Black Diamond Method Boots & Kastle Skis — Do the Math for a Longer Season

Post by blogger | May 2, 2008      

The calendar says early May, however I’m pretty sure the snowpack looks like Mid-March. We still have a lot of skiing ahead. So as we approach our 7th month of turns, we need to conserve our energy so we can make it to August, right? So, how do we do this?

Proper diet and exercise with well proportioned rest between ski trips? Never!

The best way to stay strong through the long snow season is simpler than you might think. Take your average number of ski days (S) multiplied by your average amount of vert (V), then divide this number by the average vertical drop per turn (D). ( S x V ) / D This should give you the total number of turns you make per season. For an epic season such as this, lets assume you’re all getting after it, so you should double your average ski days. So, simply double the size of your turns, and waa-laa, you just reduced your energy needs by half. Now, considering that with the longer season, you are actually getting exponentially worn down for every day out (less rest, earlier starts, etc.) you may want to increase you turn radius even more. If this makes sense, then you are next asking yourself, what is the best backcountry ski rig for conserving energy?

Backcountry skiing.
No need to let late-season burnout stop your stoke. Proper motivation at work helps to keep your focus on skiing. WildSnow can help with the first edition desktop image, available in 3 sizes 1600×1200 , 1680×1050 , 1280×854 )

The Answer:
Despite common sense (and the wisdom obtained by Lou after decades ski alpinism), the most energy conserving setup is NOT a pair of Titanium Dynafits mounted on a pair of 142 cm foam skis “driven” by a single buckle boot. NO! The setup to end all set ups is a pair of BD Method Boots on a pair of Kastle MX98 skis (though I’ll concede that if Dynafits will hold me in they could be the binding of choice.)

The Boots:
BD Method boots are the younger twin of the Factor. Coming in just 6oz lighter and at a 110 flex (instead of the Methods 130) they are still a beast of a shoe, and that is a compliment in my book. They come standard with a removable AT sole you can swap with an Alpine DIN block for resort skiing. Like their only-slightly-bigger-brother, Methods are fully Dynafit compatible, have adjustable canting and forward lean — all with an overlap cuff. A few other quick facts: thermoformable liner; BOA liner retention system; micro-adjust buckles; solid 1-inch cuff strap.

Basically you can go fast in these boots, in all snow conditions, saving energy all along the way. These boots pleasantly tore through a 1-inch ice crust at Marble. There was no slop or delay in my turns through the bullet-proof, both of which would have lead to either ugly form, or worse, loss of that commonly held trait of most homo sapiens, remain upright on two legs. Over on Ski Hayden, the Methods held solid in a high-speed energy conservation maneuver on the Stammberger Face, and had Maroon Bowl feeling like a ski resort (or was that just the lifts to get to the top (grin). I was extremely happy with these boots as an alpine boot I can be comfortable skinning and hiking with.

Backcountry skiing.
Setting up for some energy conservation on the Stammberger Face, Hayden Peak. This could be worth an entire run come August.

Being familiar with the walk from the snowcat pickup at Highlands up the ridge line to the Maroon Bowl in alpine boots made the ease of walking in the Methods exceptionally welcome. I was then able to casually transition from winter snow, to ice, to corn and funk. A direct transfer of power from leg to ski was evident all week. Front-pointing back up the fifteen feet to Castle Creek Road went by in a breeze (now all my reviews will include a front point eval, after some of you took me to task on leaving that out last time). All in all another great boot by BD. Since the slightly softer flex of the Method was a little nicer skinning, I would make it my pick of the two for human powered vert.

Colorado backcountry skiing.

The Skis:
What ski is the best for an effortless ski season? Why just the most perfect ski ever created. Is this hyperbole? Not really. The Kastle MX98 can rightly challenge any ski for that title, largely due to the history and experience behind the ski. Kastle has a long tradition of exceptional skis. Long before I knew what powder was, how to carve, or even how to keep my skis parallel, World Championship gold medals were being won on Kastles. The first in 1947, the last in 1997 just after Benetton Sportssystem shuts down the Kastle brand (read about it on Kastle’s website ). So these skis are historically bred to go fast. And with models such as the “Tour Randonne” released in 1977 as the lightest ski in the world designed for mountaineers (which Lou skied on for several seasons during his prime), they are meant for big mountains.

Back to present, and I love these skis. With a sidecut of 132-98-177 in a 184cm length, the MX98 is a perfect backcountry tool. It is not a soft ski. It is not a forgiving ski. And this ski will finish a decent with or without your input. It’s up to you to drive it for an amazing run through (and I mean through) any terrain. On a recent trip to Marble Peak, cold winds and a tight schedule meant we were skiing a 1-inch ice crust well before the sun would soften it. After leading the second pitch, others in the group commented after watching my run that they thought the snow had improved, only to realize how deceived they had been as they skied the same line on their wimpy planks. I thank the wide platform of the MX98. Also, the amount of energy that releases out of each turn allowed for more than enough power to drive into the next turn. I’d say that it was effortless, but conditions such as what we had are NEVER effortless…just fun.

I skied the MX98 mounted with a pair of Marker Dukes. So needless to say, the setup was heavy. Kastle recommends using either a Duke or Jester binding. If this were purely my powder day / side country setup, I would go with the Duke. They felt bomber in-bounds, and the tour acceptably. The biggest drawback for climbing with this setup was the limited heel-raise available on the binding (there is only one setting). Luckily you can buy these skis sans bindings — if I had the chance I would put a pair of Dynafits on them in a heartbeat.

In the End:
So this spring, remember that the key to preserving yourself for the entire season is simple addition: ( S x V ) / D + Black Diamond Method + Kastle MX98s.

