Skis Skis and More Backcountry Skis

Post by blogger | February 18, 2008      

Thought it worth mentioning that we’ve accumulated a crazy quiver of test skis to mess around with for the rest of the winter. We’ll continue blogging about all these planks as the season progresses.

Colorado backcountry skiing.
With 24 Hours of Sunlight coming up, we have three pairs of Trab skis loaned out among our team. The flagship Trab for that sort of thing is perhaps the Sint Aero (pictured above), as it combines light weight and a narrow dimension for quick uphill, along with decent hardpack downhill performance. We’ve also got a pair of this season’s Trab Duo Freerando Piuma set up for the race, which are super light as well. Third pair is last year’s version of the Piuma, they’re good boards as well.

Colorado backcountry skiing.
K2 Bakers under the Dynafit jig.

As for the backcountry, I’ve had somewhat of a ski crisis this winter. I tend to acquire skis of the narrower variety that have good versatility in spring conditions and climb well, but are not as forgiving for variable deep conditions. Boards with up to around 90 mm under foot are better for that sort of thing. Hence, when this season hit heavy I kept getting out on skis that were simply not as much fun and easy as wide options like my son’s first generation Black Diamond Verdicts.

Speaking of which, we think the older Verdict form factor is just about ideal for human powered deep snow backcountry. Anything with more girth might work on the down, but starts to weigh on the up — especially when snow piles on top and jumbo skins add mass. The old Verdict dimensions gave you about a 122 mm tip and 97 mm underfoot. They ski great in soft, but without much sidecut tend to be a bit funny on hardpack. More current versions of this form still have a tip in that width range, but bring the waist down closer to 90 mm and generally have a narrower tail as well.

Currently I’ve got two skis in this category. The Black Diamond Voodos ski well and are no doubt strong, but they’re a bit heavy and I don’t like the twintip tail (that said, strength + twintip equals a good backcountry plank for those more inclined to fool around with hucks and tricks). To save some weight and get a regular tail, I just acquired a pair of K2 Baker Superlights. At 122/86/107, Baker’s have the type of shape we’re looking for, and they’re quite light for their width. The other soft snow ski I’ve been on quite a bit and liked is next season’s Dynafit Manaslu. We’re waiting for a test pair of those for further evaluation. Manaslu is amazingly light for a dimension of 122/95/108 and thus of interest to anyone earning their turns.

What else? Another ski of interest is always the Goode Carbons. As these are out of most people’s price range we don’t tend to blog them much, but if you can find a deal they’re a great way to get width without weight for backcountry skiing. And in the mail, we’ve got two pair of 2008/09 G3 skis coming for testing. More about those when they arrive.

At any rate, it took a heavy dose of fiberglass but my ski crisis appears to be cured.


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15 Responses to “Skis Skis and More Backcountry Skis”

  1. barry February 18th, 2008 12:44 pm

    Have you heard anything about G3’s alpine touring binding?

  2. Cody February 18th, 2008 1:25 pm

    Hi Lou,

    Not much to do with the above mentioned skis, but I’m wondering if you have any suggestions for a smooth skin to ski transition with tail-less skins. With my BD STS tails, I find it much easier to take the skins off without taking my skis off, but with a tail-less skin, it is sometimes tough to get ahold of the skin. Any suggestions for a slight modification, maybe some sort of tail to grab that doesn’t attach to the ski?

  3. Lou February 18th, 2008 1:42 pm

    Hi Cody, the racers I’ve seen using tail-less skins work from the tip of the ski. They have a tab or something else up there they can grab, which combined with elastic removes the skin from the tip. ‘best, Lou

  4. Lou February 18th, 2008 1:45 pm

    Barry, a G3 guy I spoke with some time ago would neither confirm nor deny anything I brought up (grin). If they’re actually doing an AT binding, it’s one of the best kept secrets in the industry. The way to find out more about that sort of thing is to see if they’ve filed any patents, but so far no one seems to have dug anything like that up.

  5. Chris February 18th, 2008 2:37 pm

    Hi Lou,

    After a few years off skis this is turning out to be a great year and I’m really enjoying your blog for great info on gear, etc.

    I’m skiing a pair of Voodoos with Dynafit’s and Spirit 3s and am picking up my G3 skins this week.

    I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on how I might put together a beefier setup and also a lighter, bordering on Rando rig.

    A friend skis the Verdict and I think perhaps I might have enjoyed those more. The Voodoos feel too damp. I’m curious about the Ski Trabs, the G3 line too.

    I’m 6′ and 155lbs.

    Thanks again for the great blog!

  6. Lou February 18th, 2008 2:42 pm

    Chris, thanks for the kind words, much more info coming. Hint, G3 skins are great!

  7. Chris February 18th, 2008 2:54 pm

    I noticed you have the Black Diamond Stigma listed in your ski weights, any experience on this ski. I have last year’s Verdict and I love them, reasonably light for such a stout ski. I like them in just about anything, if the snow is too hard for them it’s too hard for fun skiing anyhow. I do like a lighter ski for bigger tours which is why I ask about the Stigma. I have the first generation Dynafit FR10 which I am not all that pleased with. I bought them too long (187) but there is also something I can’t put my finger on – a wierd flex? I tend to like stiffer skis but maybe these are too stiff?

