After a couple of years almost exclusively on a pair of BD Mira’s, I’ve been upgrading and extending my ski quiver. Seems I’m doing as much backcountry skiing as ever, so why not have a ski for every day of the week? A while back I reported on the BD Havocs I’ve been enjoying. Mid winter in Colorado requires a ski with some width, but come spring why not use something skinny and light? Same goes for randonnee racing and ski resort fitness climbs, where less weight makes things more fun.
To that end I mounted up a pair of 170 cm Atomic MX09 a few weeks ago. Ski mountaineer Mike Marolt recommended the MX09 as a true mountaineering ski, and coming from Mike (great skier, 8,000 meter peaks), what more convincing did I need? After being on a variety of mid-fat skis these guys do look trim, but their ski performance is still beefy. They have major edgehold, but are supple enough to feel okay in the pow. I’ve heard them called “euro-style couloir boards” — I guess that means something skinny and quick you can use on steep hard snow in the backcountry. Fine with me. I used this ski for most of my laps at 24 Hours of Sunlight, and was glad to have something that really held on the icy snow of the “wall” at 2:00 AM (it also didn’t hurt my ego to pass a few folks half my age, who were using telemark skis twice a wide and heavy as the MX09.)
The main issue with these planks is that they’re turny and lively — without a careful tune they may chatter during the turn, and might feel squirrly during straight running. As nearly always (provided you’re working with a quality ski), tuning and technique are the keys. As I do with any test ski, I first tuned the MX09s to factory spec: 1 degree base bevel, 3 degree side. With very little “de-tune” at tips and tails they did tend to chatter when I layed in an agressive side slide such as you’d do in a steep hard couloir. Dulling the tip and tail a bit farther in made a big improvement, but I’m wondering if the side bevel might be more forgiving at 2 degrees (closer to a 90 degree edge angle).
Playing around with weighting the ski during the turn also made a huge difference. If I kept a more ball-of-foot stance the MX09 behaved much more predictably, but too much forward leverage or too much weight back and they’d squirl out on me. This might be a function of skiing a performance ski in such a short length — but I found it was kinda fun to make such a big difference in the turn by doing very small adjustments in for/aft stance.
I’m looking forward to having these short light skis strapped to my pack for a crampon climb, then enjoying cutting some corn or springtime Colorado powder. While I’ll probably be on something slightly wider for most of my mid-winter backcountry skiing trips, I can see using this rig for longish winter slogs when weight is more of an issue than soft snow performance. In all, thumbs up!
Dimensions 108/72/97, weight of 170 (one ski) with Dynafit TLT: 58.3 0z 1652 g
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.