Ben Lyman

Ben Lyman

Southeast Alaska (home) and Intermountain West (intermittently)

Ben's Passions

Running
Skiing

Ben's Bio

Former PSIA Certified Level III Ski Instructor turned ridge-hippie/slack-country and back-country enthusiast. I thrive in the steep and narrow, delight in charging the trees, and ski every chace I get (90+ days/year). I love to turn and play with terrain, but will go as fast as possible while still making turns wherever the snow and mountain appear to warrant a carve--even if this means dusting all of my speed for that one last pow turn at the end of a run and having to hike out across the flats.

Everything else I do is just to keep me busy until the snow flies and I can ski again.

Stats: 175 pounds, 6'2" tall. Expert Alpine and Telemark skier. Recreational runner, camper, and biker.

Ben Lyman

Ben Lyman wrote an answer about on January 13, 2014

It's probably way too late for this answer to help you make a decision for this year, but no, I don't recommend staying with 75 mm. Go NTN! The power and control is leaps and bounds ahead of what 75 mm provides, and it's releasable and nearly step-in to boot.

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Ben Lyman

Ben Lyman wrote a review of on January 13, 2014

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

THIS is the THE BOOT. It was disconcerting, and a little alarming at first, trying to flex this beast to drop the knee, but I just made alpine turns on them for a couple days to soften them up (or at least get used to them). I've never had this level of control or power from a boot before, and they are super comfortable too. The various layers of liner, plastic shell, and buckles are pretty awkward to get lined up right, but I'll take a few seconds of frustration in the parking lot for control like this. I can't recommend this boot highly enough for telemarkers looking for more power transfer, but it's not for the lightweight, novice, or timid. Put these suckers on and go charge!

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Ben Lyman

Ben Lyman wrote an answer about on August 16, 2012

I disagree with the other response to these questions, and have extensive experience in mounting, re-mounting, moving, swapping, and otherwise messing with NTN bindings and plates. The procedure is theoretically simple, and yes, only two screws need to be hand loosened or tightened to move the binding forward, backward, or onto another pair of plates (skis). Unfortunately, the tolerance between the screw heads that hold the plate to the ski and the binding itself are so close that it is very difficult to slide the binding on the plate. I have cut myself on the metal plates almost every single time I've so much as adjusted the binding on the plate, and moving the binding to a different plate is certainly no easier than moving the binding one setting on the plate. The screw heads holding the plate onto the ski can be ground down to make the swap easier, but swapping bindings between plates is anything but easy to accomplish comfortably.

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Ben Lyman

Ben Lyman wrote a review of on January 10, 2012

3 5

I purchased this vest based on the "it's in my size, and available locally, so I don't have to wait for shipping" principle--and wish I'd done some research and then bought something else. I don't know about anybody else, but when I'm touring, I'm working HARD, and a puffy vest needs to be pretty light weight in order to stay on my body. This vest is NOT light-weight in terms of insulation--it rivals my Patagonia micro-puff jacket for warmth, but essentially just has really big pit zips (ie no sleeves). That said, I didn't really expect to tour with it on except in the coldest of conditions. I did, however, expect to be able to wear it under a jacket, and with a pack. Unfortunately, the front pockets are very low, so having anything in them interferes with the waist belt on my pack. With a long torso length, having anything in the front pockets also impedes my ability to lean forward, say to adjust a boot, click in to my bindings, etc. In fact, the pockets (when carrying just a few moderately bulky things) are so poorly located that I can't even drop into a tuck, but am limited to bending over at the waist with legs straight. So, if you're looking for a nice, warm vest that you can wear around town, this is not a bad choice. If you're looking for a ski touring or skiing vest, I would look elsewhere if you plan on using the front pockets--they just plain get in the way.

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Ben Lyman

Ben Lyman wrote an answer about on December 17, 2010

I have a friend who swears by these gloves, but he also maintains that in order for them to hold up to wet snow they need to be treated EVERY OTHER DAY. I have a pair that I tried keeping up on treating, but seriously--EVERY OTHER DAY. F'n ridiculous. I bought another pair of Black Diamonds, and still go back to any of my old BDs (even my ten-year-old BD's) when I need a back up glove--I never wear the Hestra Heli any more, as I got tired of having sopping wet hands by the end of the third run. They might be great on Everest, in the intermountain west, or elsewhere with cold temps, but here in Southeast Alaska where snow is wet and rain is common, they're no better than wearing dish sponges on your hands.

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Ben Lyman

Ben Lyman wrote an answer about on December 2, 2010

Just for clarification, if BD offered a 130 mm skin (or if you went with some other brand that offered this size), you'd save a few bucks by trimming off a single mm from the 130s over trimming 11 mm from the 140s. But BD doesn't offer that size, and after much experimentation I'd recommend setting fire to any non-BD skin you own, because only BDs are worth standing on. Bite the bullet, buy the 140s, and get trimming! Whatever you do, DO NOT go with the 125s, as you'll get more slideback (especially on side hills) than you'll be able to stand.

