Monday, January 2nd, was a gorgeous, sunny, warm day. Will and I were feeling lazy, so we started the morning just ripping groomers—Lift 2 to Lift 7, via Totemoff’s.
Then we hiked West Basin and took some laps down Stauffenberg and Oster, on steep-ish, wind scoured entrances that narrow before widening back up to an apron of smooth, sugary snow, with very fast runouts over firm chop.
From there, we were hitting up the Hunziker area, and a little line that we decided to name, Hangover, skier’s right of Totally Wiard.
Our last laps were down Reforma—steep, big bumps at the top, that give way to slightly smaller bumps that lend themselves to big turns, or no turns at all.
If you know these areas and runs, you’ll have an appreciation of the variety of terrain that makes Taos such a perfect place to test skis. At Taos, you’ve got the whole gamut of options to let you determine what a ski can and cannot do.
And the more I skied the Cochise, the more I was impressed with its ability to handle it all.
(As another point of comparison, I had been absolutely loving the burly, 191cm ON3P Billy Goats off of Highline Ridge a few weeks back, but I got completely worked on the Billy Goats in the big bumps and deep troughs of Rhoda’s and Spencer’s.)
The Cochise was fun off the ridge, and it was fun on the front side, too, and very manageable in bumps for being 108mm underfoot. It was fun railing groomers, and it was fun straightlining out of Stauffenburg and down Reforma. Honestly, it was the perfect ski to hit up all of Taos, and that is truly saying something.
In this way, the versatility of the Cochise actually reminded me a bit of the 182cm, 110mm Black Diamond Zealot. They are very different skis (the Zealot has camber under foot and a non-rockered, twin tail), but both do everything pretty well. Jason Hutchins agrees with me on this, though he is a bigger fan of the Zealot than Cochise, whereas I would take the Cochise over the Zealot. (I liked the Zealots in bumps more than the Cochise, but I thought the Cochise handled high speed runouts in hard chop MUCH better than the Zealot.)
But a couple weeks ago, after a day on the Cochise at Alta, Jason sent me this note: “Today was FUN, and I never felt uncomfortable anywhere on the hill: bumps, trees, groomers, West Rustler.”
‘Comfortable everywhere’ might be a pretty good, two-word description of the Cochise.
Okay, so the Cochise is versatile, manageable, and stable.
But is it playful?
Again, not an entirely simple answer.
The Cochise is flat underfoot, and has two and a half sheets of metal, so it is definitely more damp than poppy, and isn’t what I would typically describe as, “playful.”
But it is certainly fun to be on a ski that you trust all around the mountain, and it is definitely fun to throw around the tail of the Cochise. It is a ski that was literally born to slide and slarve, and it does this remarkably well.
The Cochise does not have a lot of sidecut, and is flat underfoot, with a flat, rockered tail with about 3mm of splay. You can throw these tails totally sideways, or just slide the tails as much or as little as you like on a turn, and they never, ever felt grabby or unpredictable, just smooth. It’s really fun, unless you’re the sort who hates this sliding / slarving feature, hates anything other than pure carving. Then, for the love of God, go buy another ski.
Okay, so the Cochise slarves. But what about groomers? Does it rail?
Well, sort of.
The Cochise is flat underfoot and doesn’t have a ton of sidecut. On groomers, it feels very at home going very fast and arcing huge turns. It felt a lot less natural to me when I would try to force the ski into tighter turns—the tail would often break loose and slide—though it is important to point out that the ski is pretty quick and easy to move edge to edge.
Will Brown, who was skiing the Line Influence 115s at the time, noted that on groomers, he was making about three turns to every one of mine.
The Cochise isn’t a handful, but given its lack of sidecut, if you are going to rail and carve rather than slide turns, it wants speed, though it is super easy to pivot and slide turns at slow and moderate speeds on groomers, as well as in trees and bumps.