In a state filled with fifty three 14,000-foot peaks, mountains of lesser elevation can often go overlooked. What many may not know is that there are countless other challenging and classic Colorado descents littered throughout the state. Mt. Sopris is just one of them. The 12,966-foot summit reigns over the town of Carbondale, Colorado, conjuring up thoughts of the Lonely Mountain in The Hobbit, and dominating the surrounding landscape.
While the mountain serves as an important landmark in Carbondale, the monstrous rock is also an ideal testing ground for the latest and greatest in backcountry ski gear. Last week, myself and fellow FREESKIER staffers Damian Quigley and Jason Smith joined members of the Backbone Media crew Fielding Miller, Sam Coffey and John Dicuollo, to test some of the new offerings from Black Diamond, Fritschi Diamir, Polartec and Abominable Labs.
My vehicles for this uphill excursion—which featured over 4,300 vertical feet of elevation gain—would be the Black Diamond Carbon Megawatts outfitted with Fritschi Diamir Vipec 12 bindings. The crew from Backbone were speed demons on the uphill, so I was thankful for the lightweight setup. The pair of skis weighed in at eight pounds four ounces and the two bindings were two pounds six ounces, resulting in a combined weight of 10 pounds 10 ounces. Not too shabby for a pair of 120 mm waisted skis, if you ask me.
The Vipec binding also proved its uphill value. The heel riser was easy to access and maneuver, making touring through variable aspects a bit less strenuous. Additionally, the micro-adjustable width toe wings are compatible with a variety of tech boots on the market. This ensured a quick on-and-off of the skis when lower elevation conditions warranted a boot pack over skinning (I was rocking the Scarpa Freedom SL’s for reference).
As for eyewear, I was donning the A-Bom goggle from Abominable Labs. The A-Bom seeks to rid the ski world of foggy goggles—of course, we’re not talking about the popular aprés bars. The goggle is built with A-Bom’s KLAIR technology—a heat-conductive film situated between the two-part lens that heats up via battery to dispel fog.