A few years ago I had a conversation with Voile about a new ski that might fit well in their lineup: something to fill the niche between the very proud, tried and true Vector and the skimo specific Wasatch Speed Project. What I envisioned was all white with the simple “V” logo at the tip and the American flag with “Made in USA” at the tail…both modestly placed, of course. I thought this would be classy. I probably would have called the ski the Voile “Purist” or “Alpinist,” denoting its primary use for human powered, ski mountaineering objectives deep in the backcountry.
In the spring of 2016 I received quite the gift from Voile: a ski meeting or exceeding what I’d imagined. While I’m not sure Voile’s idea beat my aesthetic conceptions, they did nail it with a very appropriate name: the Objective. They also beat my imagination of how well a ski this small and light would perform.
Although I received the ski later in the season, I was able to put some big days on it skiing a range of conditions. I paired it with Dynafit TLT Speed Superlite bindings and Dynafit PDG boot. Setting out for my first skinning steps in this ski from Glen Alps, I couldn’t help but giggle: it was so light! My first turns were down the Ramp’s NW couloir. Conditions were perfect for the ski (very firm, chalky spring snow but still with fast, low volume sluff), and I was grinning for a steep 1000′.
Next up for the Objective’s first day in the Chugach Front Range, was the Ramp’s NE couloir. Conditions were again perfect for this ski here, and it was purely delightful booting with the featherweight on my back.
The third run of the day, the O’Malley Thunderbolt couloir, provided a true test for the Objective as a mountaineering ski. It proved quite capable. The ascent started with firm melt-freeze snow from Black Lake. I was surprised how long I was able to go before feeling the need to put the ski crampons on. Despite being quite rockered at the tip, the Objective’s camber allows it to grip like a beast. This brings me to what I really like about the ski, especially compared to other lightweight, skimo tools: the new school design. Yes, it has plenty of camber to grip anything worth skiing (I’m no pow snob and don’t mind it FIRM)…but the rocker and sidecut maintain Voile skis’ characteristic playfulness and ski-ability through variable conditions. Ok, ski crampons on for a bit, and then came the steep exposed booting with the axe. Oh, it was such a joy moving so quickly and efficiently knowing I still had a capable ski on my back for the descent. Then down: more pure, spicy mountain joy through the skinny, exposed zig-zagging Thunderbolt that was sporting plenty of slide for life this day.
Next was back up the Thunderbolt and north face of O’Malley to the summit. Topping out on the summit ridge was the crux of the day and involved some easy mixed climbing. From the O’Malley summit I jogged the ridge down to the WSW facing summit line from False Peak. This was another great test for the objective as it was late in the day and the corn was getting sloppy. However, the design got me through the variable, mank, and glop with ease.
For reference, I’m about 6’1″ and 180 lbs and have been skiing a 171cm Objective (since I use it for climbing intensive endeavors that don’t usually involve much powder). As with the other Voile skis I’ve used extensively (Vector and Charger), the Objective seems like it will withstand a beating. It is also very reasonably priced, and made in the USA (no worries about their labor practices). It’s worth noting that it doesn’t have the typical Voile wrap-around edges. The edges end a few inches before the tip and tail, so be mindful of abuse (primarily around the tail). Nonetheless, the edges do appear burly and are not the skinny, weak edges often found on skis in this weight class.
I can’t recommend this ski highly enough for spring ski-alpinism in the Western Chugach. If you’re looking for a quiver-killer, all-arounder check out the bigger Voile Vector. I’ve been skiing it for years; it’s indestructible and a pleasure to ride. I’ve blasted sharks at speed with the Vector and Charger that I thought for sure would have resulted in irreparable damage, only to find I needed to file the edge and apply some p-tex. I even got my 180cm Vectors jammed in a couloir that was less than 180cm wide once. I had to step out of the skis and yank them violently to free them, but they’re still going strong a couple years later…
For full disclosure, Voile has been a supporter of the grassroots and volunteer Anchorage Avalanche Center since its inception. Voile has not donated any money to the Anchorage Avalanche Center, but they have provided generous product to support AAC efforts.