Backcountry Skiing News Roundup


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | January 7, 2010      

Sad avalanche news coming in from around the world, for example, the horrible tragedy in Switzerland. Close to home, long time Jackson ski patroller Mark Wolling was caught while doing control work and is fighting for his life. Prayers from here for him, friends and family. Wolling’s accident is reminiscent of the ski patrollers who got caught in Highland Bowl (near Aspen) in 1984, in that they were standing on what they thought was solid and safe, threw hand charges below them, but the slope fractured above them. Tricky stuff to deal with, for sure. More on Wolling accident here, the photo is chilling.

Speaking of avy safety, I should mention that near here (up in Aspen this evening), Pieps is doing some beacon seminars that anyone who seeks excellence in avalanche safety should attend. More here.

Big news here at WildSnow HQ is that we’re having fun with the new Black Diamond “Efficient Series” gear; lightweight boots and skis that have BD’s stamp of innovation. Look for reviews starting tomorrow. Meanwhile, I should mention that since last winter I’ve been using the BD pure mohair skins quite extensively. While my testers did require a bit of break-in before I got the glide I expected from mohair, they nicely fit that “efficient glidy” gap in BD’s skin line and are worth considering for a couple of things. First, if you do long, low angled tours mohair is the way and the truth. Second, if you need a spare set of skins for carrying in your backpack, mohairs are usually lighter than nylons and pack with less bulk, so they’re good for that as well. Thirdly, if you want something really efficient, buy a pair of mohairs to cut lengthwise and make two pair of “skinny skins” for those endless snowcovered road walks and stuff like that.

Things to remember about mohair skins: They do have nearly the climb of nylons when they’re new, but they loose that fast and are thus the wrong choice for areas with steep skin tracks, such as the Wasatch. Also, mohair skins wear out at a much faster rate than nylons. To address the wear and climbing angle issue, BD, Dynafit and other companies do make mohair skins with nylon mixed in. I find the “mixers” to be an excellent compromise — but still enjoy wall-to-wall nylon when the skin tracks are testosterone inspired, or for missions such as wind scoured fourteeners where walking over rocks and scree is a normal part of the day. And if you can only afford one set of skins, nylon is probably the way to go.

More news from the home front is I’m packing today for Salt Lake City and Europe. I’ll drive the Silverado to SLC tomorrow, and hop over the pond the next day to Munich. Then it’s back to SLC for the OR show at the end of the month. If all goes according to plan, I’ll hang out with the Barthel family again (the inventors of the Dynafit binding), and attend Dynafit’s annual “Press Event,” this time held at a hut in the Swiss Alps.

The idea with these press event “FAMs” (FAMiliarization) is they inspire jaded journalists such as myself drink the company Coolaid so we’ll write more favorably about their stuff. Advantage of doing this in Europe is that instead of Coolaid they serve Weissbier. Crisp perfectly tempered Weissbier usually induces clarity of mind, but in this case it’s suspected that the engineering gnomes at Salewa/Dynafit still come up with ester compounds extracted from blueberries that cause the Weisbeir at their events to transform your baggy North American softshell pant to Lycra racing tights. Whatever happens, look for the usual series of trip reports and gear overviews over the coming two weeks (it’s said Dynafit has some interesting new product!)

That’s it for now. As you can imagine, packing is the priority.



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Comments

13 Responses to “Backcountry Skiing News Roundup”

  1. Tyler January 7th, 2010 9:56 am

    Lou,

    Really looking forward to your Efficient Series reviews. I finally got a look at one of the boots while out skiing last weekend. Should be exciting and just a great niche that they wanted to fill after getting the burly stuff out the door. I still think we will see momentum move back towards lighter-weight gear in the future.

    On skins, I’ve long been a mohairy kind of guy and like em’ even here in the Wasatch. Yes, they dont have the climb power like nylon, but I so prefer the glide. And yes, I’ve had my skinning backwards moments on some steep tracks, but find that I’ve adapted technique to make them work well most of the time. I think you are right though to make a general nylon recommendation esp for those who are newer to the sport.

  2. Lou January 7th, 2010 10:02 am

    Tyler and all, Romeo should have some good stuff about the BD Efficient series over at TetonAT as well, starting tomorrow or so.

  3. Lou January 7th, 2010 10:03 am

    Oh, another point is that carrying ski crampons can make the use of mohair skins much more doable.

  4. Euro Rob January 7th, 2010 10:50 am

    If I would have to bet on the new dynafit product i’d put my money on a 100+ waisted ski that matches the Titan boot design. Manaslu matches ZZeus, but Titan doesn’t have a counterpart yet.

    Regarding the Weissbier, it may indeed be used to “tune” baggy clothes for fit (well what actually changes is the belly circumference). Usually that effect is countered with 9000+ vertical ft exercise sets 🙂

  5. Geoff January 7th, 2010 11:12 pm

    Lou, how do the grip and glide of the BD mohair/nylon mix skins compare with that of the G3 Alpinist skins?

  6. Chris January 8th, 2010 12:41 am

    Have fun across the pond Lou – hope to finally meet you in person at the OR Show!
    Chris

  7. Blue Alpine January 8th, 2010 5:39 am

    Is it just me or do FAM trips to Europe sound a lot more fun than ones here in the US? A hut in the Alps?!

  8. Lou January 8th, 2010 6:39 am

    Blue, if you were from EU and someone took you on a FAM to a log cabin in the Colorado Rockies, surrounded by pristine powder, you’d probably think it was fairly cool…. grass is always greener and all that…

    That being said, there is nothing like European alpine culture, and folks on both sides of the pond know that and appreciate it.

  9. Lou January 8th, 2010 9:33 pm

    Geoff, the Alpinist skins really have great glide till they wear out, but mohair is still slicker. The Alpinists definitely climb better than mohair.

  10. Geoff January 9th, 2010 10:46 am

    Lou, thanks. Do your comments apply to the 100% mohair or to the mohair/nylon mix? I recall that there was some confusion about which kind BD sent you.

  11. Lou January 9th, 2010 3:00 pm

    Latest comments about BD skins are regarding the 100% mohair ones. I’m not that into the mixed fur, as I’d just as soon use a nylon if it comes to that.

  12. James January 9th, 2010 4:53 pm

    On their website, BD lists one of the uses for the Pure Mohair skin as “rando racing”. Does anyone know how these BD skins stack up in suppleness, foldability, glide, and weight to a race specific skin like the Colltex Speciall or Pomoca race?

  13. Derak January 10th, 2010 8:25 am

    Lou, could you please comment on this supposed “break in” period with regard to glide on these BD mohairs?

    I got a pair (primarily because our local shop was out of mixed or nylon in the width I needed) and thought I’d just “treat” myself.

    They did not glide. Period. I didn’t read in the instructions that they needed to be waxed or otherwise treated in order to actually move up a hill. As far as climbing, they had an alligator like grip. Let’s just say it was a rather exhausting day. They were not glopping in the least, though I should mention that I used them on a pair of skis 155cm 120-95-xx, which is wider than I normally ski and they were cut wall to wall.

    I got smoked by my friends and had a rather miserable day. Any suggestions would be appreciated. (Is it possible they are defective? ) I’ve had every skin under the sun in my career, even the glue plagued G-3’s, and this was the worst performance of any skin I’ve ever used. My friends said from what I was experiencing, they were performing like the old “snake skins”. Just no glide whatsoever. I did end up waxing them, but ……. still no glide. Conditions yesterday were 11″ new powder in the process of getting a freezing rain crust.

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