Lou’s Backcountry Skiing Starter Quiver 09/10

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | November 3, 2009      
Backcountry skiing ski selection.

Backcountry skiing ski selection. Left to right: Trab, Stigma, Wayback, Manaslu.

All this talk about avalanches makes me want to go backcountry skiing. So I lined up my starter selection for the season. All I need is a golf bag and my kit will achieve perfection not unlike the perfect orb of a new moon rising over the crepe of a fresh snowfall. Or something like that, anyway.

The 178 cm Manaslus are first generation, on their third season now but holding up well because I only use them for mid-winter powder laps. Still my favorite because they’re so light and wide. This setup weighs 69.9 (1980 gr) with ST bindings. 108/95/122

My 171 Trab Duo Freerando are the go-to for the occasional race or attempt at a personal uphilling best. My lightest rig at the moment, 56.2 oz (1590 gr), with pretty much stock TLT grabber other than custom alu top plate on the rear binding unit (one of our cooler projects before Louie went off to design school.) 112/79/96

I like the Black Diamond Stigmas for doing things like a long tour into a hut, then backcountry skiing powder while I’m there. This early pair has a foam core and one weighs 58.9 oz (1668 gr) per ski with stock Dynafit TLT Speed binders. 120/79/106

My favorite all-around backcountry ski last year was the K2 Baker Superlight. With K2 telemark/AT skis re-branded as their “Backside” line, the renamed Baker SL is the Wayback, and that’s my shiny new pair. With Dynafit TLT heel and Ti toe, they scale at 62.6 oz (1774 gr) per ski. This is probably the plank I’ll be using on Denali. It’s not the human powered powder animal a Manaslu, BD Kilowatt or K2 Coomback would be, but the combination of weight/length/performance is what I dig for human powered access to unknown and possibly firmer conditions. 124/88/108

For more ski info, please see our recent backcountry ski reviews.


26 Responses to “Lou’s Backcountry Skiing Starter Quiver 09/10”

  1. Euro Rob November 3rd, 2009 10:38 am

    Did you mount the manaslu binding back for extra float?

  2. Steve November 3rd, 2009 12:22 pm

    How does the mid-sole mark on the Wayback compare to the Baker Superlight, are they the same?

  3. Jim November 3rd, 2009 12:23 pm

    Lou, don’t you mean the dimensions on the Manaslu are 122/95/108, not the other way around (108/95/122)? Though it would be a pretty tricky powder ski with that shape. Maybe you could try mounting a pair backwards for fun. 😉

  4. Kevin L November 3rd, 2009 1:00 pm

    I’ve been waiting a long time for that Stigma review you promised us.

  5. Stano November 3rd, 2009 1:04 pm

    Lou, what is your experience with Dynafit skis in terms of durability?

    I have two friends that had 3 pairs of different models of Dynafit skis “go apart” for them after a season of using it (and not heavy use). None of them hit any rocks or anything like that.

    In each case it was that the edge separated itself from from the skis either vertically or horizontally. By that I mean, that you could see a visible gap (about 2mm) between the edge and the base of the ski while looking at it from the “bottom”. In the other case you could this gap on the side of the ski, between the metal edge and the core of the ski.

    It seems like the ski just “gave in” after a season of very normal use, not much abuse at all.

    Anyone having an experience like that with Dynafits or any other skis?

  6. JBest November 3rd, 2009 2:05 pm

    I’m really looking forward to a review of the Waybacks, to see if they are as comparable to the Superlights as I assume. Hopefully we don’t have to wait until your trip to Denali!

  7. Lou November 3rd, 2009 2:35 pm

    J, I was told they are the same ski. I’ll be sure to do a thorough comparo to make sure.

  8. keith November 3rd, 2009 3:00 pm

    The base/edge separation you’ve seen results from not keeping the base waxed up, usually in the off-season. Modern race bases are very porous to absorb wax, and when they’re not full, they shrink. Very common on high end race skis, also shows up on the base color turning cloudy on light colors or grey on black bases.

  9. Mark November 4th, 2009 7:33 am

    I thought all the post-Atomic mold BD skis were wood core??

