High Trail Evotec Glueless Climbing Skins Review

I was sent a pair of these skins to test at the end of the last season so they have been burning a hole in the box waiting to get out. As I collected my ski pass the other day it seemed like it was the right time to cut the skins for my Black Crows Corvus. For the last five years I have religiously used Black Diamond STS mohair mix so they set the benchmark for comparisons.

So how does a glue-less skin work? The Swiss made High Trail use a silicon based coating which creates a molecular bond to adhere to the ski. They come in a stylish box with a very effective Stanley knife style skin cutter, stuff bag, and comprehensive instructions on how to fit them.  For all of you who will only read the instructions as a last resort, there is a useful video here for fitting the skins. The product has a high quality feel and appearance as you would expect from a Swiss made item, only time will tell on the performance.

The thing that remains to be seen is how well these skins hold up in wet or cold conditions and the overall durability of the glue-less system. Unlike conventional glue, the coating can’t simply be reapplied.  One major benefit is that the skins are much easier to peal off a wide freeride ski. Weight wise there is nothing in it. The tail of the skin has a easily adjustable clip that looks more robust that the Black Diamond skin tails which tend to perish after a season or two.

So all we need now in Europe is for it to snow so I can really put them to the test!

high trail skins-1

Les Dents du Midi – Les Doigts North Couloir

I was 17 when I first skied in the Portes du Soleil region and I got my first sight of the impressive North Face of the Dents du Midi. The 2 striking couloir lines in the photo below are musts to any aspiring big mountain skier. For whatever reason, I didn’t get round to going there in my first Alpine winter season aged 21, and its taken a full 20 years since my first glimpse to get there.

Les Dent du Midi, Couloirs Dent Jaune et Doigts

Couloirs Dent Jaune Left and Doigts on the Right. Photo Taken after Skiing Dent Jaune

And so it was that myself and Michelle went to the refuge Dents du Midi on a good forecast last week. On the approach the weather changed, the cloud dropped and the wind blew. I was glad of the Guides Scheme training while navigating to the hut in a white out.

The hut was cold and we went to bed early to keep warm under the blankets, while listening to the sound of the wind and knowing the forecast was good. Morning came and still the wind blew. Not inspired by the cold we had another couple attempts at getting up before leaving the hut with a curtailed plan given the low cloud, high wind and cold toes.

As we entered the Dent Jaune Couloir the weather deteriorated further and in the cloud I was knocking snow down to get some idea of the slope aspect. The mountain scenery in the couloir can only be described as magnificent, the towers and downward pointing limestone rock strata reminiscent of the North Face of the Eiger, with the exception that we are skiing rather than climbing. To ski in such places with the whole mountain to share between yourself and your partner is what I dream about and the reality of the adventure exceeded what I had imagined it would be like over all those years. So much so that I made a return trip the same week to ski the Doigts Right Hand Couloir.

We went with the plan to ski both the Doigts and Fortress Couloirs, unfortunately the raging wind at the weekend had created a wavy undercut surface covered in rock shards blasted of the couloir walls!  (it was very reminiscent of the exit to the White Spider on the Eiger!!) This time I was joined by Ben O’Conner Croft and Dave Searle.

Here are the photos from the second trip. The first trip will be posted next.

Finally a big thanks to Michelle, Dave and Ben for questing off into the unknown with me.

La Valais under a sea of cloud

Ben O'Conner Croft

Dent du Midi refuge Ben, Dave and Ross at Dents du Midi Refuge

L'eglise sunset 1 L'eglise sunset 1 Sunrise 2 Sunrise 1

Ross Hewitt, South Couloir Breche des Doigts 1 Ross Hewitt, South Couloir Breche des Doigts 1 Dave Searle Breche des Doigts

Doigts Couloir 13 Doigts Couloir 14 Doigts Couloir 4 Doigts Couloir 3 Doigts Couloir 2

Doigts Couloir 1 Dent de midi201 Dent de midi203 Dent de midi207 Dent de midi208Dents du Midi

Doigts Couloir 5 Doigts Couloir 6 Doigts Couloir 8 Doigts Couloir 7 Doigts Couloir 10 Doigts Couloir 11 Dent de midi221 Dent de midi224 Doigts Couloir 12 Dave Seale and Ben O'Conner Croft

Dents du Midi