MTN Approach System

MTN Approach System, Blister Gear ReviewMTN Approach Backcountry Snowboard System

System includes:

  • Two skis, 138 cm, with permanently affixed Nylon based climbing skins
  • Backpack designed to carry folded skis

Ski Length: 138 cm

Ski Dimensions (mm): 140-110-130

Folded Ski Dimensions:
5.5 x 2 x 21 in.
14 x 5 x 53 cm

Weight per ski: 4.5 lbs. / 2.4 kg

Pack size: 2,135 cu. in. / 35L

MSRP: $795

Don’t be confused by the skis: the MTN Approach System is a snowboarding system, just one with a different take on backcountry riding. The idea is to use foldable approach skis in place of the more traditional splitboard, which has its limitations.

First, there’s the startup cost, which can be hard to swallow once you add up the splitboard (or a regular board to split yourself, plus the ~$160 cost of a kit to do so), climbing skins, and hardware. Splitboards also tend to feel clunky, heavier with the added hardware, and less responsive. Additionally, they lose some of the integrity of their torsional (or side to side) flex compared to a regular board, and the two halves of a split are more independent in flex. My previous experiences on a splitboard have left me with less than a good impression of the response and quality of the ride.

So when I first heard about the MTN Approach System, I was definitely intrigued. The lightweight skis come with permanently attached skins, and included in the system is a backpack designed to carry the folded skis close to the body during the descent. This allows the rider to use his or her board of choice, which straps to the backpack during the skin/hike, and speeds up the transition from skinning to riding.

MTN Approach Skins, Blister Gear Review
The skis of the MTN Approach system come with permanently attached nylon based skins.

I received the system in late spring, with snow conditions rapidly deteriorating, but was able to get out on the MTN Approach System at Alta Ski Area, a favorite spot of mine for great pre- and post-season riding, after the lifts have stopped running. For my first ascent with the MTN Approach, I chose a mellow route following Collins lift to its angled mid station, then continued up to the Baldy Shoulder area.

When I first strapped into the aluminum/rubber bindings on the MTN Approach skis, I was definitely impressed. A collapsible heel loop and minimal rubber straps kept my boot secure and comfortable without adding significant weight to the ski. The toe strap and heelcup also adjust forward and backward independently, which allows the rider to alter the effective length of the footbed. My size 9.5 2013 Deeluxe ID boots fit perfectly in the bindings with minimal adjustments, and they were very comfortable throughout the tour.

5 comments on “MTN Approach System”

  1. Interesting. I remember seeing something like this in development in the late 90’s in Alta. Don’t know if it ever made it into production. Anything to use your regular shred-approved board in the backcountry is a good idea. Interested to hear the outcome of some icy cross-hill traversing and dicey situations on the skis as I’ve had problems with those situations on my split. Actually considering an alternative binding/boot setup for that reason alone. Thanks
    Mica

    • Ian,

      It’s true that approach skis are not a new concept, but from what I’ve read and heard about the old K2 skis, this system is miles ahead in many ways. The permanently affixed skins and integration with the pack are two major additions among others. All technologies are developed over time- I think that this system, while not for everyone, is anything but a “dead end concept”. Look for an updated review in the next few days.

      Thanks,
      Jed

  2. just took them on my AST-1 and had to lead a multiple burial rescue scenario. If you have the skis on your feet and your board strapped to the bag you have to waste precious time un-clipping your board from the bag to even efficiently access your rescue gear and then leave the board unattended in an avalanche track while you utilize your rescue gear. Bad design. i DO NOT RECOMMEND these. Buy a split and save your back/shoulders and money.

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