I have a few theories on gear that take time to prove one way or the other.
The same conversations I am having now remind me of the conversations from a few years back on leashless tools. It is easier to climb leashless. With a well designed leashless tool you'll climb harder, be able to wear less clothing, stay warmer and have more fun in any condition by comparison. Took me just 3 days to be 100% convinced of that. And years before it has become common knowledge in our community.
Skiing? From the ongoing survey I get two distinct comments. "More skiing" or "no skiing". And surprisingly it is almost a 50/50 split. Skiing is so much a part of my own alpinism and growth in the mountains and in the sport. My apologies, but you'll continue to see skiing as a major topic of discussion at Cold Thistle.
So here is the long term ski project we've just started that I am very excited about.
I am convinced that modern, upright stance, AT boots are easier to ski in, easier to walk in and and simply more fun to use. I *think* it will be gear easier to learn on as well as long as a lift is involved to give you the time on snow going down hill. And not wasting that time/energy earning your turns for the first season or two. Took me longer than 3 days to come to that conclusion. And I may yet be mistaken. I know what the newest gear has done for my own skiing. And my "ultimate" gear selection does not exist, yet. But it gets closer every year.
BITD (early '80s) my partner and I have some of the earliest imported plastic, Vibram soled ski mountaineering boots. They were most effective for the early predawn bomb runs while working patrol. Not good enough imo for full on lift skiing. But Larry used his to good effect most days and was a lot more comfortable in his boots going up and down a lift tower or stringing fence than I was in my downhill boots.
My partner today and beta tester in this madness, hasn't skied in a few years. And even she admits she was never much more than a beginner when she did ski regularly.
The plan is to start at one of the local NW ski areas with a season's full of lessons. And then eventually ski off the Midi ( may be not this year and more my plan than hers ;) all on the same gear we have here.
Obviously I had some influence on the gear choices. But with literally any option available for ski/boots and bindings (including full blown downhill gear) I did not choose the gear. She did. And for the most part knowing full well the limitations of her choices. How those choices pan out over time will be an interesting project to relate here on the blog.
Some other's thoughts on the same question. Ours is NOT the popular opinion.
Boots defined much of what was chosen here. Her thought was an easier to walk in boot the priority. That choice had nothing to do with back country skiing. Weird as that might sound when you start comparing prices. Simply having a rubber sole and heavily rockered boot made her confidence soar. Elevated confidence just by walking to and from the lift is a good start. I can attest to the comfort and support a good AT can offer if fit well. And just how well they can ski.
Her first choice was a TLT6 or TLT5 Mtn. Having the chance to ski both both and knowing the extra support with so little drop in performance walking and hiking ability I suggested the One PX as a better option. The One's up right stance stance in Dynafit bindings is better than some of the comparable boots from other brands. And because of that the ONE is also one of my favorites for pushing fat skis while riding a lift. The added long term durability of the One PX over the lwt TLT5/6 made the decision for this project much easier. I might buy a new pair of boots every season or two with little thought to the expense. She won't.
So the boot choice defined the binding style. She thought the added confidence of the boot soles and all day comfort would more than made up for the public's "fiddle factor" impression of a tech binding. We'll see if that continues to be her impression as the snow falls and lessons begin.
Skis? This was really the most difficult pick of all the gear once the boots were sorted. Even the boots were a easy choice by fit and known performance once the style of boot was decided on. But skis.....they are so much of the sport. The ski's design will make a difference on every turn in every snow condition, each time she gets off a lift. These are rockered tip and tail with a progressive flex. Good mix of camber under foot and a 5 point side cut technology. Mid fat at 98mm under foot. Pretty much an ultra modern ski design I could live with as a quiver of one.
Mount point: Mounted @ La Sportiva's suggested line
weight with bindings: 5lb even per ski
Conditions: early and late Spring skiing
Location of Test: Crystal Mountain Washington
Number of Runs: 15+days of spring skiing,
Snow Conditions: Early and late Spring skiing conditions ice to slush
Demo or Own: own
CONSTRUCTION TYPE: FUSION SIDEWALL - 70% Camber / 30% Rocker SIDEWALL MATERIAL: ABS Thermoplastic TOP SHEET: 0.5 mm Double Polyamide (ISO ICP8210) - Glossy CORE: Vertical Laminated Light Karuba Paulownia Wood LAMINATE LAYER 1: Tri-Directional Fiberglass LAMINATE LAYER 2: Bi-Directional Carbon/Fiberglass mat SPECIAL MATERIALS: Fiberglass Veil REINFORCEMENTS PLATES: Under bindings TIP AND TAIL REINFORCEMENTS: Rubber BASE MATERIAL: P-Tex 2000 factory hand waxed EDGE MATERIAL: 1,8 mm steel + rubber laminate FEATURES: Tip and tail attachment holes, flat/notched tail SIZES: 178, & 188 COLOR: 99H Yellow PRICE: $825 USD
Aggressiveness & Moderate
Quiver: Huascaran, Aspect, GTR, Lo5, Hi5, 112RP, 138, Broad Peak, 112RPC,
138. Praxis GPO and Protest
Home Area: Silver Mtn Idaho, Crystal Mtn
and Alpental WA.
Preferred Terrain: off-piste, trees,
to 5 (best) star ratings
$ Value: *****
Durability: unknown at this
point but they still look good
Edge Grip: considering the 117mm
under foot *****
From another fan of the Hang5 earlier in the winter:
"It's a bit of a charger, eh? Good skiers seem to love them. Not so good ones, not so much. You gotta stay on top of them. If you get in the back seat they'll throw you around. It's a way different ski than the Hi5. Is strange, but at 117 underfoot it was really more of an everyday ski for me this past winter. I can ride it inbounds all day and; then take it BC too. Much more versatile than the Hi5 IMO. Yeah, I was surprised at the lack of fanfare for this ski. It's my favorite."
