When Francois and I created Altai Skis, our main goal was to make accessible and affordable skis that worked well in the winter backcountry areas that lie close to where many of us live. We call this backyard backcountry. Maybe its not as glamorous as the terrain and skiing found in the ski movies of the day, but its way easier for many of us to get to and with the right skis, lots of fun.
The Hoks were clearly our first and main project. We did look beyond that though, and had the Kōm ski in our initial vision as well. The ski is wide and short like a Hok, but in the continuum between a snow shoe and a ski, the Kōm is much more on the ski side of the mix. Our initial concept was simple. A short wide ski with a length between 155 cm and 165 cm, and between 95-100 mm under foot. We would also use some of the design ideas we incorporated into the Hok. The tip has some rocker, allowing us to reduce the sidecut a bit while keeping the ski easy turning. The binding and geometry are a bit forward then a traditional skis design as well. This keeps the balance and swing weight even, and the ski sinking more evenly when breaking trail in deeper snow – a condition we all seek out whenever possible!
The Kōm is also faster gliding then the Hok, as it uses a no wax (fish scale) base. The base we are using along with the ski design is quite aggressive for climbing, more so then the normal nowax base, but not as grippy as the Hoks with their integrated skin base. As a solution we are also developing a dedicated removable skin – more on that later.
The name – Kōm – comes from one of the main towns in the Chinese region of the Altai Mountains, and is one of the hotbeds of traditional skiing. The graphic we are working on is also inspired by the Altai region, we will get that up as soon as it is finalized.
Right now we are planning to build the Kōm without inserts so users can mount the binding of their choice on it easily. We have gone back and forth on this but that is our current plan. We are testing with the Voile 3 pin cable – a light and sturdy free heel binding we have used a lot in the past. My testing rig so far has been the Voile with a Scarpa T4 and occasionally a leather lace up (works well unless the snow is hard or funky).
We will be producing the Kōm in a small factory in Quebec, and should have finished skis coming out by late summer – good timing for next season!
Below is a video I put together on some recent testing of the Kōm – to be continued…..