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175 Asylums/Switchbacks

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175 Asylums/Switchbacks

Postby freedan » Tue Dec 15, 2009 7:34 pm

Ski: 175 Voile Asylums (143-116-153)
Bindings: Voile Switchback
Boots: Garmont EnerG
Skins: 140mm Climbing Skin Direct cut wall to wall

Previous touring/soft snow setup was the Karhu BC100s/O1s and I loved this setup but the Asylum/Switchback combo far surpasses them.

Took the Asylums out on the opening day of lift service on the Tug Hill. 30"+ of snow was ideal to give them a try. From first run it was obvious that these floated and carried speed in deep snow better than any skis others were on. They turn on a dime both parallel and tele style and are very quick to come around. Quick, tight turns in saplings and brush were effortless and big high speed turns in the open were too. The first runs on these impressed me with how easy they were to ski. They hold a line in powder without wanting to pull this way and that but turn immediately when asked. They are very confidence inspiring and super stable. They feel solid underfoot when landing drops and scrub speed with ease. The only place they didn't shine was on some hardpack at the end of the day. The next couple of days I took them out touring in soft, but not super deep conditions. They were as easy to tour with (and similar weight) as the BC100/O1 combo I've been on the last couple of seasons. Their manueverability only became more obvious. The best ski soft snow/touring ski I've ever been on whether old school skinny or modern midfat. In soft snow I would take these out any day over my Verdicts or BC100s.

Likewise, the Switchbacks really impressed me. I've read a great deal how they are a step down from HHs or O1s but bomber and have no fiddle factor. I found these to ski very well. I didn't notice any lack of torsional stability and was able to rip parallel turns in these. The have a nice smooth flex while tele turning too. I really didn't notice any lack of performance. What I did notice was the simplicity of the tour switch. The first day I toured, heavy wet snow began to fall and the second the new snow was heavy. Ideal conditions for icing but they switched in and out of ski without a hitch. Meanwhile in the same conditions, Kate's O1s experienced the sometimes problematic underfoot icing that prevents them from going back into ski mode. Moreover, I loved having the two heel risers for uphill touring. The low bar is more than enough on most slopes while the higher bar is for the really steep ascents. I immediately noticed that the having only the higher heel riser on the O1 is overkill for most uphill skinning and makes for an awkward leg position. In the hodge podge mess that is the tele binding market, I don't know that I would choose any binding now but the Switchback. Oh yeah, did I mention it is substantially lighter than any of the "high performance" tele bindings?

And finally a word about Climbing Skins Direct. I ordered the 140mm skins from them and trimmed them for virtually wall to wall coverage. These were a fraction of the price of other big skin sizes from companies like BD or G3. The stretcher tip loop works really well and the simple metal tail clip does what it should. When it comes to stripping skins at the top, they actually make it easier. Instead of having to do yoga gymastics to lift the ski and grab the tail attachment and strip, you just leave the ski in tour, flip the tip right up in front of you, pop the stretcher tip connection and strip. Much easier and less awkward.

Overall, if you chase soft snow in the east like I do this setup will bring a smile to your face. If you run groomers, you probably will want to look at something else.
Last edited by freedan on Wed Dec 16, 2009 7:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Biff » Tue Dec 15, 2009 10:23 pm

I had a feeling (given how sweet the Insanes are) they would be awesome powder skis.
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Switchbacks

Postby Bern » Wed Dec 16, 2009 3:03 pm

Dan, I like the review of gear in combination. Nothing exists in isolation. My experience with the Switchbacks is exactly the same; effective and trouble free. I would add one observation which is especially important for me, an old guy and an asthmatic.

Free pivot bindings save energy because it is not necessary to lift the boot/ski combo off the snow. It does take a bit of practice to drag the ski uphill using the toe of the boot while leading the stride from the hip.
The best skinners are Euro rondo racers. They are so smooth as to make skinning look graceful. There are plenty of video clips on You-tube of rondo racing for anyone who wants to see how pros do it.

The thing about the Switchback is it is reasonably priced; it is relatively light weight; it is trouble free. These are typical attributes of Voile equipment. This is a great company.
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Postby Grant » Thu Dec 17, 2009 9:05 am

I'll second the thought on the SBs. I love mine (on G3 Rapid Transits). Easy, light, reasonable price. I have contacted Voile and they expect an 'upgrade' next year by making the toe box a little longer and moving the pivot point back slightly (should make it slightly more active). I'm looking forward to that.

I also love ClimbingSkinsDirect.com. I asked them to help my kids program out last year and they sent me a large box of their 'scraps'. These are the end of the roll that aren't long enough to sell for adult length skins. I was able to cut up enough pairs of skins to get my kids' tele group heading uphill last spring. Great guys at CSD.com indeed!
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