I agreed whole heartily with those observations. Same things I saw. My favorite ski as well of the 4 GTR/Lo5/Hi5/Hang5. Although I now think the GTR is the other unsung ski that should have a cult following. It does with me anyway. Obviously all the la Sportiva skis are intended for different purposes. And I try to make that comparison to each ski in class. GTR fairs well. I put the Hi5 in the same class as the DPS 112. People love them. I am just not a big fan of either after a season on each.
Skiing the Hang5 late this winter and Spring in comparison with the Huascaran (same length), longer DPS RPC, and a Dynastar Cham 107 (184) and my Lo5s. Best comparison was the DPS RPC (192cm). The RPC skied very similar for me in our current spring conditions. Both add huge confidence under foot. Says even more for a 178cm ski I think. I found the Hang5 to be the ski I wanted to be on as we rotated through the day.
That is some dang good company for a 1st year ski.
Funny this: by late Saturday my legs were cooked and was skiing the Dynastar (which has gotten some rave reviews). I was hating them..really hating them. Decided if I skied so badly it was time to wrap it up. I got the Hang5 back on top of the hill and headed home. Much to my surprise, even with worn out legs the Hang5s still skied very well and seemingly made me stone sober.
They certainly make light of some terrible snow conditions, ice crust or boot deep slush.
Enough fluff :) Thought about this a lot over the first week I skied the Hang5s and bought a pair asap in the same 178 size.
Thoughts for the guys who also got a turn at my demo pair.
"I take them out for almost any moderate touring day. I find it to have less of a
new-school slarving personality as it needs to be stepped on to really charge. Lots of energy return and super fun. Makes tight enough turns and is stable at speed."
"uncomfortable, too unbalanced front to back. Always felt like I was on a teeter totter."
"Too heavy and slow in tight conditions, not a ski that is much fun in jump turns"
"Nice ski, could easily be my all mountain ski, all winter ski even at 117 under foot."
My own take was interesting after forcing them off on friends. Most of them ski better than I as well so I value their opinions even if it is not always my own experience.
Scarpa Maestrale RS
The Hang5 is not a ski I like skiing in my TLTs. Although Jerry had no problem skiing his TLT Mountains on the Hang5. I much prefer a Dynafit One or the Scarpa Maestrale RS for the Hang5 even in the short 178 version. It is a lot of ski for me at 117mm under foot and 145 at the tip with no real or imaginative foo-foo design work to make it ski shorter or lighter.
That said I don't look for the Hang5 as my "first take" back country ski. It is fine in a skin track and booting as long as I am not doing a lot of either. If so I want a lighter ski. But on the down these things simply rock for me. They are ultimately stable, No teeter totter for me. Likely the one ski in my dozen ski quiver that has a perfect mount point sorted out. And it makes a difference. For me this ski gives a 5 star ride in any conditions, powder to Spring ice and anything in between. I really, really like this ski. Enough so to over look its' weight. Mind you it still weights less than the vast majority of skis of this size and attributes by a fair margin.
The 178 Hang5 is a full pound more per ski @ 4.25# than a 177 Huascaran @ 3.25# . And the weight and ski stiffness/flex relates that as well. The 178cm Hang5 is a 1/4 pound per ski less than the 182cm Praxis GPO @ 4.5#. Good company imo all all three skis.
The Hang5 skis more like the Praxis GPO than the Huascaran or even my 192 RPCs.. No question with numbers like 145mm/117mm/ 135mm the Hang5 is a BIG ski with a rather traditional flat tail, decent side cut and a slightly rockered tip. Nothing here really to give away the performance that I came to really value in the Hang5.
I skied them on the morning ice of a good Spring day and the resulting slush of a warm spring day. I skied them in a few tight rock lined gullies, soft bumps that were huge and everything in between. On typical cold Spring snow with its wash board effect fro a surface I loved them. For me once I had some speed going they were effortless and turned on a dime..exactly where I wanted and when I wanted. No effort involved. Not everyone one liked them 2:2 was the consensus I think. With 3:4 bias in most conditions on the plus side. But some what grudgingly. Even the lone doubter was swayed some by the end of the day.
It is a ski that likes to be driven. If you are comfortable on the ski and willing to work them I think the Hang5 offers a lot of feed back and is super fun. And I don't work any ski very hard. More importantly to me it seems very confidence building and super stable even in the 178 size I first demoed and then bought.
The 177cm Huascaran was the first ski to turn me on to this size of ski (short 177cm and 115+/- under foot). I now have 3 pair of them, the Praxis GPO , the Huascaran and the Hang5. I generally prefer (or thought I did until recently) a 192 or bigger ski. I have and ski on several including a longer 196 Huascaran, 192 DPS 112RPC, the 192 GPO, Protests and DPS 138.
But I don't think I own a more fun ski than the 115+/-mm under foot by 178 cm. The Hang5s just reinforced that idea. Give them even a little bit of room to make a turn on, in any kind of snow, and this ski will rip and put a smile on your face all at the same time.
Of the "big" skis La Sportiva offers I think this is the sleeper of the bunch. By far my favorite ski between the Lo5, Hi5 and Hang5 Series and does everything better than either of the other two imo.
At least two new skis coming from La Sportiva. A more resort driven Lo5 call the Mega 5 and a totally new lwt fatty I am really interested in,. But is weights more than the Hang5 and is only 98mm under foot.
IMO the Hang5 best balanced ski in my own quiver of a dozen or so skis. The mount point is squared away for a very neutral ride in my size 28/29 boots. Others were not so impressed with the ski. Preferring a few of the other offerings I have. I was impressed enough to buy a pair of Hang5s after just a couple of days of skiing on them. For me this is a "any mission ski". I wish it weighted less for packing around or skins. But I can live with the ski's weight . The performance is so high and so very predictable in any snow condition the weight is generally unnoticed unless it needs to be carried or skinning. Typical shite days at the lift when the snow is chopped up and only OK...this is going to be one of my "go to" ski.
