It’s a very exciting time. It’s the start of fall, with the first hints of winter in the air. Snow is starting to stick to the hills higher up. People are starting to think about the ski season. New gear replacing old and all the adventures that they will go on. We’ve got part of our skis in at SkiUphill.ca this past week (and are excepting the rest over the next two weeks) and we’re getting excited anticipating all the stories that these skis will tell.
But first there are some things to think about when you are selecting that perfect ski:
What is your skiing ability?
Be honest with yourself, as this can make more of a difference than you think. If you are a beginner to intermediate skier (can ski most runs in a resort in good conditions and starting to get into the backcountry) you’re probably looking for a more forgiving ski. This term is often used for a ski that is a little softer. A softer ski will allow you to go over uneven terrain easier and will be less punishing if you end up in the backseat or off balance. A more experienced skier might want a stiffer, more demanding ski that will offer a better edge hold in bad conditions and will be more stable skiing faster and more aggressively.
What type of terrain do you ski?
Are you hucking cliffs? Do you prefer low-angled slopes? Meadow skips or couloirs? Ski width does matter and a 95 to 100 underfoot would be a wide as you would likely want to go unless you are exclusively skiing deep powder. Let’s be honest, this doesn’t happen more than a handful of times a year around here. We’ve found that 85 - 100 mm underfoot is plenty of ski for 95% of days and will give you the control you want in a broad range of conditions. Everyday isn’t a pow day and it’s nice to have fun on hardpack too.
What are your fitness goals? Skiing objectives?
Do you get out a few times a year for a lap or two? Or ski multiple laps or long traverses? It might not be too off-putting to do a single 500 metre lap with heavy equipment. However, when it comes to traverses or big days, having lighter gear makes all the difference. Think of a lighter boot as one that is less than 1,300 grams per boot and a light ski at 1,500 grams or less. On average every additional 100 grams at the end of your foot is an extra 3% effort. There are some light boots out there than will give you the performance that you need while still being plenty stiff for everything but pillow lines and cliffs. We see light gear as an easy way to get one more lap on the yoyo days, or having a bit of energy left over to poke around the terrain after getting to the hut.
When it comes to materials, carbon is a great way to add stiffness and save on weight, but also comes with a higher price tag.
In narrowing down your search for a specific ski you have to choose the length first. You’ve probably skied resorts before and the skis that you’d use are a length that falls in between your chin and top of your forehead. A beginner will benefit in having ski that is in that range for better turning control and pivoting. Shorter skis do float less in powder and are a tad less stable if you’re screaming down a run but the benefits will outweigh the negatives in the backcountry. A skier with stiff hips may also benefit from slightly shorter skis to facilitate kick-turns. Touring skis are designed between nose height and top of the head depending on camber and stiffness. Turning radius can also affect the length that is right for you, as a tighter radius will be more manoeuvrable.
How do you accessorize?
When you go out into the backcountry there are specific accessories that you might need. From packs and socks to boots and bindings as well as climbing skins.
Not all skis are made the same and finding a knowledgeable sales specialist that help you find the perfect match will make all the difference in enjoying the backcountry and earning your turns.
We are very excited about the skis that we have brought in from Fischer, Movement, SkiTrab and Zag. These skis will tell some stories this year.
Of course skis do not really tell stories, but people do. There are some skis that tell some more interesting stories. Skis that take you to better places. Skis that share in more climbs and fun with new and old friends. Those are the skis that we have chosen in our store. Not all skis are the same and we are very proud of our curated list. We now have to live up to that challenge of getting you on “those” skis to make that experience come to life in the backcountry. Drop by and tell us a story about your old pair, and if you’re interested we can help you find a new pair for a new story to tell this year.
Photos courtesy of Kylee Toth Ohler