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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Praxis Freeride ski

Caution:  If you aren't into geeking out on gear and big mountain skis in particular skip this one.
Next write up will be some "new" ice climbing gear I am using this trip.  So more to come.

If your climbing gets blurred with your skiing or you want it might be worth a read.

1 x 2015 Freeride
(Length (CM): 174, Flex: Medium/Stiff (Standard Edition Option), Topsheet Graphic Art: Surf Trip, Core Ingredients: UL Core- Carbon/Triaxial Fiberglass (+$200 Retail), Base Graphic Options: Red Background Diecut, Ability: Expert, Skis purpose: steep, terrible snow, delivery September 1st: Yes)

I had to actually look up the order on these.  I couldn't even remember the model name.  What I did remember was scaring myself silly last Spring just prior to leaving Chamonix.  Some how I had thought I knew what steep skiing was.  As steep as I wanted to ski anyway.   So I got a little cocky..dropped into something I was just barely able to ski at any level of comfort and add the kicker...some really nasty snow.  The "easy" way was down.  If you didn't fall of course.  Climbing back out wasn't a real option with the day light going fast and weather rolling in.  Sucked to be us for a few  hours.

So I had a few dozen turns with my heart in my throat to think about my gear. (and how THIS was a really bad idea)  I am basically lazy, not all that good technically and weak generally.  So I look for gear that I can be lazy with if I choose, that makes me a stronger /skier/climber or what ever and  gives me the added technical crutch to get me out of the typical shit hole I on occasion put myself in.
When I got back home, in my mind I started designing my perfect "alpine ski".   Not "alpine" in the general term we use.  But an ALPINE (in the normal sense) ski designed specifically for my no fall terrain, used with my stripped down TLTs and a tech race binding.  A ski I put on when I might well put crampons on if I was coming up, instead of going down.  Either way I really do think of this kind of a ski as a "full size" crampon. An alpinist's down hill ski if I was to label it. 

It is not a touring specific ski.  Although one could use it for that.  Have yet to cut a pair of skins for them.  But eventually I will.  Here...(the Alps) there is plenty of scary terrain you can get on without the immediate need for skins.   At home I'd likely just take a Denali or a Cho Oyu out for similar (but no question) easier terrain.

Keith @ Praxis sez:

Product Description

"The Freeride is an on and off-piste ski designed for fast and fluid domination of big-mountain lines in a variety of different snow conditions. It is versatile enough to devour sustained vertical and the variable snow conditions that you might encounter on long, steep descents. Exhibiting a more traditional square, flat tail and camber, the Freeride model springs from edge to edge, initiating carves while smoothly exiting from turns. This ski features a more traditional design that will cruise through anything in its path."

Not often you can "design" your own ski.  Praxis has that ability within reason on any of their standard models to do just that.   Besides top and bottom cosmetics you have 3 options available for you skis' core composite.   And a choice on the flex you want for your ski.  In the grand scheme, bought at the right time of year they are "cheap"  by comparison.  Close to 1/2  Quality of the skis?  Some may be as good, but none better IMO.   In this instance for what I wanted the ski for there might be something as good or even better.  But I have no clue what it might be.   And I ski on a a good number of current production skis that are suppose to be the best of the herd for alpine touring. 

Praxis started using a new LWT carbon/glass core last year.  What I figured made sense was a lwt traditional type ski.  Little rocker.  Stiff flex.   Some camber but not a huge amount.  Less side cut (got what I got on that one)  And some where around 105 under foot  (I settled for a 107mm) on a 180 -/+ cm ski.  These are 174cm.  I'd have preferred a 178 or 180.   But not unhappy with these.  The small amount of rocker makes them ski a tiny bit longer than some of my more rockered skis.

more on the custom options @ Praxis:

I know a few guys that really push the envelope skiing difficult terrain. I am not one of them.  Can't help noticing that most of them up the level of performance in their boots and skis.   Big ski, as in long ski.  Fat under foot and generally some serios amount of rocker.  With the right boot pretty easy rigs to ski in demanding conditions.  Scarpa Freedom is a pretty common boot as is the Maestrale RS.   Both wonderful boots.  Mercury and Velcan a couple more.   But I like the TLT6 better the majority of time for my own use.  Past fit...and they all fit me well, my priority is lwt weight, better than average walk mode and most importantly a boot I am happy to climb technical ground in, specifically ice.  The shorter sole helps there.

Not everyone's answer and not mine 100% of the time for a "mountain boot" but in general I am happy with my lightly modified TLT6.   Key for me on this project was matching my TLT6 with a ski that wouldn't over power the boot.  A 190cm+ DPS RPC or DPS 130s are the limit of what my green tongue TLTs seems comfortable on.  Much as I like the ski in most any snow condition the  Dynafit  Denali seems like a bit of a toy under the TLT6.   The Hauscaran or Praxis GPO are other good combos IMO matching ski to the TLT6 boot.   I wanted a ski that would live up to the full potential of the TLT 6's technical abilities.  I think the boot's ability are pretty high in comparison to even some of the best true alpine boots.

