Ballad of Mountain Men

Meet the Team



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The portable climbing skin application device (PCSD) is a tool to assist backcountry skiers apply climbing skins, which are used to ascend hills. The device allows the skiers to apply their skins without the need to remove their skins, effectively cutting the application time in half. The device is made of 6061 aluminum and 3D printed ABS plastic keeping it lightweight which can be folded down to be stored in a backpack.




The Ballad of the Mountain Men followed a four phase design process to complete the portable climbing skin device (PCSD). Phases one saw the establishment of the design parameters and, market research, and the development of concepts. Phase two was the continuation of Phase one as more detailed designs were generated to comply with the product requirement specifications. Phase three put the designs to the test to verify and validate that the goals of the product were met. Phase four wrapped up the project and established future goals and conclusions.


Phase I: Design Inputs

The purpose of phase one was to establish the parameters and goals for the given project. Market research led to the generation of the problem statement, which outlined the necessity of a device that would allow backcountry skiers to apply their climbing skins without the need to remove skis. The naturally led to the input phase, also known as the product requirement specifications. In summary, the Ballad of the Mountain Men determined that the product needed to weigh less than 5 lbs, use a snow show to resist sinking into the snow, and accommodate various ski sizes. From here various concepts were generated and selected. The selected concept is shown below. From here the project could progress to the second phase.




Phase II: Design Outputs

The purpose of phase 2 was to develop design outputs such that the PCSD would meet the previously determined design inputs. As a way to simulate the same process used in the traditional method of applying skins to skis, a roller was utilized to apply skin to the ski. A foldable frame was designed so that the user could fit the PCSD into a standard size back when not using the it. In order to reduce weight without compromising the structural integrity, 6061 aluminum and ABS plastic make up the majority of the PCSD. Spring guides were developed to aid the user when applying throughout the application process to insure that the skins are applied properly. Initially as a way to mitigate the risk of the PCSD sliding forward on the snow the Ballad of the Mountain Men planned to implement a cleat or spike like design, however after some research a simple snow show like design was determined to be more appropriate. In order to meet the time it will take to apply the skins a single motion dry and apply system was developed. This single motion system greatly reduces the average time it takes to apply skins by approximately half of what it takes using the traditional method. Lastly since the PCSD was intended to be portable both volume and weight needed to be considered.


The figure below shows the final SolidWorks rendition of the PCSD.



The bill of materials along with call-outs to the individual components can be seen on the figures below.




Phase III: Verification and Validation

The purpose of verification and validation of the described design outputs in Phase II were to demonstrate that the PCSD would meet the team’s standards and be effective at applying ski skins without the removal of one’s ski. Verification: Drawings were done on SolidWorks to verify the design inputs. Validation: A test plan and regulatory plan were created.


Testing Plan

The PCSD went through a testing procedure to ensure that every aspect on the PRS was met by a verification or validation.

o By referencing BOM and vendor prices to ensure that the complete set of materials costs less than $300.
o Dimensions of the PCSD by assembling and manufacturing in accordance with design drawings.
o By applying specific materials to SolidWorks assembly and calculating weight.
o By the successful production of a training video.
o That all purchased materials are of non-corrosive materials.
o Through inclusion or exclusion of a drawstring bag.
o Through inclusion or exclusion of a warning label warranting against use without reading manual.
o Through inclusion or exclusion of a warning label warranting against use in improper conditions.
o Through inclusion or exclusion of a warning label warranting against use without ski poles.
o By testing whether or not an experienced and unexperienced skier can use the PCSD to successfully apply a climbing skin.
o By placing PCSD in all various snow conditions and successfully applying skins 10 times in each condition.
o By measuring the time it takes to apply climbing skins to skis through the use of the PCSD.
o By an individual weighing 250 lbs. to stand on the PCSD without any occurrence of plastic deformation.
o By successfully applying skins 10 times at various temperatures throughout range.
o By dropping PCSD 100 times a height of 10 feet at zero degrees Fahrenheit.


Test Results

Each aspect on the PRS was thoroughly reviewed, tested, and completed. Please see the provided PRS to see what was tested.



Phase IV: Introduction Into Manufacturing

Phase IV of the design process is considered as the final design phase. This phase is allocated for: research and application of all applicable regulatory requirements, completion of all reports and files, presentation of drawings into production revision, and for engineering to guide and assist the manufacturing team with their start of the fabrication process.

In this class, the ME 452 capstone class was held responsible for the fabrication process. Therefore, Team 23 conducted their own manufacturing. Joe Doucette, from Team 23, was responsible for most of the manufacturing for the PCSD. Joe welded the 6061 aluminum for the base, and also did welding for the foldable frame. He also fabricated the netting for the foot and created the locking pins for the frame. Joe put the final touch on the project by priming and painting the PCSD. Jordan helped machine the more intricate pieces of the frame, skin guides, and ski guides. Seth was held responsible for coordinating with the innovation center to have the 3-D parts printed. He also conducted research and calculations for the springs. Scott attached the squeegee and 3-D parts to the device near the end of our fabrication process.



Once the manufacturing and paperwork was concluded, Team 23 concluded phase IV and remarked their project as fully completed.



Final Prototype

The project proved incredibly successful. Novice skiers were able to successfully apply climbing skins in half the time of the standard method. A single fault was found in that the device was not able to accommodate the widest skis on the market. A slight modification would fix the problem and is not one that the Ballad of Mountain Men is worried about moving forward with the project. An instructional video can be found at the link below to demonstrate proper use and the effectiveness of the device.


Instructional Video URL :