Some exciting innovations in snowshoe design are being made with the Lightening Ascents from MSR. A standout feature of these shoes is their weight. A very compact design and weighing in at just 3 pounds 10 ounces, they can easily be thrown onto a pack. And for those who want genuinely light snowshoes for racing, these shoes are billed as the lightest in their class. The other main innovation of this model is the improved traction, which has been incorporated into the frame.
My first experience with the Lightning Ascent's was on a cold January day in the Southern Alberta Rockies. The snow conditions were fairly uniform throughout the day and there was some very fine powder higher up. The bindings and straps were straightforward and appear to be robust enough to last for a few years. Wearing some heavy-duty mountaineering boots, I could hardly notice these snowshoes on my feet. I was carrying about 10 pounds of gear with me, and was quite pleased with the grip of the shoes - they are billed by MSR as revolutionary for the traction that is incorporated into the frame. For climbing, they have installed an easily adjusted heel lifter bar for better traction with the toe crampons - a nice addition that should improve the efficiency of your ascent.
Flotation was generally adequate, although for breaking trail on the very fine powder higher up, I would have preferred a wider shoe for better flotation. (MSR does not yet offer flotation tails for this model as they do for some of their other shoes.) These shoes were designed for their grip - so for those serious about winter mountaineering, I would recommend giving these snowshoes a try.
Snowshoe performance can vary according to conditionsÂ… so check back on this site for updates later on to how these snowshoes performed over the rest of the winter!