the kit.


right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 14, 2009 - 12:10am PT
You noticed Pate88.
Sadly lacking, I know: had to give up the safety meetings,
Hands got too cold tokin' up in the frosty weather.

right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 14, 2009 - 02:09am PT
The How of Indian Peaks flyweight ski touring: part two, ski maintenance.
(very long post, be warned now)

Check the thermometer: just about freezing.

Check the conditions outside.
Yes sir, snow fall on objects adjacent to the house is always a good sign:

Time to head out to the shed for some ski base prep and waxing.
But first, this is going to be a work out, so I’ll need to prepare with fuel.

Stocks of Little Debbie snack cakes and Tater Tots have all dried up.
Going to have to settle for cheese nachos with homemade cranberry sauce!

Time to boot up, and get to work:

“Wax Cabin” ahoy!

Temperature control:

Gotta have tunes: tonight on cassette it will be Smashing Pumpkins: Gish
“all that you suffer is all that you are…”

Approach the bench:

Variable temperature ski waxing iron and a variety of hard glide waxes:

 Base prep wax
 green wax for 14° and below
 blue wax for 12° up to about 24°
 purple wax for 22° up to about 28°

Base cleaning solvent, brushes, and scrapers:

My skis have a black sintered base,
With “structure”, which means micro-slots in the surface to take wax.
Much like skating or classic racing skis.

I just leave the skins on the skis this time around, (they never come off in the field)
It would be best to rip the skins and put hard wax from tip to tail and reapply the skins afterward,
But my bases are hammered (scratched and gouged) and are in need of a professional stone grinding,
And because I see no white oxidation under the skins, I’ll save myself the work.
It’s going to hurt enough as it is…..

This is the routine preseason preparation:

Step one,
Wipe the tips and tails down with a special solvent, to remove dirt and grime:

Step two,
Clean up the edges with a file:
(I promise that file is graded much finer on the other side)

Step three,
Try some metal scraping in a feeble attempt to knock down the lips riding proud on my scored bases:

Step four,
Working from tip to tail, open the structure with the stiff brass brush:

Step five,
Turn on the iron, dial it into a low temperature for the soft prep wax,
And let it warm up, while I go shake out and snack on some nachos:

Step six,
Iron in the prep wax,
Being very careful to keep the iron moving, so as not to damage the base:

Step seven,
Remove this initial layer of wax immediately while it’s very warm to pullout dirt and grit and old contaminated wax,
The procedure involves, always working directionally from tip to tail:

 scraping the groove first, so that if the scraper skates out of the slot, the bases are protected by wax
 scraping the edges
 scraping the flat surface of the bases with the plexi-scraper, working from tip to tail
 brushing with the softer brass wax removal brush

Step eight,
Apply a second coat of base wax,
But this time, set the ski aside, allowing the wax to penetrate more deeply into the base,
While ironing the second coat of base wax into the second ski:

Step nine,
Groove scrape, edge scrape, base scrape, and brush the second application of somewhat cooled base prep wax.

Step ten,
Repeat the process of ironing, scraping, and brushing with green hard wax,
I work one ski at a time, hard wax likes to be scraped warm:

Steps eleven & twelve,
Repeat the process again, of ironing, scraping, and brushing,
With two more layers of green wax; working the same ski with all three layers allows heat to be built up that continually pulls wax deep into the structure.
(For racing skis, they get put into a hot box overnight, at a temperature controlled not to damage the bases, so that they absorb wax very nicely).

Step thirteen,
Repeat the process again, of ironing, scraping, and brushing,
With one layer of blue wax:

Step fourteen,
Finish with the horsehair brush:

But wait!
Not quite done yet: after the skis have been set out in the cold,
Some wax will be purged from the structure and they will need to be brushed again.

