Last Skier Standing : the gear, and thoughts

Last Skier Standing : the gear, and thoughts

By: Robby Laughlin Comments: 0

LSS : The gear, The fuel, the thoughts

Last Skier Standing (LSS) is an event put on by White Mountain Ski Company ( Formerly Ski The Whites) hosted by Black Mountain Maine. The event is incredibly simple, you have to skin one lap every hour on the hour. The lap is around 1.5 miles up and 1,150ft of vertical gain. For reference, that vertical gain is like going halfway up Nosedive, or a little higher than Easy Mile. Piece of cake right? Until you realize there is no end time, there is no set distance, you just go until the last skier is standing. This year the previous record got absolutely smashed coming in at over 76 laps. This means Justin Lagessey skied 213 miles and climbed 85,500 vertical feet, on incredibly little sleep. I participated in LSS for the first time this year and came nowhere close to that but was very pleased with my 15 laps. I plan on signing up for next year’s LSS and trying to beat my 15 laps. Here are some of my thoughts on what I will do differently or keep the same, the gear I used this year, and of course the food. 


The Gear: 

Dynafit Blacklight 80

This ski was a last-minute change-up for me, and when I say last minute I mean I hadn’t skied this set up until the day before the event. This falls under do what your ski tech says and not as they do. Luckily it worked out big time. These skis were way more stable than my previous skis. The K2 Wayback 80’s. Although I sure did love my K2's the Blacklight was definitely the right ski for the job. The ski comes in at 1,010 grams (165). So definitely not a race ski but is way more versatile and comfortable on the down. On the recreation level weight is all personal preference and I found that the 1,000-gram skis are my sweet spot for light and efficient on the up but can still ski composed on the way down. With its medium/short turn radius (17m - 165) and it's pretty darn stiff flex, it makes this ski very poppy and energetic out of the turns. Now when I was crunched on time and had to make it up on the down these things allowed me to also just point them down the fall line and go. It took me a couple runs to get used to that feeling because other skis in this weight category definitely do not feel this quite after a certain speed. Long story short I was very excited about my last second gear swap.

ATK Trofeo 

Knowing almost nothing about engineering I’m going to say this binding is an engineering marvel. Weighing in at a whopping 290 grams (pair) + the adjustment plates at 68 grams (pair) with a total of 358 grams. For reference, just a single heel and toe piece of a Marker King Pin 13 weighs 750 grams. Just like the Blacklight, the Trofeo is not a true race setup but a lot more durable. That extra 50 grams or so you pick up compared to ATK’s true race bindings adds some nearly indestructible durability. What makes this binding so versatile is that its strength allows you to take it on some seriously big missions and feel confident it’s going to do its job, but the ease of use and design also allows you to race it in your local ski mo race. Now for how it skis. Let’s call a spade a spade, you aren’t getting this binding to go rip bump laps or huck your meat off cliffs to flat landings, or at least I hope not. If you are I’ll be seeing you in the shop soon with a broken binding. No this simplistic piece of craftsmanship is for adventures, it’s for someone who doesn’t want all the bells and whistles. It’s for someone who always wants to know what’s over the next hill. It’s for someone who always finds themselves getting into bad situations, don’t worry we won’t tell anyone you are just bad at reading maps. Circling back, I loved this binding for all the reasons above and will pick it time and time again.


Salomon MTN Summit Pro 

I have had this boot since the middle of last season and have put a good chunk of miles on it. Now if you know me you know I have oddly shaped hobbit-like feet. Bumps all over the place. Arches doing wildly different things. Extensive cold damage. Needless to say, I have yet to put on a ski boot out of the box and say “Oh yeah this feels friggin awesome”. After doing a lot of work on my classic boot issue spots and getting a proper custom footbed these boots feel like slippers. Slippers that rip. During the race, I always made it a point to open up the entire boot to make sure my foot could “breathe”. This process was pretty darn easy with a boa and a quick-release power strap. For LSS when playing the long game seconds turn into minutes and minutes turn into hours. So having a quick transition at the top truly does make a difference. With such a simple boot and binding I was able to get out of the transition zone faster than some people that got there before me. If only I could recover faster than them at the bottom. This boot along with the rest of the setup for me is the perfect combination of light and efficient, can do skimo races, fully backcountry cable, and a great adventure setup.


