Snowtrax is the largest independent ski and snowboard retailer in the UK. Come and vist us in our ski shop in Christchurch, Dorset.
Our blog contains useful news plus reviews of all of our products to help you decide on the right gear!
La Grave offers a lot of open space and fantastic tree skiing but what brings people to this mythical French village, is the big couloirs on both the north and south aspects of the big ridge, Girouse glacier.
So what should you be thinking about when tackling a couloir? Almost certainly, you will be with a group of friends, so it’s important to make sure you always communicate before you set off. Discuss where to regroup and how far it is to reach a safe spot in the couloir. This decision will be based on snow quality and the terrain around you.
It’s also wise to discuss the distance you want to leave between each skier, agreeing on a sensible gap will ensure everyone is safe.
When you arrive at the top of the couloirs, it’s a good idea to stop with your back to the couloir wall, so you can easily look up and downwards without having to twist your head too much, which can happen if you are stopping with your chest towards the couloir wall.
Remember when skiing, that your shoulders should be still and it’s your hips and legs that are making the turns. Your eyes on the other hand should be on the fall line and not looking at the flanking walls. To make your skiing as fluid as possible, always initiate the next turn with your wrist slightly towards the fall line.
When the snow is soft, always ski and rest in a sensible position, so as to avoid surface sluff created by your fellow skiers, as well as youself. ‘Sluff’ can easily grab your skis if you’re not fully under control. If the snow is firm, make sure to ski short distances between stops, to avoid large pieces of snow ‘taking out’ other skiers.
When traveling in mountainous terrain with couloirs, a lot of attention needs to be focused on whether or not the temperature is rising or falling. This will enable you to manage the risk of the couloir avalanching, but also to avoid skiing on refrozen snow where a hard, glazed layer has formed, making a couloir descent tricky or impossible.
When undertaken in the right conditions, by experienced skiers, couloir skiing is a reward that’s hard to match from any other type of skiing!
The Dynastar Cham 97 is the ultimate one ski to have. It is easily the most accessible freeride ski out there. On one hand it can easily manoeuvre itself with ease through the worst refrozen crud imaginable and on another hand sweep down wide open power fields with a huge amount of pleasure.
How versatile the ski was came as a real surprise to me as I did not think that a ski of this geometry could be that adaptable but also stable, strong and playful.
Dynastar have worked on this ski for the past 5 years , tweaking the flex and geometry each year ultimately working hard to arrive with a ski that is has received many awards in many different countries. It certainly gets my vote!
Lars Krantz – Freerider, La Grave
So good it doesn’t need a name, The Ski from Scott is the brand’s most versatile all-mountain ski that’s all about the details. One of its main features is Scott’s exclusive 3Dimensional sidecut, which means the tip, tail and underfoot areas of the ski all have their own separate radius. This makes for seriously good handling, edge control and stability, resulting in cruisy, effortless turns.
The Elliptical (curved on top) full wood core is specially shaped to direct power into the edges during turns for amazing grip and lively stiffness. This core also travels the length of the ski, providing a natural, stable flex that makes The Ski ultra-reliable and consistent in all conditions.
The Ski features Scott’s Pro Tip rocker, which is a slight early rise in the nose for a little extra float and manoeuvrability in the powder, with traditional camber in the rest of the ski for the best of both worlds. The same goes with waist widths, which range from 88 to 93mm. When you add this to the other features, you have a ski that doesn’t specialise in anything, but can handle all terrains with stability, agility and confidence – perfect for an intermediate or advanced skier who wants one ski for everything, that’s equally as at home cruising as it is charging.
Binding set-up: Flat deck, bindings not included but see our options here!
Terrain: 60% piste, 40% powder
If you like going up just as much as you like coming down, the Salomon MTN Explore 95 touring ski is definitely worth a look. It’s lightweight, sturdy and can hold an edge like nobody’s business. With a reputation for not only being super-light, but super-stable as well, it’s the one quiver touring ski that can handle everything from quick afternoon ascents to multi-day hut-stops. It even feels great on the piste.
Part of the reason the MTN Explore 95 is so light is thanks to the wood core with a carbon and flax laminate. The lightness and strength of these two materials combined provides optimal stability through everything from heavy powder to afternoon crud. In fact, a lot of features about this ski are purely stability-based, from the vibration-dampening pulse pad, to the lightweight, early rise Honeycomb Tip, the strong ABS sidewalls and stiff, reinforced edges.
