This past spring, we took a hard look at the pool of epoxy resin that had formed by the ski press after a long day of work. We focused on our distorted, yellow reflections, took a deep breath and asked: “What does ski touring mean to us?”
Our thoughts floated out beyond the dust collectors to the cool crisp Teton air above. We considered our own backcountry endeavors, side country forays, high alpine dreams, morning pass laps, meadow skipping saunters, long distance linkups, backyard explorations, couloir conquests, and skin track dates. We turned toward each other; and as our beards gently bristled together, we smiled.
Isaac Freeland and his touring setup | Photo: Kevin Kinzley
“Wood!” We sang in unison. “We need to build our backcountry skis from wood!”
Last season it was clear that our ultra-light polyurethane foam “Isocore” Touring ski was the weakest in our line. If it was our touring ski, then why did our Athlete Mark Ortiz ski tour Idaho’s 12 thousand-foot peaks on his Big Horn 106s? Why did Dorian use the Condors to access couloirs in Argentina, Alaska, and the Pyrenees? Why were we explaining to our customers that there was a better, more reliable (wooden!) option than going ultra, extremely light? Our friends on the east coast praised the UP 92 (now Lupine) as the perfect east coast touring ski, friends in the west toured the Tetons with the 108. The Big Horn 96 was named a component of the “Ultimate Ski Touring Setup” by Outside Magazine Gear Guy. The Condor was named one of Powder Magazine’s "5 best Touring skis of 2019." And we wouldn't hesitate to use any of these skis at the resort.
Seth mid backcountry endeavor | Photo: Abbott Gilbane
We believe that skiing should be done on wood, and there should be no compromise between uphill and downhill. Based on use and reviews, so do our athletes, industry reviewers, and our customers. We love working with wood. It keeps our factory and the world cleaner than artificial, ultralight, composites. And, nothing is more reliable. It’s 2019 and backcountry bindings are allowing us to ski more and more confidently. A lightweight ski that holds you back from making a confident turn in any conditions is simply wrong.
This season we’re using poplar wood cores in all of our skis. Poplar is a wonderful wood that we are able to source locally. It is lightweight, strong, poppy and responsive. The Lupines in both widths, Condor 98 and 108, and the Big Horn 96 and 106 are all great skis to put a backcountry binding on. They are light enough that you can be the first one up – but none of them sacrifices a single thing on the downhill. If you're a weight weenie, which we don't blame you for, you can check out weights on the product pages. The Condors are extra light because we’ve built them with two layers of 22 oz triaxial fiberglass and carbon fiber stringers rather than three layers of 19 oz glass - but all of the above options are light enough to tour all day with, or to put on you back and win a race up your local bootpack.