Thanks Matt Ahlrichs...this efforts helps us get to where we need to be...
Hey guys over at Ski Grace.
Thanks again for another great ski season. To put it lightly, this was an odd winter in Alaska resulting in constantly changing snow conditions. The weather went from blower conditions, to ice storms, to obscene avalanche danger and back to blower conditions again. This made for great conditions to test a new pair of skis. With around 30 days in the backcountry on the prototype Kylies I feel that I have been able to get a good sense where they excel and where they may need some improvement. It should be noted that before I received my Grace Skis I was skiing on a set of Elan Pogo Sticks. With Marker Baron bindings the Pogo Sticks weigh around 20-25 lbs., have very little camber underfoot and a slight early rise. Essentially the Pogo Sticks are crud busters that can hold an edge like it’s no one’s business.
Now that you have an idea of what I have been skiing on for the last three years, let’s get back to the true backcountry chargers; the prototype Kylies.
Let’s start with the construction of the ski. These skis are not only amazing but also beautiful. The product that Grace Ski delivered shows the care and consideration of someone who understands what it takes to make a simple, eloquent, and practical ski. The skis felt very well balanced resulting in a smooth and effortless ride. However the laminate used for the top sheet cracked and peeled throughout the season. I’m not sure if this was a result of an incomplete bond with the wood or a faulty lacquer. Regardless, the result was a very brittle top sheet. This was solved with airplane epoxy, superglue, and duct tape. I have included a photo of the separation but there were several others that I fixed before I was able to get a photo.
When I held the ski up to a bright light, I could see the core through the ski which was pretty cool. However, this ultra-lightweight core was insecure to mount. Both of the toe pieces in my Plum bindings completely pulled out within the first week of owning the skis. This was solved with re-mounting the bindings with heliacoils. We should discuss new strategies to try and alleviate this mounting problem.
I started the season on G3 skins, but switched to Black Diamond part way through the season. I cannot emphasize how frustrating the performance of the G3 skins was compared against the superior Black Diamond skins. The weight of these skis when combined with the Black Diamond skins made skinning in good conditions a breeze. Many days this season breaking trail, which these skis excelled at. The wide base and low weight of these skis kept me at the front of the group without getting fatigued. Additionally, I found the early rise prevented my tips from getting caught on the snow in switchbacks.
However, I found the caber maybe a little too pronounced. This required me to change the way that I skin up mountains. I had to completely re-distribute my weight towards the back of the ski to ensure that I was maintaining as much contact with the snow as possible. On steeper, icier slopes I found the camber encouraged me to slip. This may be something that becomes less of an issue as I continue to skin on these skis, but was something that I noticed with the skis out of the box.
If I had one word to describe these skis on the downhill it would be incredible.
When the conditions became icy or choppy the Kylies performed beautifully. They are able to hold an edge when needed and had enough rigidity to bust through sections of light crud. However I did notice that there was a lot of chatter and the skis became very squirrely in technical terrain that was boiler plate hard. This was often noticed in the alder patches near the bottom of the mountain. This is not really that surprising considering the size, weight, and recommended use for these skis. Speaking of recommended use, I should note that I did not use these skis to drop any cliffs or do any jumps for fear of the ski folding or snapping.
I believe that when the prototype Kylie goes into production it will completely revolutionize the backcountry ski market. Comparing the Kylies to DPS skis the difference in weight and construction is immediately apparent. These skis were everything that I thought they would be and have made me feel more confident in the backcountry. The skins up are much less exhausting compared with my old skis and descents feel like cutting through butter with a hot knife. Everyone that has seen these skis in action has been blown away by how versatile yet light weight the skis are. I think that once the top sheet and mounting problems have been resolved this will be a coveted ski for any quiver.
Perhaps we could set up a time to discuss these issues and move ahead for a new prototype for next season?
I’ve attached some photos from the places that I took my Grace Skis this season. I hope you enjoy them.
Thanks again and I look forward to continuing collaborating with Grace Skis.