Spent the morning crawling up various couloirs, namely the Memorial Couloir #5, after which we dropped into #4 for a slice of narrow-walled skiing, followed by an ascent of #2, after which we skied the Mt. Olympus West Couloir, which was then re-ascended and followed by a descent of #2. Dizzy yet? It wasn’t nearly the day we had planned, but as they say, time is ever against us.
This relatively quick outing was facilitated for me by my recent acquisition of Hagan X-Ultra skis, which are my most recent step towards applying the Light is Right philosophy to skiing endeavors. The skis clock in at just about 2090 grams per pair on my gram measuring weight scale, which is just about 4 pounds, 10 ounces for those of you who are stuck on the American weight system. In case you’re not sure, that’s pretty light where skis are concerned, as many other ski options weigh that much per ski. Don’t get me started on the Black Diamond Megaweight or its new cousin, the Gigaweight. I’m just not strong enough to haul beasts like those uphill all day; kudos to you if you are.
Backcountry skiing may be exploding as a sport across America – an assertion backed by the sales numbers of many backcountry ski gear providers – but it’s nothing new in Europe, where hiking for human powered turns has been de rigueur for decades. America is behind the curve on this sport, as evidenced by international competitions. Accordingly, it’s not surprising that American companies build ever wider – and typically heavier skis, while Euros try to decrease weight while offering the same characteristics one looks for in a high performance ski.
Lighter weight allows more mileage, more vertical, and more peaks/lines skied in a day. Gear created with ‘Light is Right’ in mind allows fast movement, which can make all the difference towards safety if avalanche conditions are changing rapidly. It also allows one to see the mountains in a whole new way, as previous one-day peaks become just another dot on the day’s map of ski descents. And finally, lighter gear weights translate to shorter recovery times for a day’s exertion. This allows one to recharge their batteries and get after it again by the next morning, with little fuss and less soreness. All of that is known by companies such as Hagan – supplied in America by Inform Sports – who help backcountry skiers and ski mountaineers apply their craft on the peaks.
I’ll cover the performance of the Hagan’s in more detail soon, but for now, it’s on to the pictures of what was a beautiful, cloudless day in the Wasatch.