Saturday, 24 December 2016

Nutrition and Physical Training for Skimo

Physical training has been a habit for me for a long time now, but optimising it for mountain fitness is a reasonably new thing.

Random but pretty shot of Featherback

I've been lucky in some ways - I've had a pretty good basis in both aerobic activities (running, hiking) and strength training (climbing, gym workouts and gymnastics). I guess my fitness level is above average, but I rarely compare myself to others. What I do feel motivated by is the desire to climb and ski more every time I'm in the mountains. Training for ski mountaineering motivates me because it is one of the few activities that I have experienced where I want to keep going, but have felt like I have run out of steam at the end of some long days.

I've started tinkering with the ideas espoused by guys like Steve House and Mark Twight - becoming fit to the point where you are fit enough to achieve your goals whilst being hard to kill. That last bit refers to having the ability to persist through difficult periods and being able to function despite considerable fatigue and environmental duress.

One of the things that stands out in their assessment of uphill pursuits in the mountains is the need for a fundamentally strong aerobic base to one's fitness. In the past, I have probably trained too hard in an aerobic sense, which failed to properly train my aerobic fitness. That's not ideal, as most of the time I spend in the mountains is at a mid to low intensity of physical exertion. Unlike other activities and sports, ski mountaineering can go on for hours (or even a day or two) on end.

More like it - 140ish BPM

The Uphill Athlete program developed by Steve House reinforces the idea of having a strong and lasting aerobic base. This is by far the most important aspect of physical training - more important than strength or power endurance training.

In practice, it means that A LOT of my training is now done at a moderate heart rate - for me I try to stay between 130 and 140 BPM. Besides moderating exertion, the other defining feature is duration and volume - longer runs and hikes are better than short, intense sessions for building the aerobic base for big days in the mountains.

A typical week at the moment is:

Mon- Rest or minimal active recovery
Tue- Gym (general strength)
Wed-1.5 hour run
Thu- Smallish run or interval training
Fri- Gym (general strength)
Sat- 1.5 hour run (or shorter, interval-based running session)
Sun- Pack work / longer trail run

This is representative of a base phase, which is the major component of a training program for skimo.

I'll go into more detail about the core and strength programs another time. Or you could just buy this:

General running - done at aerobic threshold, increasing in duration at the program goes on

Interval training - 4min at aerobic threshold / 1min hard running (total of 6-8 intervals)

Pack work - water carries up hilly terrain (20+kg pack, staying near aerobic threshold)

Trail runs - emphasising hills, again staying at aerobic threshold (even if that means walking the hills at times)

A good session at Macedon - not amazingly fast, but all within the target HR zone with reasonable elevation gain

The less lengthy activity-specific phase (maybe 25% of the overall program) will reduce the gym time to one session a week, but increase the pack work and involve longer hikes and climbs. In essence, this is the stage of training where you beast yourself in the hills, and this was the phase that I probably inhabited too frequently in the past. It looks more like this:

Mon- Rest or minimal active recovery
Tue- Gym (specific strength training)
Wed-1.5 hour run
Thu- Gym (specific strength training) or lighter session
Fri- Smallish run or interval training
Sat- Longer run / ski tour (two to several hours)
Sun- Pack work / longer trail run / ski tour (two to several hours)

I'm thinking of dedicating 6 weeks to the general phase, 3 weeks to specific training and then a week of tapering into my trips away. I'll make sure that each week builds on the previous in terms of total hours training, along with the duration and difficulty of activities.

After that, a period of tapering leads into the season/objective/activity that was the goal of the training program.

For the forthcoming year, it looks like I'll be hitting these areas:

January - Furano, Hokkaido

April - Hakuba

July - local skiing / possible short trip to NZ?

Sep - spring skiing in Oz (Feathertop/Bogong/Main Range)


This aspect of mountain athleticism is currently being complicated by some suspected food allergies - I seem to have developed some food intolerances, and am still in the process of discovering what my body is happy with. I'll try and keep things general rather than fixating on my individual circumstances.

