Ski Review – Atomic MX09

Post by blogger | February 16, 2006      
Atomic MX09 backcountry ski.

After a couple of years almost exclusively on a pair of BD Mira’s, I’ve been upgrading and extending my ski quiver. Seems I’m doing as much backcountry skiing as ever, so why not have a ski for every day of the week? A while back I reported on the BD Havocs I’ve been enjoying. Mid winter in Colorado requires a ski with some width, but come spring why not use something skinny and light? Same goes for randonnee racing and ski resort fitness climbs, where less weight makes things more fun.

To that end I mounted up a pair of 170 cm Atomic MX09 a few weeks ago. Ski mountaineer Mike Marolt recommended the MX09 as a true mountaineering ski, and coming from Mike (great skier, 8,000 meter peaks), what more convincing did I need? After being on a variety of mid-fat skis these guys do look trim, but their ski performance is still beefy. They have major edgehold, but are supple enough to feel okay in the pow. I’ve heard them called “euro-style couloir boards” — I guess that means something skinny and quick you can use on steep hard snow in the backcountry. Fine with me. I used this ski for most of my laps at 24 Hours of Sunlight, and was glad to have something that really held on the icy snow of the “wall” at 2:00 AM (it also didn’t hurt my ego to pass a few folks half my age, who were using telemark skis twice a wide and heavy as the MX09.)

The main issue with these planks is that they’re turny and lively — without a careful tune they may chatter during the turn, and might feel squirrly during straight running. As nearly always (provided you’re working with a quality ski), tuning and technique are the keys. As I do with any test ski, I first tuned the MX09s to factory spec: 1 degree base bevel, 3 degree side. With very little “de-tune” at tips and tails they did tend to chatter when I layed in an agressive side slide such as you’d do in a steep hard couloir. Dulling the tip and tail a bit farther in made a big improvement, but I’m wondering if the side bevel might be more forgiving at 2 degrees (closer to a 90 degree edge angle).

Playing around with weighting the ski during the turn also made a huge difference. If I kept a more ball-of-foot stance the MX09 behaved much more predictably, but too much forward leverage or too much weight back and they’d squirl out on me. This might be a function of skiing a performance ski in such a short length — but I found it was kinda fun to make such a big difference in the turn by doing very small adjustments in for/aft stance.

I’m looking forward to having these short light skis strapped to my pack for a crampon climb, then enjoying cutting some corn or springtime Colorado powder. While I’ll probably be on something slightly wider for most of my mid-winter backcountry skiing trips, I can see using this rig for longish winter slogs when weight is more of an issue than soft snow performance. In all, thumbs up!

Dimensions 108/72/97, weight of 170 (one ski) with Dynafit TLT: 58.3 0z 1652 g


6 Responses to “Ski Review – Atomic MX09”

  1. David George February 16th, 2006 9:14 pm

    > I’ve heard them called “euro-style couloir boards�

    That’s quite funny. I doubt that you would hear anyone in Y’rope call them “couloir boards”. We think of the MX:9, Diran and relatives more as powder tools, but then we ski some pretty skinny and ridgid stuff over here.

    Opinion, mine included after doing 75K on them over the last two seasons, is that the MX09 lacks great edge hold on very steep and hard snow and when climbing you really have to think about putting on ski crampons early.

  2. ham February 16th, 2006 11:41 pm

    Lou: How about a “dream setup” recommendation for springtime couloir and corn harvesting? I’m thinking Dynafit Comforts, a light ski like this (maybe a touch wider for when it gets gloppy) and possibly Mega Rides. Any suggestions?

  3. Lou February 17th, 2006 2:19 am

    David, perhaps I was comparing them to a fault with my more soft-snow oriented skis I’ve been on recently. I’ll keep your comments in mind as I get on some other planks. If I got the wrong impression I’ll be the first to admit it. I did have a really sharp tune on the MX09s, so that might have been what I felt in terms of bite.

    Several people did tell me they thought the MX09 was a decent “couloir ski,” so whatever…

    At any rate, thanks for your comment!

  4. Pat Essig February 17th, 2006 5:09 am

    I like the color scheme on those Dynafits, is that another Lou mod or is that what next years models will be colored like?

  5. Steve Seckinger February 17th, 2006 6:46 am

    I stopped reading at “so why not have a ski for every day of the week” which was the best part of the review! I’ve been looking at the K2 Chogori (from of course and currently on sale) as a lighter weight but not too skinny ski for the same usage.

  6. Lou February 17th, 2006 7:08 am

    Dynafit seems to change their color theme about once a year, that theme is from about 3 years ago or so, at least for the TLT…

    Steve, that Chogori looks like a good ski, send in a guest blog report once you ski on ’em and I’ll post it. I picked the MX09 because Marolt recommended them, I’m sure there are quite a few other choices out there.

    As for “every day of the week,” one word, hyperbole.

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

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