Marquette Skis: Skinless Backcountry Ascending
Long before ski lifts were introduced, skiers were climbing mountains with the help of skins. Named that way because they were originally made from animal skins, skins basically provide friction when stepping forward, but are smooth when sliding along the terrain. If you rub the skins from tip to tail, they're smooth, but rub them from tail to tip and they're rough. This way you slide forward but not backward.
Skins provide the most effective means of climbing backcountry routes through snow-covered mountains and are virtually a must-have for backcountry skiers. In fact, splitboards were designed so that snowboarders would have a way of skinning up mountains without needing a separate pair of skis.
A new ski from Snapperhead Inventions aims to eliminate the need for skins. The skis are designed as a combination of traditional skis and snowshoes, providing the grip needed to climb while allowing for snag-free descents--without any skins. Similar to skins, the base of the skis slide forward but grip backward.
Brought by the man behind the V.I.O action cam, Dave Ollila, the skis are designed to make backcountry skiing more accessible to average skiers that don't want the expense and hassle of buying and applying skins. They cost a bargain-basement-for-any-skis price of $179/pair and are scheduled to launch this month. (Update: These skis are now available here on Amazon.)
I like the hardware that was created, but not necessarily the idea behind it. These are almost "toys" designed for backcountry skiing, one of the most dangerous sports known to man. The company admits designing them with the local hills of Marquette, Michigan in mind, where avalanches, cliffs and other hazards of big mountains are limited, but they're still marketing a super inexpensive piece of gear made solely for getting out into the backcountry. Not only are these skis cheaper than skis + skins, they're less than half of what you'd pay for a good pair of skis alone.
Backcountry skiing requires a lot of knowledge and precaution and the expense and skills needed to purchase a pair of quality skis and skins is something that helps to keep completely oblivious skiers out of the backcountry. If it's as easy as spending $180 on a pair of skis designed for nothing but backcountry skiing, it seems like it will welcome in a fair share of reckless noobs. At the very least, the company should put some warnings on its website; lines like " 30 percent snowshoe, 70 percent ski, 100 percent fun" are kind of irresponsible and paint the wrong picture. Take a closer look at the skis here.
Via: The GearCaster