Backcountry Skis for Southern California Mountains

Originally published June 2014; updated November 2015

With the rising popularity in backcountry skiing, social media is abound with images, video and tales of epic climbs and descents.  We see the TGR videos of  skiers and boarders performing super-human feats most of us can only dream of. Company sites promote products with fantastic professional athletes and everyone seems to post on their Facebook, links to other epic skiing.

The reality is most starting as backcountry skiers need to find open backcountry terrain of gentle rolling hills, trees that are not too close and where you do not need to travel hours on the road or on skis to get to the perfect spot. For those of you in Southern California, consider visiting the Mt. Pinos region when the snows arrive this winter–just 1.5 hours from Downtown Los Angeles, mostly on freeways (the last 20 miles is on a paved mountain highway). For more information, explore the Mt. Pinos Backcountry Ski Patrol web site.

163715_19_glidelite_mohair_mix_sts_web

Skins

Now we get to the gear. This writing will be limited to skis and while not a review of individual skis, their features and performance, it will present a particular type of backcountry ski that is ideal for the backcountry tour skier–the waxless base.  A waxless base is not a substitute for skins (fabric attached to bottom of ski to allow skiing uphill without sliding backwards), but will allow uphill on gentler slopes without the need for skins. The listing below contains several brands and models that are currently available. Boots and bindings will not be discussed here today and are the subject of another post. The order of Boots and Binding is critical as for one getting into backcountry touring will need to first decide if they are a Telemark (Tele) or AT skier as boots and bindings are not interchangeable with these two. Luckily the skis work with either choice.

Waxless Base:

waxless 1

Waxless Base

A ski with a wax less base will have scales in the center 1/3 of the ski that allow forward direction and provide resistance to the ski from sliding backwards. The scales are coated and thus do not require a wax. the term “waxless” is misleading as the front 1/3 and rear 1/3 of the ski is gerally a sintered base that requires wax.

The Skis:

This is not a review of the skis nor a recommendation for a specific ski. There are additional brands and models with a waxless base, however I have omitted all skis narrower than 78mm under foot (no skinny skis!). All of the skis listed would perform well on terrain found in a region like Mt Pinos with either a Tele or AT boot/binding set-up. The skis are presented in alphabetical order based on manufacturer.

Fischer S-Bound 112:

Length: 169, 179, 189 – Width: 112mm-78mm-95mm

s-bound112-crown-skin-fischer

Fischer S-Bound 125

Length: 165, 175, 185 – Width: 125mm-95mm-120mm

fischer-s-bound-125

G3 Stinger XDC

Length: 157, 166, 1725, 177, 185 – Width: 125mm-78mm-100mm

G3-Stinger-XCD_15x-560x97

Madshus Annum:

Length:  165, 175, 185, 195 – Width: 109mm-78mm-95mm This ski is the old Kahru Guide. Madshus bought Kahru several years ago and re-named the ski. The design is a traditional side-cut design.

Madshus Annum 2015

Rossignol BC 110 Positrack

Length: 169, 179, 189 – Width: 110mm-78mm-95mm

BCfamilly-v2-cs3

Rossignol BC 125 Positrack

Length: 165, 175, 185 – Width: 123mm-90mm-120mm

BCfamilly-v2-cs3

Voile Vector BC

Length:  160, 170, 180 – Width: 160: (115mm-92mm-104mm), 170: (118mm-94mm-107mm), 180: (121mm-96mm-110mm), New for 2015, the Vector is now available in an all white version for those of you concerned with snow/ice build-up on your skis. Voile makes the only waxless skis I could find with a rocker tip and tail (V6 BC, Vector BC and Charger BC). This is the most modern designed waxless ski I have seen. Be sure the look for the “BC” after the name—if it is not there the ski does NOT have a waxless base.

vectorbc

Voile Vector 2015

Voile V6 BC

Length:  163, 173, 183 – Width: 163: (116mm-96mm-103mm), 173: (121mm-98mm-107mm), 183: (124mm-100mm-109mm). The V6 is designed after their V8 and will be a bit stiffer in the tips/tails than the Vector due to carbon fiber. Voile makes the only waxless skis I could find with a rocker tip and tail (V6 BC, Vector BC and Charger BC). This is the most modern designed waxless ski I have seen. Be sure the look for the “BC” after the name—if it is not there the ski does NOT have a waxless base.

voile_v6_bc_skis_342x1200Voile Charger BC

Length:  171, 181, 191 – Width: 171: (134mm-110mm-123mm), 181: (137mm-112mm-126mm), 191: (140mm-114mm-128mm). Voile makes the only waxless skis I could find with a rocker tip and tail (V6 BC, Vector BC and Charger BC) . This is the most modern designed waxless ski I have seen. Be sure the look for the “BC” after the name—if it is not there the ski does NOT have a waxless base. This is a “big” ski that is designed to be “charged”, not for the timmid skier.

Voile Vector 2015

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s