This is a place that climbing skins can take you if you take care of them appropriately. 

Tips & Tricks: Attaching Your Skins with Ease

I work for Cripple Creek Backcountry at Aspen Highlands, and every day I see uphill skiers preparing for their daily on-resort exercise or backcountry adventure at the base of the resort. Many people struggle with the task of attaching climbing skins efficiently to the base of their skis. Nothing is intuitive about using ski touring equipment, so I will explain one way of attaching skins efficiently.

In Preparation:

It is critical to note that skins should be folded equally in half with “glue-on-glue”. This protects the glue from contaminants and, more importantly, from the air. This is the proper way to store, pack, and dry the skins. Never leave the glue sides exposed to the air as it quickly degrades the glue’s “magic” property of sticking to your bases while not leaving behind residual gunk, making your ski down a sticky “stop-and-go” nightmare. 

pomoca ski touring climbing skins tips and tricks

Skins properly folded in half, glue-to-glue. This is how your skins should look while stored at home in a dark, cool closet. Or how they should be packed away in your ski pack during a tour on the downhill. Or how they should be dried out hanging up away from direct sunlight or radiant heat sources. Bottom line: glue on glue is ideal - no skin savers needed. 

How to Effectively Attach Climbing Skins

(This instruction is for skins with a rigid tip attachment: Pomoca, Black Diamond, Salomon, G3)

Step 1: Stand one ski up vertically in front of you with the ski tip pointing up. Attach the tip bail or hooks to the tip of the ski. The plush of the folded skin should be facing you.

pomoca ski touring climbing skins tips and tricks

Pull the skin apart using the ski as a lever. Ensure that you stick the first part of the skin onto the base of the ski to protect the tip hardware, effectively pulling against the 'skin glue-ski' interface rather than the 'tip hardware-ski tip' interface. 

Step 2:  Brace the ski tail against one foot and grab the tail end of the skin and start pulling down. Press the initial portion of exposed glue-sided skin onto the ski. This ensures that you are pulling against the ski-glue interface rather than the tip bail-ski interface. We see failure in the tip bail hardware from lack of this important distinction. As you pull the skin apart, push the ski down to the ground. This utilizes the ski as a helpful lever.

pomoca ski touring climbing skins tips and tricks

Push the ski to the ground as you pull the skin apart. This allows you to reach the tail of the ski with ease while aligning the skin to the ski.

Step 3:  While bracing the ski tail in your hip, align the skin in the center of the base with both edges of the ski exposed. Tack the skin to the base in the underfoot area of the ski and then smooth the skin on from tip to tail. This ensures proper adhesion of the glue to the base.

pomoca ski touring climbing skins tips and tricks

Center the skin under tension with the ski braced in the hip. Try to get the entirety of the skin within the confine of the metal edge. Any exposed skin will collect snow on the glue side, thus creeping between the ski and skin and ultimately causing skin failure.

Step 4:  Attach the tail clip to the tail of the ski, ensuring that there is adequate tension to keep the skin securely attached. If not, move the tail clip to a tighter position on the tail of the skin and reattached the tail clip with improved tension.

And that's that. Skin attachment 101. Now you're set to enjoy an uphill odyssey, skin-trouble-free. 

Important Note: For skins with a dynamic tip attachment and rigid tail attachment (Dynafit, Atomic, Hagan), start with the tail of the ski up, attaching the tail clip first, then follow the same directions and attach the rubber tip into the groove at the ski tip last.

How to Fold and Pack Climbing Skins

Another helpful tip is how to properly pack your skins, especially so that they are as small as possible and ready for the next transition.

Step 1: Once removed from the bases of your skis, fold one skin in half, glue-to-glue. Fold the other skin in half glue-to-glue. You won't get the skins to perfectly align, exposing bits of glue-sided skin, and that's okay.

pomoca ski touring climbing skins tips and tricks

Skins folded together in thirds for optimal packaging.

Step 2: Stack the skins together and fold both skins together into thirds. This makes the smallest package possible and will fit nicely into your pack. 

pomoca ski touring climbing skins tips and tricks

A side view of the compact package produced by folding both climbing skins into thirds. Now the skins are ready to be tossed into your pack. You brought that right?

Now with your bases atop a blanket of fresh snow, reap the rewards of uphill touring. Turn after turn of snow-sliding perfection - all for you to enjoy. 

Holand Peak Aspen Colorado ski touring backcountry skiing
TJ reveling in his skin attachment and detachment glory atop Holand Peak
- TJ Trombly was a wayward ski mountaineer with absolutely no idea about efficiently attaching skins to skis until he discovered the joys, trials, and errors of daily uphill skiing. He hopes this helps. -