Friday through Sunday were days to try out a new setup. Not much to report about the skiing itself, as it was goodgoodgood. I will say that we spent Sunday at Smuggs, and I was wondering what happened to all the locals. Amy and I were still skiing plenty of untracked inbounds at 3 in the afternoon. And I don't mean 3" of untracked. I'm talking knee-deep from Friday's storm. It seems like everyone is so busy rushing to the backbowls these days that they forget that there are two excellent mountains in-bounds.
Anyways, I've 3 pieces of gear to report on:
Black Diamond Glide-lite Skins: On Thursday, I climbed the hill with G3 Skins(the gray model from a few years ago-forgot the name). On Friday and Saturday, I used the BD. G3 work much better when traversing a steep hill with an icy/crusty base underneath the powder.
G3 Onyx Binding: My first experience with a tech binding. Learning the new system is a very small hassle. I took a tip from Lou Dawson's blog about marking my boots with a Sharpie so that I could easily line up the pins with my boots. Problem is that when in powder, that part of the toe often has snow on it, even after knocking it with a ski pole. Changing from ski-mode to walk mode is easy. Going back is a bit of a pain. Sticking my pole into the hole in the mode lever, I could only get the lever half-way up before part of the binding got in the way. Then I had to remove my pole and come at the lever from a different angle. Working the low heel riser is also a bit of a pain, because the only way I could get at it is to turn my pole over and use the handle. My pole basket couldn't engage it. Skiing with a heavier ski(Kilowatt, 8lb 6 oz vs. G3 Baron, 7.8 lbs) and only slightly lighter binding(Onyx, 50 oz vs. Fritschi Explore, 62 oz), the touring felt at least as easy, if not easier. On the downhill at resort, the binding felt solid, and it was nice not to feel the Fritschi slop. One other problem, maybe serious: At some point between the top of the first climb and the bottom of the first run, I lost the low-position climbing lift. By the end of the second run, I had lost the high-position lift. Still e-mailing about replacements.
BD Kilowatt Ski: I read lots of good things about the ski. Had a few people recommend them. And Ben B pretty much hated them. He told me he didn't think they had enough tail for accelerating out of turns. That may have been the deal closer for me. I do use the tail of the ski to accelerate on the groomed, but unlike Ben, I don't want that acceleration in the tight chutes of the upper back-bowls.
Touring, the skis didn't feel as heavy as I expected, probably because of the new binding. In the bc, with 8-10" on top of crust, I found that the extra 14 mm waist did not keep me off the crust on steeper parts of the runs(How fat do you have do go before this kind of floatation happens?) Aside from that little complaint, I have to say that I absolutely love this ski. Ridiculously easy to turn, as opposed to the Barons that like to run straight. They plow through chopped crud at the resort so well that I found myself seeking out the crud to stomp it flat. They absorb unexpected bumps with practically no shock to the body. And in the few places we found hardpack yesterday, they carved nice medium radius turns with minimum work. These skis remind me of the Karhu Kodiaks(which I loved) in their forgiveness, but are much better in crud and a bit stiffer. Pure fun that turned my skiing up a notch. The only question is how they'll be at speed on hardpack, but I didn't get them for this and I don't spend much time skiing in those conditions, so its not a real concern.
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