Ben Lyman

Ben Lyman

Southeast Alaska (home) and Intermountain West (intermittently)

Ben Lyman's Passions

Running
Skiing

Ben Lyman'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 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 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 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 a review of on October 16, 2009

5 5

I was going to buy the '08 version but my (now ex-)girlfriend got her card out first...after extensive field testing of the '08 I've bought the '09. The tent was bomber a year ago, and then they made it better in more ways than I could have imagined. Everything fits better than before (except the ground cloth, which is still too big for the tent), and the new interface between pole and grommet is a huge step up (pop-in plastic pieces instead of pray-it-stays-in metal pieces). I wish that the window in the door was a little bigger for the long vistas (as it was last year), but at least there is some privacy in this thing for when you find yourself in a campground or other crowded venue.

I've camped in torrential rain (3" of standing water between the car and the mound the tent was on in the morning), sand, snow, and wind, and this tent is resilient, comfortable, easy to set up, and will withstand the worst weather you might think to camp in (aside from blizzards that require a four-season tent).

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Ben Lyman

Ben Lyman wrote a review of on October 16, 2009

4 5

I couldn't stand this camera for almost a year, and then I bothered to start harassing the support staff at GoPro, and was quickly informed that the camera would only work if I used the batteries recommended in the instructions, not just any old alkalines. Holy moley, it doesn't just work, but it works exactly like it is supposed to! No zoom, no LCD, no extra crap or breakable parts--just a simple little video camera in a waterproof, shockproof box that you can mount to your helmet(s), kayak, car, bike, ski, or other relatively hard object. It takes video of what you point it at, and doesn't screw around in doing so.

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Ben Lyman

Ben Lyman wrote a review of on October 16, 2009

5 5

Forget reading, cooking, splitting wood--this headlamp is made for skiing, snowboarding, biking, perhaps even hang-gliding or automobile-driving in the dark. Within a month of my having purchased this light, my entire ski-touring posse had purchased Icons out of jealousy. Friggin' awesome headlamp for power--bring a Zipka or a Tikka for time around camp.

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Ben Lyman

Ben Lyman wrote a review of on October 16, 2009

4 5

Temps are falling, but no snow yet, so I haven't skied since I received this helmet in the mail, thus I can only review the apparent construction (bomber, as Giro helmets always are) and fit. Since fit is arguably the most important aspect of any helmet, I have to recommend going smaller than the size chart recommends--I measure out as a Large, but as I found with my G10 MX, the Remedy S Comp also runs larger than it is supposed to and I had to return the Large for a Medium. The Medium fits perfectly, and since I went with the Matte Grey color, I hopefully won't look TOO much like Darth Vader or an F-16 pilot when I'm using this helmet with my avalung...will update when I've had some experience riding with this bucket. But as long as my face and skull remain intact, it's doing its job and I'm happy!

In my effort to become familiar with breathing through my avalung and getting the mouthpiece into my mouth reflexively, I tried out the Remedy S Comp with the avalung around the house for a little while today. Unfortunately, the jaw of the Remedy is close enough to the mouth that the (rather large) mouthpiece of the avalung only barely fits, and there really isn't a comfortable place for the mouthpiece to "hang out" while I'm riding the chair, standing in line, etc. I'm sure I'll deal, but it is shaping up to be a less-than-ideal combo.

This helmet fits very well with the Smith Regulator goggle. I ordered a pair of Giro Roots yesterday, so I'll update when I have evaluated their fit, but expect it to be perfect since Giro products are designed to work together.

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Ben Lyman

Ben Lyman wrote a review of on September 2, 2009

Buy (and carry) spare parts
3 5

and you're going to need a few tools, too--a regular screwdriver, a small/medium phillips, and a posi-drive, not to mention possibly a pair of pliers if the cable is crimped into the binding with the guide on one side or the other--in order to fix your binding if it breaks while you're in the backcountry (like what happened to me in the attached photo). I didn't have a spare cable, so I got to ski out on one ski...not the run I was looking forward to while skinning up.

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Ben Lyman

Ben Lyman wrote a review of on August 13, 2009

5 5

I skied the 184s and the 173s for a day each last season in wet, heavy Pacific Northwest powder, and as a 175 lb, 6'2" expert skier, I found the 173s to be unacceptably squirrelly (I actually described it as "standing on two squirrells" to a friend), but the 184s were so solid that I found myself skiing lines I had never even imagined possible previously. As on the Black Diamond Megawatts, you don't have to worry about what the landing is like on these boards, because you're bringing it with you. Ever since then, I've been waiting to see what Icelantic came out with for the '09/'10 season...but today I noticed that Backcountry.com only had one more pair of the '08/'09 model, which happened to be in the 184cm length, and that at the lowest price on the web. Suffice it to say that I'm no longer waiting, and I am now the proud owner of the last pair of these boards that Backcountry had. If you are interested in getting a ski that will power through crud, squiggle through trees at speed, rail on the groomers, stomp landings so easily you'll think you're just out for a walk in the park, and climb like you're on an escalator (as long as you get skins wide enough for the 160mm tip), these are the boards. Get 'em wherever you can, at whatever price.

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