It’s been quite awhile since first publishing the classic debate on what is the best angle of attack to take when skinning up a mountain. A lot of that comes down to terrain and personal preferences, but everyone I know tends to prefer either a low or high angle skin track.The basic tenets of either camp were laid out a little over ten years ago by yours truly and Andrew McLean. Since then neither of us has wavered in our preference or promotion of the optimal angle for skinning.
However, in the intervening years free-pivots have been incorporated in to telemark bindings. The result for this advocate of meanderthal tracks has been a significant increase in my standard skinning angle from a mere 12° to 15°. It may not sound like much, but I assure you, 3° is a noticeable difference.
Though Andrew routinely sets trail in the 20° to 25° range, he is on record for acknowledging that the fastest rando racers tend to prefer a lower angle track because it is more efficient. If he hadn’t written that in the pages of the same publication as his prior claim – that the steep way is The Way – I couldn’t hold him accountable.
All that is to merely point out that in practice you may prefer one angle over another in most circumstances, but there is a time and a place for both. Herewith are the reasons why you might chose one or the other, depending on the circumstances.
The Way of the Tortoise by Craig Dostie
The Way of the Hare by Andrew McLean