Why we chose the Black Crows Solis: Precise, yet damp.
You simply can’t create a backcountry skiing buyer’s guide without including a pair of skis from Chamonix born and bred Black Crows. It just wouldn’t be right. The brand, founded back in 2006, have now produced 83 iterations of its models; all unmistakable in their own way thanks to their bright colourways, simple graphics, and classic chevron logo.
They’re not just about bold graphics, however. There’s a reason that ‘Crows bless the feet of the majority of Cham’s skiers, usually in combo with Plum bindings – another fine Chamonix export FYI.
With their all-new Solis, Black Crows have looked to create a weapon that’s capable of handling some of the steepest terrain out there. Think of the many couloirs and faces surrounding Black Crows’ hometown of Chamonix, it’s where this ski is most at home.
“There’s a reason that ‘Crows bless the feet of the majority of Cham’s skiers”
So how have they gone and made a ski specifically designed for the vertical drop? By toning pretty much everything down, of course. The rocker, the flex, the sidecut and camber have all been uniquely tweaked here. Let’s take a closer look.
First thing’s first, that beautiful shaped sidecut. Black Crows have created a gradual sidecut in the Solis – 126 / 100 / 108 to be exact. This gives the ski a 25m radii when put on edge. Many consider skis with the shortest sidecut possible as the most effective in steeps. This is true, if you’re carving turns down the slopes. However, unless your name is Jérémie Heitz or Tof Henry, it’s unlikely you’ll be be carving the steep stuff; most normal people choose to perform jump turns in an effort to control speed.
Imagine a ski with an aggressive sidecut, say the 135 / 99 / 117 of the 20 metre radii Volkl Mantra V-Werks. When this ski is on edge on a steep slope, the ski needs to flex further before the underfoot section bites into the snow (due to the large difference in tip and waist widths).
By toning down the sidecut on the Solis to 25 metres, Black Crows have given this ski more bite on steep slopes as you don’t need to overly flex the ski in order to get the whole effective edge in contact with the snow. You’ll come to be thankful of this trait whilst skiing and traversing around steep / exposed terrain.
“You’ll come to be thankful of this trait whilst skiing and traversing around steep / exposed terrain”
Rocker, generally speaking, comes into its own when tracking through powder (floatation is fun isn’t it?). However, when out of the deep stuff, rocker frequently gives skis the “rocking horse” effect with little support in the tips and tails. Fortunately, Black Crows have built the Solis with a subtle rocker in the tips and minimal rocker in the tails; all brought together with a consistent, supportive, flex throughout the ski. This set-up is particularly helpful when you want to get out of the backseat while wearing a heavy pack.
When you’re edging your way down a tight, steep, couloir, the last thing you want on your feet are a pair of skis that resemble some sort of wet noodle. That’s why Black Crows have added in a sheet of titanium to the Solis, increasing the stability whilst decreasing defection (particularly useful if you come across funky snow).
All of these features also make the Solis perform well in more mellow terrain, with the sheet of titanal giving the Solis great crud-busting properties. The long turn radius and subtle sidecut keeps the ski free from any catchy characteristics.
Pair these with the Plum Pika, and a mid-weight boot like the Dynafit Hoji Free or the Salomon S/Lab MTN, and you’ve got yourself possibly one of the finest ski mountaineering setups on the market (as long as you’re happy to carry the extra bulk).
These skis are far from the lightest, particularly in their category, but there is a reason for this weight. Black Crows have created an extremely stable ski here, one that’ll confidently take on some of the most demanding conditions out there.
“The Solis is a limited run ski, so chances are it’ll sell out fast”
The Solis is a limited run ski, so chances are it’ll sell out fast. If you’ve not spent much time on Black Crows, or aren’t too familiar with them, be sure to check out their whole range of backcountry and freeride skis. Discover for yourself why this independent ski company has become a mainstay.
Bruno Compagnet, Black Crows Co-Founder
“The Solis is like a gateway between two worlds: the base of the ski is in contact with the matter and magic of nature. Its shape and structure represent the world of imagination and sensations. Julien Regnier has done a great job in designing a ski specifically tailored to steep skiing which fulfils all my expectations. The perfect ski to arouse the audacity within us”
“The Solis is a precision weapon for skiers who know what they want in a ski. You won’t find a more solid 100mm waisted ski with better edge hold. Designed specifically for steep skiing, the Solis sets itself apart from the masses of bland and characterless mid-fat touring skis.
“A powerful flex allows the ski to slice through variable snow. An incredibly stiff lateral flex allows for unrivalled edge hold on steep icy slopes. The Solis is not a lightweight touring ski, yet it is light enough for most purposes.
“The generous progressive front rocker gives the ski a feeling of real manoeuvrability while traditional camber underfoot makes the Solis satisfyingly responsive in turns. The Solis is my ski of choice for spring ski mountaineering and for technical and steep lines”
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