As the first company to use mohair on climbing skins, Contour has been the European backcountry weapon of choice for nearly 40 years. Now, they are bringing their industry-leading Hybrid glue and durable lineup to the U.S. market, and they reached out to us with an ambitious goal: feature their skins in the most aspirational backcountry zones and get them into the hands of guides and professionals in key American markets. In partnership with the Colorado-based distributor CAMP, we handpicked three unique venues, assembled a grassroots athlete team, and tapped our network of trusted photographers to get the shots.
Location 1: Alaska
Pika Glacier, Alaska Range
Photographer: Fred Marmsater
Athletes: Mali Noyes, Maddie Crowell, Lani Bruntz
For the marquee shoot in the series, we partnered up with an all-female ski mountaineering expedition heading to the Alaska Range. The 3-part team of Mali Noyes, Maddie Crowell, and Lani Bruntz combined their years of mountain travel and guiding certifications to set up a base camp and tackle steep objectives in the heart of the range.
It speaks to Contour’s reputation that these three athletes took the skins into one of the world’s most extreme environments without a test run. The big mountains put the skiers and the skins to the test, requiring glacier travel, steep skinning and booting through variable snow, and high-consequence descents with rescue several days away in the event of an accident. While the ladies crushed no-fall descents above the Kahiltna Glacier, renowned ski photographer Fred Marmsater captured the skiers and product in their natural environments, moving through mountains with efficiency and grace.
Location 2: California
Lakes Basin, Sierra Nevada Mountains
Photographer: Mitchell Quiring
Athlete: Jenna Kane
Known for its towering granite peaks and hidden chutes, California’s Sierra Nevada is a ski mountaineering paradise, and the high-altitude town of Mammoth Lakes is a perfect base for quick access to serious objectives. Tahoe-based skier and guide Jenna Kane cruised down for a day in the high angle couloirs perched above Mammoth, where she and local photographer Mitchell Quiring bagged two prized lines in the perfect spring corn for which California is famous. The California team chose the pure mohair skins for a fast and light focus – this line prioritizes glide and efficiency over maximum durability, allowing skiers to cover more terrain in less time.
Location 3: Colorado
Front Range, Rocky Mountains
Photographer: Bianca Germain
Athletes: Hannah Barkey, Jonny Morsicato
Spring in Colorado is a free-for-all. Avalanche conditions start to settle and the classic bluebird days are endless, which means skiers who have been managing a touchy snowpack all winter will finally get their shot at the steeps across the state. But the danger isn’t completely gone – sun and high temps mean wet slides rip down the slopes in the afternoons, so an early start is critical.
Denver-based photographer Bianca Germain led the pre-dawn charge on our Front Range shoot, working with local rippers Jonny Morsicato and Hannah Barkey to nail the shots despite difficult, refrozen crust and sharky rocks lurking beneath the quickly-melting snowpack. Jonny also put the new Contour splitboard skins to the test, navigating the notoriously slick sidehills of Herman Gulch with ease thanks to secure tail clips and sticky euro glue.