Reverse Revolution

By Jack Stauss, FOW

Jack and friends get out for an early season lap under the sun. Wasatch Range, UT. FOW: Jack Stauss, Kyle Toohey, and Harrison Brickman. Photo: Carson Meyer (@carsonmeyerphoto)

Hot on the skinner. I can feel sweat soaking through my base layer as I climb a solar ridge. The run to my left is in the shade, soon I’ll join the cold trees out of the sun. My legs are a bit tired from the last month of skiing. It hasn’t been anything epic, but we’ve been walking up hills and skiing down them, which delivers grins like nothing else does. Plus, the day before this sunny stroll was my first lift served day of the year. Cold and stormy Alta powder day. Ripping soft pillows on Highboy, and hitting the Wildcat jumps. In the backcountry, we’ve been learning - looking at snow, doing avalanche drills, and getting our legs and lungs in shape for when the snowpack is safe. I’ve been able to catch up with new friends, distanced and outdoors. Mountain life. For all of these early season days, my vehicle of choice has been the 185cm Reverse Camber Intention 110. 

As I wander up the ridge, I wonder, why aren’t more people skiing on reverse camber skis? Why aren’t more companies making them? 

I thought back to a few pairs I had skied over the years, and realized that they had been some of the best skis I ever owned. The Rossignol Sickle comes to mind. A playful, jibby, yet charger ski that I still see on the feet of some of the best skiers I know. It was discontinued in 2012 and no one noticed. Another that more people might remember is the Hellbent. K2’s revolutionary powder ski that was more of an art piece than a mountain tool. It allowed skiers to take a completely new look at features, doing tricks in powder that were once deemed impossible. 

There are more to be sure, skis whose shapes changed the trajectory of skiing forever, more so because of the skiers that rode them than the skis themselves. Perhaps, I considered as I looked down at my own skis, people thought that those earlier reverse camber skis and moments in ski history were simply that, a momentary fad. The Hellbent, even with all that it did to transform skiing, was super fat and soft. It was a very unique ski, and perhaps as an unintentional consequence, people just associate reverse camber with these single use tools.

The Intention 110 Reverse Camber. Gradual rocker lines and subtle reverse camber underfoot allow for incredible agility, with ample effective edge on tap for when you need it.

But I think those skis were more than that. They were predecessors of what the future holds. As backcountry explorers, we’re not careening at 90 miles per hour down the icy Kitzbuhel. We want skis that move when we want them to. Skis that fit a complex, diverse, and featured mountain landscape. Reverse camber does not mean you cannot carve. It does not mean you have any less control over initiating a turn. The edge is ready and waiting when you want it. Reverse camber does not mean the ski has to be soft or unstable. Other ski brands know this. Why else would so many keep adding more and more rocker to their tips and tails every year? I think the reason that so few are making a reverse camber ski is they are worried their customers will simply perceive it as a one-trick gimmick.

After a year of skiing a reverse camber ski in the backcountry, I can tell you that it is no gimmick. The Reverse Camber Intention 110 offers me quick mobility in any condition. It lets me swivel my skis between tight trees, through crud, and over obstacles on the slope. When it comes to powder, the rocker does exactly what everyone thinks it will - provide float and control. The ski planes out of pow and windchop, letting the skier feel like they are flying. Its flex and shape allows for stability as well as just unadulterated fun. As far as edge control goes, you can easily railroad carves in hardpack, and the reverse camber makes it easier to snap out of it when the snow surface changes, which is often the case in the backcountry. 

Charging hard in variable conditions. Wasatch Range, UT. FOW: Jack Stauss // Photo: Pep Fujas (@pepfujas)

At the top of my climb, I rip my skins and snap my bindings into ski mode. I kick the snow off my topsheets and look over my tips down my run. It’s choppy pow. Many people have been out skiing here, walking away from the ski area and enjoying the upper elevation shady slopes that have snow and decent riding conditions. I’m glad so many people are getting out. I give my partner a high five and hop off a small wind lip into the bowl, blasting my way through what fresh snow remains. Making high speed turns, I jump and dip between tracks, bumps, rocks, and soft snow. So many emotions come with skiing but the one that always floats to the top is joy. I am glad to be skiing on a tool that reflects that. I’m never fighting my skis. They help me do what I love, and make it more fun and more joyful.

I hope that all the people on this run, many of whom are new to this sport, will in time learn the same thing I have: the reverse camber ski is the tool of the backcountry skier.

- Jack Stauss, FOW 


Want to learn more about our ski's camber options? Here's our definitive guide: