Wind Crust / Breakable Crust / Variable Snow
The current conditions in Canterbury allow you to hit a variety of snow conditions in one run. A recent line from the “Col to Nowhere” down through “Main Chute” at Temple basin illustrates this well, and highlights the versatility (and confidence-inspiring nature) of the Cochise when you’re unsure what type of snow you will encounter.
The top few turns were chalky and smooth until the aspect changed slightly to the North, yielding a few sun-softened spring-like turns. A short bootpack to another section started as supportable wind crust, then finished with breakable wind crust mixed with a few refrozen tracks.
The run finished with some breakable crust leading into a couple hundred meters of a tight, steep chute (it was 3-4meters wide at its narrowest sections) that was a mix of edge-able, scraped-off, hard snow to water ice. And in these conditions, I can’t think of another ski I would have rather been on.
The Cochise has enough dampness and stability to ride a hard edge, can be easily broken free to scrub speed, has enough rocker to keep the tips up in the breakable stuff, can be easily ollied over rocks, and is nimble enough to bang out quick jump turns in tight places.
Based on my experience in NZ so far, the Cochise is a predictable ski that excels in unpredictable conditions.
Some Thoughts on Length: 185cm Cochise vs. 193cm Cochise
I have owned a pair of 1st generation, 193cm Cochise for the past three seasons, and have used them as my go-to, non-powder-day resort ski at Alyeska and Arctic Valley ski areas during that time. I’d never before skied the 185cm Cochise till this current trip to New Zealand.
It’s been 3-4 months since I’ve been on the 193cm Cochise, but based on my recollections of the 193, I would echo Will Brown’s sentiments in his review of the 193 Cochise, that it is substantially more ski.
As expected, the 193cm version is more stable at higher speeds, and is more unflappable when riding fast in variable conditions—especially when riding bases flat or at lower edge angles.
The 193cm Cochise also takes more work to toss it around in tight spots. Direction changes are more challenging on the longer ski, with the most noticeable difference being that it takes a bit more effort and technique to break the tails of the 193 free to drift or brush speed.
For use at the New Zealand club fields, it’s hard for me to pick a clear winner, but I think I might prefer the 185cm model given the current conditions and terrain. I don’t get the opportunity to billy goat and jump turn in tight, rocky places all that often back home in Alaska, and I’ve quite enjoyed doing so here in New Zealand. The 185s are a little better and more fun in such situations, and I don’t think the performance difference when skiing open terrain is significant enough to make me prefer the longer boards in a place like Canterbury.
The Cochise has been such a great ski that when Blizzard announced that it was making some changes to the ski, it made some skiers understandably nervous.
Based on my initial experience in varied snow conditions, that nervousness isn’t warranted, and the 14/15 Cochise continues to shine in the growing, increasingly competitive class of damp, versatile, ~105mm directional skis.
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