As the swans start arriving and the sun starts melting our snow, some skiers start abandoning the ski trails. It's often not due to a lack of good skiing, but because of the changing waxing conditions.
Spring skiing brings out a dreaded word in the Whitehorse skier's lexicon: klister.
For some strange reason, skiers used to the easy and foolproof waxing conditions we enjoy for the bulk of the year in Whitehorse have grown to fear the very thought ofklister.
I have heard many a skier give up in frustration in the spring because their hard wax wouldn't work and they didn't want to use klister.
As someone who started my ski career in the south, where klister was the norm for much of an altogether too short season, I find this is a strange attitude.
Klister is easy to apply and works well. It is designed for use in granular, wet snow or icy conditions, exactly the sort of conditions that come along with the cold nights and warm days we experience in April in the North.
Like wax, it comes in different grades designed for different temperatures, although in Whitehorse, a version known as "Universal" works practically all the time. Klister sticks well to skis and will survive the abrasive terrain that wipes wax off a grip zone in one skidded corner.
With hard waxes, you need to apply multiple layers (five is a nice number), corking each one in between.
Klister takes no time at all. Simply dab a very thin strip onto the kick zone of each ski and smooth it out with a plastic scraper. Or, use your thumb or the edge of your hand, as I do. Put your skis outside to cool off and you are done.
People who have problems with klister are probably putting it on too thickly, so make sure your layer is thin. If you aren't getting full coverage when you smooth it out, it's easy to add a bit more.
There is also a mystique about cleaning klister off the skis after your outing. This is also not hard.
Scrape the skis as soon as you come in, before they warm up and the klistersoftens. Finish it off with a bit of wax remover, or melt it off with a heat gun and you're done. Presto.
Don't make the mistake of not cleaning it off however, especially if you are taking your skis home in the car. Klister and fabric are an ugly combination. Ditto with sticking your sleeve in it!
If you still aren't convinced, you might try using a relatively new product known as grip tape.
Grip tape is used to deal with the same type of conditions as klister. Stick it on, smooth it out and you are good to go, probably for four or five skis. It's a little more expensive than klister, but lasts longer and doesn't have that sticky reputation.
Racers don't use it as they find that it's slower than klister, but it's an ideal product for the recreational skier or for the racer out for an easy training ski.
So, keep skiing.
We have had a stellar season at the ski club. Our first day of grooming was October 13, and it looks as if we will be in operation until the end of April.
While the snow may be melting downtown, the well-frozen ground, slightly cooler temperatures and a season's worth of almost daily packing combine to keep the ski trails in good shape for weeks of warm weather.
See you on the trails.
Claude Chabot is executive director of the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club. If you have questions about the club or its extensive network of trails, you can reach Claude at email@example.com