Bon hiver! Our first snow storm of the season is behind us. Winter is here!
For now. Until it warms up again. This weekend. The warmer non-winter weather continuing to confuse forecasters and snow enthusiasts, until it all changes again, with winter returning just as suddenly as it did before ...
Inconsistent storms. Unpredictable winter weather. Extremely varying snow conditions. Needless to say, it's getting more and more difficult to be a backcountry/backwoods skier. But recently I came upon a post by the good folks over at AdventureSkier.com about a unique type of ski, the Marquette Backcounty Ski, that may provide its users with more accessible skiing, no matter what kind of "winter" weather, or conditions are thrown at us. (Oh, and they also retail for less than $200.)
"In recent years," write AdventureSkier.com's Brian Mohr and Emily Johnson, "the Marquette Backcountry Ski has found a prominent place in our ski quiver. Safer (big tips!), easier to turn (short and no edges) and far more durable than most modern skis, the Marquettes thrive in the thin-cover conditions prevailing this time of year."
"It’s hard to now imagine going through a ski season in the Northeast without some Marquettes," Johnson and Mohr continue, "especially after last season, when Marquette Season never let up in the lower elevations. The skis make skiing in marginal conditions – which is sometimes the only option – more approachable and more fun than ever."
Skiing in marginal conditions. Now there's a phrase that aptly describes many a northeast skier's un-groomed snowy-sloped experiences.
The skis (which are touted as ski/snowshoe combos) come in one size, and one color (black - just like the original Model T Fords). The creators of the skis (who live and ski in Michigan's Upper Peninsula) recommend the skis be ridden with a hard plastic telemark boot, but a leather backwoods boot will suffice, too (see their website for details and suggestions). In both cases, various types of 3-pin bindings are appropriate. (The Marquette folks seem to suggest that one simply use whichever type of boots and binding system one already has. If I make the leap, I'll use them with my tele boots.)
From hiking up closed ski areas (word around the campfire is Wachusett got 8 inches last night!), to exploring the nearby logging roads and hiking trails of our many state forests, to riding the patchy snow and surrounding grass of a local golf course, the Marquette Backcountry Ski could be just the ski for the Pioneer Valley, and beyond.