I really like this ski. And the color as well :)
Hard to find a decent review on this ski or anyone that has skied it. If 117 under foot sounds like something that might interest you...the Hang5 is more than worth making the effort to try out. Be prepared to open the wallet if you do. I wasn't and had to pry the cash out for these after skiing them.
I'd like to say more. I can't seem to do justice to what I really like about this ski. The Hang5 deserves it in spades. It does quick turns down the fall line easily and big ripping GS turns on any slope with ease for me. Saving a lot of effort in the process by being so stable under foot. And I do find it a stable ski. Enough tip rocker to fillet the crap snow you always run into on-piste and wide enough to slay any sort of pow or crust off-piste. What is not to like. Icy narrow gullies? Have to admit they are not the best ski there. Takes some speed to get them to turn around. But I will willingly ski them there just because they are so stable and forgiving.
One reviewer complained about turning a short Hauscaran at anything less than Mach1!!?? Ha, ha, the short Huascaran is a gully ski for me. And I ski sloooowwwwwwwwwlllllllllyyyyy in the no fall zone..
I really like this ski! Few ski I can really say that about with some conviction. The reward of owning a Hang5 was some of the best Spring runs off a lift and boot packing I had this year. Gotta give credit where it belongs. In this case it goes to the Hang5.
Does it exist? Or is it just that your available terrain and skiing is limited?
If it does exist what is the single ski ?
Or is it simply the Indian and not the arrow?
I generally owned several pairs of alpine skis when I worked at a ski area. But also generally only skied one pair the majority of the time. Rock skis maybe early season. Beaters they you didn't mind trashing and a decent pair of skis for the rest of the time. When I got a chance to do some heli skiing it didn't take long to figure out most of the guides were on shorter Euro mountaineering skis. Easier to ski in the always changing conditions. But they were hard to obtain in the early '80s here in the US. That was my introduction into a 2nd pair of skis or the start of a quiver. I thought it more the "right tool" for the job.
I started using the short mountaineering skis for early morning bomb runs and avi control work. They made the work a lot easier. By mid morning I would usually change back to my long boards and enjoy the groomers.
Today on any given day in the winter or spring I might ski groomed, face shot powder off piste, 10K vertical gain by foot for a 11K drop or a steep corn gully I have to hike into and maybe hike out of as well when I am done.
To be honest I ski much more terrain and different snow conditions now than I did guiding and skiing 12 months of the year in the distant past. Strange as that might sound.
Different skis for every occasion seems like a good thing :)
I have one or two that are good for most things. But nothing I would like to be on every where I am willing to ski now.
But if you have that magical ski you take every where I would love to hear about it!!
I have a hard time editing with videos already online. So it was easier for me to do the video links and then list the skis I use. This is the follow up on those videos.
The list isn't a definitive by any means and lots of skis out there that could easily replace any of the skis listed, dozens likely in each catagory, for every ski I listed. Just what I happen to use right now. But none were random picks either.
Everything here is new this spring..after my skiing "disaster" in Cham last winter. I use to take skiing seriously. I hadn't for a decade or two. I am serious about my skiing now.
Like many things ski gear works in conjunction. The ski is one of three parts, boots, skis and bindings. The wrong combo can be like having track race rubber on your 4x4. It might work but it will suck for the intended purpose.
I'm 6''1" and 205# and past 50. Very light on my feet (with skis anyway) and can ski a very low DIN setting in difficult conditions. But often as not now I ski a super light and toe locked rando race binding. I generally try to never get my skis off the snow. I like steep skiing, powder and terrible snow conditions. Groomed snow I find boring. But I learned what ever skills I do have skiing inbounds on groomed snow. Most have.
There is some cross over in all of these. The list is just how I look at them which isn't set in stone.
Climbing/ Spring Mtn skiing
(I want short, light and stiff )
Dynafit Se7en Summit 161cm
Dynafit Broad Peak 167cm
(I want light and something that skis very well in all snow conditions)
La Sportiva Hi5 188cm
Dynafit Stoke 173cm
BD Aspect 178cm
Lift skiing on and off piste
(here it must ski well on hard pack, groomed and soft snow)
BD Aspect 178cm
DP Wailer 112 190cm
La Sportiva Hi5 188cm
Big Mtn., lift served.
(soft snow, breakable crust and terrible conditions)
La Sportiva Hi5 188cm
DP Wailer 112 190cm
DP Lotus 134 192cm
My last pair of new traditional skis were a pair of Rossignal 4G, 207cm. Bindings were set at a DIN of 10.
I have used Marker, Salomon and Look bindings. I now use various versions of Tech bindings from Dynafit, Plum and RT. That use is defined by the boot I want to use, Dynafit TLT. I'm happy with both decisions.
From my perspective the 161cm 7 Summit is an extreme ski. As are the 192cm Lotus. The rest are pretty interchangeable for me really, depending on the snow conditions and the duration of the time outdoors. I obviously have a few favorites in there that see more use than the rest. Three here, I could live with as a single quiver ski. Better yet the same ski in two lengths which I have not yet done.
Your list may be even more specialised or just a single pair of skis. The more diverse the terrain you ski the more likely you want more than one pair. Hope this helps a bit with your own choices.
I've had a lot of people ask lately. Here is how I split up my own skiing. I have a lot of hammers around the house and shop. Everyone different and best used for a specific task. They are how ever just tools. I look at skis the same way, they are just tools. I like to use the best tool for the job.
Any hammer will do in a pinch as will any ski. Much of it is the skill of the user, right? But having the right tool at the right time can make work into play and even play much more fun.
In Part Two I'll show the ski I use and tell you where I use them.
I have heard all sorts of stuff on early rise and rockered skis. Which are not the same thing. More comments as well on fat skis. Not all of them informative. Found the article below and thought it worth pasting in and repeating.
Rockered, fat skis have changed the game completely. That isn't hype just a new act of life.
