ISPO Highlights: Top 11 Ski Touring Stories

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We all know that ski touring has hit the mainstream fast and hard in recent years but nothing reinforces the growth and power of the backcountry ski industry like a visit to ISPO. The evidence is everywhere for all to see with more and more brands getting in on the uphill action as the main players continue to innovate at speed.

Here are just a couple of handfuls of the many fascinating ski touring stories we came across at this year’s show:

Dynafit – New Speedfit Range

1. DYNAFIT – NEW SPEEDFIT RANGE
The most intriguing story of the show was the launch of Dynafit’s Speedfit category – a brand new range of lightweight skis, boots bindings and apparel for the rapidly growing numbers of people skinning up in resort and skiing back down the piste. Whilst it can’t really be classified as ‘ski touring’ in the traditional sense, skinning in resort has become enormously popular in recent years: “30% of people with ski touring setups, in Europe, rarely use their gear for the backcountry, instead they are piste touring.” (WildSnow.com). Another pioneering move from the uphill touring market leader – watch this space.

Mammut Barryvox S Transceivers

2. MAMMUT BARRYVOX S AND BARRYVOX TRANSCEIVERS
Two new and improved avalanche transceivers, the advanced Barryvox S replaces the Pulse whilst the more basic Barryvox is an updated version of the Element. Both units have 70m search ranges and have been designed to make the complex and crucially time consuming fine search process faster and more intuitive. Key features on both beacons include larger easy-to-read Smartphone-style screens and the ‘Smart Search’ feature on the Barryvox S uses sensor technology to pinpoint the probe spot and speed up the fine search process. RRP Barryvox S £330 and Barryvox £250.

Salomon S/Lab X Alp Boot

Salomon S/Lab Ski

3. SALOMON S/LAB X ALP ADVENTURE TOURING LINE
The new S/Lab X Alp product line is designed with the most technical of ski mountaineers in mind. The 2017/18 range consists of a new ski boot, ski and apparel designed and developed by some of the best mountain athletes on the planet. The lightweight, rigid Arc’teryx Procline-esque S/LAB X Alp touring boot has been used on climbing/skiing missions by the likes of Liv Sansoz, Tony Lamiche and Alex Pittin while the 80mm underfoot, 908g S-LAB X Alp ski has been put through its paces by the indomitable Kilian Jornet. No pressure then…

La Sportiva Synchro boots

4. LA SPORTIVA SYNCHRO AND SHADOW TOURING BOOTS
New for AW 17/18 are the 1.5kg Synchro and Shadow (women’s version), two freeride touring boots for aggressive backountry skiers looking for optimal performance on the descent. The two piece tongue provides an impressive range of motion in touring mode before locking together to offer mega stiff resistance (125 flex) for the downhill. Reliable and technical, the Synchro and Shadow offer a beefier alternative to the enormously popular Spectre/Sparkle.

Scarpa Alien RS boot

5. SCARPA ALIEN RS TOURING BOOT
If you’re looking to work on your ascent but are not quite ready to go full soft skimo style just yet then the new Alien RS boot from Scarpa could be just the job. Weighing just 850g and with a 60 degree range of motion, the Alien RS will help you reach the summit at speed but crucially provides a stiffer ride on the descent than the original Alien. A dynamic boot that works for a whole range of fast and light goals from fitness training to mountaineering epics.

G3 Scala LT

6. G3 SCALA LT SKI TOURING SKIN
Part two of G3’s hybrid ski touring skin adventure is here – the new minimalist Scala LT is a lighter version of the original Scala released last year. The concept is still the same – traditional plush with a TPU plastic scaled section at the front to improve trail breaking – but the new Scala LT has been optimised for fast and light winter missions. The skin’s seal has also been engineered to avoid snow creep, helping your skins stay sticky for longer so you can keep bagging those laps.

BD Route Series

BD Helio Glove

7. BLACK DIAMOND ROUTE SERIES SKIS AND HELIO GLOVES
The new Route Series are a versatile collection of touring skis that should appeal to a wide range of backcountry enthusiasts. With three widths to choose from – 88, 95 and 105mm underfoot – the Routes have been designed to deliver a damp yet responsive ride. The lightweight 3-in-1 Helio Glove is a seriously premium bit of kit. The removable softshell inner slides easily in or out of the waterproof, breathable outer glove that includes 40g of PrimaLoft Gold Insulation and durable ripstop Dyneema fabric on the back of the hand. The palm and fingers are made of hard-wearing, water resistant goat leather that looks and feels as good as it performs.

Petzl Gully ice axe

Petzl Sirocco helmet

8. PETZL GULLY ICE AXE AND UPDATED SIROCCO HELMET
Technical ski mountaineers will appreciate the brand new ultra-light Gully ice axe and the new and improved version of the equally feathery Sirocco helmet – the weapon of choice of many of the world’s best steep skiers. Weighing in at just 280g the Gully’s steel pick tapers to 3mm for effective penetration when it’s really needed and the 45cm aluminium shaft comes with a TRIGREST handrest for support. The new Sirocco comes with reinforced protection on the top of the helmet, a lower profile thanks to reduced crown thickness and is available in two colourways – white/orange and black/orange. RRP Gully £100 and Sirocco £85.00

RAB Sharp

Paramo Nievo

9. PARAMO AND RAB JOIN THE SKIN TRACK
Whilst both Paramo and Rab have been making apparel that works for high-energy, fast and light mountain activities for some time, AW 17/18 sees both brands launching specific ski touring clothing for the very first time. The Nievo system (Esqua for Women) from Paramo features quick-drying Nikwax Analogy Waterproof Technology which has an exceptionally short drying time so is perfect for mountain huts. Rab’s Sharp Edge Jacket and Pants are lightweight, stretchy, waterproof and breathable so are ideal for ski mountaineering. Both pack a host of well-thought out touring-specific features including pit zips, helmet compatible hood, and large skin pockets on the jacket and reinforced crampon patches, removable ankle gaiters, and underboot attachment points on the pants.

Patagonia Descensionist

10. PATAGONIA DESCENSIONIST APPAREL
Human powered adventures should always be undertaken with minimal environmental impact and Patagonia’s new Descensionist line reflects this approach. The pinnacle pieces in the range are the Descensionist PowSlayer jacket and bib pants with GORE-TEX Pro recycled face fabric. Patagonia are committed to creating a fully sustainable snow line and the Descensionist PowSlayer range marks a significant step forward towards that goal.

Arcteryx Procline

11. ARC’TERYX WOMEN’S PROCLINE AND SHASHKA PANTS
The existing Procline ski mountaineering boot line-up just got a whole load better with the introduction of a women’s version for AW 17/18. Designed for technical climbing ascents and big mountain ski descents, the women’s Procline has been refined and developed with a thinner collar for improved fit around the calf and softer foam for comfort and feel. The Shashka pant has been several years in the making and looks set to become the ski touring pant of choice for committed female skiers everywhere. GORE-TEX C-Knit backer provides maximum mobility and comfort and excellent durability and weather protection. Izzy Lynch claims she would sell her soul for these pants but considering she’s an Arc’teryx athlete, she’ll probably get them for free.

REPORT BY SOPHIE NICHOLSON

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