Camp Food

This refers to the (typically two) meals a day where you aren't on the move - breakfast and dinner.

I've been having muesli and water recently, but that may be changing (food allergy perchance?) I'm partial to wraps at home (egg, sweet potato, bean and avocado), but they aren't that practical in the mountains on multi-day trips. So for now, a solid serving of muesli gets me fueled for a skiing and climbing.

I also like to start the day with some Hydralite (sports drink powder), just to help counteract the effects of fluid loss. I usually leave camp with half a liter of water, and half a liter of sports drink. In spring I plan my routes to drop into creek lines when I need more fluid; in winter I either suck it up and go without replenishment, or would consider taking a stove (which could add nearly a kilo to my pack).

Individual sachets are the way forward

After a big day, I like to have some kid of food as soon as I get back, along with some more sports drink. I've been having bean salads, which are great, but pretty much anything quick and easy with carbs and protein is good. For dinner, I like a good mix of carbs, fat and protein. My favorite dish has been wholemeal pasta, a sachet of tomato paste, a tin of tuna/salmon and a bit of cheese melted in. A bit of dark chocolate goes well for desert.

This has worked great for me so far, but for longer trips I'll need some more variety!

Touring Food

This is the fuel that goes in during the day - it needs to be easily consumable, light, convenient and tasty.

I head out for a day with the following:

2 x OSM bars
2-3 x museli bars
Soy crisp mix or fruit and nut mix
2 x energy gels

Highly recommended (and from NZ); the One Square Meal bars

I don't always find the time to consume it all, but I find eating regularly is vital during the day. I'm pretty much climbing 90% of the day, as the descents don't take very long compared to the climbs. I have found eating at the bottom of a descent suits me, as I usually like to start skiing down reasonably soon after getting up top (often it's too windy and cold to sit around comfortably)

New Skis - Salomon Minim

These arrived from Germany the other day, and straight away their light weight was perceptible - the box they arrived in felt empty! They weigh in at 740g each, which is ridiculously light.

There are no obvious bells and whistles here. Outwardly, these are simply shaped and designed skis, but what differentiates them from other skimo race skis is the few extra mills under foot, which is said to enhance performance considerably. Paired with my Syborgs and a bastardised Yak/SCTT binding, the entire setup will tip the scales at 3.83kg...that's both skis, both boots and bindings.

I won't know how they ski until that first descent, but the ethos they embody is one that I am all about: maximum freedom of movement in the mountainous environment. More distance covered, more turns made, more lines skied - that's my version of living the dream. Killian thinks so too...

I'm seeing the Minim as being ideal for much of the Australian season - we don't have a deep snowpack most of the time, and they look like they'll handle icy conditions just fine. Also, I plan on doing much more 'resort uphilling' next year in bad weather, both to save money and for fitness training. The other role for these skis will be in true ski mountaineering, where there could be some long distance travel or technical climbing to be done, and I'll willingly trade some stability and performance on the down for the freedom of movement on the way up.

And as an added bonus, their lightweight means that they can sneak into the ski bag for Japan and get a good field test before the southern winter next year (if their skins arrive in time from Europe, that is!)

There's much to love about Japan, including the wide range of quality gear that their stores have. I'll mostly be browsing without buying (famous last words), although with a favorable Yen exchange rate, there are a few things I'll be keeping an eye out for:

- Atomic Backland 85 Ultralight ski (discussed before)

- Some quality running shorts (North Face Better than Naked, Patagonia Strider Pro or Dynafit options)

- Ultimate Direction Skimo 28 pack (28 liter pack with heaps of versatility, weighing in at 580g)
Attachments for 2x ice tools and A-frame or diagonal ski carry

Speaking of Japan, it'll be exciting to be in Hokkaido for the first time. The terrain and snowpack look fantastic already, and it will just be a matter of managing avalanche risk and weather to achieve some quality time in the mountains.

