Editor’s note: Our Quiver Arrow reviews are intended to be brief glimpses of possible planks to be included in our Ultimate Quiver ski selection. Enjoy, and please know that brevity is our goal. Also note that while we call this ski a “TX 77,” in no place on the ski do the graphics include that term, instead, they call it the “Tour Randonnee 77″ on the topskin.
It’s rando race season and spring is just around the corner. Narrower skis? They’re still viable. While the WildSnow Ultimate Quiver will be focusing on skis in the 90s and 100s, they’re throwing in a few skinny boards to keep things interesting, including this relatively new offering from Kästle: TX 77.
My background: I’m 6’0”, 175 lbs and do the majority of my backcountry skiing in the Roaring Fork Valley, Colorado, with a few rando races thrown in. I ski the Dynafit One boot for quiver testing.
Ski: Kästle TX 77 (tour randonnëe)
Length tested: 167
Other lengths: 147, 157, 167, 177
Turn radius: 16.5m in the 167
Weight: 1298 grams per ski in the 167 cm length (verified).
A note about the weight of this ski. TX77 rips hardpack on the down, but you pay a price on the up compared to a skinny rando race type plank. In our comparison between skis considering surface area vs weight, 77 is above average in mass. Thus the 167 TX 77 is light because it’s short and skinny, not because of any particular low-mass construction. With that in mind, we wouldn’t consider this an ideal skimo race board nor is is the TX77 a weight saver for ski mountaineering compared to other planks of similar width that are lighter, but it’s a fantastic uphilling ski since it’s so fun on the return.
Introduced in 2011, the TX 77 is the lightest ski in the Kästle collection, and is intended to be used on the long climbs and corn snow descents synonymous with spring tours in the high alpine.
Until the snow consolidates, however, the TX 77 is best served as a fitness ski. Its moderate weight and narrow waist making it the perfect tool for ascending and descending the well-manicured slopes of the local ski resort in an effort to stay in shape. And to test the TX 77, that’s exactly what I did, putting the ski through its paces on the corduroy flanks of Aspen, Buttermilk, and Snowmass here in Colorado.
On the ascent, the TX 77’s karuba wood core and small form factor make for easy uphilling, offering a respite to the overly-taxed hip flexors that plague many backcountry skiers. In fact, in all but the 177 length, the TX 77 could double as a randonnëe race ski, and though it’s considerably heftier than many dedicated rando race planks, it is also roughly half the price.
My only real complaint about climbing with the TX 77 is not with the ski, but rather the pre-cut Kästle climbing skins. For skins tailored to an alpine touring/randonnëe ski, I did not experience the glide I’ve become accustomed to with the pre-cut offerings from other manufacturers. In addition, the Velcro attachment that secures the skin to the tip of the ski strikes me as a bit clumsy, with the piece begging to be lost during a transition.
The narrowest ski in my quiver is 95 mm underfoot, so as I prepared to head downhill for the first time on the TX 77s, I was anticipating the feeling of descending on two curtain rods. I was immediately surprised, however, by the stable feel and edge hold of the TX 77, which is most likely attributable to the ski’s hybrid construction featuring both sandwich and cap elements.
Verdict? If you’ve always contemplated buying a dedicated fitness ski for your daily climb up the resorts, but felt doing so would mean sacrificing fun turns back to the car, then the TX 77 is a natural addition to your quiver, as it climbs like a dream and is a blast on the way down. And sweetening the deal even further, when the resorts melt out the TX 77 may well double as the perfect spring touring ski; its low weight and strong, stable edge hold making it the ideal tool for slog approaches, early morning spring corn, and pencil thin couloirs.
Shopping for a skinny plank such as the ’77? Good luck, they’re not well distributed due to the North American lust for wider bodies. But google for a stint and you’ll probably find something. If you’re looking for something with Kastle downhill performance but with more width, the Kastle TX 87 received high marks from the recent Alpin Magazine ski review, which we highly regard — and was also included in our inaugural Ultimate Quiver review.
(Guest blogger Tony Nitti is a CPA specializing in tax planning. He lives in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado with his wife and two children. When he’s not skiing or rando racing, he has fun writing about tax policy at Forbes.com, so he’s uniquely prepared for battering at the hands of extremely passionate commenters and talk show hosts such as he-who-shall-not-be-named.)