As I get deeper into the backcountry skiing world I’m learning more about the gear needed. One of the most important parts of a backcountry setup is a good shovel. I’m currently testing out the Arva Axe, seen below.
The Arva Axe shovel is quite cool. It breaks down into 3 pieces for easy storage in a backpack. It has two shovel modes, standard and hoe mode. Hoe mode is in the photo below.
I’ll be putting the Axe to the ultimate test in my upcoming Level 1 avalanche training course next week.
After I’ve had enough time in the field and shoveled enough snow to formulate my opinions, I’ll post my full Arva Axe review. Stay tuned.
I’m hammered physically, but in a good way. Had a great skinning session in Little Cottonwood Canyon up Grizzly Gulch to the top of Patsy Marley. From there I went along the edge of Wolverine Cirque, which is a spectacular sight to behold (photo below).
I de-skinned at the top of Wolverine in brutal high winds, then traversed through some south-facing gnarly wind blown crusty junk snow to drop into Alta Ski Area. My legs were hammered.
Had a hard time controlling my left ski and I attributed that to fatigue. When I got to the parking lot I noticed that my left boot was still in walk mode, not ski mode. Duh.
I was fully engulfed in ski mania last spring. I picked up tons of new gear, including the Armada ARV 116 UL Zero skis. Unfortunately in the spring there were never conditions which warranted gaming the the JJ’s. I did take them up for a day of spring skiing just because I was so excited to have them, but sticky slush groomed runs were far from off-trail big mountain deep powder.
About the ARV 116 JJ UL Zero
The JJ’s feature an “AR Freestyle Rocker.” These are light, big mountain freestyle skis rockered tips and tails combined with a positive camber underfoot and an ultra-light core.
This design shines in powder and unpredictable conditions. They ride on top of the power or even thick muck. Riding on top makes the ski so much easier to control.
The flex of the ski is somewhat stiff in the tips, and a little more stiff in the waist.
Bevels on the tip and tail help the skier transition in deep snow. The tips are like boat hulls!
Tip Width (mm)
Waist Width (mm)
Tail Width (mm)
Turning Radius (m)
I’ve now had a few more sessions with the JJ’s this winter, and experienced some great powder days. Last weekend as absolutely thrilling with about 10-14 inches of fresh pow. The JJ’s performed tremendously.
It didn’t take me long to get used to the JJ’s. I felt like I was floating on the clouds. I had fantastic feel and control, and the skis never EVER ducked under the powder. They were always floating on top. It made skiing pow so easy and effortless.
In the video above you can see the Armada JJ’s in action. Note how smoothly the move through the powder and choppy conditions. They always float.
I’m thrilled with my JJ 116’s. They make powder even more fun, which I didn’t think was possible. I can’t wait for the next big storm. In fact, the next storm is coming over the next few days. 48 inches possible. My JJ’s and I are ready to roll.