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Old 01-13-2020, 08:59 PM   #1
Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 3
Avalanche Pass Equipment Rec.

Looking for equipment recommendation for an out and back day ski tour from ADK Loj to Avalanche Pass and possibly Lake Colden. I have an AT set up with skins OR an all-around XC ski (non-metal edge).

Having not hiked the trail, I'm curious if the skins on AT skis will be more of a hindrance than a useful tool OR if my basic XC set up won't hold up to the rigors of the terrain. Not opposed to renting equipment if either of these won't cut it.

My AT/downhill experience is mostly rooted in VT sidecountry and I'm confident I can handle the tour as I have good route finding and backcountry experience, but I'm looking for equipment recs.

I recently picked up Goodman's "Best Backcountry Ski Tours" and have a strong desire to try some ADK tours. I figured starting with this tour would be a solid intro before attempting a summit.

Any advice appreciated!

Last edited by SSLaker; 01-13-2020 at 09:17 PM..
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Old 01-14-2020, 10:57 AM   #2
Join Date: Dec 2004
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Originally Posted by SSLaker View Post
Having not hiked the trail, I'm curious if the skins on AT skis will be more of a hindrance than a useful tool OR if my basic XC set up won't hold up to the rigors of the terrain. Not opposed to renting equipment if either of these won't cut it. Any advice appreciated!
I've skied Avalanche Pass on flimsy xc gear, heavy gear, and mid-weight xcd gear. The best choice for average conditions would be mid-weight xcd gear.

Skins are useful for the steeper climb from Avalanche Camp to the Pass, but you don't want to be stuck using skins for the long approach. If you have experience with kick wax, you could wax your AT skis for the lengthy approach and use skins only for the steeper section.

I think your best option would be to rent some xcd gear. The lighter weight and better kick-and-glide make up for the slightly diminished downhill control vs. AT gear.

There are several places in the area where you can rent gear.

Have fun and let us know how it goes.
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Old 01-14-2020, 01:15 PM   #3
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Join Date: May 2013
Location: Saranac Lake
Posts: 144
You could definitely handle the terrain on xc skis if you dont want to rent a whole new set up, but the climb up to Avalanche Lake from Av. Camps will be absolutely brutal if you have to herring bone the entire way without climbing skins. If you arent planning on going soon, you can order some old 70's touring ski skins for around $20 on ebay (though mine needed fresh glue).

Looking out my window from Saranac Lake, there is no snow, just bare ice. I suspect skiing in to Marcy Dam will be out until we get some more snow here.
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Old 01-14-2020, 02:23 PM   #4
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 118
It also depends on how good of a free-heeler you are. I know folks (who ski ungroomed 50 or more times a season) that ski that route on all-around xc gear & that is what I used my first couple of times into Lake Colden. Nowadays, if I have a choice, I would use metal-edge nowax skis (80 to 120mm wide) with at least 20mm sidecut & plastic boots like the Excursions; still would bring skins - nowax skis climb well in warmer snow but don't grip as well in cold powder.
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Old 01-16-2020, 06:10 PM   #5
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Elizabethtown
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Been up through AV pass onto the lake with friends, non of us had anything better than ordinary XC skis.
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Old 01-22-2020, 08:19 AM   #6
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Richmond,Vt
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Ah yes, the PASS. Well 35 years ago I skied it on Epoke skinny XC skis and lightweight 3 pin boots (ankle height) with a 60 lbs pack on my back. Ah, to be young again. I'd say the best equipment, as was mentioned, would be a wide XC medal edged ski with a boot like the Excursion or comparable one of the non plastic types. You only have the one real climb for the entire trip and that's the pass, so lighter weight pay's off for most of the trip. You could also just haul a pair of snowshoes for the climb and use the hiking trail up vs the ski route. The best part is coming down the pass on the way back :-)
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Old 01-22-2020, 10:17 AM   #7
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The best gear is usually dependent on the conditions, which never seem to be the same from one day to the next. Years ago I went up it and down it in the dark in skinny waxless skis with no difficulties in either direction. If I was going in the near future I'd go with heavier gear. 80 mm waxless Fischers with metal edges, moderately heavy boots and I would have 3/4 skins in my pack.
The best, the most successful adventurer, is the one having the most fun.
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