PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT: Ascension skins
Innovation is what drives everything here at Black Diamond. If we're not making gear better, stronger, lighter, faster, more durable and easier to use, then we're not doing our job. In this ongoing series of monthly posts, we'll be giving you an inside look at some of our most innovative products through one-on-one interviews with our team of industry-leading product designers and category directors.
This month we sat down with Category Director Curtis Graves to talk about our redesigned Ascension skins. With a new printed plush material and our unparallelled Gold Label skin glue, Ascension skins provide the standard-setting uphill traction with smooth glide and easy packability. For more info or to pick up a set for the coming ski season, CLICK HERE.
What skiing applications are Ascension skins ideal for?
Ascension skins feature legendary climbing grip and we engineer them to have superior traction in the steepest skin tracks. If you are looking for the best traction, combined with a highly durable lamination and the most reliable skin glue, Ascension skins are for you.
How have Ascension skins been redesigned for 2012?
We design and use Ascension skins here in the Wasatch Range, which often means steep skin tracks due to the nature of our terrain, and also to avoid avalanche paths on the ascent. But we wanted to improve glide efficiency on flatter terrain while maintaining Ascension's benchmark climbing grip. We were able to engineer a new weave in the skin plush fibers that improves the gliding characteristics while still maintaining the climbing traction we are known for. The updated Ascension weave uses longer, flatter fibers for improved glide to give you more efficiency on longer tours. We also took the opportunity to improve upon the chemistry of our skin glue.
What makes the Gold Label adhesive so reliable in variable conditions?
Our proprietary Gold Label skin glue has been reformulated to perform better on snow while being easier to pull apart when the skins are stuck together, glue-to-glue. Gold Label adhesive now performs as a pressure sensitive adhesive, where the glue's bond with your ski base builds over time, with skinning pressure, and increases tack when it's exposed to cold temperatures. Gold Label skin glue is designed to perform in the harshest backcountry environments. From windblown hardpack, to breaking trail in 3 feet of snow, Gold Label has a reputation for performing in the worst conditions and not failing you when you are skinning uphill in a situation of high consequence.
What other features contribute to the versatility and performance of these skins?
Black Diamond skin hardware is designed to custom fit skins to the wide variety of tip and tail shapes found on today's modern ski shapes and rocker profiles. We also offer Ascension skins in several different configurations including custom cuts and a split skin version for big powder skis. Our mutliple sizes of adjustable tip loops dial in the fit on nearly any size ski tip, while our STS tail straps hold tension on the skin for reliability and provide up to 10 cm of adjustability when using the same skins on different skis.
Any unique challenges involved in designing and building these skins?
Skin manufacturing is one part engineering, two parts voodoo. We assemble and apply glue to 100% of our skin production in our Salt Lake City factory. This allows us to personally inspect every roll of plush, and closely control the glue application process to keep Ascension skins at BD standards of quality.