The new technology has opened up an immense amount of new terrain to skiers all the while making it easier to ski what use to be terrible conditions. I know that all sounds like wishful thinking. It's not.
I still have Rando and Mtneering skis that aren't going anywhere. But I'll guarantee you will see and hear more on this subject if you spend any time on skis during the winter months.
If you think fat and rocker are "out there" check these puppies out!
The Case for Fatter, Rockered Skis
by Jonathan Ellsworth
I spend a lot of days skiing on some fairly long (185-192cm), pretty wide (100-120mm) planks, and almost every time out these skis tend to draw responses from other skiers. Typically, the comments run something like: "man, those skis are huge, you must be a good skier to handle those things."
My reply: "Actually, these make skiing easier. And safer...."
After countless conversations like this, usually carried out on the chairlift, it appears that the case for wider, rockered skis still needs to be made. So here goes:
(1) In many conditions, fatter, rockered skis are easier to ski than conventionally shaped, skinnier skis (think waist widths of 65-85mm). This fact leads directly to the second point.
(2) Because these skis are easier to ski, they are easier to control, and improved control means safer skiing.
Skinny skis certainly have their place, it's just that this place is primarily in the Olympic games, for skiers wearing those skin tight body suits. To be fair, it can be fun to pull out a pair of 68mm bump skis and spend an afternoon running zipperlines. And I know a few skiers around New Mexico who enjoy their thin slalom skis on groomed runs when fresh snow hasn't been seen for days. (Personally, on days when I know I'll only be skiing bumps, I take out a non-rockered, 78mm ski.)
The problem, however, is that these skis work well only for their designated purposes - mogul runs and groomers - and often become terrible tools when used for other applications, like skiing powder, tracked powder, or chopped up heavy crud.
Skinny skis sink. Since they lack the surface area to float and to allow the tips to rise above or near the top of the snow, the skier is left with one of two options: ski fast, or ski in the backseat.
First option: Ski very fast. You'll need to ski fast enough to get the tips to plane above the snow (just as a water skier needs enough speed to get up out of the water). The problem is that a tool like this (skinny skis) that only works when it is skied really fast should only be used by advanced or expert skiers who are skilled enough and confident enough to shred terrain at mach-looney speeds. The irony, however, is that most of the skiers who are good enough to pull this off have already embraced the wider, rockered skis that are easier to ski, while many intermediate and beginner skiers are still struggling on their skinnier, outdated setups, unaware that their skis are making the sport very, very, difficult for them.
Second option: Get in the backseat. If you lack the confidence or the experience to ski fast, the only way to make it down the mountain is to lean back on your skis to prevent the tips from diving under the snow and catapulting you over the front of your skis. (Sounds like fun!) Of course, the problem here is that leaning back makes it very difficult to turn, since skis are designed to turn by applying forward pressure to the front edges of the ski. Even worse, weighting the tails of the ski forces the skis to rocket out from beneath you, pushing you even farther into the backseat and causing you to go even faster. (Super fun!) So now you are leaning way back, picking up more and more speed, and becoming less and less able to turn. (Gaining speed while losing control = Good times for sure!)
It seems pretty obvious that there is nothing especially fun or safe about the above scenario.
Wider skis provide the additional surface area to keep you from getting bogged down in deeper or heavier snow, allowing you to ski - and turn - at speeds within your comfort range. Rockered skis - skis with shovels, tips, and sometimes tails that begin to rise earlier than traditional skis (picture the legs of a rocking chair) - also diminish the likelihood of tip dive, allowing you to ski in a more centered or slightly forward position, still weighting the front of your skis and maintaining your ability to turn. These skis tend to get their tips caught or "hooked" less by grabby snow, further increasing your ability to turn when you want, and not when you don't - no more sudden crashes or face plants due to "catching an edge." (This is all starting to sound pretty good, no?)
If you have been a bit puzzled or intimidated by wider, rockered skis, don't be. These ski shapes are not just some passing trend, they are key design improvements that have taken ski engineering to the next level. If you like to ski, you owe it to yourself to try some out. Snow conditions that you previously struggled through will become much less tricky. You will be able to ski faster and turn quicker, with more control and more confidence. And this is when skiing really gets fun."
Jonathan Ellsworth does a great gear blog (along the lines of Cold Thistle reviews) @ Blister Gear Reviews and retail ski sales and demo outlet, Whiteroom, where I found this article.
This is a good read. Should be no surprise why I like the La Sportiva Hi5 so much...with a 410cm of rocker on tips on my 188s. The lwt weight and straight tail profile I like even better in the back country.
This blog post should really be called, "tech bindings for dummies". Much of what is quoted below is info I have filtered from Wildsnow, Teton Gravity and the posters there. I have also read and reread the Dynafit manuals on the various versions of their bindings that I own and use on a regular basis.
But it has been only recently that I ever took the Dynafit style bindings seriously for anything but touring. Now they are the only style of binding I am using skiing. Differing models to match my perceived needs and gear. I could be wrong on some of the details and others might well have a different experience or opinion. Please let me know if you see something wrong ( which is why I have been looking for info) or want to add to the info. Ski stuff is mind boggling these days. This is written simply as part of the process to educate me. If it helps other climber/skiers to figure out a new winter boot/binding combo even better.
Brian's blog is a great look at some of the tech bindings available currently. Well worth the read.
I'll focus on bindings I actually use on my small quiver of skis. Weight listed is ONE binding, not a pair.
Dynafit TLT Speed 335 grams
Dynafit TLT Speed w/ B&D top plates 269 grams
Dynafit TLT VERTICAL ST 402grams (no brake)
Dynafit Low Tech Race 124g with no screws (factory says 117 g)
La Sportiva RT 175 grams
So what does all those grams mean? On my Hi5 skis the difference between the La Sportiva RT binding and the Dynafit TLT Vertical? it is a SEVEN OZ. per foot! The choice of the heavier TLT Vertical *might* be OK on a 188cm fat ski like the Hi5 that will see limited time with me pushing them up hill, (much as I love them going down) but it would not be a good choice imo on a shorter, lighter mountaineering ski used on technical ground going up and down..