  8. Andy (not McLean) February 18th, 2008 4:43 pm

    So you haven’t skied the Baker Superlights yet? I’d be interested in a review, especially if you can compare them to the regular Bakers. They seem like they’d make a pretty versatile ski.

  9. Lou February 18th, 2008 6:19 pm

    Skied ’em all weekend in pow and breakable, see review tomorrow blog.

  10. Mark Worley February 18th, 2008 7:32 pm

    The Baker Superlights are pretty nice. Hope you liked them. Sometimes I wish I had a pair. I have the regular variety, which I like a lot, but they are a little too heavy for fast uphill at times.

  11. Derik February 18th, 2008 8:45 pm


    Please tell me what you think of the Superlights ……. I love my Sahales for the frozen hard stuff, but am wondering what the Superlights will do in Colorado variable conditions.

    My normal BD Havocs are good, but with Black Diamond seemingly trending towards heavier boots and skis, I am looking at K2 more because they seem to be pushing technology in the touring/mountaineering side of things, and that’s where MY heart is at.

    Review soon, please sir.

  12. George T February 19th, 2008 8:02 am

    I look forward to your K2 Baker SL review, since it’s on my wish list for 2009.
    I noticed your skis are generally 165-177 cm. Do you prefer shorter skis or are you slimmed down to “fighting weight” for 24 Hours of Sunlight?
    The ski dimensions, weight and lengths are extremely helpful, but the addition of skier weight may also compliment your reviews.
    Thanks again for the great reviews,

  13. Andrew February 19th, 2008 10:40 am

    In regards to the upcoming 24 Hours of Sunlight race, I just sent these ideas to a friend who is doing it solo this year…

    – Have two complete ski/skin set-ups and have your pit crew prep them for you so that when you come in for a lap, you step out of one and right into the other. Fried skins are a big problem in the Colorado cold, so having someone prep them for you is essential as they will fail by the end of the race if you just swap them out touring-style.
    – I’d do the same thing with a small Camel-bak – have two set ups and swap them out. Have your pit crew fill them with warm (not hot) fluids that you can drink as you walk uphill.
    – Clear goggles are important for the night-time! Any tint (yellow, smoke, etc) is too dark to ski with, and as you are going down a groomer, you can go pretty fast and need some sort of eye protection.
    – A neoprene face mask is a good idea for the night time as well as it can get reallllllly cold on the descents.
    – For food, I’d work on eating “normalâ€? food over bars, gels, etc., as that stuff kind of catches up with you and punches out your stomach, or at least it does mine. Turkey, burgers, fries… etc – whatever you can choke down. Greg Hill set the world record on Pria (a yogurt type of drink – warmed) and fruit mix, but that is Greg.
    – Don’t take a nap! Just keep going – any movement is better than none, and once you stop, it is a HUGE effort to get going again.
    – Set a total vertical goal going into the race and figure out how many laps that will take, and then in turn, what kind of time you need to hit per lap. Note: you can/will go much further than you think! 30-40k is totally realistic. I just kind of winged it and right at the end missed out on hitting 40k by one lap. If I had realized this earlier, I would have adjusted my pace a bit.
    – The pit area is less than ideal as it is kind of stretched out vertically instead of horizontally, so you or your pit crew has to kind up/down to the starting area. Once the area closes (4:00pm?) you can set up a tent near the start/finish area.
    – 12 hours into the race is NOT halfway! The true crux is about 16 hours into it from midnight to sunrise. The last few hours aren’t bad as the sun comes back up, skiers start cheering you on, the end is in sight and you warm up a bit.
    – The laps are short, so you don’t need much, if any extra stuff. The skiing is all groomers, so bring the lightest set up you have. If the ascent is in the same place, there is a little butt-kicker of a hill right near the top that can get slick, so you’ll need good skins, especially at night.
    – The ascent can be done without a headlamp, and depending on the weather, the descent probably can as well. The descent is fast, so it is easy to outrun almost any headlamp. A big horkin’ bike lamp might work, but you’d probably ultimately be slower from carrying it up.
    – If you have a pit crew, you can just carry your skins down in your hands and throw the whole mess at them. Or, have a jacket that you can securely stuff them in. You definitely don’t want to put them in a pack – too slow.
    – Pacing is everything! Watch out for the early start speed laps as you will pay for it later. The race ain’t over ‘til it’s over and many of the early speedsters flame out. Steady as she goes wins out.
    – Have fun?

    Good luck!


  14. Lou February 19th, 2008 11:07 am

    Nice Andrew, thanks! I second that about clear goggles and a good headlamp. If the full moon is out, that’ll help too!

  15. artist asian July 1st, 2008 4:08 am

    good article, i like this sports, i cant do that

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