Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
"Ultralight" Backcountry Ski Gear
Display Avatars Sort By:
Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
"Ultralight" Backcountry Ski Gear on 12/20/2005 19:50:04 MST Print View

Thought I'd start a thread to discuss backcountry ski gear in general, to see what folks with the ultralight mentality are choosing these days for skis, skins, boots, bindings, day packs, shovels, probes, transceivers! Who says the gear devil only works in 3 seasons?!

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Ultralight Backcountry Ski Gear on 12/20/2005 19:54:02 MST Print View

Great idea Ryan! This will be my first season backcountry skiing and I am clueless on what to bring and use. Hopefully I gain some great insight on what to bring, wear, and sleep in!!!

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Ultralight Backcountry Ski Gear on 12/20/2005 20:20:14 MST Print View

Ken, what kind of skis/bindings/boots are you going to be on this year?

Kevin Sawchuk
(ksawchuk) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Ski Things on 12/21/2005 09:47:07 MST Print View

Atomic TM:22 teleboards with Voile hardwire three-pin releasable bindings. I like the ability to ski without my heel held in at all. Scarpa T2 boots. A little lighter than standard tele-gear mostly due to to skiis (releasable bindings add a few ounces but worth the safety both at resorts and in avalanche terrain). I'll probably try the BMW CF poles with the set up this year.

Digital Pieps transceiver, Voile carbon fiber shovel (1 pound--the 5oz snow claw just doesn't cut it with Sierra cement). We finally have enough snow to make it worth the trip.

Jason Ham
(jasonham) - MLife

Locale: Sierra Nevada
Light ski on 12/21/2005 12:59:43 MST Print View

My setup for going light here in the Sierra:

Atomic Sierra Skis - Wood core, Cap construction, APG waxless base, Sidecut dimensions: 70/60/65 mm, Weight: 4 lb. 10 oz. pr., Edges: Steel

NNN BC Rottefella Magnum Manual Bindings - 18 oz pr.

Alpina BC All Terrain Boots - 2 lb. 14 oz. pr.

I have trimmed down a pair of full length skins to be super skinny, but still run the length of the ski. They were originally Ascension skins. They now weigh about 14 oz.

That makes 9 lbs, 8 oz total for my feet.

These skis are not really for carving turns except in the best conditions up to maybe 25 degrees. If you were a better skier than I, you might make them carve a little better. They are quite skinny though and the boots are minimal.

These skis are for covering ground in the mountains. With judicious routefinding you can travel just about anywhere and quite quickly as well. When snow conditions and terrain are right you can even leave the skins at home. These are very efficient at getting from point A to point B.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Re: Ultralight Backcountry Ski Gear on 12/21/2005 17:25:25 MST Print View

I just purchased a pair of Alpina Cross Terrain skis and Alpina boots. If my wife likes doing this then I will be trying Randonee. I have done alpine skiing for many years but I want to start with baby steps and progress from their. Luckily the Sierra's are 3 hours drive time for me.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Light ski on 12/21/2005 17:28:13 MST Print View

Jason, that is exactly what I want to do, get from point A to point B. My ski's don't really need skins, but I am thinking about purchasing some Black Diamond ones just in case.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Ultralight Skiing on 12/21/2005 17:33:18 MST Print View

Now here is my dilema. I want to apply the same techniques that I have learned for 3 season hiking and apply that towards being in the backcountry (namely the Sierra's) in the winter. Lightweight shelters, clothing options, cooking, etc. In winter travel I am a novice and want to expand ability to be in the backcountry during winter. Nothing to crazy just overnighters with the chance to have some fun.

Aaron Pope
(AaronPope) - F
Re: Ultralight Skiing on 12/21/2005 18:11:59 MST Print View

I am a big believer in a 1 setup, backcountry quivver, that allows me to tour comfortably for multi-day trips, yet still provides the power for challenging snow and steeps.

