It was not all that many years ago when Black Diamond emerged onto the ski market. I owned the first version of the Verdict ever made, and I’ll be honest – I really didn’t like it. In fact, I sold my Verdicts only after using them a handful of times, after terrifying myself trying to ski them on icy conditions down Crestone Peak. I usually don’t mind icy conditions. Growing up skiing man-made snow, ice skiing became my strength. But, not with the Verdicts.
But, then Black Diamond got pretty good at making skis. The Verdict was improved and the Megawatt became immensely popular. And before anyone could try to keep up, their ski line-up exploded, exponentially. There were men’s versions, women’s versions, carbon skis and not… It was hard to keep track of just how many skis they had.
The Black Diamond Link Series
So, that’s why we were surprised to walk into the Black Diamond booth at SIA last January to find less skis. A lot less. You see, ski series have a carrying capacity, of which Black Diamond had probably exceeded. Why not focus on a few different skis that are good at a lot of different things, but make those skis really good? That’s what Black Diamond decided to do for 2015-16.
Black Diamond slimmed their line from “God-knows-how-many” to a skinny 9. Each of these skis can be classified under one of three categories – the Link, the Boundary, or Carbon.
Mid to late November has brought some decent snowfall to the Crested Butte area. But, it’s also brought a lot of wind. Like Front Range style winds. For an area that sees very little wind affect compared to the rest of the state, this has taken some adjustments. Wind-loading and wind-slabs are prominent in much of our snowpack and have made it somewhat fragile. Yet, the moderate avalanche rating produces a fairly false sense of stability. I don’t know why they got rid of the “pockets of considerable” in ratings over the last couple of years. But, that’s what we have right now. I call it “scary moderate”. You never know when you’ll step on that weak spot that could send the whole snowpack crashing down. So, watch out.
That said, there is good and fairly stable snow to be had below treeline, if you know where to go. Here’s a few shots from some recent adventures in the backcountry.
Alex during our three-lap day at Pittsburg. Still a little thin, but alright.
Randy catching some pow.
Last spring, I was given the opportunity to test out one of Black Diamond’s new skis, the Boundary 115. As the name might suggest, the ski is 115mm underfoot. In the 185cm size that I had, the dimensions are 142-115-124, with a short radius of 22m. The ski features regular camber underfoot and rocker in both the tip and tail.
If you know Black Diamond’s previous ski lineup, the dimensions of this ski may sound familiar. The Boundary 115 basically replaces the Amperage of years past. Black Diamond cut down on their ski lineup this year, so now there is the backcountry oriented carbon series, the Link series which is also oriented towards the backcountry, and the all-mountain Boundary series.
A couple of years ago, some innovative MIT guys invented the Avatech Probe which allows skiers to obtain reliable snowpack data in a quick digital format. But, they needed somewhere to keep all that data. Hence, Avanet was born.
At the time, Avanet was largely kept from the masses, being released primarily to snow professionals. But, it was obvious that the data stored in Avanet could be very useful for all winter backcountry users. In fact, we wrote about Avanet and some of its capabilities during our SP1 Review last spring. This summer, the Avatech/Avanet guys sat down again, enhancing their platform, and are now releasing it to recreational users as well.
What is Avanet?
Avanet is a platform that is available through the web or via a mobile app. Access via the web is through http://www.avatech.com/ and the app can be obtained on iTunes (currently no Android version available) at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/avanet/id1002265185.