Either way it is an acquired taste or complete nonsense depending on your view point of view.

Everything is a compromise.  I am an admitted ski snob looking for a sweet spot to ski some very specific conditions and terrain I find demanding.  So far the boot/ski is everything I had hoped for and may be a little more on difficult terrain/snow conditions.  Solid sticks on ice.  As you would expect with a wood/fiberglass/carbon core.  And no annoying carbon noise.  The generous 107mm of ski width under foot and a little rocker, front and back make them easy to ski in terrible snow conditions and a pleasure in powder even in my short length.  Mount looks a little weird at first and a lot forward.   But I mounted on the dimple and only noticed it for 3 turns.  Guess it can't be too weird.  They side slip on the dime..dead center and effortlessly...which is my on going test to prove the mount point is right.

If a ski won't side slip like that...landing a hop turn in a tight, steep gully is likely gonna be really awkward :)  The more I ski this combo here in France the more I am enjoying just how solid the Freeride really is under foot.

At least for me at this flex pattern (medium/stiff) it is not a bump ski.  Not even soft bumps.  I'm not the best bump skier by any means.  Not even a good one.  But these guys beat me up pretty badly in two sections of hard moguls covered in significant amounts of wind blown crust.  Ski design seemed good, but flex was just a little too stiff for me to actually enjoy them.  I'm not complaining mind you.  I wanted them pretty stiff and on ice (I'm unintentionally skiing a lot of it this trip) they are very good.  Exceptional in fact when you consider how rough tech bindings and a softer boot can treat you on glare water ice. (see the comments for more on that xperience)

My binding of choice for this ski.  Dynafit Speed Superlight with its low ramp angle and a owner controlled heel setting.   Excellent durability with solid,  proven performance on any terrain for my own use.



Mitch R. said...

Thank you for the geek fix.

You have been serving up a thin gruel for us ski and ice geeks this winter compared to last wintet. May be due to the lack of snow in the NW?

Hope that you have a great time there!

brian p. harder said...

Hey Dane,

I'm always on a similar quest looking for that perfect all around skimo board. I was in Canada with a guy on a twin tipped Praxis that he loved. It was white but that probably doesn't mean anything. The twin configuration makes it a less than ideal ski in my book for technical terrain where plunging the tails in during steep transitions is likely.

The weight of these skis seems high at 1800 grams if my conversion is right. While I admit that some heft comes in handy when snow gets tricky there is certainly a break point where it's simply too heavy. There are lots of skis in this weight range.

My latest find is the Volkl V-Werks BMT94. 1460 grams at a 176cm with ample rocker. Seems like they can do everything. I know you like Praxis and I don't want to shift attention from your post but I wanted to make you aware of these guys as you continue your quest.

Dane said...

Shift away Brian. I sure don't see, let alone ski everything. You couldn't give me a twin tip ski for skimo stuff. Same reason as you. Heli skiing sure. Like/use/ski most what I can get cheap that I thinks fits my needs.

This Praxis is the same weight as my Hauscaran. Or very close. So no super light weight. Two quick laps off the Midi today showed me they are rather unpleasant on moguls...even ones that are covered with soft snow. The section level with the hut was beating me up this morning on this ski. It is pretty stiff for that kind of thing and my worn out body. The several miles of glare ice on the flat "cat track" after was doing the same. NNot sure anything I brought (5 pair this trip) would have been any better between nasty ass wind pack, bumps and then miles of blue ice. No perfect ski I guess...just perfect days. Looking at skiing and bring back a pair of Black Crows if I can find what I want here. They should have a contender. But hear great things about the entire Werks line from Volkl. Some I had never seen till Cham.

brian p. harder said...

Just hearing about Midi laps brings back such fond memories from last year. Good for you getting back there.

Conditions sound challenging, for sure.

I picked up a Black Crows Camox Freebird this year. I should do a proper post on both that and the Volkl. I find the Volkl more versatile and more fun, for what that's worth.

Looking forward to some pics Be sure to go hit Breche Puiseux if you didn't last time. Really fun tour. Rope is fixed so you can just hand over hand from the col to the glacier.

Have a Blonde and some frittes for me, man.

Unknown said...

Dane, thanks for your review on the 174 Freeride.
I see you are selling that ski.
Are you considering to get the same model in a softer flex?
What other Praxis did you get for this year?
I'm skiing the 175 UL GPO at 111 mm underfoot, medium flex, and they weigh 1650 g per ski.
Great soft snow ski for me at 5'8" 175 lbs

Dane said...

Hi George, Only reason I am selling is I don't want to ship everything I brought over back to the states. Over luggage is a killer $ wise. I like the skis. They are doing everything here I expected of them.