Team Weasel

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Southern Season Done

Oz Season Summary 


Kicking the tips up...for now

First-person footage has its limitations, but it's better than nothing!

Days BC skiing - 

Bogong - 10
Feathertop - 6
Razorback - 2

Days resort skiing -

Hotham - 5
Falls Creek - 3
Buller - 1

Total days skied = 27

Even though we are almost mid-November, there is still snow for touring (more so in the Main Range - but I can't justify the 7 hours in the car with no more days off work). I skied from July to November, and got almost a full month of skiing in. I'm pretty happy with that!

Cairn Gully in November

Steeps on Feathertop

Witness me!

The season ended up being quite good; we've got probably a month more of skiing in than we did last year, and the snow depth and quality has been very good. The only complaint this year was the weather...even in spring there were precious few good weather days, and at times the precipitation fell as rain rather than snow (particularly when we had about 100mm in one evening!) The bad weather resulted in more days in resorts than I would like, but this did assist in me progressing my downhill technique quite a bit this season.

More steep lines on Feathertop

Bogong near Audax

Looking north from Feathertop to the Big Fella

I can't even remember where this is...

Last year I was very much a novice, but this year I felt at home on Bogong and Feathertop. I skied pretty much every line that I had aspired to, and I definitely noticed my technique improving throughout the season.

I can credit that improvement to a few things. The first is that simple yet elusive trick of getting forward and staying there. I've become much more aware of my posture, and have sought to feel the front of my skins against my boot tongues, and to project my hands forward (to encourage my shoulders to be forward of my hips). These strategies have worked, and I no longer get the excessive fatigue that I used to feel on the descent. The other thing that has helped has been curling my toes upwards in my boots - it results in pulling my skis back under me, which again maintains the weight forward on the skis.

In terms of boots and ramp angle, I've found that the TLT6 Performance is more than enough boot for me (hence the Salomon Mtn Labs have barely seen snow this winter). The La Sportiva Syborgs are only a tad softer than the TLT6, and have seen good use this season too. I probably only need two boots in total - a 1kg plus version for general touring, and a sub-1kg boot for longer days with more vertical.

As for ramp angle, I've found 0 to +5 is fine - anything more than that has a tendency to put me against my rear boot cuff more than I'd like.

Zero G 85 - tearing up spring snow

I have tried reading books, getting lessons and soliciting advice from the internet on how to improve my downhill technique. The one source that has been of use has been this book:

I can completely recommend buying this book for the way in which it breaks down the art of turning on skis. I take a notebook into the mountains, and in it were all the following tips from the book:
  • All weight on the outside ski
  • Transfer weight as early as possible to new outside ski
  • Consciously guide the unweighted ski through the turn (pull it close to the outside ski)
  • Ski with your legs, balance with your hands
  • Keep the hands forward (shoulders ahead of hips)
  • Flex down and forward to shorten turn radius (a really good tip)
  • Move your weight, then change edge angle (not the other way around)
  • Short radius turns can be done by collapsing the outside leg, along with a pole plant and skidded turns
  • Active feet beneath a quiet upper body
  • Relax into start of a turn, work the end of it harder to change turn shape
  • For ice, ski gently, patiently and with forward body movement
  • For steeps, use pole plants more, lift heels to bum for jump turns
I still have much work to do, and I want to start developing my technique on ice and the steeps more (particularly jump turns). Besides skiing more, I hope to get some video footage soon to help me adjust my posture and movement to become something resembling an expert skier.

By the end of the season, I was quite happy with the gear I used. I skied on the ZG85s more than any other ski - mostly to incentivise better skiing from me, as they are punishing of backseat driving. The Mtn Explore 95s got a few runs, but I didn't feel much need for the 95mm waist. A damn good ski nonetheless.

Salomon Mtn Explore 95s getting some turns in

As for boots, the Mtn Labs got a couple of resort days, but no touring...which might be their fate for the foreseeable future. A few hundred grams extra might not sound like much, but when it comes to walking in to somewhere like Feathertop to bootpack almost every ski descent, it quickly takes its toll. I spent most of the season going between the Syborgs and TLT6s - both have been outstanding. I've added a Booster strap to the Syborgs for a little more support, taking the pair up to 1850g.

