I came into this season with a few new pieces of gear – Black Diamond Factor boots, Marker Duke bindings, and the new Bluehouse District 187 skis. I’ve been meaning to get some brief reviews out, so here we go.
Black Diamond Factor: This is the boot that promised to be the end-all be-all AT/Freeride boot. Heavy, burly, stiff, and tourable. I have to say that they accomplished their goals. The boot is certainly heavy, but it is extremely stiff. The BOA system is great for snugging the liner down, however it is heavy. I have pulled them and put in Intuitions, which conform far better to your feet (my toes were getting crunched despite heat-molding the liner) and substantially stiffen up the boot. The walk-mode on the shell is as close to a free-pivot as is available. I’m enjoying skiing them, and look forward to spring climbing season with the Factors.
Marker Dukes: This is Marker’s alpine binding with a walk-mode. I still haven’t skinned with them, but that’ll change this weekend. The ski performance is outstanding. No flex or slop anywhere. Bravo Marker, you made something worth buying.
Bluehouse District 187: Some of you may be aware of the issues that BH is having with this ski. Something in the manufacturing process happened that keeps the ski from holding camber. After a few days on them, I’ve got roughly 9″ of tip rocker and almost a foot of rocker in the tail, measured with the bindings holding together. These are great in soft snow. Due to the lack of camber, edgehold is nonexistant, but they’re outstanding powder skis. BH will be sending me some proper ones once they’re done being manufactured, sometime in the next couple months. I look forward to getting on them, and I’m sure they’ll be great for ski mountaineering.
This weekend is Friends of Berthoud Pass’ on-snow avalanche education class. Should be fun.