So not all bindings are created equal.
The RT retails for: $749.95 *5-10 RV not DIN range 175 grams (no brake weight)
The TLT Vertical retails for: $478.95 (price includes a ski brake) *5-10 RV not DIN range 402grams (no brake weight)
Dynafit TLT Speed is the "original". Now a classic, time tested and still as good as any of them imo. At 335 grams each, still a light weight compared to traditional down hill bindings. But heavy compared to a 135 gram race binding. But what binding isn't? The Speed also has all the *release options* that many prefer.
Say what? Release options? Like, some have a release option and some don't? Well, yes, now that you ask. Some have a release option very similar to a typical downhill DIN rated ski binding and SOME DON'T!
That doesn't sound good does it?!
Some where on the Vallee Blanche or at Grand Montets last winter after a second pre-lease from having snow and ice on my boot soles, my partner that day said, "you need to lock your bindings." "Just pull up the toe piece lever."
It would have been better to just stop and clean off my boot in retrospect, which I did do. But even better would to actually know how Dynafit style bindings should work!
Hint..??!! Locking the toes gives you something like a number of 17 DIN on the toe release of the tech style bindings.
This is an important tech tip for all these bindings, by Mtn. Guide Mike Bromberg, from his web site:
"I regularly will lock my toe pieces a few clicks to insure that the pins are properly seated in the tech fittings. Once I’m confident that they are properly engaged/ice free, I push the lever back down to ski mode. I’m confident that nearly 100% of pre-release issues involving tech bindings are related to inattention during this step, and this is a simple way to verify proper attachment. This process has been much easier with the PLUM guide’s and I’m finding that I rarely have to bend down to help facilitate this process."
More of Mike's Plum Guide binding review and a link to his website at teh bottom of this blog post.
There is an option to shed some of the weight from the Dynafit Speed by pulling off the original climbing plate and adding a pair of B&D Ski Gear top plates. Elevators are 86g per pair (3oz), plates 20g (.7oz)pair.
That will drop around 66 grams per pair or 2.3 ounces. It all adds up when you start counting ounces. But it will also eliminate your high touring position. Make sure your boots are up to the task before you make that change.
The real light weight in the bunch of bindings that I own is the Dynafit is the Low Tech Race Auto. This binding is self locking,,,so you get something clsoe to a 7 DIN in the heel release and a 17 DIN in the toe. But I also keep them on short skis. I use them on two skis, a pair of 162cm and 167 cm skis. Skis that I always ski in control and in places I'd rather not drop a ski for any reason. At 124 grams per binding or right at 8.75 oz. per pair (screws not included). Both sets of my mountaineering ski with the Low Tech Race bindings come in under 6 lb total. Worth the trade off for me so far. No brakes of course. But I do use leashes if I am not running brakes.
"■ Lou December 16th, 2009 9:21 pm
"a ton of people in EU tour on this stuff. It’s very popular, especially in social groups where racing and super fitness are practiced. I’ve tried touring on some lightweight rigs and really don’t like the lack of ski brakes, but it seems a lot of people don’t care one way or the other about brakes. Most of those folks are such good skiers they rarely fall and hardly ever release from a ski. Lot’s of them ski with the toes locked. It’s actually gotten pretty crazy. Reminds me of telemarking at its peak in North America, e.g., all sorts of innovation, and who cares about safety release or ski brakes? Yeah, safety lateral release is over rated.
BTW, remember that with a locked “tech” type binding you can still release vertically at the heel, so perhaps that mitigates some of the risk of skiing with the toe locked"
"■Euro Rob December 17th, 2009 4:15 am
"Apart from what Lou said about the race-style touring that’s increasingly common over here in Yurp (good skiers, lightweight gear and humans) it probably also makes a difference that virtually everyone with race bindings is on 150-164cm skis. They don’t get tangled as easily as longer ones when falling, so the risk of injuries is lower. Also people don’t go hucking cliffs with those sticks."
"Opinion: Skiier/Rider Issues
Subject: Skiboards and other skis without release bindings.
Any ski, short or long, without a release system is potentially dangerous.
A current practice with the potential to dramatically increase the incidence of lower leg injuries is the proliferation of short skis with non-releasable bindings. A study we presented earlier this year demonstrated that lower leg injuries were four times more likely when using such products, than with conventional rental equipment incorporating releasable bindings. Since short skis are also available in combination with releasable bindings, there seems to be no reason to sell or rent such a product. Any ski, short or long, without a release system should be considered potentially dangerous and should not be sold or rented without both parties recognizing the increased risk of lower leg injury associated with its use."
*Carl Ettlinger - Adjunct Asst. Professor, College of Medicine, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405, and President, Vermont Safety Research, Underhill Ctr., VT 05490
**Dr. Jasper Shealy - Professor, Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY 14623
And is my own experience?
I have pre-leased from the Speeds set on really light weight settings. Not paying attention to my boots soles was the issues. Both easily solved. No need to lock the toes if the binding is correctly adjusted and your boot soles and binding boot holes clean.
Now that I am paying attention to both settings and boot soles I have NOT had a pre-lease in the TLT, Speed, Race or the RT. But I can also count on one hand the number of falls I took in 2011. Not that I am such a good skier but that I make every effort to ski in control.
The current Low Tech Race? I have been able to ski my steepest lines to date and had the most fun skiing and touring, ever, on the low tech bindings. I have also been doing some limited side hill and lift skiing on the Low Tech Race binding as well as touring. But that isn't a recommended use of that binding . And no question a titanium heel piece, bolt/springs, have no business being used there. It is simply a waste of good technology/titanium. Better used on JUST race day imo. At least till I get the steel replacement springs. But then how do you know if your bindings are reliable. Catch 22 for me. Steel is a better option there on my ski. I am no fly weight at 200# fully kitted out in ski gear. No pre-leases from any of these bindings, But all four styles of the bindings have come off when required. Even the Low Tech Race. Admittedly the Race release was a little on the "nervous side". Nervous because I was glad they DID release!