POMOCA Free Pro 2.0

Now let’s get to the sticky stuff. I had brought three pairs of skins but only used two. Might have even been able to get away with one but just didn’t want to worry. Both pairs I used were the Free Pro 2.0. Now for those of you who have a hard time keeping track of the names for POMOCA, the Free Pro 2.0 are the pink ones, but not the race ones. The Free Pros have a little more grip than the race ones. Which I was very happy about. Now it was no Nosedive headwall but there was a short and steep pitch that definitely slapped some people right back to the bottom. Having that little extra grip with the Free’s made all the difference and allowed me to sneak right up and over. Now out of the POMOCA lineup, these are my favorite. They are so incredibly light, take up way less space in your pack or your pockets, and absorb less water than some other brands. All of these factors play a huge role in why I picked these for LSS and for every other set-up.


Now we can get into the smaller pieces of the puzzle. These items are arguably a little less important but still play a huge role in the grand scheme of things.

Dynafit Winter Bootie

Dynafit Winter Bootie

When my dawgs were in ski boots for 15 hours slipping these bad boys on felt like they were going into a warm hug. 


Smith Bobcat 

If you don't have some form of clear lens glasses or goggles do you even ski on the East Coast?


Dakine Hot Laps 2L

Being able to carry snacks, water, and a phone every lap was very convenient. Even going up to the resort and doing fitness laps it's great to not have to wear a backpack every time.


Lets be honest here, drinking this stuff was the real reason I made it as far as I did. This elixer of life truely does it all. If anyone is going bak to Maine anytime soon please grab me another 12 pack. 


My thoughts on the event and why I want to do it again: 

I enjoyed this event way more than I had anticipated. Seeing everyone out there pushing their limits and almost everyone skinning more than they have ever before was incredible to watch. On laps 8-10, it seemed like there was 80% of the participants still in the race. When some people would drop I would hear them say "Oh I just did 10 laps", as it wasn't that much. I think if you only count your laps it can diminish how much you have actually skied. 10 laps by the way is skiing roughly 29 miles and climbing 11,500. THAT IS A MASSIVE DAY! I think the true nature of the event is for everyone to push their limits no matter who they are. Doesn't matter if you have the latest and greatest skimo gear or your 20-year-old frame binding set up. Just get out there and keep lining up on the start line and see what happens.

My training plan was pretty loose. Go skin a lot. I have three days off a week from the shop, so skinning three days a week plus maybe a before/after work skin every once and a while. Now I consider myself a backcountry skier and skinning in bounds has always been a bit monotonous. If I sign up for LSS again next year I think I will have to get over this fact and really log some time skinning at the resort. Also, practice going into the night a bit more because my body definitely started to want different things after 9pm (the time I normally go to bed). I think this year allowed me to see where my weak spots were and now going into next year I'll be able to build those up.

As for the food, my favorite part of any event. I consider myself somewhat of a garbage disposal when it comes to eating. So when doing a big effort day that allows me to eat pretty much whatever I want I get pretty excited. As I already mentioned earlier Maines's official drink Moxie (Not actually Maine's Official drink) was a lovely way to get some quick sugar and a little bit of caffeine. The one thing that I could consistently eat no matter what time of day was hot dogs. The gels and bananas were fine and got me through a lot but wow when I saw a hot dog go on the grill I could not wait to get back down to grab one. So my plan for next year's food will strictly be hot dogs and Moxie. What could go wrong?

To wrap things up I am glad I did it and can't wait for next year. I hope that after reading this it might excite you a little bit to sign up next year as well.


Ski fast, take chances.




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