We are in Denver, Colorado at the moment, attending Outdoor Retailer trade show. The weirdness of the trade show scene continues to manifest. Instead of one monster show, as ISPO Munich provides*, “across the river” here in the U.S. we get a fractured scene that’s got everyone hopping. I’ll not waste space on a detailed B-to-B commentary, main point is this might be the death convulsions of the trade show concept.
Not that trade shows will go away entirely. But my crystal ball says that in terms of media relations and retail order generation the shows might fall to other approaches such as one-on-one meetings and small confabs.
For example: last evening. Neither Scarpa nor G3 paid the ridiculous cash-per-square-foot the show producers rob for a show booth. Instead, G3 and Scarpa rented a wonderful venue a few blocks away, invited a mob of journalists and a pod of dealers, then had fun with their captive audience. All enhanced by a nice catered meal, open bar and the sort of junket stuff that you guys know we WildSnow elite employees seek out like we’re shoveling gold on the Klondike.
Not that the concept of such events is new. What’s different is two major players giving up on booths and instead expending energy on throwing an event.
As well organized press events often are, this G3/Scarpa gig was a success. Focused presentations and then one-on-ones for extended convos made it perfect. We spoke at length with Scarpa designer-athlete Chris Davenport, and Scarpa ski category manager Massimo Pellizzer. Spark of the talk was their re-work of the now venerable Maestrale.
Let me tell you, the Maestrale XT, due to retail fall of 2019, is one thoroughbred of a freeride ski touring boot. Said to be a bit lighter than the current RS (XT catalog 1490 grams size 27), slightly stiffer. Overall stunning. Joke was them calling it a “130 PLUS.” Attendee’s ensuing joke: “Is that a 132.8, or a 132.9?” I don’t know about you guys, but I’m so tired of the flex number wars I look for a wall to punch every time I hear the numerals mentioned. But we’re stuck with them apparently, so the PLUS jokes were appreciated.
Then there was G3… As most of you know, the ZED (yeah, like SCARPA it’s supposed to be all caps, but it’s our blog so we keyboard what feels ok) is retailing, now. But what floated my boat and I expect will float me up the hill is a new climbing skin subcategory for the Canadian gear gurus (G3 means “three gurus?”). What you’ll see coming on is their “Minimist” skins: thin super-light carpets with G3’s new glue (way better than the old stuff, which we gave up on, actually). Have you experienced snow packing in under the tip area of your lightweight skins, beginning at the edges, and insidiously creeping inward to instigate total failure after a few laps? The G3 solution is fascinating. They added a carbon fiber insert to the tip area that laterally stiffens the skin, so it resists curling and subsequent snow creep.
I left the best for last. For fall 2019 they’ll retail a re-worked Findr ski (I’m not going with the weird capitalization, sorry). While this should be renamed as a different ski than the current Findr, sigh, we’ll move on from that complaint to our usual positivism. Indeed, the Findr 2 appears to be a winner. (Content deleted at the request of G3, they want the Findr infos to go public in January. Lou)
We’ll have more about all the sweet new product coming along from G3 and Scarpa. Takeaway for now: as a continued growth segment in the otherwise somewhat static ski industry, ski touring is in a delightful place. You will continue to see a slew of incrementally improved and new products that’ll tempt your wallet and in the end, improve your backcountry experience.
Ski town jobs: Fun cartoons from down under.
European ski related luxury continues its ascent to the stratosphere. (Vail doesn’t hold a candle). I’m trying to get tickets for the Glacier Express train between St Moritz and Zermatt. I’ll accept nothing less than the “Excellence Class,” which has just 20 commodious seats per car, all at windows. Afternoon tea and multi-course meals part of the deal of course. Problem is, the eight hours it takes to go 180-miles, dubbed “the world’s slowest train express,” might also be the most precious “express” per mile at $713.00 for the ride. The tea must be quite special, they have time to brew it perfectly.
Congratulations to Hilaree Nelson and Jim Morrison for their nailing the first ever descent of an enormous couloir on Lhotse, Everest’s little brother. Surprising the line had never been skied, but then, Everest is right there, so that’s where the throngs head (on skis or mostly not). Sounds like the Lohtse descent was continuous, from the summit, and the climbers did much of the work (it’s common for Everest climbers to pay others to set fixed lines and such, in what’s become to resemble a construction project with sub-contractors).
News on the home front (edited press release follows).
WildSnow publishing partner Cripple Creek Backcountry (CCBC) announces that it will open an Aspen Location in collaboration with 8KPeak at the Hub of Aspen this winter. The Hub is a community centered bike shop located at 616 Hyman street in downtown Aspen. Although Cripple Creek Backcountry has been serving the entire Roaring Fork Valley’s ski touring community for the past six years from the village of Carbondale, the Aspen location will have a strong focus on bringing demo gear and service work closer to the snow and a vibrant uphill community “upvalley.”
CCBC will be hosting an Aspen location open house and slide show on November 10th to celebrate the upcoming season. Details regarding their opening event can be found on the CCBC website.
*Note: Though Europe ISPO is one massive show, they do have a number of shows over there as well. But ISPO truly does bring most everything under one venue.