  10. Lou November 4th, 2009 7:56 am

    Noooo, they went through a fomie phase for a while there.

  11. Mark W November 4th, 2009 9:29 am

    I thought that Black Diamond began to produce skis in their own Chinese factory about two years ago and that one distinguishing feature was the CNC machined wood cores. Prior to this, the skis were Atomic-produced foam cores. I know, nit picky details show how much of a ski geek I am.

  12. Lou November 4th, 2009 9:53 am

    Pretty sure they were still going with foam, at least in part, when they switched to the overseas manufacturing. But I could easily be wrong.

  13. Stano November 5th, 2009 2:22 pm


    Thanks for your response. I learned something new. That’s why my old Atomics are good, cause they don’t have a modern base :biggrin:

  14. Nathan B November 5th, 2009 3:08 pm

    Lou, I too have heard of a foam core stigma 😉 but never Stigmas with a foam core. Unless yours are a prototype…

    Which reminds me, if you want the foam core, lots of sidecut type ski with a full metal layer, the Atomic RT-86 does the job, delivers great edgehold, and is said to weigh only around 1550g in the 176. Got my pair last spring.

  15. biff america November 9th, 2009 5:00 pm

    Sorry that this is off subject. Though I’ve looked at this site for years I’ve never commented not sure if this is the correct spot. My question is I have a few pair of old Dynafit bindings—about 8 years old—the red blue and grey tour techs. I was thinking of putting a pair on a pair of un-punched hombres. I have a couple of pairs of the newer dynafits on some other skis and I don’t see much of a difference from my older pairs performance wise.
    My question is should I pick up a new pair for the new skis or do the older pair—that I’ve used sporadically for several years perform as well as a newer pair.

    Biff America/Jeffrey Bergeron

  16. Lou November 9th, 2009 5:21 pm

    Hi Biff, the older TLTs work just as good as the newer. And they use the same screw holes. Good question.

    Be sure to check the torque of the rear unit top-plate screws, but don’t strip them! Just a gentle nudge is all they need. You’ll also need to take the spring barrel out of the rear and re-lube the lateral release mechanism, as well as check the thimble bushing for wear.



    ‘best, Lou

  17. Lee November 11th, 2009 2:46 pm

    Hi Lou, I took the brakes off my dynafit ST’s (which came with the brakes fitted). I increased the DIN settings by 1 as the brake contributes to the release resistance. I’ve been skiing on them brakeless for a year or two but in preparing my gear for the new season I’ve had a sudden crisis of confidence…is it BOTH the forward and lateral release DIN settings that are increased or just one (or other)?

  18. Kirk Turner November 25th, 2009 3:38 pm

    Hey Lou just wondering your impression on the duo freerando lights. I have a pair of 164’s in plastic that I picked up wayyyyy cheep. The thought was to use them as my ski-mountaineering rig.
    I have a set of atomic tour race 160’s for rando/super light with tlt speeds.
    On the other end I have dukes on 185 bd justices.
    Then I have bd Havoc’s 185s’ with vertical 12’s.
    weight: 165lbs, hight 5″10 age: 21, been skiing for 10 yrs. Aggressive in general.
    In bellingham wa, but ski all over.

    I’m worried the randos will be too short for me, or the added weight of a pack with climbing gear will make them unstable. Ideally something more around 174 seems like it might make sense? 5lbs for the randos is hard to argue with though and I already have them. Would you suggest something like a bd voodoo, dynafit mustaga, or k2 wayback?

    Going to mount with st’s without breaks.

    Thanks for your time.

  19. Jonathan Shefftz November 25th, 2009 9:01 pm

    I’ve been very happy with a 164cm in both the FreeRando (regular, not lite) and Duo Sint Aero, although I feel like it’s just barely long enough for me, plus I tend to go short in ski length. But you have 20 pounds on me. I’m pretty sure the 164cm will be too short for you (except when making short-radius turns on nice corn). Although it will of course be better than your rando race setup (I have the same).
    The Trab 171cm length would probably be perfect for you.
    I also have the 169cm in the Mustagh Ata Superlight. That ski feels significantly longer than the 164cm Trab, but still good for me, and I think it would also be the right length for you.
    For K2, be careful with their confusing lengths! (I warned a friend about this with the MBSL, to no avail…)

  20. kirk Turner December 8th, 2009 12:42 pm

    Confusing lengths how?

