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Going Up: Black Diamond Ascension Nylon STS Skins

Now lighter and more packable, but still just as much grip

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Details Details

Price: $159.95

Sizes: 110mm, 125mm, 140mm

Weight: 750 grams/pair

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Not all skin tracks are created equal. Some casually zigzag up a mountaintop. Others waste no time getting to the top. I was halfway up a skin track of the latter, cursing the backcountry skier who set the track and hardly had the patience for a kick turn, when I said my thanks for the Black Diamond Ascension Nylon STS skins that held me upright.

A skier must choose between skins that favor either glide or grip. I'm of the camp that would rather stand confidently on a steep track and so I almost always choose the grippier nylon skins. That said, I was pleasantly surprised with the ease of sliding on the flatter portions of climbs, in the approach or on the ridge, with the revised Ascensions.

Black Diamond redesigned the Ascensions with a new and patented plush nylon they say is 20 percent lighter and more packable than previous versions and I noticed the weight savings underneath my ski and in my pack. When folded, the skins packed down flat. The glue is also easier to manage. In previous versions, woe was the person who folded their skins without the mesh divide. This time, I didn't bother with the divide and folded my skins in quarters. When it came to pulling them apart, the effort was negligible.

Certainly there were times when soft and deep snow stuck to the bottoms of my skins—nothing a bit of skin wax couldn't fix. Otherwise, the Ascension skins worked so well I hardly thought of them on the steep approach. Instead, I focused my energy on putting one foot in front of the other until I reached the top.

Skiing Hot: Nevermind if the skin track was set by some insane person. The Black Diamond Ascension Nylon skins have enough grip to conquer the steepest of mountains.

Skiing Not: Attaching the tip loop was made more complicated because the screws kept chipping apart, a comment that was echoed in the reviews on Black Diamond's website. In response, Black Diamond said they had looked into the problem and would be issuing better quality screws in the future.