At the Backcountry Gear Test, our skiers trickle in from all over the country. And with that comes ski preferences as far blown as our testers’ geographical locations. We caught up with Gavin Cooper, a Big Sky, Montana resident—and second-place finisher at the Gear Test Beer Pong Championship—to talk skinny skis, couloirs and what, exactly, is in the back of his truck.Backcountry Magazine: What is your ski background?
Gavin Cooper: I moved the Big Sky in 2000 as a midwest snowboarder, and went to Big Sky, because there’s a lot of big mountains out there and I wanted to go. So I picked up telemarking and that’s what got me into the backcountry. I’ve been doing that for 10 or 12 years now. I’ve patrolled [at Big Sky Resort] for the last 10. I still patrol on NTN stuff, but I tour on AT gear. As technology has evolved, I’ve tried to keep up.
BCM: What terrain do you prefer to ski?
GC: If I could ski anything? Well, of course soft is great, but I prefer to ski something that’s not going to avalanche. I really enjoy more ski mountaineering. I like climbing mountains and figuring out how to get down them. Lots of couloir skiing and rocky, windblown, firm—I don’t tour to go powder skiing, I tour for the journey.
BCM: So you’re a billy goat.
GC: I’m a billy goat. That’s why I like all of these skis out here. Fat skis are a novelty for me, but the little skinny skis I’m like, oh yea, I can run with these; these will be great.
BCM: What have you liked so far that you’ve tested?
GC: I liked these G3 Finders, I thought those were a great utility ski; I would ski on those. For a powder ski, the La Sportiva Vapor Float. It just sets the bar for fat ski lightness, and I like the Dynafit Dhaulagiri—however you say it. The orange one.
BCM: Is there anything you’re still hoping to get on? What do you have your eye on?
GC: Hmm. Anything I have my eye on.
Becca Friedlander (Gavin’s wife, walking by the ski rack): What’s the question? I might know it!
GC: Any skis I have my eye on. The Dynastar Mythics, I’d like to ski on those.
BF: Starting in July, we’ve had skis delivered on the porch. When he started locking his heel—he was teleing—by July there was a Dynafit box and a Dynafit long, skinny box on our porch. I’m like what the hell is this?
GC: Pulled the trigger.
BF: He just had another pair come two weeks ago.
GC: I have a pair in plastic in the back of the truck. They’re some Dynafit Se7en Summits. Little 84 underfoots, 179s for climbing couloirs and skiing off of mountains.
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