Lightweight shenanigans

I've used ATK bindings for this season, and they have been outstanding. The Raider 12 2.0 was used for most of this season. I did experiment mixing the R12 with the SCTT heel and also the Plum Yak toe, but I think that the complete R12 (with toe shim) is perfect for most of my applications. The heel spacer is definitely a game changer - I noticed considerably better power transfer to the ski once I'd put it in position. Next year I may try to get a race binding and fit a heel spacer to it to see how it performs (R12 weighs 720g for the pair - super light race fixings can come in around 300-400g).

All my other gear performed exceedingly well, to the point where it made being in the mountains simple, easy and efficient.

Camping on Feathertop - like a summer holiday

Skialper 2017 Buyer's Guide - ski gear porn alert!

The guide itself is very much worth the 10 or so Euros to access, as they review the lighter end of the gear spectrum that other websites and publications seem to have neglected. I've made most of my recent purchases based on their ratings, and have not been disappointed. New gear that caught my eye included:

Atomic Backland 85 UL

Regarded as the best speed-touring ski tested, this ski looks superior to my Zero G 85 in almost every way. The only question is about the sidecut - might be a little too much for steep, icy skiing. Otherwise, in weight and dimensions it is similar to the ZG85, but has considerably better performance - and is said to be a lot of fun to ski. I'm definitely getting a pair before our next winter, and they should relegate the ZG85 to rock ski status if they are as good as they are proclaimed to be.

Salomon S-Lab Minim

I was looking at getting a pair of La Sportiva Syborg skis, as they have been on sale at a good price. The Minim has completely eclipsed the Syborg. For one thing, it's performance is outstanding, thanks mostly due to a few extra millimeters width when compared to other race skis. They sound ideal for fast and light ski mountaineering, or resort uphilling, which is something I want to do more of in bad weather next year (rather than paying for lift tickets). I'll have a sub-4kg setup if I combine these with my Syborg boots and a race binding.

Arcteryx Procline Carbon

These I can't justify buying until my TLT6s start dying, but they are certainly attracting a lot of hype. I'm not sure that they can ski as well as the TLT6, but I'm hoping to get a chance to try them on in Japan (along with the TLT7), if only to get a sense of the flex and range of mobility they offer. To be honest, they are probably wasted in Australia, as we don't have the technical climbing terrain to require anything more than a TLT6, crampons and a couple of ice axes.

Hokkaido Here I Come...

I've booked in for 3 weeks in Furano - looks like prime touring terrain, and they are already getting decent snowfall. I'll be working on my fitness until then, which (along with nutrition), I should do a post on soon.

Thanks to the Big Fella and Featherback - till next year

Team Weasel

Friday, 30 September 2016

Storming into Spring

I figure I better get in a post in September...despite the at times tempestuous weather, it's been a good month for BC skiing.

Feathertop in all its splendor; Mark taking it in.

Not sure exactly how many trips I've done, but I've managed a couple of Bogong trips and a Feathertop trip since my last entry.

On Feathertop I had a nostalgic moment - it was only about this time last year that I was on the same mountain, with largely the same gear. I remember how intimidated I felt in the terrain of Avalanche gully and surrounds. I broke the spoiler on my boot, retreated off some of the lines I tried to ski, and generally felt put in my place as a first year BC skier.

This time was different. I've still got some technical aspects of my skiing to work on, but I managed some challenging and steep descents. including off the summit of Feathertop and a couple of good runs down Avalanche gully and surrounds.

Tracks off the summit

Bottom of Avalanche gully - kicked off some sluff

I've managed to get down some reasonably serious terrain - Audax area on Bogong, and Avalanche gully on Feathertop. The latter was notable for having significant wet snow slides...manageable sluff for the most part, but if it built up it certainly had the potential to take you over a cliff band or two.

