- Two skis, 138cm, with permanently affixed Nylon-based climbing skins
- Backpack designed to carry folded skis
Ski Length: 138cm
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
Days Tested: 5
Locations Tested: Crested Butte, Red Mountain Pass, Telluride
I reported on the MTN Approach System last summer after some experience in slushy conditions, but I left off by saying that I was excited to test the system where it belonged: in powder.
This season, I was lucky enough to tour around Crested Butte, Silverton, and Red Mountain pass, each after snowstorms. After more time touring in a variety conditions, the MTN Approach System has continued to impress me. In short, this system is a must-have for snowboarders who want to ride different boards in the backcountry without sacrificing uphill performance.
Maneuverability / Flotation
Using the MTN Approach System in winter conditions has confirmed the positive impressions I had with this system last spring, and at this point I have little to complain about. The maneuverability, low swing weight, and per-step weight of the small 138cm skis has been a highlight through varied snow conditions.
The small size makes each step easier than it would be on a 160-plus-centimeter ski, and turning while switchbacking is simple, fast, and far from cumbersome. And yet, while the skis are short, they offered ample flotation in deeper snow.
Skinning through 8-12 inches of snow around Telluride was a good test, and the MTN Approach performed well. The soft tip-to-tail flex of the skis allowed for continued smooth motion, even if the underfoot section sunk a few inches. In sun-crusted areas, the shorter skis didn’t always stay above the 1-2cm crust, but in general I had little trouble navigating crusty areas.
Other areas where the small length could potentially be of concern were the grip of the shorter skins at steeper angles, and edge grip on icy traverses, both of which I was able to put to the test.
Ascending / Side-Hilling
I was impressed with the traction of the MTN Approach skis while ascending straight up the fall line, even in deeper or sugary snow or on icy crust. I haven’t had an issue with slipping yet.
When traversing in unstable snow and depending on the edge to hold, I admittedly slipped a few times. However, I have no reason to suspect that a splitboard would have granted me more security on edge, or that my technique couldn’t be improved. Simply put, the full-wrap edges on the MTN Approach offer more edge than a homemade split, which has no outside edges at all, or the ~25-30cm edge inserts that can be added by higher-end split shops (at a hefty price).
Overall, any possible flaws I could have anticipated in the system’s uphill capabilities were non-issues, and, even if they had been, I think that the light weight and maneuverability of the skis would far outweigh any such flaws.
I expressed some concern in my previous review about the weight of the pack while riding downhill, thanks to the added weight of two 4.5-pound skis. After significantly more time descending with the pack, however, I’ve become completely comfortable riding with the additional weight, and don’t feel any limitations.
I feel fine navigating tight chutes, traversing in sketchy snow, and snapping 360s off cliffs, cornices, and windlips.
Basically, if you’re comfortable riding and throwing your bag of tricks with a pack on, then you’re good to go.