Oct 24 2012

TR: In-bounds, untracked at Sugar Bowl


Lots of folks willing to hike at Sugar Bowl for the first turns of the 12/13 season.

What are the results from the season opener? Fresh tracks, two face shots, a serendipitous meeting with friends, revelations with G3′s Onyx, some sweet tele turns with an attack of the nuns using the NTN Freedom binding, no trouble but an unexpected symptom with Ascension glue, the usual frosting with G3 Alpinists skins, and great tackiness with BCA’s Magic Carpet skins.

About 25 people made turns at Sugar Bowl resort yesterday. A nice skin track was laid from the village up the groomers on the north side of Disney. The upper pitches held pretty steady at 20° and none of the skins I tried had a problem with that. The fact that they were 85mm wide straight skins did require a bit of technique to prevent the exposed p-tex on the Nunataqs from affecting grip, but I managed to hold on easy enough, even on a few short 23° sections.

Overall I was surprised to see a bit of frosting on BD’s new Ascension skins for this year. The glue formula has been revised to make it less sticky and easier to manage for fat skins. The skin being used has about ten days use, and they were stored cool over the summer. They were easier to manage, but if it wasn’t for the STS tail they probably would have come off.

The snow was superb. It was wind packed powder, meaning it had density for flotation above the branches and granite teeth lurking beneath the surface, and I only nicked ‘em twice, just a scratch.

G3′s Spitfire LT with a svelte 88mm waist had no problem staying afloat. I – on the other hand – did not fare so well with the first turns of the season using a locked heel and the Scarpa Maestrale RS. Based on that run RS stands for ridiculously stiff but those watching might just say my skiing really sucked. On the climb back up for a second lap my tracks did not reveal the trouble I felt. Nonetheless, some warm up time under the lifts with the Maestrale’s is on the docket for a future trip.

The space between the touring lock and the front of the toe becomes a snow trap, then an ice bumper if the snow is sticky, potentially reducing the touring range of motion a LOT!

Surprise, surprise, the Freedoms have a potential icing issue when the snow is sticky. The space between the articulating arms that indicate the toe is free to pivot and the front of the toe is a veritable snow trap. If it is sticky, the toe will pack it as you are pivoting the boot when skinning, inevitably packing it into an ice cube that can reduce your range of motion by up to 15 degrees. A snap kick-turn is not even possible, and it was while attempting to do this that I confirmed what I thought I had been feeling, a reduced range of motion – so much so that I might execute a snap turn with a Freeride easier than I could with the Freedom – until I chipped the ice away with the tip of my pole.

In downhill mode the Freedom ruled. It delivered some sick tele turns with blissfully smooth control. It made the most of the powder, didn’t over pressure the tip of the ski, and allowed me to drop enough to scoop up a few face shots.

I’m usually a bit leery of early storms and admit it is just a silly superstition to think we only get so much moisture allotted to us on average so I don’t like to waste it early season when it is probably just going to melt. On the otherhand, big seasons seem to start early and end late. With any luck, this storm is one of those early beginnings. Even if not, it sure was good to get out.

© 2012

  • teletilyouresmelly

    Good to hear a first-day report! We are off the back in terms of snow in CO but that bodes well for avy condititions later. Sorry to hear about icing on the Freedom, I just mounted mine- wonder if there is a non-damaging lubricant that could help?

  • http://ThompsonPass.Com/ Matt Kinney

    I assume the poles will get shorter as the season progresses.(smile)

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  • Jon

    Not only does the snow pack restrict the ROM, but it also makes switching from climbing to downhill mode difficult. A non-damaging lube is a good idea!
    Of course, this is only a problem on those sticky snow days. Every other day the Freedoms rule!