Sunday 5 December 2010: Skins
Just in case you've been wondering how I've been skiing up hill from the village for the last week or so, I thought I should show you my skins.
The ski on the left has one on, the one on the right doesn't. Skins are kind of like very long and skinny (ski shaped in fact) strips of very short cat fur that stick to your ski with a tacky glue. Just like cat fur, they are smooth when stroked one way, and rough when stroked the other - so you can take your weight off and slide your ski uphill, but it won't slide back down when you put your weight back on.
They're not made from real cats - they used to be made from sealskin, but these days are usually a mixture of nylon and mohair.
They make skiing uphill really really easy - and in this deep snow, much less effort than walking. But they are a total pain in the neck to take on and off - imagine applying a 1.7m strip of sellotape in the wind - so the less you have to do it the better (i.e. find one big hill, skin up, ski down, rather than lots of little hills where you end up taking your skins on and off a lot.)
One thing I've learned this week is the remarkable differences in the snow texture day-to-day. Some days it has been so sticky that I could climb the hill without skins - other days so slippy that I couldn't even move on the flat without putting them on.