I'm on a pair of Garmont Mega-rides (last year's - awesome boot), dynafit comfort bindings and a brand new pair of Dynafit Carbon 10.0 Freerides. The setup skis as well as I could ask for.

Obviously this is not the lightest setup out there, but it's the best I can find that also gives me the "fun" factor.



Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Light ski on 12/21/2005 18:43:17 MST Print View

> My setup for going light here in the Sierra...

Jason, that's a good light kit for touring. You can save some weight on the skis for sure these days, but for a price. I'd also encourage you to go to a lighter skin (GlideLite or BCA Low-Fat) but full coverage. They will probably end up lighter than the narrow strip of Ascensions. Ditch the tail and tip that comes with the kit and just use a piece of AirCore Pro Rope for the tip loop.

My primary setup is focused on mountain skiing where there are steeps to ski with a full pack, passes to cross, etc. Winds, Tetons, Beartooths, and they need to cope with powder, ice, and crud.

Skis: Goode Carbon 82's (166 cm) - 4.3 lb/pr

Bindings: Dynafit TLT Comforts (no brake) - 1.8 lb/pr

Boots: MLT4's w/Thermofit Liners - 4.1 lb/pr* (*lace-up double plastic boot, not a lot here to power a ski thru crud, you were warned)

Skins: BCA Low-Fat, trimmed to ski shape, AirCore Pro Rope tip loop - 0.8 lb/pr

Leashes: homemade using AirCore Pro 2.2mm Cord & Ursalite Carabiner - 0.06 lb/pr

Total - 11.1 lb/pr while touring, 10.3 while skiing

Compare this to the typical and similar (ski) setup using traditional "light AT gear", from say, Black Diamond:

171 cm Crossbow Skis (6.6 lb/pr)

Fritschi Diamir Explore Bindings (3.7 lb/pr)

Scarpa Magic AT Boots (5.6 lb/pr)

BD GlideLite STS Skins Cut to Fit 171cm Crossbows (~ 1.1 lb/pr)

Total on feet while touring: 17.0 lb/pr
Total on feet while downhill: 15.9 lb/pr

Arguably, the BD setup gives you more power for crud skiing. So, replace the MLT4 boots in my list with the Scarpa Magics (which are Dynafit binding compatible) and my list still weighs only 12.6 lb on the feet while touring: that's four and a half pounds, and yes, you can feel it!

I skied my setup today with Craig Delger of ProLite Gear up on the Bridger Ridge. Conditions were total wet crud. I'm continuing to fall in love with Goode skis' ability to ski these conditions. They are so incredibly light (especially on the back, while slogging them up the boottrack to the ridge!), so you need to ski forward on them more than you would with a heavy ski. It's kind of freaky to get used to that on the double blacks but once you gain confidence in the skis, it's a very cool feeling to be smoking through crud with a forward lean!

Edited by ryan on 12/21/2005 18:45:01 MST.

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
ultralight skis on 12/21/2005 19:01:01 MST Print View

Some maniacs are using AT Racing skis with SNS Profil Bindings and skating boots. I'm not that brave.

A ski that intrigues me but I don't own is the K2 Sahale Randonnee Ski.

Still, on quite a few spring tours I use a waxable touring ski that's a little short and SNS profil boots. Often times I ski well into July on that kind of setup (although not last year). A touring ski with a soft flex is great for that. Certainly you can't ski all kinds of terrain in that kind of ski... but people did pretty heinous ski descents in the 1930s on primitive gear that probably was about as capable. And fragile.

Skill doesn't weigh anything.

Edited by david_bonn on 12/21/2005 19:04:11 MST.

Aaron Pope
(AaronPope) - F
Re: Ultralight Skiing on 12/21/2005 19:05:42 MST Print View

Here's my winter list. I'll be making a few changes this year, but generally it's pretty close to what I ventured out with on several, multi-day trips last winter/spring in California.

