Blasphemy. High treason in this country. I shunned waxed skis right from the start, after a single session on some borrowed waxed skis. Waxed skis are 'the law' here it seems, where cross-country ski racing is as commonplace on the national TV stations at the weekend as football or motorsport is back in Blighty.
Waxed ski have their place. For racing the ability to fine tune your skis to the conditions can gain you seconds where grip has to be balanced against glide. The snow conditions can be fairly accurately predicted for the short time frame of the race and the best wax applied. This task is not even done by the elite racers themselves but by the wax alchemists, masters of the dark art of choosing between 'extra blue' and 'special violet'.
All day touring means you can ski over many different snow conditions. Hard and icy in the morning, wet fresh snow in the afternoon, wind blown crust on the plateaus and deep powder in the birch forests. On some of my first days out skiing with locals I remember having to stop several times while they had to clean off the wrong wax and re-apply fresh as conditions changed. Even with 30 years of experience the snow started building up under their skis or they'd be slip sliding backwards when the trail rose by even a few degrees.
And then there's the mess. Working as a ski guide last winter I had to clean and wax the clients skis every morning and often during the day too. Klister was even worse. That shit gets everywhere. Gloves, pants, hands, backpack and jacket all streaked with the black gunk. And the weight. Having to carry a scraper, cork, cleaner, several waxes and a tube of klister adds up to a fair old chunk of weight and volume.
But waxless skis. Clean. Idiot proof (thankfully...). Always ready. Or nearly always ready. I can think of only two occasions when they failed me. Once at the beginning of Winter when some fresh dry snow decided to clump up under my feet and once last Spring when a particularly cold morning turned the thin compacted trails around the lodge where I was working into ice rinks. But that's not too bad. Two days out of 3 seasons. Sure, the waxless pattern base gives a little noise and a tiny amount of vibration but only under certain conditions and it's not going to ruin your day. And if you start on waxless skis then you just accept the 'feel' right from the outset. Slower? Maybe, but we're not racing here. We're enjoying our day out or dragging a pulk.
So I urge those of you thinking about buying your first cross-country skis or indeed replacing a pair: Go waxless. Unless of course you enjoy cleaning gunk from your clothes, spending decades mastering the dark art of choosing the right wax or you enjoy carrying all that extra crap around. Or maybe I'm just lazy.
Let the arguing begin...