A interesting observation for me about using race gear. If you are to take advantage of race technology you have to mimic much of the current race mind set. The LowTech race has no "flat" setting on the heel. You are either locked in for skiing or you have a mid height elevator lifting your heel. Nothing in-between. Seems like a engineering/design mistake to me not to have both a flat and a bump above for steeper skinning. Plum race binding heels are the same or a very similar set up BTW. So everyone but me seems to have the magic numbers on this. A little research shows World Cup racers skating the flats....so it begins to make sense. Once I started skating and herringboning mild inclines I didn't notice the need for a "flat boot" as much. But with no down side or added weight involved to make a flat boot possible on the Low Tech Race I still call that one a design flaw. Boot/foot angle not with standing. I'm likely to use the same gear on Denali (Low tech race binding, TLT5 and a 167cm Hidden Peak ski) and I can't easily envision skating any where between the air strip and 11,000 feet. So I would really like a flat boot some times. But the point is, if you want to use the lightest and generally most efficient gear, be it clothing, ski, bindings or poles be prepared to make adjustments in your technique and maybe learn new skills as well. Fair trade...most of the time..... I think.
One thing that might make a difference that is not likely a race technique from what I have seen on videos. With a low tech you'll want to stay in control and NOT fall. Easier said than done. But if you choose a binding without full release values something to put in the back of your mind before it bites you, hard.
Now that I know what a "locked toe" means I admit to being a little nervous myself. But it is a road you'll likely not turn around on once you have carried and skied on a low tech binding. The weight saving and simplicity are addictive.
Luckily there are several new bindings, the RT and Plum's offerings, that will give you full release values and a light weight binding as well. So you can choose what is important to you. I admit to finally balking at the prices. The lightest low tech bindings did end up on some of my own gear. But they are quiver skis. The quiver allows me to choose what I ski and what binding I spend the most time going up hill on. Low techs work there. But hard for me not to I prefer a full lease binding now that the weights are coming down to rival the low techs. Plum in particular seems to have done the tech bindings at a new level of quality that hadn't been seen. More on the Plum bindings in the links below.
Three of the quiver with bindings that I think match my use of the ski.
I can't think of a sport where you pay this kind of $/per oz. ratio. Even pro level road bike parts don't compare. Race car parts and custom firearms aren't even in that kind of price range.
But if the TLT5 Performance boot is any example the race technology will eventually filter down to everyone and the consumer prices will drop as they do.
Although I have not skied on this binding yet, they are well worth a critical look if you are in the market.
Plum, the company, the bindings and order info here:
OK, I am reaching. Socks? Come on! I am not climbing much, skiing is winding down and I am trying to get some work done in the shop.
Socks play a crucial role in keeping you comfortable. Be it running, cycling, hiking, mountaineering or just spending a few hours walking, foot comfort is key.
Tri-Layer sock design is a combination of three layers that work together. These layers provide three benefits; better moisture management, more comfort and serious durability. The result is a sock that performs well over and over again.
Here's how they say Tri-Layer works:
Layer 1 (the layer that is next to your skin) is synthetic.
Synthetic fibres are better at wicking moisture away from your feet than natural yarns. Hydrophobic (non-absorbent) in nature, these fibres work quickly to move moisture away from your foot and into Layer 2.
Layer 2 (the middle layer) is natural.
Natural fibres are hydrophilic (absorbent) and actually suck the moisture away from Layer 1 spreading it out to speed up the evaporation process. The result is feet that stay dry for longer periods of time.
Layer 3 (the outer layer) is synthetic.
Nylon is knit as the outer layer to add durability to the sock and provide greater resistance in high friction areas. Commonly used for military applications, Nylon is renown for its excellent abrasion resistance. As the outer layer of our unique Tri-Layer system, it helps your socks to last longer and retain their comfort, even after many washes.
At almost $20 a pair for the ski socks you have to ask why? Or at least I did.
"Trilayer design - synthetic next to the skin wicks moisture away to keep foot dry; middle layer is natural yarn that spreads out the moisture over a large surface; synthetic (nylon) is the outer layer for durability,
light cushion, over calf height, excellent moisture management, fast drying, mchine washable, tumble dry, no bleach, made in Mexico
"Over the calf height" is mandatory soem times, as I like to climb in a knicker length soft shell on occasion. These days getting a sock long enough to cover the gap can be trying.
"Before Lorpen was founded in the early 1980's, our founders were disappointed with the socks they were using during their treks through the Pyrenees. The need for more comfort and durability drove them to start Lorpen. Today we still rigorously field test all of our socks in the Pyrenees before they ever get near your feet. This ensures that you get the most technical, well crafted socks available today. And that means comfortable feet no matter what activity you choose to do.
Lorpen is a strong believer in giving to the community. Over the years, Lorpen has given many 1000's of pairs of new socks to organizations that support people and families in need."
I have a trail running version of this sock as well the, Tri-Layer Trail LightXTR. Which is a different combination of materials, 36% Tencel®, 35% Coolmax®, 18% Nylon, 10% Lycra®, 1% Modal®. Cost? $14.00
I use it for trial running and on my bikes. Down side it feels really slick internally to me. But the obvious intention is to eliminate friction in the shoe. Which it does. On the bike my feet stay drier as well..
But it is the Merino wool combinations that I really like and will eventually purchase more of. Socks for both my ski boots and my climbing boots. And some of them will surely be mid calf height :) The typical shin bite you get from being in tight ski boots all day is gone. My AT boots seem to be the worst offenders. TLT5s that go from a tight cuff to no cuff with the flip of a lever. Back and forth yo/yo skiing them in the back country I get sore shins from my other merino wool socks..that cost anywhere between 10 and $20.