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Ben Lyman

Ben Lyman wrote a review of on March 15, 2010

5 5

OK, this review is actually of an earlier Stoic model, but this jacket is the decsendent of mine, so it should be even better now...

After a day of skiing in mixed rain and snow, a group of riders gathered in the parking lot to tell stories, drink beer, and get rained on as we marvelled at the day. We stood drippinng rain from our Arcteryx, North Face, Patagonia, Helly Hansen, and Stoic outer layers as we downed Rainiers. A Burton Global Team member, at Eaglecrest for a day before heading off to Haines for filming, locked onto my bright-blue Stoic; eyes wide, he asked where I got it, what it was made of, how I liked it. I showed him the massive hood, the waterproof zippers, the thoughtful cut of the cuffs--and his eyes only grew wider as he exclaimed: "it's waterPROOF, isn't it?!?" Now that poor guy has to go heli-ski in what he knows are inferior Burton products. Pity the pros who don't get to choose what they wear.

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Ben Lyman

Ben Lyman wrote an answer about on December 4, 2009

The hell with huge cliffs, wear it for skiing fast in the trees. Most cliffs you'll be jumping off have a big old pile of snow at the bottom--just don't smack your face on your knee or your ski and you're golden. Miss a crucial turn in the woods and you're looking at reconstructive surgery for sure. And yes, I think I do look like a tool when I wear it--either that or way more badass than I really am.

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Ben Lyman

Ben Lyman wrote a review of on December 1, 2009

5 5

OK, I have to admit that I was nervous trying to telemark on these bad boys (and they are BAD as in GOOD), and it appears that I was right to be concerned. The wide shovel and easy turn initiation only play to your advantage if you are making a parallel turn--dropping the inside knee even a few inches engages the tip of the rear ski, causing a rapid divergence of the legs--ie, the splits. Eek!That said, these are freaking amazing sticks skied alpine, and they cut through the nastiest, mankiest, most horrible snow I've skied in years with amazing ease, making even breakable crust on sopping-wet knee-deep snow a hellofalotta fun. My first day on them was on an alpine setup, and I couldn't believe how nimble and versatile they were. Lines that would give me pause, if I skied them at all previously, were simply no-brainers with these boards. "Why WOULDN'T I ski that?" So I did, and it was fabulous.I'm going to give tele another chance on them, but expect that they'll get re-mounted with TLT binders (all praise the versatility of the Scarpa Terminator Pro X) and that my NTN bindings will find a home on some other pair of boards...

Updates: I knew there had to be something wrong with my setup, and not the ski, because everybody else who teles on them loves them--It turns out that my mounting was just a little too far back. I moved the bindings forward an inch, and they ski amazingly well. No more problems with the tips hooking or the tails feeling too small.

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Ben Lyman

Ben Lyman wrote a review of on December 1, 2009

5 5

My ski partner doesn't like this helmet because he thinks it is "too much." But it isn't protecting his face from tree branches as we rip through the woods, so I'm a fan--after all, if I was in this sport because I cared how I looked, I'd be wearing Bogner at Deer Valley, not ripping tight trees outside a tiny ski area in Alaska.

I'm having some fogging issues, even with the "perfectly" matched Giro Root goggle, but only on the outside of the lens--apparently, the vent at the mouth of the jaw piece doesn't let quite all my breath out, so when I'm standing still the lens fogs. A quick swipe with a ski-gee or glove and it's good as new, and it never fogs if I'm moving, even on a slow double chair.

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Ben Lyman

Ben Lyman wrote a review of on December 1, 2009

5 5

OK, they were worth the wait. The X Pro is so comfortable, so versatile, and so rock-solid that I don't think I'll ever put my old alpine or duck-billed telemark boots on again.The NTN cartridges provide the tension under the boot, so the toe is much softer than a duckbilled boot can be, so walking in these babies is effortless. Touring is a blast, and I am very impressed by the myriad adjustments available on this boot for custom fit.I am curious just what the "TLT speed plates" that come with the boot are intended for, as I can't figure out how to incorporate them with either Dynafit bindings or this boot, and there was no documentation on this additional device in the box.

I do think that it is unfair that Backcountry.com is listing this year's model with last years, considering that:1) Last year's boot was recalled, and this is an entirely re-engineered boot;2) The bellows on this year's model is, from what I hear, significantly softer than last year's was--making it a very different boot that deserves a clean start.

