Doing long canyon tours in the Bitterroots is one of my backcountry ski passions, but the long slog into the canyons and the small hills on the way out have always demanded elevated commitment, fitness and energy. With the new Voile BC Vectors, the efficiency on the tour in and out of the canyons is phenomenal.I have given them the full work out by touring 7 miles in Blodgett Canyon without skins, ascending 1,600' vertical. I was able to easily outpace my usually faster skinning partner, who pushed as fast as he could to keep me in view. At the bottom of the skin trail, I skin up with fine results. The idea is not new; however, until now not perfected: pair a good set of backcountry skis with classic ski scales underfoot to make the ultimate long touring weapon. Voile USA makes these skis in two models the skinnier 121-96-110 (180cms) Vectors and the beafier powder cousin the Charger. The Vector had received good reviews from a number of my friends as great multi purpose skis only lacking when the powder was really deep. But I knew noone with the BC scaled version. I picked up a pair last spring with the coolest Blue Forest motif and a bear on the tail. I used them a couple times for touring around Downing Mountain Lodge and to Canyon Peak before the big Blodgett ski tour and thought that they were going to be the ticket.
On the downhill, their performance is good. The scales do slow you down a wee bit, allowing straighter lines, but without any breaking feeling in the quads. I imagine that the scales will break up water surface tension in wet spring snow as well. The only time they are too slow is when skiing 15 degree powder slopes, other than that I barely notice the scales on descent. Tuning and waxing is a bit tricky. No wax on the scales and filling nicks and scratches is a little bit more time consuming. The tip is well matched for skin clips both BD and G3 styles. The tail lacks a fixture and therefore tail clips become loose on occasion needing management, my only real gripe.
Now the canyons all appear much more inviting as I can kick and glide into them and climb effortlessly all the hills on the way out. No more hanging on poles at the end of the day to suffer a fifty foot hill, just more effortless kick and glide. At long last the Bitterroot Canyons are matched by a ski tool that allows efficient and easy transport deep into the Wilderness skiing. I imagine as folks become believers, we will see increased day traffic in what was once considered overnight terrain for the stouter, masochistic types.
Noteworthy is that the skis are both inexpensive, sturdy, and made in Salt Lake City by a small team of devout experts. Voile's other skis and split boards all have a following from the original Fat Drifter to the nouveau V8, to the Artisan, I have become a real proponent of their product line and style.