Noticeably less chafing from the Lopren's. Interesting company, some great products...and now the best socks I own :)
Like most reading this I'd bet the majority of socks I own come in bulk packages from places like Costco. Good enough most days. Socks I'll sometimes wear knowing that a hard day out will totally trash them. Fair enough. But there are days that the socks I wear will be an important part of my kit. $20 a pair will be cheap in comparison to the time and effort involved. Those are the days I'll likely be in a pair of Lopren's now.
High tech socks..for Pete's sake! Who would have thought?
There have to be dozens of quality socks available....but not all are created equal. $20 plus seems to be the going price. Pays to shop around.
Ski season is about over here....just a bit more to be had.
For another look inside the current cutting edge, from Brian's blog:
"It's no longer "all about the down" and I have addressed the issue of boot weight previously. The only thing I will say is that taking weight off your feet is one of the best "weighs" to get your motor running. Any of the offerings from Dynafit, La Sportiva and Scarpa involving carbon fiber will do the trick."
At the trailhead..sage advice :-) "Nice tights, you guys are idiots, I'm a guide, I know a lot."
Congrads to all involved!
Jared had already done it in 7:21 last month climbing and skiing wth 2 companions that continued on the traverse.
Nathan Brown, was dropped it to 7:15:33…car-to-car. Nate went solo, used steel crampons and two ice tools, Dynafit TLT5 Performance boots, custom 160cm Igneous, and down-climbed the Chevy Couloir, as opposed to rappelling.
I know, hard to visualise but I would really like to see these two boots have mutant off spring in a size 45.
How about a real climbing boot you can actually ski in that is tech binding compatible @ about 900g per boot?
"The truth is that LaSportiva's original heritage business was leather ski boots and when it all went to plastic in the 70's La Sportiva abandoned the category because they couldn't afford the plastic injection mold investment costs and that is when they really started focusing on climbing and mountaineering"
Colin Lantz, La Sportiva
The brain trust is there, who better to combine the two technologies?
Something similar in volume to the TLT and a price around the TLT Performance's retail? Double the retail price of the Spantik and still save money?!
"Sitting in the corner of the Virginian Restaurant in Jackson, Bill Briggs blends in effortlessly with the regulars. The room is filled with a mix of tourists and old timers, toting Jackson Hole memorabilia and cowboy hats, respectively.
As I make my way across the room, I wonder if the patrons have any idea of the role that the unassuming man in the corner played in ski mountaineering in North America. Then I catch myself—no, I’m pretty sure I’m the only one here that’s enough of a ski mountaineering nerd to be star-struck by a man in his mid-seventies.
For me, Bill is a bit of a hero. He’s the man that arguably pioneered ski mountaineering in the States when he skied the Grand Teton 40 years ago on June 15, 1971. I introduce myself, and Bill jumps up and shakes my hand. His enthusiasm and animation catches me a little off guard. Although his hair is grey and a bit thinning and his face is reflective of the lifetime he’s spent outdoors, Bill still speaks with the energy of someone much, much younger. As we begin to talk, I’m relieved to realize that despite the undeniable contributions Bill has made to the sport I love, he’s just another guy who loves talking about the mountains."
I've made a point of commenting on a lot of ski gear recently and how skis can be better used in the mountains as tools for transportation.
The obvious over lap between skiing and climbing has some history to it. One exceptional look at that history is the movie "STEEP!"
"It started in the 1970s in the mountains above Chamonix, France, where skiers began to attempt ski descents so extreme that they appeared almost suicidal. Men like Anselme Baud and Patrick Vallencant were inspired by the challenge of skiing where no one thought to ski before. Now, two generations later, some of the world's greatest skiers pursue a sport where the prize is not winning, but simply experiencing the exhilaration of skiing and exploring big, wild, remote mountains."
Big help now as I really wanted the info a couple of months ago! I know Lou had the skis and wondered why he waited so long on the review. Likely out skiing. What was he thinking? Let me help make it a stampede of sorts.
If you follow this blog you know I hadn't skied much (as in none) for a decade or so. The climbing trip last winter to Chamonix was my cardiac jump start. The continued ski season (and terrible weather) here in the NW and with the resulting never ending snow it has allowed me to ski instead of ride my bike or rock climb.
Enjoying it actually. Getting to go back to several old spring ski haunts because of it.
I have been skiing on an assortment of old and new boards over the winter. Shaped, asymmetrical, super short, skinny, fat and in between. Lots of skis. They all generally turn left and right as required. My BD Aspects, Dyna Stokes and the Dyna Broad Peaks are missing from this picture. No huge surprises except one. And that one ski the Hi 5 has been an interesting education that continues.
I first saw the Hi5 at OR last winter and was more than a little skeptical of the new La Sportiva Hi5 or La Sportiva in particular for skis. But I did want a pair of those all carbon race boots the STRATOS! Any way, hard to miss a bright green, giant ski that resembles a retro water ski more than snow ski. Or so I first thought. It was a ski that stood out in the ski racks at two "ski bars" and riding the trams in Chamonix over the winter. And of the La Sportiva Hi5s I did recognise, all seemed amazingly LOOONG in comparison to the other skis being toted around the valley. (from a distinct mental note taken back in March...and obvious ski/mtn gawds riding them)
Huge rocker on the tip of this ski. (well huge to me, the guy who had only skied one pair of rockered skis, these) a squared cut tail and a full 105mm wide at the waist. It is a 75/25 % rockered ski. My early production 188cms pair measure 135/105/125 mm and weight in at 8# 10oz. Light I thought for such a fat and long ski. But they will get lighter in the 2011/2012 production. The goal is 7#15oz for a pair of 188s. My skinny 162cm Se7en Summits with a race binding weight 6# for the pair as a comparison, My 178cm BD Aspects are just over 7# with bindings.
The Hi5s are a good bit wider and longer than either with the resulting performance advantages.