For racing skis, used in a recreational setting, there is some approximate number of kilometers in which the initial wax layers will need to be amended with another layer or two, depending upon variables with the snow. Darn near every time you go out really; especially if temperature changes, because with those skis the correct wax/temperature alignment is really key, if not the skis can feel like Velcro on the snow, more often than not if the wax is too warm for the conditions.

For general touring, I throw on another layer of wax every two or three tours, depending on how long the tours are and how "on it" I'm feeling. As most of my tours are quite high, I can get away with green hard wax for most of the winter. I put blue on tonight because it's going to be "warm" in the coming week.

Sticky kick wax is a whole different story.
I don't use that on these touring skis because I have the skins.
But I do use it on my classic racing skis.

Step fifteen,
For me, some sort of remediation and lots of rest from the insult; I would NOT want to do that waxing routine every day.
Mebbe some TLC from this dandy little auto massager!


Trad climber
Lee, NH
Dec 14, 2009 - 09:28am PT
Holy technical, Batman!
goatboy smellz

Dec 14, 2009 - 09:35am PT
What's the degree bevel on that edge, mister?
Gotta get it just right for those icy descents, or else.

And where's the ventilation in that shed?
Huffing wax fumes and eating nachos is no way to go through life.
yer gonna die!

right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 14, 2009 - 12:20pm PT
Excellent detail points Goat Man!

Photographs don't show that when the freehand comes off the camera it grabs the other end of the file and puts a little flex into it for the bevel. (I ain't no ski tuner)

The shed is ventilated and I have a respirator,
But another key point is to control the temperature so the waxes aren't smoking.

right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 14, 2009 - 12:40pm PT
Many of the tours to follow are in this book:

Here's a list of last winter's activity:
(all but tours number 1, 2, & 7 will be documented here)

01) 12 06 08 LH Res Road/Little Raven/Brainard/Little Raven Sourdough extension
02) 12 14 08 Sourdough/Little Raven/Brainard/CMC S (10°F 3.25hrs house to house)
03) 12 21 08 Jenny Creek to Yankee Doodle Lake (w/Goat Boy 6 hrs)
04) 12 25 08 Beaver Reservoir to Coney Flats
05) 12 29 08 Waldrop/Brainard/St. Vrain 909 (2.5hrs)
06) 01 04 09 Waldrop/Blue Lake (w/Goat Boy 5.5hrs)
07) 01 11 09 Little Raven/Long Lake/CMC South (w/Goat Boy very windy)
08) 01 25 09 Guinn Mountain (4.75 hrs very deep snow past cabin)
09) 02 01 09 Research Station/Niwot Ridge/Green Lakes Valley overlook (4.25hrs)
10) 02 15 09 St. Vrain Glacier Trail (w/Goat Boy & Stich 10hrs)
11) 02 21 09 Wild Basin/Mt Alice (w/Goat Boy 10.25hrs)
12) 02 28 09 Heart Lake (w/Goat Boy 4.75hrs)
13) 03 15 09 Black Lake ice slabs w/Pomerance (8hrs, w/some ice soloing)
14) 03 14 09 Little Haute Route w/Goat Boy (7hrs very wet)
15) 04 05 09 King Lake (8.75hrs)

right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 14, 2009 - 01:29pm PT
12 21 08
 Jenny Creek to Yankee Doodle Lake
 round-trip mileage: 11 miles
 elevation change: 1,330 feet
 High Point: 10,715 feet
 round-trip time: six hours

The tour starts at Eldora ski area; pumps up over the shoulder next to the slopes and drops down into Jenny Creek.
From there it's a steady moderate climb to get to a cirque on the south side of Guinn Mt, which holds Yankee Doodle Lake.

This tour usually clocks in around 4 1/2 hours.
Some low blood pressure peculiarities with my physiology involving nifedipine, a calcium channel blocker for vasodilation, along with some other substances I don't wanna talk about right now, completely shut me down for the first half of this tour.