For optimal manoeuvrability, the Mountain Explore 95 features a medium turn radius, a sweet-spot 95mm waist and a flat tail, which provides the best platform for hard charging, but also responsiveness when you need to pick your line carefully. It’s the ideal ski for a keen tourer who wants something that’ll perform just as well on a day of resort cruising as it will on a six-hour skin-up to a blustery peak.
Binding set-up: Flat deck, bindings not included
Terrain: 50% alpine touring, 25% powder, 25% piste
To learn more about the 2016 Salomon MTN Explore 95 and to make a purchase – click here.
The ThirtyTwo TM-Two has quickly become known for being one of the highest performing boots at a mid-range price. Its reputation has been helped along with the backing of some of the world’s best, and most creative professional snowboarders. The likes of over-the-Atlantic super talents, Scott Stevens, Dylan Thompson and Frank April, all have their own signature colour-ways of the boot.
Riders of this level need a boot to be 3 things: Lightweight, durable and supportive. The TM-Two is built to last, with a High Density Evolution outsole that is both lightweight and durable. The construction of the shell itself is also built to last all season long and beyond, with a tough webbed design to keep it as light as possible too. The back/heel of the boot has a performance backstay, a stiff backstop that provides rigidity and response for the boot, as well as helping it to hold its shape over time despite constant use.
For those who suffer with heel lift, this boot comes packed with features to combat the slippery heel! The Tongue Tension System helps pull the ankle back into the boot. The internal lacing system is also attached to the outer shell, rather than the liner. It is more expensive to make, but helps hold your heel to the liner, and the liner to the shell.
ThirtyTwo opted to fit the TM-Two with their Level 3 liner, their highest performing liner, which is made from 100% heat mouldable Intuition Foam for a totally custom fit to your foot. A neoprene toe cap reduces pressure on your toes at the end of the boot to maximise comfort, whilst internal anatomical foam overlays help further optimise heel hold. Dual power wrap Velcro straps help the internal liner adapt to any shaped calf muscle, big or small. This Level 3 liner even includes integrated pockets for their heel hold kit, which comes with the boot. This means rings of foam can be easily placed on the side of the liner, giving you some serious heel holding power. The TM-Two also has a Level 3 foot bed, again the highest performing of Thirty-Two’s range, providing the most support under the arch of your foot, and the most dampening under the heel.
Riding in the Tm-Two feels super responsive, thanks to the mammoth amount of support the level 3 liner provides. Power transmission from edge to edge feels instant, and when popping ollies, the feedback and snap is impressive! The flex is definitely towards the stiff side of things, allowing the boot to be used all over the mountain, but still has just enough flex to give it some freestyle flavour. I would say the TM-Two is around 8/10 stiffness. From a freestyle perspective, the boot offers a fantastic amount of support around the ankle when coming into landings. Getting a snug, tight fit was not uncomfortable either thanks to the neoprene toe piece.
On a personal note, I have some of the skinniest and therefore slipperiest ankles the snowboard industry has ever seen, but the TM-Two’s have done a stellar job at keeping them in place, even without the fit kit rings!
For riders looking for a powerful, long lasting all-mountain/freestyle boot, the Thirty Two TM-Two’s are certainly a great choice. Want to try some on for yourself? Click here to book an appointment with one of our experts!
When you are skiing or snowboarding, there are a few simple things you can do (which you might never have thought about!) which can make your life easier on the slopes. Whether it’s your first time, a few times or you have been skiing since you could walk – our ‘top tips for the ski slopes’ will help you have a great holiday:
We sometimes forget how important it is to drink water and stay hydrated when on the slopes, particularly when it gets cold. Try and take a bottle of water with you so you can drink on the slopes, or a hydration bladder works unless it is really cold. Otherwise just stop regularly at cafes, and have a glass of water as well as a hot chocolate!
On a similar note, as well as carrying water, it is a good idea to carry some snacks like cereal bars, nuts or even some chocolate. If your energy levels dip you can have a few bites and feel normal again. When your energy levels are low, you will have less control, which could mean a higher chance of having a tumble.
If it is a guaranteed blue-sky day, this may not be so relevant, but if you carry a backpack then it is a great idea to have a spare pair of goggles. On an ever-changing weather day, it is so important to make sure that you have a pair of goggles for the variable light conditions. Expensive goggles with a very reflective lens are fantastic for a blue-bird sunny day – but if the weather turns quickly, you need something with you that can handle the low light situation. A cheaper, bright yellow lensed goggle is perfect for conditions like this!