- Core: Wood Light Karuba - Ame : bois de Karuba léger
- First layer: fiberglass tri-directional
- Second layer: carbon fiber bi-directional / fiberglass inserts
Almost nothing on the Net early on besides these:
Having been on the same hill, on those same days, l have to admit I now really wanted to try these fat boys out. But sadly, mine would show up in April and the closest I would come to a Cham pow day was a foot of nasty Cascade cement at Crystal that was doing point release slides under the lifts by the afternoon..
But that turned out to not be a bad thing. I wanted to get some skinning in on my lwt stuff but the new snow and avi danger made that problematic. So I stuck with the Hi5s on the lifts all day. It seemed better than going home, as most did. The first steep I dropped into was 4 turns to the packed again. And I thought that was rather easy. Easier than expected for sure. Next drop I made 6 turns and was still not being pushed. Seemed too easy in the sloppy snow. Terrible snow to ski on but the kind of snow a good snow boarder loves So next time I dropped in the same place and did six turns before the first tree. Holy shit! Are these really 188cm and 105cm wide? These will take some imagination and relearning what is possible was my thought that day.
Just say no to short skis ;) These are real skis!
No wonder the kids in Cham were on head height or better skis lengths. These things turn like they are a 150mm soft, skinny skis or a snow board. And maybe they are with that much rocker and flotation! What ever is going on here for technology, they sure are a hoot and super easy to ski on!
Check out the actual surface area being used on flat ground between my 162cm Se7en Summits and the Hi5 in a 188cm. That is SOME serious rocker!
When you start looking at rockered skis you need to be really careful with the definition because the ski companies aren't. "Early rise", "semi rockered" and the other terms so easily bandied about generally aren't truly rockered skis. Real rockered skis, ski and turn like much shorter skis than their measured length would first indicate because there is less surface on the ground taking full weight.
When the tips of your skis set on the snow like the Hi5 obviously does, the ski is rockered. 410cm of rocker by my measure on the 188s. A quick example of the difference? A 173cm Stoke ski like a 188cm Hi5. If I cut hairs here, the 176 Aspect feels slower to turn than the longer and wider 188 Hi5. Most of that is rocker, some of it is the additional side cut of the Hi5. The point is the Hi 5 turns like a much shorter skis in my opinion. Surprizingly so and much to my personal enjoyment.
I hear fat skis are a little tough to edge. Big, stiff boots will solve part of that.
Fat skis are not suppose to like light weight boots. I took that test and like the Dynafit TLT Ps with these skis. And I generally ski the Ps without the tongue, as I was doing in the skiing comments above. Add the tongue and there is plenty of boot for the Stokes or the Hi5s in any length. But I haven't bothered adding the tongue. Might be the fact the Hi5 is so easy to ski and not the boots. It is a question yet unanswered to my satisfaction. But I have the technology to find that answer and will come back to it when I do. I like to think of the Hi5 as my Aspects with power steering and 4 wheel drive if that makes sense. Lower geared, and easier to drive in shitty snow.
The only other fat ski in my quiver is a pair of the new Dynafit Stokes. Good ski as well. But neither ski is really FAT by today's standards. Can't consider the BD Aspect as fat either. I wanted some serious rocker just to see what it was like to ski. But if possible on a more traditional ski with some side cut. Dbl rockered skis seem a little extreme. But may be I am wrong there. Traditional you say? Well no tail rocker (unless you consider the last 2" of ski rockered" and the reasonable side cut seems almost traditional these days. The side cut isn't that far off between the Aspect and the Hi5. BTW I simply haven't noticed the square cut tail. When you sit back there is good support and edge there...like a decent GS ski. Looks a little weird a first but then so does this ski. That was amazingly easy to get over. And amazingly easy to set tail first in hard snow if it is required. The Hi5 numbers made it look like a more "traditional" ski with some added rocker...OK a lot of rocker.
(all factory numbers..not my numbers)
Mustagh SL 187cm 6lb 9oz 122-88-111
Aspect 186cm 7 lb 2 oz 130 / 90 / 117
Drift 186 cm 7 lb 10 oz 138/ 100/ 123
Stoke 191cm 7 lb 14oz 134 / 108 / 122
Hi5 188cm 7lb 15oz 135 / 105 / 125
Wailer HB 190cm 9lb 4oz 141/ 112 / 128
Megawatt 188cm 10 lb 1 oz 153-125-130
My pre production pair of Hi5s are a few oz. over at a measured 8# 7oz. La Sportiva missed the mark early on by 4oz per ski in a 188. Close enough from my perspective for what I am getting in added performance. I actually made a special trip to Marmot just to check my own numbers again when I started listing the weight numbers on the Aspect and Stoke. Part of that is the HI5 is a little longer and a good bit wider. And the ski performance matches the Hi5's bigger numbers. Bottom line is I don't care about the weight on this ski (within reason) compared to my Aspects or Stokes. The Hi5s have proven themselves as my go to, "Hero skis" any any kind of soft snow. If I need a hero ski that particular day I'll deal with the marginal extra weight on the uphill. (Thank Colin at La Sportiva for correcting the production numbers on the skis being shipped as of Sept '11)
I think, if given the choice, you'll find few willing to ski a non rockered 175 or 180cm ski where you can so easily ski the rockered 188 Hi5. The rocker makes that much difference. I like skiing a little longer ski again. It was an easy sale after just three runs.
This is the most fun all around ski I have been on for junk snow. Short of ice and really hard groomers anyway. They aren't GS skis. There is a definite speed limit. These are my hero skis for junk snow. Ski just about anything, anywhere on these and feel awesome while doing it. Might even be able to give my boarding buddy a run for the money in wind blown. Which says a lot. No way I would have believed that if the only place I had skied them was on Chamonix pow. Might be the only ski I use for the down there next winter though. Ripping right out of the gate on the Midi is a dream I intend to make real with this board.
Bottom line? If you haven't skied a fat rocker ..you should ASAP. Hero skis, plain and simple.. With a decade off line...I needed a hero ski ;-)