Buying Right: SC Skis

Skiing’s Adventurous New Bent

Skis and ski gear are now as limitless as the mountains. Here’s how to make sense of all the changes.

Freeride, freeski, backcountry, nearcountry, sidecountry, out of bounds, inbounds, bootpacks, skintracks, ski mountaineering, hippie powder, uphilling, crossover, hybrid, quiver killers, … .

The language of skiing evolves with the sport, but while it can be overwhelming to keep track of the vernacular, ultimately it’s just skiing we’re talking about here. The goal is to make turns, have fun, and not crash. In this more adventurous age, that’s true if you’re riding lifts and hiking for your turns at the resort, heading out the gates for some non-avalanche controlled backcountry skiing in the easy to access sidecountry, or leaving from a trailhead for a long approach (true backcountry) that’s more reliant on climbing skins and cardiovascular fitness.

So, what’s special about this moment in time? Modern adventure skiing is more accessible and fun than ever because of the new gear. With the Peak SC line of skis, we break adventure skiing down into three main categories. Maybe one suits you. Maybe you fit in all of them. Read on to find out how to build your kit to match.

Resort Hike-To

It’s a powder day at your favorite ski area. To schralp the virgin snow you ride the lifts, but this is 2023 and everyone is a powder skier so the untracked doesn’t stay untracked for long. Once the lower mountain and frontside is cut up, you’ll be hiking and traversing for your turns. It’s easy now that your boots have lugged and rockered Gripwalk soles and walk modes that release the upper cuff. Strap your skis to your pack or shoulder them and off you go. Because you aren’t affixing climbing skins to your skis, you don’t need a touring binding. But since this style of skiing is your thing, you should buy skis that suit it. Nordica has the Unlimited. Völkl has the Blaze, every company is making skis that are just a little lighter and more playful than their burlier lift-serviced skis. But we think the Peak SC line outshines them. Look at the 98SC if your deep days aren’t all that deep. Check out the wider and more deeply rockered 104SC if you chase boot-deep powder and beyond. Like every Peak ski, they’re effortless, but they still offer grip on hardpack.

True Backcountry

We qualified “Backcountry” with the word “True” because everything outside of the avalanche controlled ski area is technically backcountry. But not all backcountry is equal. In the remote wild zones, weight savings really do matter—to a point. If it takes more energy to control a squirrely superlight mountaineering ski on the descents, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. Our advice? Shave weight in the binding (check out the Dynafit Superlight line) and in the boot (see the Scarpa 4-Quatro XT) and opt for a bit more stability for when you hit buried avalanche debris, and more edging power when the spring corn that hasn’t softened. In North America, seasoned backcountry skiers are trending to this class of ski. If you aren’t one to sacrifice the quality of your turns for a fistful of grams, think about mounting a Peak 98SC or 104SC with a tech binding and a boot that’s stiff enough laterally to pilot them.


We named our lighter weight skis that Chris Davenport favors SCs (short for SideCountry) because it’s about as close to a catch all term for modern adventure skiing as we could find. So what the hell is sidecountry? If your idea of backcountry skiing doesn’t involve 10,000 feet of climbing or an extended traverse of a glacier, but instead is centered around easy access backcountry from resort gates, mountain passes, and short approach skiing from trailheads, you might be in this class. In those scenarios, weight savings aren’t so vital, so downhill performance gets more attention. There’s now an entire class of bindings for this user. Think Salomon Shift, Marker Duke PT, and the CAST system which employs a Look Pivot with a removable toe piece that you swap with a tech toe. The beauty of such a rig? You can ski it inbounds all day long and get nearly the performance as a full alpine setup. But you aren’t limited to the resort. Mount any of those bindings on a 98SC or 104SC and it’s a daily driver in much of the world. Or it’s the only set of skis you need to bring to that dream trip to Revelstoke or Alta or Mammoth, where you’ll be touring after you ski up the resort. The mountains are limitless. Our gear should be too.