MSR launches a revolutionary new snowshoe design in the high-end MSR Lightning Ascent series. The MSR Lightning Ascent will be available in both men’s and women’s specific shapes (and colors), and two sizes (22" and 25"), with a weight range of 3.1 to 3.6 pounds. A heel elevator and a very agressive traction design for icy conditions positions the MSR Lightning Ascent as a premier option for alpine climbers and those craving technical snowshoes that perform well in a wide variety of conditions.
The snowshoe frame is made with water jet-cut aircraft grade aluminum, formed in a vertical rail design (not unlike some ice climbing crampons), and riveted in the rear. High strength carbon steel cross rails and crampon make the MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoe as practical for steep and ice traverses as well as rolling hills of powder. An upgraded binding now sets the standard in ease of use with mittens, requiring no "threading" or other fine motor skills.
We had the chance to take the MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes out for a spin in the Brighton backcountry at the Backcountry Basecamp events today. Results were impressive – the snowshoes felt light on the feet, and the narrow deck design was shaped for efficient walking while providing reasonable flotation. Although they did not glide as well as tubular-aluminum-frame Northern Lites in deep powder, their agressively cleated rails and crampon provided outstanding bite on steep and ice slopes.
Our favorite feature was the heel elevator. Unike MSR’s Denali Ascent, the heel elevator was very easy to both engage and disengage with mittened hands – or a ski pole – and was the right height to relieve calf strain on steep climbs.
We give the MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes a "first looks thumbs up" and think they will hit the market strong as a solid product as a light and comfortable snowshoe capable of both technical climbing while being comfortable enough for touring.