By David Herring
If you see me standing at the back of my car scratching my head it’s probably because I can't decide which pair of Kastle's I want to ski on, the FX or the TX. The decision used to be easy, FX inbounds and sidecountry and the TX for longer tours. This was until the new TX came out this year.
The FX 95 is still my go-to ski for sheer all round pleasure. They ski fast and hard through just about anything, have enough width at 95mm underfoot to float in powder, especially ozi pow, yet light enough at
just under 2000g to tour on. Ideally suited to a binding like the Marker Kingpin, I still ride mine with a lightweight frame binding, the Ambition. With an 18m radius they have a genuine GS feel about them on the groomers and the early rise and dual radius of its tip with only a slightly raised tail make them a dream ski. Chris Davenport would be proud of the development of this ski and their popularity this year is well deserved. If you are looking to get into the sidecountry and want one ski to do it all in and out of the resort this could be the ski for you.
As a fan of lightweight skis on longer tours, and I mean skis weighing in under 1600g, I have been less than impressed with the downhill performance of these skis in the past. We all tend to rate skis on North American and European reviews and it’s hard to make sense of it when trying to decide on a ski for Australia with its often varied and harsh BC conditions. Most go fine uphill but I found myself looking for a heavier damper ski to get me home. The new Kastle TX is a real game changer for me. Kastle is not the first brand to introduce an ABS sidewall constructed lightweight ski and I can't say I have skied on all the others, but weighing in at about 1400g this ski offers everything I have been looking for in a package, sharing all the things I like about the FX. The new graphics are great and mounted with a tech binding, in my case the G3 ION, they are bound to become a popular choice for many backcountry tourers. The 90mm under foot is probably my choice for Australia but my 98s will be on the plane to Japan with me for sure.
They are not a resort ski at any stretch but I now have a ski that will get me home late in the day when the sun has gone and the conditions are difficult. The decision at the beginning of the day is just a little easier.
Pre-cut climbing skins are available for both the FX and the TX .
Harro Snowsports at Crackenback Village are the Kastle importers and
have all models for demo and sale.
The FX and TX are also available at Mont Adventure Equipment in Canberra.
The shock of stepping out of the car. Heater blasting all the way up, now we’re blasted by the freezing, howling wind. Collar up, hood on. Going to be a day of battling the weather. Still I’m chomping at the bit to get going. In that wind are snowflakes. Smashing into my glasses, but I know also landing softly, in the lee, in the trees. It’s going to be fun. Head down, leaning into the gusts the legs kick into auto pilot and the slow meander up begins. Friends on their first day are going strong despite the weather. Massive props. Cold fingers fumbling on new equipment. Testing endurance, the climbs and the weather. “Does this weather bother you?” they ask. The truth. “Yeah, but damn it’s invigorating… and it makes the beer taste better!” Blizzard-like conditions make even the most familiar terrain an adventure. But soft deep turns make the wind a distant memory on the way down. Sheltered in the valley big grins and hoots replace the wind swept grimace. Then back up into the weather. The wind picks up, visibility goes down. Navigation based on countless hours in the hills. Familiar terrain moves unseen, just felt, under the skins. Transitions arrive unannounced. Lines, obstacles and meeting points are screamed into the screaming wind. Dropping, riding by brail, knees bent just a touch more. A fine line between speed and the indeterminable line between cloud and snow. After a few lines, windy faces shown signs of cracking. A call for beer and tails turn for home. Glowing faces, cold beer, big smiles. The weather, what an adventure.
- MRBC's ambassador Dave Bain
-So psyched, then the forecast changes. The mood drops a bit from the imagined plans, but something will be salvaged. No need to take a day off work, put that back in the bank for a storm. Clear days beckon for some riding, get at least some mountain time. Things run just a little bit more mellow, taking time. Notice the sound of the skins, follow the fox tracks imagining, stop. Notice the quiet. Gaze at lines, storing information for the next storm. These days are great for exploring, riding something new, maybe something that wouldn’t normally warrant riding on a good snow day. These days are great alone, contemplative. These days are great with friends, sometimes talking, sometimes lost in our own moments. Always sharing. Easy days exploring the snow, following aspects in a dance between the week’s wind and the day’s sun. Mountain appreciation days, chilled. - Dave Bain