NOLS WOE Tetons Ski Mountaineering Expedition: Day 20 – Kick Wax

Our last full day in the backcountry, retracing our tracks across Teton-Bridger National Forest to our final trailhead campsite. Notes:

  • Extra early wakeup at high camp this morning, to allow time to pack everything up and get going. Today we retraced two days worth of upward tracks in one day, so 9 hours of hard travel time were allotted.
  • As part of getting ready to depart, we partially destroyed our snow shelters and kitchens. After living in them for so long, its a strange feeling to destroy it.
  • As we departed, we laused for a quick group photo.
  • Descending from high camp on telemark skis while towing a gear aled was intense, and not an easy feat. The running wisdom is “go faster than your sled”. Going around corners and through steep drainages is particularly difficult.
  • When we finally reached the flat meadow, we decided not to put our skins on our skis for travel across the flats. Instead, we used kick wax to give is grip going across the snow. Kick wax comes in small round blocks, and is applied cold to the bottom of the ski. Unlike hot wax. Kick wax makes the bottom of the ski stick to snow. The wax does work to give more grip on the snow, but only a little bit. Even a slight incline becomes a major chore. Although it’s said that you can go faster with kick wax than with skins, I found it to be quite the opposite – skins are much better.
  • Our final camp tonight is very close to the road, in a stand of aspens. We set Up a few megamids and a few individual shelters. A few people are bivying too.
  • Tomorrow morning we’ll get picked up by the truck at 9:30 and will be on our way back to NOLS base for hot showers and fresh food.