Is frozen granular really tough on bases?
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oldensign - DCSki Columnist
April 7, 2008
Member since 02/27/2007 🔗
437 posts
Out West and my ski's will not go. Being told it is because our "powder" back East is really tough on bases. It eats wax and dulls edges.

true?





I cant hear my skis...I cant hear my skis!
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
April 7, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
My personal opinion - it is counter-intuitive. But powder is tougher on wax tan old snow and ice.

Powder snow crystals are sharp and penetrate the wax and (if no wax) the Ptex on the base. Old snow crystals are round and have lost their edge (literaly) and so they create less friction.

That's the academic answer. However... in the East, we no only get old snow, but also sharp ice. That may change the equation.

The other side of the coin is that there are waxes for different conditions and different temperatures. So both East and West, the proper wax should hold for 3-4 ski days.

Confused enough?
teleman
April 7, 2008
Member since 07/8/2005 🔗
145 posts
[quote=oldensign]Out West and my ski's will not go. Being told it is because our "powder" back East is really tough on bases. It eats wax and dulls edges.

true?

Not really.

This is the short of it......

I have often experienced this "lack of glide" out west. There are two primary causes, base structure and snow temperature. Generally there are linear, cross-structures and broken base structure patterns; they are further classified by fine, medium and coarse. This gives nine basic structure options for different snow types. A different base structure is required for lower humidity and drier snow climates. A fine linear structure works well for drier cold snow. Whereas, most stone grinding in our area imparts a medium to coarse cross/diagonal structure, which is preferred for warmer moist and coarse-grained snow.

Secondly, the snow temperature is a major factor as the table indicates:

Snow Temp Glide Speed % Difference
28*F 18mph --
20*F 17mph 5% slower
10*F 15mph 11% slower
-4*F 12mph 33% slower
-10*F 8mph 56% slower

Other considerations are humidity, weather (sun or cloudy day), snow granulation (natural vs. manmade) and friction.

Therefore, optimum glide is complex when considering the number of possible combinations of wax, structure, weather, etc. Most shops use a cheap paraffin/hydrocarbon universal wax, which is okay for most conditions, except in cold snow it does not accelerate well. Generally, hard waxes offer better acceleration, but have a lower top speed. Therefore, when skiing out west in colder snow try a harder wax and see if that helps you.
comprex
April 7, 2008
Member since 04/11/2003 🔗
1,326 posts
Frozen granular is not tough on bases.

Manmade snow sharp crystals are very tough on bases, particularly if they are spread the day they are made instead of sitting in a snow whale for 24 hours or so.

However, that is not why your skis won't go. Some reasons are explained above.

As a rule of thumb, and the specifics will depend on locale, timing and weather, but going from Whitetail to Utah or Colorado will mean going one or one and a half grade colder in the wax you use. For example, if you use Swix CH7 here, expect to use Swix CH6 there.

Find some blue wax and crayon it onto your bases. Zardoz it if it gets warm during the day.
oldensign - DCSki Columnist
April 7, 2008
Member since 02/27/2007 🔗
437 posts
cool -thanks will do.

I did enjoy my day of slow skis. I was bullet proof. I could luanch down the steep blacks with no fear. I knew that my skis would not go fast enough to get me in real trouble.

Of course it also made for a lot of crawling along the flats....
skier219
April 7, 2008
Member since 01/8/2005 🔗
1,318 posts
I can go 3-5 days on natural snow with almost no visible wear. If it's fresh powder, the wax holds up really well. Yet just one day on manmade at Wintergreen will result in dry spots. I am of the opinion that manmade is very tough on ski bases.
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
April 8, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,097 posts
When I was at Alta in late Jan. the first thing I did was to have my skies waxed at the ski shop in the Gold Miners Daughter hotel to assure my ski wax matched the conditions I would find on the mountain. Worked like a charm.
The Colonel \:\)
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
April 8, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
That may work in seriously good places where they train their employees properly. I had a disappointing bout at Snowshoe with one of their techs, who didn't know the difference between teal, blue, red and yellow waxes nor he seemed to care. The machine put fluorinated wax on the ski, period, he didn't seem to be interested in anything else. Duh... Seems the demo shop has a mass-production mindset.

