Last month I threw up a trip report on my time skiing Mount Baker in December. In it, I mentioned my High Society Freerides, but was reluctant to really review them after just one trip. Well, I've now taken them out to Breckenridge for three days in January, and now just returned from Jackson Hole this past President's Day weekend. So here's the giant trip report, covering both trips, and the skis.
First Jackson, because that's where I have the eye candy. Flew out Thursday afternoon, and stayed at the Snow King Resort in the town of Jackson. This place gets mediocre reviews on Trip Advisor, but I was very pleased. For $84 a night on hotwire.com, during President's Day weekend, you can't go wrong. The place has a nice bar with decent food, a heated pool, and a hot tub. Plus free shuttle to and from the airport, as well as vouchers for the bus to JHMR. It's not the Four Seasons, but I'd recommend it. They also have their own little mountain there, which looked like it had some decent steeps, but not the snow that JHMR had.
Anyway, day 1 was Friday, and since my wife wasn't arriving until that evening, I took a group lesson. I hadn't had a lesson since I was 12 or so, so about 17 years. There were about 15 non-beginners that day, and we started with a ski-off in front of the instructors. I was put with the "nines" along with two others, and we got a 29 year old instructor from Oregon who was an excellent skier. We skied hard for a solid six hours, pretty much skiing bumps and trees. The snowpack was solid, with 13 inches in the previous 72 hours, but Eastern exposures were a bit crusty. The trees, and northern exposures, held nice, soft fluffy stuff, however.
After skiing Friday, I decided I should probably be wearing a helmet if I'm going to keep skiing as much technical terrain as I was. I was the only person (including the instructor) at the lesson not wearing a helmet, and some of the chutes we skied (Tower 3 Chute, Central Chute, Expert Chutes) could mean head-on-rock collisions if I were to fall. Not to mention all the trees... So I bought a helmet Friday night.
Saturday and Sunday were spent skiing with the wife, and each day was preceded by a solid six inches or so of powder. Again, not knee-deep skiing (at least not outside the trees), but still very nice. Here are a couple of pics:
Early morning, headed to the mountain:
Grand Teton, here we come!:
The wife and I:
Peering into Corbet's Couloir. Sad to say I didn't ski it, as I'm leaving for South Africa in 10 days for a VERY expensive, three-week trip. On the off-chance that something were to go wrong, I didn't want to risk an injury.
Another oddly-angled shot of Corbet's. It had a solid mandatory drop to get in. That cornice is way built up...
Lots o' Rocks:
Triumphant, after dropping the rock behind me just out of frame.
Animal Tree with Tram line in the background. See if you can see the rhino, moose, and elephant in the branches:
Finally, a word or two on the HS FR's.
I bought the 179's off SteepandCheap, and mounted them with Marker Gryphons, which is a lighter version of the Jester. This setup is light! The bindings way 1000 grams each, and while not a foam-core park ski, the FR's are by no means heavy. I had the Gryphons mounted at the freeride line, as I have no intention of skiing in the park very often with them. That said, they easily will come around to land switch in a mogul field. One of these days, I'll have to see if I can throw a "helicopter" with them...
On Breck's hardpack they railed high-speed turns no problem, and seemed surprisingly stable for a ski with no metal in it. In Baker's waist-deep powder, they left me wanting for something even wider than the 93mm underfoot they offer. In Jackson, they seemed ideal, busting through chopped up powder, and making quick turns in tight trees or mogul-fields without difficulty.
Overall, I'm very pleased using them as a West-Coast ski for all but the deepest of powder days. I'm halfway tempted to buy the same ski in the longer size, but enjoy the nimbleness of the 179 (which skis probably a tad bit shorter due to being a twin-tip). My plan is to ski this as my main ski, trading out for Elan 666's on the EC, and demoing something with a 100mm+ waist for big dumps out west. I'm just as pleased with the new Marker bindings as I am with the ski, and feel the extra cash I paid (I paid retail for the bindings, but Hoback sports in Jackson had them for $159) was worth it.