Better to let the pics tell the story...

A quick break after booting up Audax on Bogong

View from the bottom of Audax

The less snow-encrusted side of Feathertop

Avalanche Gully - skied the line to viewers left

View from the summit of Feathertop, looking south(ish)

Great line, wet snow slides in lower part of shot

A rare skin up - lots of booting up stuff at Feathertop

The luxurious and spacious Nammatj 2 GT on Feathertop

Looking down into Avalanche gully from skier's right

So much amazing terrain to ski (Mark in shot)

I reflected on how far I've come in a year, and can say I'm largely happy with how my skill set has developed. I assessed conditions, skied safely despite objective hazards, had the fitness to keep going, whilst having an awesome time throughout.

Another thing which happened was that I skied for the first time with someone else (Mark from Tahoe in the US). He was up on Feathertop, and we skied together for a day or so after everyone else bailed.

I've skied solo because it felt right, and I don't know many other people out there who do this, much less in the style and with the gear that I use. So I took the opportunity to see what it was like.

Clearly not me...Mark styling it down a Feathertop gully

Mark was awesome - very experienced, a great skier and able to keep up despite having frame bindings and heavier gear.

Overall though, I would say that I still prefer the solo way of doing things. That doesn't mean that I don't appreciate people being around; I don't mind saying hello or having a chat, but there seems to be a big part of me that thrives on and enjoys the freedom of solitary ski mountaineering.

Whether it be route selection, hazard appraisal or pace, I just prefer to do it my own way. That doesn't mean that I think that I know best - it just means that I am much more at peace with having my own input into decisions, rather than having to worry and think about someone else.

It's also a much more personal experience when it is just you and the mountain. Here's a quote courtesy of Katō Buntarō (Japanese alpinist):

"If mountaineering is about gaining knowledge and hence solace from nature, then surely the most knowledge and the highest degree of solace is gained from solo mountaineering. If you have a partner with you, you sometimes forget to look at the mountains. But, when you climb alone, no stick or stone can fail to captivate your heart."


Also, skiing with someone else means that someone is there to see you when you fall!

So for now, I think that I'll stick with the solo gig, but perhaps chat more and hang out a bit more around the camp areas.

Rare photo of Team Weasel in action

Fast and light - what's the hype?

I've gone in a bit of a circle when it comes to gear. When I first started skiing, I was inspired by stories of skiers using super-lightweight gear, and naturally I gave that a go. My skiing ability lagged a fair way behind my ambitions, so I compensated by going to heavier boots (Dynafit Vulcans), and they certainly gave me the ability to ski a bit better. Or more accurately, I could leverage more off the front and back cuffs...

Getting on light gear isn't about competing with others. It's all about getting the most out of your time in the mountains. This last trip, I was a setup very similar to the one I used that whole year ago - a race boot, a race binding and a light, thin ski.

La Sportiva Syborg boot , ATK/Kreuzspitze binding and Blizzard Zero G 85 ski

The above weighs 4.4kg...not for one foot, but for the entire setup. Get some!

Things felt light and easy, whether it be skinning, booting up a couloir or scrambling up a rocky face. It was a delight to be agile and quick in the mountains. Little things like the simplicity of a race heel, or the stowage system on the Dynafit race backpacks, make things so much more efficient, which equates to more skiing, and more happiness.

There will always be people out there who will shake their heads and grumble into their designer ski jacket - what about the compromises on the way down?

The harsh truth is that it's only a compromise if you have been relying on your gear to help you get by. The norm for most people's skiing is for resort-style bindings; forward pressure, adjustable DIN, that reassuring thwack of the heel being held in place. What if all that could be replaced by just becoming a better, more responsive and balanced skier? What if that gear that you think you need is actually holding you back?

Besides that, there is this point; I read somewhere recently that an additional 100g per foot increases VO2 usage by 1%. That adds up pretty quickly when it comes to ski touring gear.

