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?
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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.)
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.
|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.
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.