Here is Goat Boy cruising the open meadow on the final stretch to Yankee Doodle Lake:

The lake sits beneath a very large headwall on the Continental Divide.
Some very unfortunate young lads were swept down that slope by an avalanche into the lake some years ago; one of them died. (They had dug a pit prior)

I happened to ski up to this site not long after the event and witnessed very large blocks of ice remaining along opposite side of the lake from the slope, where the swell from the strike had deposited them.

Goat Boy on the return trip,
In the first photo you can see James Peak shrouded in cloud:

The return trail in the fading light:


Trad climber
Lee, NH
Dec 16, 2009 - 09:31am PT
Beautiful terrain, Roy, with a sobering reminder of how dangerous it can be.

We used to ski that trail long ago.

right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 17, 2009 - 01:20pm PT
All righty then, back to work….

Tour number two in this “Baker’s Dozen” series:
Beaver Res/Coney Flats/Upper Coney Lake Cirque

In the first installment of this tour you'll see photos from two different years;
The short version on 12 25 08, shows Beaver Reservoir to Coney Flats, followed with some photos the previous year which took us all the way to the edge of Upper Coney Lake, but with no view of the cirque.

Part two wraps it up with a tour I completed 12 15 09, successfully providing a view of Paiute Pk, standing proudly above upper Coney Lake Cirque.

 Starting Elevation, 9161 feet
 Total Elevation Gain, 1779 feet
 Round-Trip Mileage, 12 miles
 Round-Trip Time, 7 hours (given considerable trail breaking in this seldom tracked Coney Lakes drainage)

You can break this tour up at the halfway mark; meaning Coney flats because that’s a nice warmup early-season tour to check the snow; and it takes just over an hour and a quarter, at a good hustle get to the turnaround, affording a terrific view of Sawtooth Peak.

Then the second half is the rarely tracked long uphill wooded trail breaking grind to access the upper Coney Lake Cirque.


For those of you who find this bloated, overwrought barge of a thread too hefty and slow-moving,
Try one of my recent excerpt threads, featuring an abridged offering of the tasty stuff going into upper Coney Lake Cirque:
(beware, you’ll have to suffer a particularly sensitive/interpretive storytelling approach…)


This is a great time to put in a pitch for both the artist and the publisher of these awesome maps,
James Niehues & Trail Tracks, check out the gallery 'n the map offerings, I think you’ll like them:


One of the hallmarks of this tour is the iconic skyline view of Sawtooth Peak,
This peak is quite visible from many points in Boulder and North Denver:

Beaver Reservoir on a cold morning:

Tracks before Coney Flats:

Tarbuster on a quick early-season foray to Coney Flats:

The typical view of Sawtooth from Coney Flats:

A few years ago, on our first excursion to scout out the way in to view the Upper Coney Lakes Cirque,
Lots of fresh powder to run your skis through in that valley:

Seth Bayer, skirting the Northside of Mount Audubon:

Our limited view on that particular day, with the end of the tour at Upper Cony Lake;
The entire Cirque above, mastered by the considerable North face of Paiute Peak, was shrouded in cloud:

Although the tour was rewarding from a physical standpoint,
We lacked the treat of getting a close look at Paiute's North face.
In fact we weren't even sure we were at Upper Coney Lake, and it was very cold and windy, time to retreat.

What follows is a very gratifying tour which I completed a couple days ago,
Much more successfully accessing that beautiful cirque on a relatively clear day.

Trad climber
Dec 17, 2009 - 02:03pm PT
wow, great pix tar. an awful lot of fun you've got there in yr backyard.

and tx for the link to the maps--- really nice, old-skool stuff. nice to see google earth and garmin haven't quite killed off the art of mapmaking.
Hardly Visible

Social climber
Llatikcuf WA
Dec 17, 2009 - 02:09pm PT

I must always catch ya somewhere between the before ski season shot and the after ski season shot, cause I don't ever remember ya lookin quite that bad or quite that good for that matter.
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