Asnes Nansen Review
On an overnight ski trip last year in the Indian Peaks Wilderness:
This year I took a backcountry nordic class from the Colorado Mountain Club. I wasn't alone as many alpine downhills struggled on the skinny free heel skis. The class definitely helped clear up most of my troubles and now I feel at least partially qualified to review the skis although I don't have the telemark background most of the users here do.
A friend of mine describes the skiing we do as "hiking in skis" and I think that's pretty apt. These skis are excellent at the uphill - they kick and glide almost as well as my super skinny Fischer RCS's. The grip is as good as it gets; in group ski trips I am always the last to resort to herringbone because I wax 2/3 of the ski base which blows away short fish scales. The only downside is the weight of a wider ski but that's fairly minor if you're in shape (which I rarely am). You do occasionally notice the sidecut of the ski making it want to wander when kicking and gliding on really wide super packed/icy trails but I just keep a little more weight on the inside edges and they track fine. I don't notice it at all on the usual packed out singletrack because the sides tend to keep your shins in bounds.
I'm a lot more confident on the downhill after the class and find I can drive the edge of the ski in pretty well for short parallel turns in the broken in trail. Offtrail here is tough since it gets steep quick out of the valleys and the trees are pretty dense. 99% of my skiing is either breaking trail or in a broken out track, often broken by snowshoers. I did a little tele practice at a local bunny hill and found I could get the ski to turn pretty tight but getting the balance right was tough. I also ski them with NNN-BC bindings which don't necessarily lend themselves to a beginner telemarker.
Breaking trail they do well - the tips are tall and generally it's easy to keep them above the surface unless you get more than about a foot of fluffy powder. At that point things are just too deep for most skis. I think the waxable base is an advantage on powder as well since you're not relying on the shear strength of the snow like you are with scales.
I've used the kicker skins (nylon - 45mm) with good success uphill but they drag like hell on the downhill. It can actually be an advantage for spring skiing if you time things poorly and head back to the car too late in the day as things start to freeze back up. The extra drag makes getting down significantly easier so I often just leave them in the base of my pack. Also nice if the snow gets sticky as you can rub some liquid glide wax on them although recently a friend showed me how to rub flouro hard glide wax over his kickwax and that works even better but costs $$ for the flouro wax.
Let me know if you have any questions and hopefully I can answer them, but like I said I am not a tele skier.