I’m far from being an expert skier, despite skiing expert runs at ski areas. I’m at that point in my skiing where it takes a lot of time on the snow to see much in the way of improvement. Fortunately, I got to see, rather, experience, the fruits of my efforts over the past few years since moving to Colorado. While I was still the weakest skier in the group of outdoor and primarily ski journalists on this trip to Jackson Hole I was able to keep up and even enjoy myself.
The trip was organized and sponsored by Marmot with some help with Polartec. Marmot was using Polartec’s new breathable insulation technology called Alpha. The idea is to be able to be working hard in the winter and dump the excess heat your body creates to avoid overheating and sweating which can be a problem once your body starts to cool off. On the other hand, as you do cool you want your layers to be right to keep you warm enough. Usually this involves stripping and adding layers as you change your activity on the mountain. I’ve been using an Eddy Bauer jacket with Polartec Alpha most of this season and it has been great. The Marmot kit did really well though it could have been colder out to optimize the feature of the technology.
As a last push to find some measure of winter (defined by me as including skiable snow, not just being cold out), Jordan and I pushed out to the new Opus Hut tucked in the southern end of the San Juan Mountains. We had invited a number of other folks, but by the virtue that we scheduled our trip mid week, most of the working world wasn’t able to comply. So Jordan and I set out on this trip on our own. This was her first ski hut trip (though, she did get herself up to Gray Knob a few years ago) and she said it pushed her a bit more than she would have liked.
Like the rest of my ski equipment, I’ve had these skis for about four years now. Though, they’ve really only seen two solid seasons of skiing, mostly in Colorado, though they have skied in California, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and even Illinois!
This is a great all-mountain ski. K2 has been making skis since 1961 and they make a quality product, these skis being no different. They are a little heavy, by design, to punch through any crud and avoid chattering on groomers while going fast. They are fat enough to float nicely in deep powder and turning on them is always a pleasure.
The only problem I’ve had with them have related to keeping climbing skins on them and K2 would argue I’m using the wrong skins. They have the hole at the tip for clip in skins, but I use a pair of Black Diamond skins with the D-ring that goes over the tip. Only once has the D-ring worked it’s way off the tip and a little adjustment has fixed it fine since.
This ski takes to edge extremely well and once on edge it arcs into a beautiful turn be it in powder, on groomers or going through the bumps. Icy slopes and super hard snow is never easy to edge into and undoubtedly my skill set could be improved to better manage those conditions even though I’ve wanted to blame the skis for the chattering and scraping along.
I’ve skied a few other skis since being on the Work Stinx and I’m always happy to come back to them.
After trying various Garmont and Scarpa tele boots I found Crispi, an Italian brand that fits my feet perfectly: wide and high volume. I ordered the XP’s as they were described to have the broadest versatility, especially for a relatively new telemark skier. Medium weight to help punch through any crud snow and plenty stiff for tight response. These boots have served me well in all conditions from crusey groomers to earning turns in the backcountry. Most importantly they are very comfortable and my feet are totally secure in them. My heel stays in place and I’ve never had any issues of rubbing, blistering or cramping. I skied on them for a full season before I baked the thermal liners. After molding the liners to my feet I found a whole new level of comfort and control. The boots are also plenty warm which is very important when on a backcountry lunch break between climbs and runs sitting around in the snow. I have yet to take these boots on a multi-day tour to see what it’s like to put them on after sitting out overnight in the cold, but hopefully that will come soon.
The Crispi XP’s soft rubber Skywalk sole grips the snow well when walking around on compact snow and the duckbill is strong and stiff enough to punch enough of a lip to step on when booting it up sections too steep to make it worth while to skin up.
My few concerns stem from how easily the tongue under each of the upper buckles sometimes mesh the wrong way. I usually catch this when it becomes ridiculously difficult to lock the buckle down and after catching this the first time I know to keep an eye out for this. Also, the power strap is way too long. It makes me wonder how fat of a leg it can accommodate. Maybe it’s that long to work as a shoulder strap when strapping the boots together to carry them, but I’m not sure as I have a boot bag for them. Another little annoyance is having to flip up the D-ring where the leash attaches. I don’t really have a well thought out solution in mind, but if the D-ring could somehow stick out some and not just rest right up against the boot, it would make it easier to attach the ski leash.