Contrast my setup above with something like this: Volkl BMT 94 skis (2940g for the pair), Salomon Mtn Lab boots (3100g) and Marker Kingpin Bindings (1536g). Total weight = 7576g (or 7.6kg). I choose these items as representative of the 'beefy' or 'freeride' side of ski touring.

That's a 3.2kg difference between setups. Which might not sound too outrageous. What is though is the idea that I'd be working 32% harder with that gear on my feet. That results in about a third less skiing, a third less distance traveled...essentially, 32% of my day skiing is gone, solely due to the equipment I choose.

Which returns me to my point - I want to ski on the absolute minimal gear I need to have a good time. In terms of technique, I've got much to work on - I still don't get forward enough, my uphill ski is still doing too much of a wedge-like position, and I'm still playing with my ramp angle.

Uphill ski still not parallel...yet

I'm ok with that - in fact, that this isn't easily and quickly mastered makes me love this activity all the more.

The whole fast and light thing does come down to what you truly value - and for me, I accept a slightly greater degree of difficulty on the way down in exchange for more time skiing, more terrain covered and more distant objectives accomplished. It's not a compromise in any way for me, and using any other gear would be letting myself down.

Tasty looking chutes on northern aspects of Bogong - good luck getting there with a sick freeride setup!

And now for something completely different...

The Inaugural Team Weasel Gear Awards

For gear that gets my full attention

After a year of skimo shenanigans, I thought I'd give out some awards to pieces of gear that have been of note along the way, within the following categories:
  • Most Valuable Contributors - gear that has been outstanding and influential in having a great time in the mountains. Basically, stuff that I would wholeheartedly endorse and buy again.
  • Unsung Heroes - less noticed and less obvious, but these items have made life significantly easier by increasing efficiency or by doing a tough job so well that you almost forget that they are even there.
  • New Players with Bright Futures - these are bits of kit that I haven't had quite enough time on to fully appreciate, but their utility is already very apparent and I am definitely excited to make greater use of these thangs.
  • Underwhelming, Disappointing or Superfluous - Stuff that was hyped or promised much, but failed to deliver (for me, at least).
Here we go...

Most Valuable Contributors

TLT6 Performance (Black model)

This was the final evolution of perhaps the best all-round ski mountaineering boot in human history. The TLT6 hit the mark for performance on the way up, support and stiffness on descent, for hiking, climbing or just kicking arse in the mountains. An outstanding and highly recommended ski boot, which is on discount thanks to being last season's model.

Race Bindings

Some have fancy features (ATK Raider 12 2.0), others are minimalist (Dynafit Expedition), but they all have the same goal - attach a fucker to a ski with minimum weight and fuss. They are durable, simple and are perfect for skimo applications, and weigh at least a quarter less than standard touring bindings.

A personal favorite combo - ATK 12 toe and SCTT heel

CAMP Skimo Gear

These guys have made some outstanding skimo accessories, including their Corsa ice axe and Nanotech crampons, which are both about half the weight of more typical offerings. Add in a light avalanche probe, gloves and backpack, and you have the basics of a great BC system on your back. Performs when needed, weighs fuck all when it's not.

Unsung Heroes

Binding Freedom Inserts

All my skis are insert fitted, and the best thing that I can say about them is that you never notice them whilst skiing. They are strong, durable and never come loose - until you want to swap a binding out, or just transport your skis without bindings attached. As a bonus, they end up being a stronger mount than standard screws. Every ski I own is insert-fitted, and that will continue on into the future.

Arcteryx Outer Shells

I've had my jacket (Alpha LT) and pants (Alpha SV with bib) for a few years now, and both these items have stood up to hard use whilst retaining their flawless performance. They give me the confidence to go out into the mountains, knowing that whatever conditions I encounter, my outer shell will help me cope with the elements. Worth the significant price tag.

Dynafit Race Backpacks

Touring and ski mountaineering with a 40 or 50 liter pack used to be the norm for me. Then I started using race backpacks like the Dynafit Broad Peak 28. They have just enough room to fit everything you need for a day out in the mountains, but more importantly, packs like this have some amazingly user-friendly features. Ski carriage is fast and efficient, the pack sits low and close to the body, and there is excellent access to your safety equipment...all for less than a kilo.

