The Kōm family: 150cm, 162cm & 174cm
Note: This is my take on the Altai Kōms in vertically challenged Ontario. Also I use the tiak style, so my knowledge of the Kōms with a skiers perspective is a bit warped ;)
In theory the best yo-yo skiing is simply doing laps close to home. Not flying to the best resort. Not 'having' to skin up to get to the summit. You don't need to flat-land-it miles to get to the slope. Backyard skiing is yo-yo skiing, especially where I live around Georgian Bay. Whatever you have that you can get to often. The Kōms are perfect for this. They don't cost a small fortune, they climb well enough that you don't need skins in our local terrain, and they are more then a good time coming down. They also perform perfectly well in bigger terrain - they were designed with that in mind. Throw some skins on and you can go up and down anywhere.
The Kōm quietly sits in the periphery of backcountry skiing - in between full on downhill setups and the nordic side of touring skiing. With it's large waxless fishscale base and shorter available lengths it is closer to backcountry skis like a ROSSIGNOL BC or VOILE ULTRA VECTOR, but it is a unique ski. More technical info on the Altai website.
The price of Kōms with 3-pin cable bindings come in around $650 before tax. Alot less then most backcountry skis in this category. The ski is designed for backcountry touring in mind: A tall tip for breaking trail and keeping above the snow on descents (and avoiding buried branches). The sidecut is reduced making it a wide ski from tip to tail for maximum float - making it easy to tour in deep snow. The bindings mount slightly forward giving the ski a balanced feel when touring and climbing. The wood core is light as well coming in at 6 lb 8 oz for the 162cm.
The climbing ability of the scaled base works surprisingly well in most snow conditions. When it gets steep, traversing or herringbone works well. I recently used skins on the Kōms in steeper terrain and it worked great. It is harder to climb when using a tiak with the Kōms, but I will take that small complaint for the fun on the downhills! They are responsive and in powder have no problem staying high and fast.
BINDING & BOOT OPTIONS
The Kōms have no inserts like the Hoks so it is up to you what type of binding you want to mount. Altai sells the Voile 3-pin (with or without cable) that gives you old school reliability and strength. There are some medium support boots like the ROSSIGNOL BC which work ok for touring. For a good all around 3-pin boot Altai sells the Alpina Alaska 3 pin (Thks Nils). For more agressive downhill I have a used pair of Scarpa T3's and I'm happy with them. Friends have the Scarpa T4's which are in my mind the perfect boot for steep and tight runs. Another friend has the Alpina Alaska boots with the NNN BC bindings and is happy with those. You could also mount any other tele-binding on the Kōms - just be sure to research the mounting instructions located here.
Bill on the Koms
Large fishscale base
TERRAIN DICTATES SKI
Our terrain here is hilly and open runs are hard to find. But being beside Georgian Bay we get lake effect snow. That means the tree runs eventually get enough snow to cover the logs and branches beneath and make it safer to ski (Although best to groom runs in the off season if possible to clear obstacles). The Hoks are the weapon of choice for tight tree runs, they go fast enough and climb easier. But the Kōms open up a whole level of excitement on open runs or where the trees are spaced a bit wider. Kōms bring the speed and the chance to improve and learn the feel of tele-skiing.
If the Hoks can be classified as a utility exploration ski with downhill benefits, the Kōms would be a backcountry downhill ski that performs well in the glades and can tour easily. For those that have used the hoks and want to progress to the next level of speed and downhill performance the Kōms are a great next step. Either with progressing in tele-skiing or skiing with a tiak.
KOMS WITH A TIAK
I love the Kōms with a Tiak. I started skiing on the hoks with a tiak as it made more sense to me as an average skier. The feel of tiak skiing is alot like paddle surfing which I love to do - so it was more natural to me. Also I find with the tight trees in Ontario, tiak skiing allows me to go straighter and weave through them. The Kōms up the speed factor in powder giving it a surfy feel. All of my ski friends on Hoks/Kōms use double poles and are improving their tele-skills every time we go out. I admit it is something I would love to learn how to do and am practising.. but tiak skiing on the Kōms is so much fun and I don't see myself quitting that style.
We recently went for a backcountry ski trip to in the Algoma region of Ontario. I didn't know what to expect in terrain and snow quality. I had the 162cm Kōms and my snowboard with me. Before we went out on day 1 our guide told me that I'd have a hard time climbing the terrain with a fishscale base. He lent me some skins to use and it made it way easier for the vertical we were climbing. The area just had about 25cm fall over a moderate base - so it was safe to let speed be your friend. This was the biggest vertical I've done using the Kōms/Tiak combo. I got to test the increase in speed, steepness and distance of runs over the 2 days skiing. I got used to letting the Kōms go and float more. At times it was like surfing and opened up my mind on what type of terrain is possible with the Kōms & Tiak. (Video: Run from Algoma) I am looking forward to getting into some steeper terrain again soon... But for now, we just got some new snow in our backyard, so time to go yo-yo!
BILL'S TAKE FROM A SKIERS PERSPECTIVE
My take on tele on the Koms is you need at least a T4 plus cable 3 pin to have stability enough to make solid turns. The 150 length was just awesome to learn on then I was able to progress to the longer 174. In deeper steeper conditions it’s just my lack of skill not the skis that limit the ability to Tele turn. In tight trees I can tele turn the 150’s but not the longer 174 at this point. That said you can always parallel turn them when you feel the need. They are such an amazing versatile ski. Lapping is just awesome and has brought back so much fun for me in skiing here in Ontario.....thanks for getting me hooked on it Kyle. I should add that 3 years ago when I first got KOM skis I had no previous tele experience and was an intermediate level down hill skier. It’s been pretty cool to get skiing in the trees finally at the age of 50.
If you have any questions about the hoks or the sport of ski-shoeing contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org