**Disclaimer, not responsible for anything if you actually try this.


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13 Responses to “Black Diamond Method Boots & Kastle Skis — Do the Math for a Longer Season”

  1. Bill Hunt May 5th, 2008 12:44 am

    Hi folks,
    I hope its ok to make a general post here.
    I was thinking about coming out for the film fest, and I was wondering if anyone would like to do some backcountry skiing/snowboarding, and/or kayaking. I would like to snowboard some things like the Cleaver and Ski Hayden (open to suggestions). I am very experienced, but I am not in the kind of shape you CO locals are! I have toured in Utah’s Wasatch mountains for 24 years (I am 49; too much time at a desk the past decade). I am primarily a snowboarder these days, and I don’t have a splitboard at the moment (would love to borrow/buy one!), so I would be booting, Vert snowshoeing, or cramponing (with ski mountaineering boots). I have 3 pairs of Vert snowshoes, if I could entice a couple of you guys to use them :-). They are great for climbing 40 degree corn, and work on 55 degree soft corn. I am comfortable with extreme steeps (50 to 60 degrees), as long as the snow conditions are good (soft). I’d love to do something quite steep, that is not a comparatively long hike. (I would actually love to look at Pyramid’s Landry route, but I don’t think I’m in shape for it. Those photos of Lou’s are great motivation for getting back in shape, though!).

    I am an intermediate kayaker at best, and would like to do some class II+ to III-, like
    and whatever else might be running in that range.
    Any recommendations for good local camping would also be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks very much!
    Bill Hunt
    wasatchbill at comcast dot net

  2. Mike May 9th, 2008 9:48 am

    You state that the Methods have the BOA system in it. All the previous info out there I’ve seen shows a pull-lace system. Has that changed or did they just give you a pair with the better liners?

  3. dave downing May 9th, 2008 12:36 pm

    Mike. If you see the Methods I’m skiing, they have a pull lace system with a locking knob to roll in the slack. However, the production liner (i have seen them with my own eyes) have an entirely internal cable lacing system with only the locking knob. You simple roll in the slack to tighten, or unlock and pull the tongue out to release. very nice. I’ll see if i can get a pic soon.

  4. rod georgiu May 25th, 2008 12:21 pm

    I use the Garmont Adrenaline, with a stiffer liner.
    Do you know how the new BD boots compare with the Adrenaline in lateral stiffness? And in walking or skinning?

  5. Gary Deverell May 26th, 2008 10:40 am

    Do you know if there are any ski crampons that fit the Marker Duke’s?

  6. Lou May 26th, 2008 4:41 pm

    Gary, you can simply mount B&D or Voile cramps in front of the binding, use them in fixed mode, not dynamic.

  7. Gary Deverell May 27th, 2008 10:40 am

    Thanks for the info….the back country skiing in Central Oregon is still going strong. If you’re ever out this way let me know!

  8. dave downing May 29th, 2008 12:34 am

    I haven’t skied the Adrenalines personally, from talking to friends with them, the Methods sound to be a bit stiffer. Of course this means they are also a little stiffer walking and skinning, but I have been very happy with they’re uphill performance. I find that if i stay on top of adjusting my heel lift on my bindings to the right height (as the slope warrants) that I don’t notice any limits in movement from the boot.

  9. ben November 11th, 2008 1:00 am

    any word on comparing the factor and the method? is the factor significantly stiffer? how does the weigth difference feel? i wear a 30 so wonder what the real weight penalty is for the factor – 12 oz/pair difference size 28? could you ski bumps on the Method happily? sure, not ideal, but….

  10. dave downing November 11th, 2008 9:23 am

    @ben — I didn’t have any resort days to ski bumps in the methods, but I wouldn’t hesitate to drop into steeplechase with them. In fact I plan on doing a little Method/Dynafit FT12 testing there this season 🙂

    As for a direct comparo…the 2 boots are close, I felt like there was a noticeable difference going UP (a little more flex in the methods walk mode). But not as much an issue going down.

    If you need the stiffest boot possible, based on your skiing style, then get Factors. If you want a little lighter, walk-friendly boot, go with Methods. Their both a great choice.

  11. acc November 26th, 2008 12:24 pm

    Ah, the methods or the factors! I am looking at getting a new boot for this year and am beginning to get into backcountry. I have been resisting getting new boots up to this point, still skiing on my old Lange Banshee 8’s up to this year (they fit great)….but they are just worn out and it’s time.

    Debating between the methods and factors. I am a little concerned the methods will be two soft for me. I am a pretty aggressive skiier…..can ski anything on the mountain…..but am not into dropping 30 footers, etc. Based on your comment above, what type of skiing style do you think requires the stiffest boot possible?

  12. Lou November 26th, 2008 2:14 pm

    ACC, it’s not so much a matter of style but of preference for a given “feel” as a good skier should be able to perform in similar fashion in either boot. If your previous boots were fairly beefy and stiff, then perhaps Factor. If your boots were not so radical, then perhaps Method.

    If you are using these for a resort boot, perhaps Factor as after the repetitive vertical of resort skiing you sometimes need that extra bit of support when your feet tire.

    One thing everyone has to remember about WildSnow is that our bias is for backcountry skiing that involves mostly human powered vertical. Thus, we tend to steer toward boots that do both up and down. That’s not stylish in some circles, but we is what we is.

  13. ben January 2nd, 2009 1:58 am

    I went with the Method. I’ve only skiied them once. They hike well and comfortably: Garmont boots fit me well, too. I got one run on powder (and a few miles of skin track) and am impressed with how stiff and responsive this boot is.
    I also ski a Lange Fluid 120. The Methods are not much softer and considerably lighter than my setup. I haven’t skiied the Method on hard pack or bumps yet, hopefully never will.

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