Black Diamond Redux

| February 15, 2013

After a seven year hiatus, I am back working with Black Diamond Equipment in Salt Lake City. But, unlike 1991 when I started there as a gear designer, this time I’m involved as a ski mountaineer, which in itself shows how far the company and industry has come. Twenty-two years ago the idea of being a professional ski mountaineer was about as viable as being a pro doughnut eater, and finding a PowerBar in the parking lot was considered a major sponsorship coup.

Hans Saari and Alex Lowe on Whitetail Peak with state-of-the-art 1993 ski gear.

When I started as a designer, one of my main selling points was that I could provide my own computer (Compaq 386-20) and AutoCAD software. For the first nine months, I had a folding card table for a desk which I shared with Tom Jones, Black Diamond had about 40 employees and the entire ski line consisted of the XCD binding and importing a few other items .  Since then, BD has grown to over 300 people, expanded all over the world, built its own ski manufacturing facility and become a publicly traded company.

My current involvement is limited to skis, boots and hardwear, although the BD line now covers just about everything you’d ever need for backcountry skiing and climbing. The new line of 2013/14 skis, which were recently shown at the Outdoor Retailer Show, looks very comprehensive and well detailed. Here’s my current ski line-up:

Current – 175cm with GlideLite Mixed Skins.  118/86/106  2.28 kg/5.0 lb with skins & bindings
I spend 80% of my time on this set-up as it is light, versatile and works well for the mixed conditions we’ve had so far in Utah this season.


Convert – 180cm  133/105/117  I haven’t got these mounted or skinned yet, but when I do, they’ll be a great powder+ ski.  The thing I like about these (and the Megawatts) is that on deep snow days with elevated avalanche danger, they enable you to float at lower speeds and on lower slope angles, which makes meadow skipping much more fun.

Carbon Megawatts – 188cm  superwide/reallywide/ultrawide  These are more of a quiver ski to me, although many people use them for everything.  I like bringing them out when I know my other partners are going to be on similar skis and won’t be smoking me with rando race gear.  This is an amazingly light ski for its size and causes delightful brain damage in deep snow.

Help support and titillate your brain stem with a pair of Black Diamond Carbon Megawatt Skis from Click on the photo below…




Category: Announcements

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

Comments (16)

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  1. Bob says:

    Whoa, for a moment there I thought you’d gotten a job. I was worried.

  2. Andrew, good job on the new website look! I am visiting after some time…

    I got those Carbon Megawatts in my room right now, they are my friend’s. But holy smokes I am impressed with the light weight and a nice uniform flex. Anyways, I got to test them somehow but the bindings are mounted for quite bigger boots ;)

  3. Smokey says:

    Help make their boots fit like scarpas…

  4. Tom Jones says:

    Congrats, Andrew. Me, I still have nightmares on occasion about still working there…

  5. Keny G says:

    The boomarang hits some in the back of the head, some a glancing blow off the side but the few which get hit right in the mouth….well, you saw it coming!! Congrats on the new job. You did great things back then and I’ll sure you’ll show up this round as well. Mouths to feed and all. ;)

  6. Mark Holbrook says:

    Go dog go! Tom you crack me up! Congrats and I know you will provide them with some much needed ski mountaineering savvy.

  7. Furiku Sho says:

    Well, I remember how pissed you got when I got fired from there, I feel that I am in a much better place now. Thank you for your support. You must keep the tradition of The Dawn Patrol, coming in late, baggy eyed, still wearing your snow bibs and begging for some coffee…..and scamming folks in the machine shop for a power bar…..wish you well.


  8. OneWorld Bob says:

    You will have some great insight to share with their Design team. Looking fwd to seeing how the product line develops. Good luck with it.

  9. Wick says:

    Show them the light….Its All About the Down…brah

  10. Jason says:

    Glidelite mixed eh? I thought you didnt like the current incarnation (nor do I), being kind of a worst of both sides kind of thing. I much prefer the older nylon glidelites, ascensions, or pure mohairs to the current “mixed” offering.

    I am stoked your directly involved with BD again – your insight on how gear should work is a great resource!!

  11. Matt Kinney says:

    Back then it was nearly impossible to work from home. “Tele”-commuting should work these days. Good luck with your new gig. win/win

  12. Derek says:

    Cool, your influence there is needed.

  13. Andrew says:

    Hi Jason – After trying out the Glidelite mixed this last weekend, I think I’m still partial to the straight-up nylon skins. The Glidelites are noticeably lighter, which is a good feature for phat skis as it saves a substantial amount of weight, but they are hard to fold, hard to strip and don’t climb Wasatch torture tracks nearly as well.

  14. Skian says:

    Super pumped for you Andrew. Looking forward to pissing you off on the first 100 meters of kicking your tails in the skin track and then suffering to keep you in sight next time we get to spend time in the woods again.

  15. Andrew says:

    Skian – when are we going into Area 51 again?

  16. wow! probably good you don’t have to actually report to duty every day. the commute’s a beeotch and regular hours are not nice :) congrats, yo!

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