Finally, a note on fit. Perhaps it's just because I come from a "performance fit" past, but the sizing chart is off for this boot (in my humble opinion). I usually wear an 11.5 or 12 US, which translates to a 28.5 or 29, but my foot swam in the 28.5 and fits perfectly in the 27.5. When sizing, remember that Scarpa puts the half-size with the next-higher full size in the same shell (Garmont, by contrast, pairs the full size with the higher half-size). This means that the 27.5 and the 28 Scarpa are in the same shell, while the 27.5 Garmont is in the 27 shell.

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Ben Lyman

Ben Lyman wrote a review of on December 1, 2009

5 5

After snapping my gold Gotamas last year, I wallowed in misery trying to find an adequate replacement for those epic boards, lusting after something with a little metal in it to add a bit of rigidity and pop, not to mention a slightly stiffer tail, than the Goats had.My quest is now complete, and I'm in love again. The P4 is a big, burly board that a skilled skier can manipulate with ease, excelling in the deep but adept and dependable on all other conditions I've experienced with it. Rock-hard re-frozen rain crud (gotta love skiing in the northwest), with or without a dusting of fresh on it, melts into an edgy, playful surface with these sticks.The tails are softer than I had expected, but still a step up from the old Gotamas (the only weak point on the Goats, besides where I broke them, was their soft tail). They provide a stable surface cutting through the chunder, knocking chicken heads/death cookies from their path like a locomotive with a cattle guard through a flock of turkeys.I'm 180 lbs, expert skier, riding the 191 on an NTN setup, which provides a bomber connection between myself and the ski--a highly recommended upgrade from the archaic cable bindings that are ubiquitous in the telemark world.

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Ben Lyman

Ben Lyman wrote a review of on October 28, 2009

4 5

I should add that Garmont's shell break puts the whole with the half (27 and 27.5 are the same shell), while Scarpa's break puts the half with the larger whole (27.5 and 28 are the same shell). Important to know if you're attempting (as I did) to order these without having tried them on.

Although this is Garmont's first attempt at an NTN boot, and although the other NTN brands (Scarpa and Crispi) have so far been unsuccessful in building a good, reliable boot, I think that Garmont is going to nail it on the first try. There are some great, well-thought-out features on these boots. The replaceable sole on the toe, the replaceable wedge to protect the boot from the ski, the rock-hard lock between walk and ski (Scarpa could learn something from this design), and amazingly light. If only the ones next to me fit...

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Ben Lyman

Ben Lyman wrote a review of on October 28, 2009

5 5

These look like screamin' boots, and I'm really impressed with Garmont (especially the boot's designer, Paul Parker) for their willingness to engage the telemark community in dialogue and to explain their product (see the many excellent discussions on telemarktalk.com). Unfortunately, because I live a thousand miles from a Garmont dealer, I crossed my fingers that 27.5 Scarpa would be reasonably close to 27.5 Garmont. This was the wrong thing to do--although my foot fits in a 27.5 Scarpa perfectly, my foot barely fits in the shell without the liner in the boot--way too tight for even a "performance fit." I'd be ordering another pair in a 28.5 right now, but Backcountry is out, so I guess I'm going back to Scarpa again this winter...

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Ben Lyman

Ben Lyman wrote a review of on October 17, 2009

4 5

This is a really nice product that easily adds 10 degrees F to the rating of your bag (or that can work as a stand-alone bag in the tropics or indoors). I wish that there was some sort of side opening, as the top entry is slightly awkward, especially in tight spaces (like in a tent). Small and light enough that it's worth throwing in your bag--even if you don't end up wanting it, a camping buddy might not be so prepared or hot-blooded and could appreciate the extra 10 degrees.

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Ben Lyman

Ben Lyman wrote an answer about on October 17, 2009

Shane, that really doesn't help at all. I've never heard the term "core center" before (and I've mounted LOTS of skis), although "chord center" is a typical term for determining where you'd want to mount your bindings (I refer to http://www.telemarktips.com/BindingMt2.html for excellent information on mounting telemark bindings). And what does "+6 from traditional" mean? +6 what? Centimeters? Inches? Fathoms? And what's traditional?

Update: Wow, paint me pink and call me wrong. I just went to mount my P4s and noticed that the ski is marked "core center." I still have no idea what that means, since I've never heard that term before...so I guess my answer is really a question: What the hell is "core center"? Is it the same as chord center?

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Ben Lyman

Ben Lyman wrote an answer about on October 17, 2009

What kind of skiing are you planning on doing (groomers, bumps, powder, trees, park, pipe)? Where will you ski most often (intermountain west, northeast, northwest, coastal, midwest, Canada, Europe)? How agressive of a skier do you think you'll become after re-familiarizing yourself with skiing (did you grow up as a racer or just skiing a couple times a year)? We can't make any recommendations unless you give us information to base that recommendation on.

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