Since then, I wax my own (liquid) daily and use wax and iron weekly. And when I need a real tune, I'll take them back to DC and talk to the Ski Center folks.

I normally do not allow dry spots to appear on the bases. Sometimes you can't avoid it but I view skis as an investment/life support system. Hopefully my ACLs will thank my OCD behavior
comprex
April 8, 2008
Member since 04/11/2003 🔗
1,326 posts

Heh. I have a story about that.

A year ago I was demoing stuff from the Wildcat demo shop at Alta on a day with 3.5 feet of fresh.

My own skis (Volkl Explosives with week-old Maplus)- decent to good
Stockli- awesome, no problems,
Vists - slower but good,
Atomic - about the same as Vist
Fischer - mousepad on sandpaper, with a rock on it.

It was a fairly cold day (8-15F depending on where on the mountain one was).
All the demo bases had the same wax.
All the demo bases were graphite bases.
All the demo bases had the same structure.

Theories?



I think the Fischer had not been brushed: I had a pocket-puck of Zardoz and a felt pad in the pack so I spent ~20 mins on them. They did come back to life, not as snappy as the Vist but better.

I also have a (not very well justified perhaps) suspicion that whatever material Fischer use for those bases either develops more microhairs or more static charging than the others.
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
April 8, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
Probably. Yes, the proper wax for the proper conditions will make the difference between optimum skiing, or the feeling that you're skiing on sandpaper
skier219
April 8, 2008
Member since 01/8/2005 🔗
1,318 posts
I have been using universal wax for the last 10-12 years, and have yet to encounter conditions -- east or west, warm or cold -- where glide was an issue. I used to use temperature-specific waxes, and even made my own blends, but it's no longer practical for me. Universal covers me pretty well over the 15-32F range I typically ski in, and I can't say I have noticed issues in rare cases where it's colder than that.

On a side note, a lot of people run into issues when taking skis from a heated indoor location out into the cold, and attribute it to the wax!
tromano
April 27, 2008
Member since 12/19/2002 🔗
998 posts
I use universal wax most of the time, occasionally on warm days I will use some low flouro wax. I never notice a lack of glide in general, but LF does work better on wet snow when temps are above 32f.

I think the snow in the midatlantic is definitely tougher on wax. In The mid-atl the surface is so hard that most of the time I am not riding on the base of the ski. Rather I am riding on a 1cm wide strip of PTEX and metal adjacent to the edge. The middle of the ski barely sees any snow contact. This 1cm strip gets so much pressure and concentrated wear that if not re-waxed daily will have base burn by after the second full day for just about any ski I have tried. I also noticed that different bases would hold wax for different times. My volkl 5*s were definitely the worst in this regard. They needed near constant waxing and often would not go a full 8 hour day before getting burns. I got in the habit of carrying a spray on / roll on wax stick and reapplying after lunch with those skis. They also had a crazy soft base compared to every other ski I have had.

Here in UT the snow surface is much softer so wax is worn evenly over the skis whole width. I typically only hot wax skis here about every 5-8 ski days. It seems to be enough. I think fresh pow is one of the most sensitive conditions for having a well waxed ski... I definitely can tell I am going slower if the ski hasn't been done in a while. But also it seems to be the least wearing on wax.
skier219
April 27, 2008
Member since 01/8/2005 🔗
1,318 posts
It was interesting, after 6 days on the snow in Utah, the bases of my skis looked like they'd just been waxed. No wear or dry areas. Edges were pristine too. I think I would need to do a lot less tuning if I lived out there.
David
April 28, 2008
Member since 06/28/2004 🔗
2,444 posts
 Originally Posted By: skier219
I think I would need to do a lot less tuning if I lived out there.


Or if it snowed 15 inches here every night before you went skiing......
skier219
April 29, 2008
Member since 01/8/2005 🔗
1,318 posts
 Originally Posted By: David
 Originally Posted By: skier219
I think I would need to do a lot less tuning if I lived out there.


Or if it snowed 15 inches here every night before you went skiing......


Yeah, that would be even better!
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