My first winter in Alaska thus far has been very wet, yet nonetheless incredible. Epic terrain, gorgeous scenery and lots of rain have proven to be the norm for Juneau. Slightly warmer temperatures than it’s northern cities, Juneau’s climate is more reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest. Some locals are thankful we don’t have the snow coverage in town like last year, though I have found it difficult to get motivated to ski in the rain. Just another challenge for this girl brought up in the sunny skies of Colorado.
The past several years I’ve been a “free-heeler” as I’ve earned my turns doing tele-squats down the piste. Motivation to telemark came from a desire to explore the backcountry. This year however, Wildsnow HQ hooked me up with snazzy K2 Sidekicks skis and Marker Tour bindings. I have to admit I’m sold.
With a busy work schedule and less than optimal weather on my days off, my go-to for exercise has been Juneau’s local gem, Eaglecrest. Eaglecrest is a community owned ski area of 640 acres, four double seat chairlifts and 1540’ vertical, but one can access more terrain via gates with some short hikes. The surrounding peaks are spectacular and every direction is a mountain dreamer’s fantasy. Unlike some other ski resorts, Eaglecrest encourages uphill traffic and backcountry access. Because the ski area is city-owned and operated, it closes its lifts on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, allowing the perfect opportunity for a burn on un-crowed slopes.The Marker Tour bindings are spoiling me. No more flimsy bindings, cartridges that lose tension, squeaky springs and burning thighs. Although tele-skiing will forever have a place in my heart, these stellar bindings paired with women’s specific K2 SideKick produce more power and stability than I’ve previously experienced.
When it comes to skinning, the ease of operating the bindings and the grip of K2’s precut skins are outstanding. It takes only seconds to go from walk to tour mode (with boot removed), and once you’re going full stride, it’s only a click of the heel extender with your ski pole and away you go up steeper terrain. I literally love this feature about the bindings — so easy to operate up and down. Plus there are two heights depending on the pitch of terrain. With K2′s grippy skins, I feel more confident and less sloppy than I have previously. The SideKicks have a hole in the tips where a hook attached to the skin easily latches into the ski, making a quicker and less sticky transition.K2 SideKicks are bomber. Wider and longer than I’m used to, they are perfect for the variable conditions Alaska continues to throw my way. The width and length do add weight, which I feel when I shoulder the skis to hike up steep, icy sections, but it’s a price I’ll pay. Whether it’s a perfect powder day (which has only happened twice this season), a slush-fest, or chatter through ice biscuits, these skis can take it. I have never felt so solid before and at the same time had the sensation that I’m floating. Accessing side country with steeper pitches and trees, my new skis react to every movement as if saying, I want more! The agility created by the all-terrain rocker makes my turns seem effortless. Now if only I can try them out heli-skiing…
Size Tested: 174 (I am 6 feet tall)
Weight: 1,885 grams at 174
Waist: 108mm waist
Available sizes: 153, 160, 167, 174
Performance: 70% Powder / 30% Variable
Radius: 21m @ 167
Features: Powder tip, progressive sidecut, tip and tail hardware, BioFlex3 core, pre-cut climbing skins available
While they last, 20% off msrp, K2 SideKicks and skins on sale here.
And here’s where you can find the Marker Tour AT binding.WildSnow Girl, Amy Heuer, grew up in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. When she wasn’t skiing, she was flying small planes with her father. Now she pursues both passions in Juneau, Alaska, where she is an aviation mechanic.