Black Diamond Carbon Whippets

In some ways these break the trend of lightweight gear - a Whippet weighs 500g, which is quite a bit for a ski pole. The benefits are worth it. Not only is the Whippet a super reliable and durable pole, but it also gives you the chance to arrest a sliding fall whilst skiing or booting up steep terrain. And they are also useful in scaring people if you go resort skiing.


Crazy Idea Century Pants

A good pair of touring pants goes a long way to making days in the mountains comfortable. These pants (from an Italian company that make a lot of skimo race attire) are awesome - a great combination of warmth, mobility, durability and comfort. They also have an excellent zippered lower leg section that function like defacto gaiters.



New Players with Bright Futures

Billy Goat Ascent Plates

Few things are as energy-sapping as climbing a steep snowy slope, where every step you kick in sinks even further as you weight it. Ascent plates offer more flotation, resulting in less energy wasted wallowing in fluffy snow. The downside is that you are adding about 600g to each boot on the way up (plate plus crampon). I'm thinking that they are probably more suited to longer, single ski line approaches. If I'm doing laps, I might just be better off sucking it up and booting the first lap. More to follow.

Salomon Mtn Explore 95 Ski

I've skied these guys only a couple of times, but have been very impressed so far. Nice flex pattern, good width and not too heavy (2800g for the pair). These skis are most suited to Australian conditions after some recent snow fall, or spring conditions in snowier climates. I say that as their dimensions and rockered tip are more soft snow than harder snow orientated; however, I've seen no lack of firm snow performance so far. Looking forward to a couple more trips with these guys in our spring.

La Sportiva Syborg Boot

This is probably the piece of gear that I am most excited about at the moment. These have comparable forward flex to the TLT6, but weigh in at 750g lighter (for the pair). The range of movement whilst skinning and climbing is outstanding, and transitioning is extremely fast with the single throw switch at the top of the boot. Downhill performance will need more time to be properly evaluated, but so far that has been more than satisfactory. Looking forward to getting on these for the rest of this spring - including finding out if they can drive the wider skis in my quiver (in preparedness for Japan early next year).

Underwhelming, Disappointing or Superfluous

Skis with Rockered Tails

I find rockered tails to be a hazard in skiing the lines I'm interested in - skis with tails like this give no support if you get put in the backseat, or if you want to impart more force to the tail end of the ski. They actually help your skis shoot out from under you. Add in their dubious firm snow performance, and you have a ski shape that is the last thing you need for a versatile touring and ski mountaineering ski. Flat pintails are the way forward - the profile of the ski below is one to avoid.

'Performance' AT Boots

My Salomon Mtn Lab boots have spent most of this season sitting on the shelf. If you can get by in a TLT6, it's hard to justify adding another 700g for these boots. There is a massive market segment in attracting resort skiers over to BC gear, but the companies need to do it right - make it look like resort gear, minimise the 'compromise' on the way down whilst making it lighter than resort gear.  Gear like this is suited to people who use mechanical help to get to their lines with a bit of touring tacked on. For typical touring or ski mountaineering, these boots are heavy, unnecessary overkill.

Ski Brakes for Touring Bindings

These things have lulled me into a false sense of security - they work so well most of the time, and they make things very simple and efficient. However, there is the danger of losing a ski, either due to brakes failing to deploy (thanks to icing), or even if the brakes deploy, your ski can go the journey if the snow is steep and firm. And that can be one long arse journey...I've done it at resorts once or twice when I fucked up, and doing it on a real mountain like Bogong or overseas would be a whole new level of bad day. Leashes all the way from now on.

That's it for now - I'll do something on nutrition when the ski season is over. I'll be getting up to Bogong and Feathertop hopefully a few more times before it all melts away.

And it's already October by the time I posted this...

Team Weasel