In my previous article I gave you a shakedown of the latest fat off-piste ski offerings. Now it's time to blog about my favourite subject: saving grams on your feet uphill so you can get more from the downhill! There has been an explosion of excellent touring skis on the market over the past few years. As a general rule, the lighter the ski the less well it will cope with all conditions and thus the better skier you need to be to cope.
When looking for a touring ski try and strike a balance between your ski ability, weight and width under foot in mm. Nowadays anything under 80mm underfoot is considered old school and the reserve of Euro-mincing Austrians! I wouldn't go for anything wider than 95mm underfoot due to increased weight, friction of the wide skin and edge holding ability on icy skin tracks. If you are going to use this as an all round set up then go for a heavier ski model, which will cope better with varied conditions. If you're a diehard like me, then skis around 1100g are pretty good nowadays and carbon composites are coming down in price; but bare in mind these are not designed to be nailed around off-piste - jumps, rocks and general abuse will turn them into splinters!
There are loads of brands out there so I have tried to pick the most popular, readily available good quality ski touring skis on the market for 2012/2013. Most manufacturers are now doing integrated skins that come with the skis already cut to size and length with tip and tail clips.
Ski Trabare a specialist Italian company that are synonymous with light touring skis. Their all rounder that will cope as a one-ski-does-all is the Stelvio, which comes in two widths. Their light, fat touring ski is the Polvere, which had great reviews last winter. If you want lightweight they have the Duo Freerando Light (shown below), and for Austrian officianados that like super light and narrow the Duo Sint Aero weighs in at 950g and 74mm underfoot.
Ski Trab Duo Freerando Light
Ski Trab Polvere
K2 have been hard at work with there 'Back' range with the Wayback and Backup being very popular last year. The Coomback is there fatter 102mm under foot all rounder that you can just about tour on and at the other end is the Backlight which is a sub-1000g 72mm under foot lightweight. They also have a brilliant women's range to compliment the mens, the Talkback being most popular (no idea where they got the idea for the name.
Dynafit are world leaders in ski touring pin binding manufacture and also have a great range of dedicated touring skis. The Stoke is there 102mm under foot big ski which is great for charging powder but is rather wide for a dedicated touring ski. In the middle of there range sit the ever popular Mustagh Ata and Manaslu (pictured below). I have skied the light Seven Summits, and they are brilliant if you’re a good skier. Again Dynafit have women's versions - the Manaslu Women and the Baltoro Women.
Dynafit Baltoro Women
Movement skis have been around the block. They now have a huge range off touring skis from race light to big fat powder planks. The Pariah is a good all round ski that will tour but also hoon around off piste no problem. If you want a dedicated touring ski the Iki and the Logic (shown below) are light but ski well. Steer clear of their super light X-series as the carbon construction doesn’t stand up to much abuse!
Black Diamond winter 2013 line up is essentially the same as last year with some graphics changes. The Aspect is a good touring ski but a bit stiff if you’re a lightweight like me. The Current is a new school 'rockered' touring ski making it very easy to turn and for all you heli powder hounds you can now get a completely impractical 125mm under foot carbon version of the Megawatt!
Black Diamond Aspect
Other skis brands include the Scott Crus'Air and Powd'Air which are great quality ski but pricey due to the carbon top sheet. Dynastar have still got the Alti Powder,Alti 79 and the Mythic Light although you could tour on the Cham HM 87, even though its a bit weighty. They have made a massive improvement on the graphics front getting rid of the brown faux wood, yuk! Atomic have a nice new line up that skis extremely well, the Aspect (yes same as the BD) and the Drift. Some of the guys on the Elbrus trip this year had these and were raving about them. Volkl have a new range out with unpronounceable names like the Inuk, Amaruq and Nanuq.
Dynastar Alti Powder
I hope this helps with your choice of ski. If you’re based in the UK - get looking online! There are some great deals available at places such as www.facewest.co.uk - specialists that will sell you a whole package at a good discount with bindings and skins already fitted.
This year my setups in order of weight/width are: Dynafit – 7 Summit Lights (Dynafit race bindings) Ski Trab – Polvere (Dynafit TLT Speed binding) and the Dynafit Stokes (Dynafit FT 12) for screaming around in Gulmarg! You can never have enough pairs of skis!!!
IFMGA / UIAGM / IVBV
The IFMGA / UIAGM / IVBV symbol is the logo of the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association.
Nick, Olly and Matt are all fully-qualified UIAGM Mountain Guides and members of the British Mountain Guides Association.
The International Ski Instructors Association is the world body for professional ski instructors.
The ISIA was formed in 1971 and there are currently 39 member nations representing the very best in ski instruction around the world.