Sunday, January 9, 2022

Skiing the Altais

Finally got the first four inches of (decently) skiable snow for the season. Took advantage for a few hours yesterday. We'll take it.

Skied the favorite four mile out and back. A little over 700ft elevation gain. No base but some pretty decent powder. A bit rocky. Can't complain, other than that it is now all gone thanks to some warmer temps.

The bright sun really warmed the day toward late afternoon. Had to pack it in for the final 0.2mile at lower  elevation. The snow had really turned to wet crud. We thank the two hikers we encountered who had the perception to stay out of the ski tracks. Sad to say, you don't come across that often enough.

A couple folks over time have asked "What are those skis you guys got?"

They're manufactured by a company called Altai. The pattern is akin to a type of ski used by the indigenous people living in the Altai (or Altay) mountain region of central and east Asia. Hence the moniker. Did a bit of reading up on the area. Some hard folks. Totally subsist off the land. To them the skis are just another survival tool. 

Map location of the Altai region - borrowed from Altai's website.

Originally manufactured by Karhu skis (were called Karvers). When Karhu ceased operation years back their two Karver designers bailed and went their own way, partnering and forming Altai Skis. They subsequently did some design improvements, hence the current Altai ski. 

At the time we had been searching for an optimal approach ski for ice climbing. The Karhu Karvers were great for that as they had a ratchet-type free heel binding that was compatible with (crampon compatible) mountaineering boots. Over time we took a shine to the overall ski performance of those things. We picked up another pair and rigged 'em for three-pin touring. We particularly liked the partial built-in climbing skin. Our preferred ski touring routes always include long climbs with some steeps. There's no long steep mountain climbs in these parts that necessitate the utilization of climbing skins (it's rolling hill backwood SWPA). The fish scale pattern of regular nordic and touring skis never really fit the bill for steep climbs (at least the ones we've owned). We ski the 145cm length. The shorter length and wide base provide good maneuverability on the downhill. They're pretty easy to ski. Like anything else, there's conditions where we find they work a bit better. Others may prefer different. 

Hey, we were asked - ya' know what they say about opinions.

No comments:

Post a Comment