By Mike Gutt, K2 Skis
It’s hard to believe an entire year has gone by since the first K2 Test Week with CMH Heli-Skiing. We walked away from that trip – the remarkable group of guests, staff and snow conditions -- with feedback to fuel the creation of an entirely new powder ski. We were also left with the feeling we had just experienced something totally unique with CMH Heli-Skiing. They say lightning never strikes twice, yet as shocking as it seems, lightning struck at the Monashees Lodge again in 2011, creating an unforgettable 2nd annual K2 Test Week.
We loaded up 38 pairs of 2012/13 test skis and two prototype snowboards and made our journey from K2 headquarters in Seattle to CMH's Monashees Lodge. We were heading out in the midst of a La Nina storm cycle that had been pounding the northwest for over a week, dumping foot upon foot of snow in early March. Needless to say, we were excited with updates on the fresh snowfall and stable avalanche forecasts. But excitement levels peaked at the sight of 15-foot tall snow banks on both sides of the road as we headed into Revelstoke, B.C!
We showed up at the lodge and met the guests, staff and K2 athletes who had arrived just before us. This year K2 and CMH added an extra element to the test week by conducting a Warren Miller shoot at the same time. K2 brought in Andy Mahre --son of decorated US Olympian Steve Mahre -- and Tyler Ceccanti, an up-and-coming pro from the Pacific Northwest. While the Warren Miller crew was out filming their movie segment, the rest of us were testing new powder skis with the CMH guests and staff.
Our goal was to get as much feedback on as many pairs of skis as we could. We brought skis of various waist widths (from 102 to 132mm) and different sizes (from 159cm to 189cm) that contained differing amounts of Rocker. In 2010, it took the guests three days to be convinced to even look at, let alone ski, anything over 105mm underfoot. What a difference a year makes. On the very first day, every pair of skis over 128mm underfoot was being tested. Every evening we would take down guest reactions and then set them up with a new ski for the next morning.
During those seven days we tested powder skis in the most ideal snow conditions for which they were designed: knee to waist-deep powder. Every day we found fresh snow blanketing some of the most amazing pillow lines any of us had ever seen, let alone skied. We gathered feedback from a broad range of skiers and walked away with more data than we ever could have asked for.
The 2011/12 Pon2oon, a ski that was developed during the 2010 test week, once again rose to the top as a pure performance powder ski, with more confidence and stability than the original Pontoon. Right alongside was the SideStash model --the most decorated ski in the 2010/11 magazine ski tests -- which again proved to be the most versatile, high performance and wider-waisted ski for those who seek the feel of a traditional ski, rather than something as surfy as the Pontoon. Based on the positive feedback from the tests, both of these skis will be added to the CMH Heli-Skiing fleet for the 2011/12 Season.
Thanks for helping us develop skis that make skiing easier and more fun for everyone. For those of you that missed the session this year, we hope you'll join us for the K2 Demo Days at CMH Kootenay in 2012.
Photo: K2's Mike Gutt testing the snow quality at CMH Monashees by Alex O'Brien. See more killer pics from the week in our online photo gallery.