We’ve all been there – uttering the words ‘how much?’, whilst looking at the range of ski gloves. Then buying one of the cheapest pairs to ‘save money’. After spending one of the coldest days you’ve ever experienced out on the slopes, you will change your mind forever on this – trust us! A decent pair of ski gloves should cost between £50 and £150. Spend as much or as little within this price range and you should have warm and dry fingers on the slopes!
It is always tempting to try and clear snow or condensation from the inside of your goggles, but try and avoid cleaning or rubbing the inside if you can, as most goggles have a anti-fog film on the inside, and you want to try and avoid damaging this. Your best bet is to try and gently remove the snow, and then blast them under a hand-dryer to get rid of the moisture.
Unless it is your very first time (even then we’d still recommend buying your own for maximum comfort), it is a good idea to have your own pair of ski or snowboard boots, and make sure they are fitted professionally. Having a bad fitting pair of boots can make your ski holiday miserable, so seek advice on which boots to buy, and get them fitted properly to your feet. If you get them fitted in the UK, you can then try them at home or at your local slope to make sure they are right ahead of your holiday, as well as this, if you’re buying boots from Snowtrax | The Boot Lab, a comfort guarantee applies and any niggles or issues can be looked at. Buying boots out at resort is NOT recommended as you will be unable to fix any fitting issues unless you travel all the way to the same shop.
If you own a pair of skis or a snowboard, before your trip out on the snow, it is a good idea to get your skis or snowboard serviced, to ensure they are in tip-top condition and performing as they should! For skis in particular it is also a good idea to check that your bindings aren’t damaged and are working correctly.
I have seen many people caught out on the slopes without a waterproof jacket, because the day started off sunny, and the snow came in later in the day. Having a waterproof and wind-proof layer is important, as is having decent breathable base and mid layers underneath. In my books, a neck warmer is also an invaluable piece of kit for the slopes. Something like a Buff is great as it is lightweight and versatile and can be used as a headband or hat as well.
There is nothing worse than cold hands, and sometimes it is hard to avoid. If you fingers start to get cold, I have found two good ways of warming them up by essentially getting the blood back into them. First one is to put your arms by your side and quickly shrug your shoulders, pushing the blood down into your hands. Otherwise you can do the trusty windmills of both arms, which should have the same affect.
Although time is often scarce, getting fit for the slopes is so important. Have a look out for ski fit classes at your local gym, or you could do some exercises at home. You may also want to consider getting your ski legs back by having a lesson or session at your local artificial or indoor slope.
Betony Garner is an ambassador for #Dynastar skis, based in Chamonix, France.
The Oakley Canopy Goggle is designed for those who want to see the whole mountain. Large frame, large lens and multiple vents, this is a goggle that offers the maximum field of vision. Unlike many other oversized ski goggles this goggle uses the Oakley ski goggle patented O-Flow Arch to apply even pressure across the entire nasal area, providing you with a comfortable fit and increased airflow and breathability.
By utilising its large spherical lens, the Canopy Goggle offers a full unobstructed view whilst also shielding most of your face from the wind. This goggle comes with a prism sapphire iridium lens which is the most versatile lens on the market and useful in both low light and white out conditions. By making use of Prism technology, the lens helps differentiate between the colours of the sky and the snow. So if you enjoy seeing where you’re going – an Oakley goggle with the prism lens is definitely one of the ways to go!
Nothing is more obstructing than fog on the lens of your goggles, but the Canopy Goggle doesn’t even know the meaning of fog. The Oakley Canopy Goggle features double ventilation and a triple layer of polar fleece foam padding, excellent for dispersing moisture, to prevent any fog from forming on the inside of your lens.
The Canopy is lightweight, with a durable frame that includes discreet notches in the temple area, making this one of the most comfortable goggles to be worn with almost any prescription pair of glasses. Like most Oakley Goggles, the Canopy is compatible with almost all types of helmets, covering your forehead, revealing little-to-no gaps between your goggles and your helmet.
Find out more about our range of Oakley Ski and Snowboard Goggles here.
New for the 2015/2016 winter, Line have bought us the Soulmate series: a women’s-specific freeride range that looks amazing and can really handle a bit of speed and aggression. The Soulmate 92 features a directional twin-tip profile and a 92mm waist that’s just wide enough for powder but is super-responsive on piste. As with all Line skis, it’s exceptionally light, thanks to a maple and aspen core and Line’s Thin Tip Technology, which takes unnecessary weight out of the front of the ski.
