Monday, March 29, 2010

Skulking Skurka and Curious Curiak

Ox Foster, a Kiwi I raced with on Team Hi-Tec in the 1996 Eco-Challenge, wrote me hoping I was getting in some work in between my leisure. Fact of the matter is, yes, busting my butt with four classes and two theses. The theses are super cool -- so are the classes, minus the part about grading weekly quizzes in them all -- and they are keeping me glued to my seat with my 'puter glued to my lap every night.

Anyway, what this means is I am living vicariously through others' adventure and currently following Andy Skurka as he skis along the Iditarod Trail in metal edged skis. Goof ball. I warned him. I even sent him the hot-rod of AK backcountry x-c, Tim Kelley's performance link, but to no avail. Maybe next time ole' Awesome Andy will come around from the (dumb) dark side and see the light of light on the feet. And to think he's like the uber-athlete of going light and long!! And using metal edged skis with big heavy boots, too! Jeesh......

Yep, all that weight and still averaging about 30 miles a day. Imagine if he knew how to skate ski, double pole and make do without waxing and actually followed the advice of Tim Kelley on gear....he'd be to Rohn by now and Forrest McCarthy and that amazingly artistic and young NGS photographer (Mike Brown) who's doing the big story would have to be flying up like a month early -- Tim Kelley and Bob Baker skied the whole Iditarod trail in under three weeks back in the 90s, which to put things in perspective is like twice Skurka's pace, and they of course used skate skiis and sleds rather than pins, metal, and a backpack.

About the time super-hiker's taking off, super-biker's just landed -- Mike Curiak-- in Nome, having ridden and pushed (I doubt he carried it at all) his snow bike the whole length of the Iditarod Trail, self-contained, meaning he had all his food and gear with him for the whole 1000 miles. I am really looking forward to the on-line details of that trip to distract me from grading papers and editing manuscripts.

Let's hope those get posted before the ice goes out and I can get my butt back in its proper place -- a boat.


  1. Thanks for posting the link to Tim Kelley's website. Very interesting take on backcountry skiing! Not sure it's applicable to deep powder touring but hut-to-hut touring on trails could be a lot easier with ultralight skis. Hmmm...

    I didn't quite see Andy's point of view on going with waxed skis but I kinda assumed he had his reasons. Personally, unless you're racing, I can't see the advantage. And waxing is a sticky, messy dark art anyway!

  2. I don't pretend to even be in the class of Tim and Bad Bob, Andrew, Roman, but I do have a new favorite ski/boot/binding compromise for trail skiing/ski-joring. I really like metal edges on spring snowmachine trails, overflow, and for a bit more braking when skiing behind 3 dogs. I also like the support and control of skate type boots, but have found nnn racing bindings pretty fragile, and my skate boots are cold. I'm really liking the Madshus Kollen Steel (50/45/48) Weight 1450gm/190cm with NNN BC Magnum bindings, and alpina BC boots. (looks like the 09/10 is renamed Kikut Steel Much softer and less performance oriented than a skate ski, but still easy to skate on or wax up to kick and glide. I detune the edges with a stone to minimize drag and avoid injury to dogs. The softer camber soaks up 'strugi and snowmachine bumps nicely. Full metal edges offer sweet control on crusty downhills and the sidehill overflow of interior creek valleys and spring overflow. Narrower profile and less side cut track nicer and skate better than my Voss or old E99's. They are about 6 oz heavier than race skis, but less likely to need a willow splint repair or new tip like the ones shown on Tim's site. My older boots have a skate-type plastics ankle hinge, a sole flex like a combi boot, are are warmer than skate boots with race overboots, and have a walkable sole. Worth looking at as an option.

  3. Cool John, that sounds like a great set-up, particularly for an off-trail rig or like you describe skiing behind three dogs.

    I am looking at trying distance kite skiing, too (some day), but don't like the idea of having to slog in down-hill gear in between wind rides. A light-weight set up with control sounds just right.

    The Alpina boots -- are they leather?

  4. Not living in an arctic region, but having had an exceptional winter in 2010, I used the classic XC Skis (55 mm straight for ski runs, common in our environment) on pretty much everything this season and was surprised how far they bring you. Truly versatile. Not to mention the lightness on the feet. Have a look on my pics for kite skiing on the beach :)
    Really like to go telemarking some day (have to learn).

  5. The Alpina boots I have are a discontinued model. They have leather around the sole like most race boots, but a synthetic tongue and speed lace with an insulated zip-up neoprene cover. They are somewhere between the current Alpina BC 2150 ( and the BC 50 ( Fischer's BXC 6 is similar, but beefier.

    Jed tells me that if I try kite skiing, I'll never go back to dogs ;)


/* Use this with templates/template-twocol.html */