Gear Spotlight: Ogso Schwarztor Skis and Black Diamond Helio 350 Bindings

Is it too early to talk skiing? It’s never too early. This spring and summer I had the pleasure of testing out the Ogso Schwarztor skis (178cm) and the Black Diamond Helio 350 binding (made by ATK). This kit made my summer trips on Mt. Baker very light on the way up and silky smooth on the way down.

Ogso is based in Chamonix, France and new to the USA. The Schwarztor weighs 1450g (178cm) and proved to be amazingly responsive, smooth, and quick-turning for a 104mm ski underfoot. The closest examples of similar skis are the DPS Wailer 112 and the Rossignol Soul 7, which they kind of resemble with their crazy clown-shoe rocker profile.

The Helio 350 binding is my shining star of summer skiing. I absolutely love this binding. Its weight is about half of what a Tecton, Kingpin, or Shift weighs, and it has brakes. On my volcano days, inbounds, and slackcountry days, it exceeded my expectations. It looks like another classic-heeled tech binding with  light weight as its primary virtue, yet I couldn’t feel the difference in how it skied against other AT bindings with an alpine heel piece trading weight for increased control. On one day of testing, I had a super-heavy damp burly alpine ski, and was wearing some light weight seemingly underpowered touring boots, and the Helio did an amazing job of bridging the gap in that system.

Backcountry Essentials, owned by Chris Gerston, is an outdoor specialty shop located at 214 W. Holly in Bellingham, WA.

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