Over the last few ski seasons in Jackson we’ve had more mixed condition in the backcountry than ever before. There’s a whole new group of next generation rocker skis on the market this year that are designed to excel in these conditions. The Cham 2.0 97 is one of the standouts in the group.
The new rocker profile uses a moderate long tip rocker. The advantage here is maintaining early rise feel while keeping the tip closer to the snow allowing for more contact. Also new on the 2.0 is a slight tail rocker. This is a change from the flat tail design of the HM (High Mountain) Cham. The slight rocker allows a more confident feel in firmer conditions.
I’m lucky enough to have a couple of nice tours I can do from my front door down in Alpine. Between the confluence of the Snake and Grey’s Rivers is Brad Point. It’s not a bad little skin to scoot down the Grey’s River Road. At
roughly a mile in you cross the Grey’s allowing you to peel off and start climbing north up to the point. The Chams have plenty of surface area, and with with some Ascension Climbing Skins I always feel like they have plenty of purchase while skinning in these mixed conditions.
The geometry of the Cham is 133 at the shovel, 97 at the waist while flaring out to 133 at the tail. Dynastar uses a more sophisticated 5 point cut on the Cham rather than the traditional 3 point Parabolic design. On this day, down lower, the snow had been sun-baked for a few days leaving a hard crust in the colder early morning temps. Even on a steeper slope angle the geometry of the Cham offers enough sidecut to feel secure cutting in and edge without feeling like you’re on a tightrope. As I continued climbing, and the day began to warm, I started to encounter some softer snow. Occasionally I would come across a denser wind swept patch as I neared the ridge line, but fortunately on top there was a beautiful long slope all dressed up in powder. I new the ride down was going to throw just about everything at me.
Speaking to the powder, this is where the Chams really shined the most. With the long tip rocker and shovel width of 133 the 97’s had plenty of flotation. The ski just really wants to plain out nicely, and with just a slight lean on the edge the rocker profile starts to initiate your turns for you. Once I found my groove I started popping off those turns beautifully.
Turning down off the ridge the snow pack changed into a combination of some harder wind swept patches along with some softening snow. With a solid full length sidewall the Cham was able to cut through these variable conditions without missing a beat. This made the transitions barely noticeable. On the harder packed sun-baked slopes it also provided enough purchase to feel stable and in control. The sidecut allows for a 17 meter turn radius making the Cham a nice maneuverable ski.
At 7 lbs 8 oz the Cham is not in the ultralight category. However, if you’re looking for a backcountry ski that handles mixed conditions beautifully, or if you love driving hard turns, the Cham 2.0 97 is going to be there for you. Power, stability and precision!
- Dan Haarman