What about fresh chop and untracked powder?
I had the Cochise in soft chop the first day I skied it, and it didn’t blow me away. But this is a ski that takes a little getting used to, and my strong suspicion is that I had not yet figured out what the ski does and doesn’t like to do.
Some skis are so stupid easy to ski, you just hop on and there is no learning curve. The Cochise are easy to ski, too, but I feel that there is a longer amount of time needed to really understand the ski.
West Basin Ridge opened on Christmas Day (a nice gift), and my first runs down Stauffenberg and Zdarsky through chopped up snow, I think I was driving the shovels harder than I should have.
On groomers, you can absolutely drive the shovels (and should) but in chop, backing off just a little bit and being in a slightly more centered, light, athletic stance is where the Cochise felt most comfortable, performed well, and stayed pretty quiet.
In thicker, untracked snow, the Cochise did just fine, no weird behavior. What I haven’t had them in is deeper blower, and that might be where I’d most want to bump up to the 193cm Cochise.
Like all tail-rockered skis, the Cochise isn’t going to thrive on really steep, icy terrain. The tail of the Cochise is set up to slide, not bite. In steep chokes that require you to get your skis sideways to make turns, the Cochise want to slide—totally predictably, without any catching or grabbing at all—but they want to slide. In such cases, you have to apply a lot of effort and force to your edges to get them not to.
Of course, if you’re willing to keep your skis pointed down the fall line in steep chokes, then there is no issue, and the skis will carve beautifully; so I suppose it depends on how and where you ski, and how familiar or fearless you are about what lies below the choke.
In soft snow, however, the tail of the Cochise allows you to either edge or release the tail whenever you wish. It’s an extra option, another tool in the bag, and it’s fun.
But if you generally hate the feeling of rockered tails, I don’t expect that you’ll be won over by the Cochise, unless you really keep your skis down the fall line all the time.
As I’ve written before, great skis seem to do one of two things: they either (1) disappear beneath your feet, quietly doing everything you ask of them, or (2) they shock you with the combination of things – often seemingly opposite things – that they allow you to do.
Yet again, the Cochise is difficult to categorize, because it’s sort of both (1) and (2). At the end of the day, it’s a ski that, as soon as you figure it out, will let you do pretty much whatever you want: ski bumps, straightline, make huge turns, slarve, pivot, etc. (About the only thing it won’t easily let you do is carve short radius turns; you will rather slide / slarve short radius turns.
But I’m not sure what other ski in the ~108-110mm class is this manageable, this easy to ski in bumps, yet so stable at speed. The 182cm, 110mm Black Diamond Zealot might come closest, but it is a softer overall ski that isn’t designed to slarve, and I didn’t find it to have the top end of the Cochise.
The biggest compliment I can pay the Cochise is that it was fun on literally every part of the mountain at Taos, and that is truly saying something.
The Cochise is very easy to pivot through trees, and light enough to be relatively quick in bumps. On groomers, they are fairly quick edge to edge, you don’t labor to roll the skis over, and they are willing and able to fly.
The tails are easy to slip and slide, and you simply need some time on them to understand how much edge pressure you need to apply to control how much or how little you want them to. It’s a stable ski, with nothing squirrely about it.
Ultimately, I think that variable conditions are where the Cochise really shines. On really deep days, you will want to reach for more ski, but if you expect to encounter mixed conditions, well, go back and reread everything I’ve written above.
I also think the Cochise could make for a good touring ski in low-snow areas. Its rockered but flat tail is skin clip friendly, and will get you through everything, perhaps with the exception of steep, icy, narrow couloirs—but then, would you really want to be on any tail rockered ski?
As I write this, Will Brown is getting more time on the Cochise, and you can now read his review of the Cochise.
We often try to get 2nd and even 3rd looks on a ski from other reviewers, and the Cochise is a ski that really warrants the additional looks. It’s interesting, it’s unusual, and it’s not the easiest ski to describe.
But for now, if somebody asks you to sum up the Cochise, maybe you should just say, “it’s comfortable everywhere.”
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