Without consumables and not including worn weight, skis, boots, bindings, poles and skins, and sharing group weight with a tent partner, I've got my pack weight to about 20lbs. The gear list includes a single-wall tent, helmet, ice axe and crampons - so it definitely could be paired down more for more mellow trips.


Wool silkeweight shirt
Patagonia silkweight underwear
Arc'Teryx softshell pants
sun hat
Sunto steel altimiter watch
Thin ski socks

Mammut softshell jacket or Marmot hardshell
patagonia DAS
Integral Designs Denali Pant
OR Balaclava
Marmot liner gloves
OR Wind stopper gloves
Bozeman mitts (just ordered)
xtra socks + plastic bags for vp's
Wind shirt

Voile Avy shovel
BD Firstlight tent w/carbon fiber poles and 4 x SMC Tahncor snow stakes SHARED
BD firstlight vestibule - optional 18.4 pounds SHARED
Looking for a better sleeping bag right now
3/4 Thermorest ultralight winter pad

Old North Face pack (not ultralight but tough, 4 pounder than can carry 50lbs. comfortably)
Light stuff sacks x 4
MSR whisperlight stove shared
(325 ml) gas bottle + double bag and pump SHARED
titanium pot w/lid, holder SHARED
Lexan cup
Plastik spork + knife
2 lighters + waterproof matches
2 widemouth, 1-L nalgene collapsable bottles
aqua mira in smaller bottles SHARED
Petzl Headlamp
First Aid kit SHARED
light goggles
sunscreen and lipstuff
repair kit SHARED
cheap sunglasses + strap
Toilettries-including hand sanitizer
1 BD wire carabiner
Plastic trash bag
Pack towel

repair kit: Mini-multi-tool, nail,line, hose clamps, lighter, wax, batteries,dental floss and needle, nail, epxoxy and a little steel wool,screws, sealant for air matress SHARED

Camp Aluminum Crampon
Mega-ride AT boots w/thermo liner
Dynafit Carbon 10.0 skis
BD Adjustable Carbon Fiber poles
Life-Link Comfort binding
Grivel Air Tech axe w/homemade leash
Dynafit ski crampons
Climb high skins + bag
Petzl helmet
Mammut beacon
ski strap
Black Diamond carbon fiber Avalanche probe

Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
Re: Re: Light ski on 12/21/2005 19:56:43 MST Print View

>Compare this to the typical and similar (ski) setup using traditional "light AT gear"

Oooh--guilty as charged.

Rossignol B2 skis with Fritschi Diamir FreeRide bindings: 12#12oz. Scarpa Laser plastic boots with Superfeet WinterGreen insoles: 7#8oz. That's over 10 pounds/foot, not including BD Ascension skins (another pound/foot).

I guess I'll have to wear this stuff out fast so I can replace it with lighter gear...

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Re: Re: Light ski on 12/21/2005 20:40:37 MST Print View

> I guess I'll have to wear this stuff out fast so I can replace it with lighter gear...

Nah, Doug, just break it ;) At BPL we call this destructive testing. "I had to put this in a vise and cut it with a hacksaw to see if the core was safe, because I had a bad feeling" you can tell your spouse. "You want me to be SAFE don't you?"

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
solomon xa and fisher rebounds on 12/22/2005 14:51:54 MST Print View

Popular in the sierra's for spring are fisher
rebounds (short, metal edge,waxless) with
solomon XA boots and skating poles.

Some of my friends do
long skate ski traverses of the ranges with
such. 50 mile days or trans sierra with just
a fanny pack etc. No skins but they do bring an
ice axe.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: solomon xa and fisher rebounds on 12/22/2005 16:28:36 MST Print View

>> Some of my friends do
long skate ski traverses of the ranges with such. 50 mile days or trans sierra with just
a fanny pack.

Holy cow!! That sounds so cool.

I crossed the Beartooth plateau last spring in skate ski gear. Miserable (too much steep climbing and descents for skate skis)! But I traversed the Wapta icefields in the same back in 88 and loved it over the rolling terrain there.