    I’m a college student so cost is a factor, I think dynafit is out of my range, k2 is a bit up there also, I have some “help” so it seems BD is the way to go.

    My regular touring setup is 185 havoc with vertical 12s. 124-88-115 8lb.6oz

    I’m torn now between a BD
    Stigma and BD VooDoo:

    Both 174, both have woodcores
    Sigma 174 123-79-108 6lb.10oz
    VooDoo 174 123-88-112 7lb.4oz

    It seems if I am going for the light is right theme the stigmas will be more of a significant difference from my havocs. Also it splits my set ups better with waists at 62mm ,79mm, 88mm, and 115mm. Should be reasonably stiff with a wood core and hopefully will do ok with a pack.

    I can ski super tech steep Ice on the tour races so I should be able to survive on the stigmas too as they will be a bit bigger and stiffer, but not the weight and bulk of the havocs, just loose a little bit of soft snow/powder performance.
    Anyone else’s thoughts?

  21. Jonathan Shefftz December 8th, 2009 12:47 pm

    Sounds like a nicely spaced out quiver with regard to both width & weight.

    Re K2 lengths, the MBSL was significantly longer than the printed/stated length — both relative to other brands, and even relative to other K2 models. I don’t know if this has been straightened out with the new series.

  22. kirk Turner December 8th, 2009 1:10 pm

    Thanks for you input, I guess I just kind of split the differance, everyones got a little different style, Andrew Mclean skis leaner and shorter, and Steve Romero skis longer and wider and they get in spats about it sometimes. I was just a little warry that the stigmas were just a little narrow underfoot for the variable conditions of skimountaineering but then again the dynafit se7en summits are tiny.

    Ooops That being said I just got a fantastic deal on 178 manaslus lol so I guess all that was extranious. Seems with the little bit of rocker in the tip they should ski just a little shorter closer to the 174ish I’m looking for and the weight is amazingly almost the same as the stigmas, I like bigger skis in general so I guess I will just grab these on the lighter longer days and the havocs for harder charging though I almost feel like I have too much overlap…. hummm I guess you make do with what you can get at the time right lol? Maybe that was a bad choice only time will tell I guess.

  23. Jonathan March 19th, 2010 6:47 pm

    K2 Question – I am looking at the Wayback and the Backup right now. I ski about 50% backcountry but I spend high danger days at Alta skiing varied terrain all over the mountain. I was wondering if you have any feel for which of these skis would be a good 1-quiver choice? I know you’re skiing the Wayback and not necessarily the Backup, but perhaps you could weigh in? Both are wider in the shovel than my current ski.

  24. Dave DePodwin January 27th, 2013 8:49 pm

    Hi Ski Guru Lou,
    I bought a pair of BD Kilowatt’s a few year’s ago, 94mm underfoot, 174 length.
    I am primarily an eastern skier(yes, hard pack, ice, and occasional dumps) and I was risking buying the Kilo’s as a quiver of one. Some local secret stashes kept me focused on that ski, but of course they chatter a bit on typical eastern conditions. I rigged Fritschi Diamir Freeride’s as my first AT binding and like them.
    So, that being said, I with a Colorado hut trip in mind some day (sooner than later), I stumbled upon the chance to buy a pair of BD Stigma’s at 168cm and 80mm underfoot. I would love a recommendation on whether these will suit a broader range of back country forays and what entry level but very respectable AT binding I might consider.
    Living to ski, skiing to live,
    Thank you in advance,
    Dave DePo.

  25. Dave DePodwin January 27th, 2013 8:56 pm

    P.S. I am 6’1″; 160 lbs. geared up without pack and ski (more recently) moderately aggressively as I enter my fifth decade of schussing.

  26. Lou Dawson January 28th, 2013 5:38 am

    Dave, in light of current ski design and availability I don’t recommend the Stigmas. Instead, consider a Carbon Justice if you want something BD branded. Lou

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  Your Comments

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