MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes

Help Support

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.
The only thing I've had go on my MSR's was the clip that the strap would be clipped down so it would stay. They broke on the lower strap on both snowshoes. They still work fine but I always worry about them. (Got replacement clips and they broke pretty quickly. I'm certainly not out as much in the winter but do use them a few times a year. I've also always had one or two other pairs, so I never used them more than a half dozen times a year. I've bought the EMS Rentals from Hartford (long ago) and when they closed the Manchester, CT store. CT locations did not get that much usage out of their rentals. If they were not rented, the employees got to use them for free. In Hartford, while I was there the employees were by far the most frequent users.
MSRs tradition is let the users do the final field testing. It happened with the injection molded series (now Denalis). They made incremental changes every year based on the last seasons failures. Same with the Lighting series. If folks remember the Denali type shoes went off market about the time the Lightning issues ramped up, the Mountaineer in NY had stocked up on bunch of the end of the Denalis and had a good winter selling NOS Denalis. MSR figured it out and put the Denalis back in production the next season.

Times change. MSR (Mountain Safety Research) was initially a cutting edge climbing research and design company. It’s founder Larry Pemberthy (sp?) published a monthly newsletter detailing the company’s testing and design activities. Initially that was in technical climbing equipment like ice axes, snow pickets such. I subscribed and read it regularly.

The company then moved into stoves I think and that was much more a commercial success than the climbing. From there tents, snowshoes and modern times.

I still can envision the radical design of the pick on the Pemberthy ice axe which, according to his testing, was much faster to dig into a wide variety of snow surfaces to stop a falling climber. Alas it never “caught” on and is now relegated to the dustbin of history.

I did not save any of those folksy MSR newsletters. Wish I had.
Last edited:
One of the teeth on mine snapped last winter. My cousin is a welder and welded a new tooth on it, and then matched the paint! First time out, it snapped in the same spot.