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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 Named that way because they were originally made from animal skins, skins basically provide friction when stepping forward, but are smooth when sliding along the terrain.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 

Comments
Dec 2, 2010
by Anonymous

Hater

Wow, hating a little heavy on a good idea aren't we?

Dec 27, 2010
by Anonymous

Arrogance - the trademark of the "ski community"

Of course, the masses (reckless noobs) are simply not intelligent enough or "skilled" enough to make life and death decisions. No doubt bodies will litter the backwoods in large numbers.

Calling Mr. Ollila's new product "almost toys" is entirely unwarranted. Let the market decide on the merits of this newest ski/snowshoe tool for exploring the hills and woods.

Others have extolled the usefulness of Marquette skis in many environments less daunting that the life-threatening backcountry that seems to cause some to fret.

Of course, there is always the risk that this product will put more skiers into the exclusive, isolated and expensive backcountry, and what good is spending thousands on the "proper" gear if the hills are full of beginners on their inexpensive, ordinary gear. Ugh!

Nov 6, 2011
by Anonymous

Libel masquerading as an article...

Jesus, I've read some ignorant crap lately, but this article takes the cake.

Do yo really think a price point difference of $50-$100 is going to make these skis some kind of attractive nuisance? Are you high?

Any 'noob' can assemble a backcountry ski package, anytime, anywhere. And they can do it cheaply, with, or without, MBS.

I can only imagine that you are a 600 pound recluse living in your mother's basement; otherwise, you'd be aware that snowshoes and skis are both 100% fun!

And if you could provide some kind of evidence that a manufacturer's claim that their product may provide an experience of fun is a liability, I'd love to learn about it. If I was the manufacturer of these skis, my attorney would be asking you the question in a Michigan courtroom.

Dec 11, 2011
by Anonymous

heaven forbid

serious athletes such as myself who work for a living and have family budgets be able to afford a new piece of ski equipment. This article embodies the type of elitism that's so hard to stomach in specialty sports shops (cycling, skiing, running, etc etc). Some of us spend a lot of time in the backcountry but don't have unlimited budgets. I haven't tested these out, but they look like EXACTLY the type of thing I've been looking for.