I’ve been out on my AT gear a bunch recently, with a few fruitful outings to some gorgeous alpine and subalpine terrain. Snowpack here in SW Montana has been quite deep but variable depending on locale and the Bridgers have been the most consistent and stable lately. Not as much snow as Cooke City (!!!) but a bit more stable and still very deep. So home is where I’ve spent quite a bit of time, putting in the miles and vert on a variety of ski setups.
This season, the Voile Vector has replaced my trusty Dynafit Manaslu as my quiver-of-one and the Vector has since been by go-to plank for the majority of my skiing. The TLT6 P has also replaced my TLT5 Mtn as my one boot to-do-it-most. Arguably all changes for the better. My recent quiver has consisted of a skinny(er), a mid, and a fat(ter):
Sportiva GTR 168 (114/82/104) with Plum Race 145 mounted 2.5cm forward, ramp angle of 0mm (Weight per ski w/ bindings: 1396g)
Voile Vector 180 (121/96/110) with Dynafit toe-shimmed Dynafit Speed Radical mounted center, ramp angle of +9mm (1949g per foot)
Dynafit Huascaran 177 (134/112/123) with Dynafit toe-shimmed Dynafit Speed Radical mounted center, ramp angle of +9mm (2188g per foot)
While the surfy Huascaran wins on the deep snow fun-o-meter, the Vector wins on the universal touring front, and the GTR wins on the LW skimo spectrum. I’m talking about a quiver, and this entails specific pieces of equipment to adequately cover a variety of terrains/conditions – from meter deep cold smoke to rock speckled and icy spring couloirs. Pick and choose your optimal tool for the terrain is the theory I’m going with here.
Anything less than boot-top and my touring requirements often trend towards an all-terrain ski such as the Voile Vector or a similarly profiled and weighted ski. This is ideally somewhere around mid-90s underfoot with a bit of early rise/tip rocker, mid camber, and possibly some tail rocker. In addition to the Manaslu and the Vector, a DPS Wailer 99 may be a great example of this all-mountain quiver of one. Regardless of brand, a ski at 1100-1500g apiece that fits in the 90-ish mm waist range should do nicely when paired with a LW tech binding.
A step down from the Vector and we hit the skimo/ fitness ski in the 70′s or 80′s underfoot. One could even go skinnier if they really wanted but a bit of ski goes a long way with the current lightweight ‘low-fat’ offerings. Unless it is for racing, of course. My latest low-fat is the Sportiva GTR at 82mm underfoot. This thin side of of the quiver is often used for long traverses and exploratory missions, spring corn, and ski-mountaineering objectives. While not the Huascaran, it is not meant to be. I truly enjoy having a LW ski that skis well and there is now quite a variety in this category, such as the recently lauded Dyanfit Cho Oyu and the Movement Response-X. I’ve got my eyes on a pair of 174 Chos so I’ll keep you posted once they’re mounted and skied.
Until then, I’ll continue to daydream about the long-off Montana summer trail runs and relish in the few months of snow that remain. I just had knee to thigh deep turns just outside of town so I’ll pause a moment and appreciate the fun while it lasts. Immaculate tree skiing in the best of snow and the fading of the day’s light. I must give a nod of respect to both Dynafit and Voile for their respective market leadership and innovation. I’m absolutely loving it all.