Like a good looking GS ski, the Soulmate 92 is designed for high speeds, and has all the features to make it excel on hard-packed snow. The directional flex makes the ski stiffer in the tail for on-point response and really powerful turns, while the P-Tex sidewalls help to dampen vibrations and make for a smooth ride across everything from morning groomers to tracked-out powder fields. The Soulmate 92 is also equipped with Early Rise in the tip to make venturing into the powder and blasting through chop that much more pleasant.
While it’s marketed as a freeride ski, the Soulmate 92 is definitely most at home on piste. It’s responsive, stiff and stable, with a pretty short turn radius, meaning it’s super-fun to ride on groomers but also bashes through late-afternoon chop and soft snow with ease. A great ski for seasonaires, instructors and any girls who love charging around the whole mountain.
Binding set-up: Flat deck, bindings not included
Terrain: 50% piste, 40% powder, 20% park
Learn more about the Line Soulmate 92 and purchase the ski here.
Here at The Boot Lab, Snowtrax – we get asked a lot of similar questions when it comes to ski boots. Questions like “What are the best ski boots?”, “Do you have this in a UK 9?” and “My friend said Salomon are the best – so can i just try those on?” are all very much common place in our day to day boot fitting lives. We’re not complaining either! We’ve come to learn, over our 20+ years of fitting the latest ski boots, that questions are good and people ultimately just want the best boots for their feet and skiing ability – so let’s answer a few of these questions now.
What are the best ski boots?
It goes without saying that this question conjures up incredibly objective and ‘opinionated’ responses if you were to ask any skier on the mountain. In store, here at The Boot Lab, our staff are far less opinionated for one very simple reason… Every boot we stock, is the best boot for someone.
With a boot fitting analogy straight out of a Cinderella fairytale, a ski boot often chooses it’s owner to a certain degree, rather than the other way around. Our job is to help you find the boot that ticks the most boxes for you in terms of ability, experience, body shape and physical strength, as well as of course making sure it is the best fit. It’s for these reasons that copying what boot your mate has – is quite possibly the worst thing you can do!
Do you have this in a UK 9?
Ski boots aren’t measured in a traditional UK shoe size. They are instead measured in cm in a size range called ‘Mondo Point’. Mondo point size is the physical length of a foot in centimetres. Ski boot manufacturers like Salomon, Atomic, Dalbello or Head, then play with this length a little when they add the thickness of the inner boot liner, as well as what toe box shape the particular boot has. It’s additional aspects like this, which make for the differences in boot sizes between some manufacturers. With some adding loads of room to the toes, others adding less.
You will see MANY mondo point to UK shoe size conversion charts on the internet stating that a Mondo 28.5 is basically a UK 9.5 – sadly it really isn’t anything like as simple as that.
At The Boot Lab, we take into account so many different variables other than just your foot length (ability, experience, body shape and physical strength being a few), so it isn’t possible to simply pick a pair of ski boots off the shelf, or order them online, without first being treated to a proper professional ski boot fit!
My friend said Salomon boots are the best – so can I just try those on?
Similarly to the above points raised about each manufacturer having a different ethos and fitting spectrum – clearly one brands boots can’t fit EVERYONE perfectly. Many ski boot brands, like Salomon, have drastically improved the scope for their boot models to be fully customised by professionals in a boot fitting store. Fully heat mouldable liners are now completely common place – with custom heat mouldable shells fast becoming the norm now as well! This means that ski boot brands are able to accommodate even more foot shapes into their boot models, thus increasing sales (great for the brands) but it also means that we at The Boot Lab, are able to completely customise a ski boot to fit you, faster (great for our customers)!
As some of you will know – nothing compares to having perfectly fitting ski boots that match your physical and technical ability. So why not come in store here at Snowtrax and visit The Boot Lab and get yourself boots that really fit!
Appointments available – make an appointment here.
Local Snowboard talent, Snowtrax Collective Chairman AND Snowtrax Store employee Jack Labbett – is finally in the spotlight and deservedly so.
If you ride at Snowtrax or Calshot, chances are you already know what Mr. Labbett can do and that when it comes to rails and dry-slope shenanigans, he’s a force to be reckoned with! If you’re not fortunate enough to have ridden at our slope or indeed witness Jack’s talent here in the UK – It’s about time you did.
Whitelines Magazine were super excited to finally be able to squeeze in a local filming session with our man Jack. Entitled ‘Shadows’ – it features Jack doing what he does best at both his local ski slopes, Snowtrax and Calshot.
Hit play, full screen it and see how far snowboarding can be pushed here in the UK – without any need for a single flake of snow!