Um, is “skookumed” a verb? No matter. Scarpa worked hard on designing their Skookum backcountry skiing boot as the perfect blend of AT touring comfort with downhill performance. Action makes a verb, so there. This is a “first ski” report, but the Skookums really are looking to be the ticket. Details…
In trying to choose a boot for Denali, I knew I wanted something that was easy to get in and out of in the cold, but also one that was ok on the down. Tounge boots fit the bill for ease of entry, but I’m a skeptic when it comes to such boots’ downhill performance. Skookums may have changed my mind.
First, some fitting. When we de-boxed the Skookums and I tried them on at WildSnow HQ, it was immediately apparent that these boots would take some work to fit my deformed feet for sandal comfortable backcountry skiing. So I headed up to Aspen Sports in Snowmass, Colorado to meet with boot fitter Jack Rafferty. We started by heating up the liners as well as the shells to do some molding. (With the softer Pebax that most AT boots are made out of currently, even the shells can be slightly heat molded, the same way you mold a liner).
After the new shoes spent time on the heaters, the sweatfest began (next time, I’ll try out my VBLs!). We put both boots and shells on, buckled them up and I spent the next ten minutes or so walking around trying to make sure I was packing out the liners to get a fit that really molded to my feet. Even with aggressive molding, it was obvious the the large bone spur on my right foot needed additional attention. Jack marked it out and told me to come back the following day. Overnight he punched out the area to make room for the bump. I came by again the next day and tried the boots back on. Perfect. The pressure spot was gone, and it was time to give them a a ski test.
I took the Skookums up the lifts for a couple runs that afternoon and found a few pressure spots, but decided that they might just be due to having the buckles a bit too tight. Maybe, or maybe not. Time will tell.
The following day Ashley, Jeff, and I headed out for dawn patrol in Marble, and I got to tour in the Skookums.
Yes, the Skookums know how to tour. They have plenty of movement for the uphill, and ski better on the down than any other tongue boot I’ve had. I thoroughly enjoyed the climb up to the top of Marble Peak in them, and see no real issues for Denali. I may have a couple of items to workout in terms of fit (for starters, I’ll mold another set of liners for Alaska, with more room), but overall I think these will be my mode of transport come June in Alaska. My only gripe with the boot is how close the bottom cuff buckle and the top of foot buckle come to one another, they really seem to get in the way of each other. Certainly something that can be dealt with, and shifting one or the other up or down might create a slightly more ergonomic boot. My feet stayed incredibly warm all day even in single digit temperatures, which is a great sign for Denali! I’ll report back after some more extended use. But for now, it looks like I’ve been skookumed!
(Guest Blogger Jordan White finished skiing all 54 Colorado fourteeners in spring of 2009. He’s a committed alpinist and ski mountaineer who always keeps his eyes on the Seven Summits. Jordan blogs here.)