I got the fever to try new skis this year. After four seasons on the Rossignol Mega Bang, I bought some Black Diamond Verdicts . I really like the Verdict, but it was a big change after skiing on the Mega Bang. It also made me realize just how different a ski’s performance and personality can be. And it made me want to try some different skis. And then I found a great deal on some used 05/06 K2 Shuksan 174s.
For some reason, I got the fever to try new skis this year. After four seasons on the Rossignol Mega Bang, I bought some Black Diamond Verdicts. I really like the Verdict, but it was a big change after skiing on the Mega Bang. The Mega Bang is such a forgiving ski, that my ski style had gotten sloppy, and jumping onto the Verdicts made me relearn to ski aggressively. It also made me realize just how different a ski’s performance and personality can be. And it made me want to try some different skis. And then I found a great deal on some used K2 Shuksan 174s. These are 2005/2006 Shuksans.
What I wanted was a shorter, lighter, narrower, quick-turning ski for steep spring descents and the K2 Shuksan meets those requirements. I bought this ski in early April when Grand Targhee was still open and had an ample supply of crappy snow: frozen crust, hard pack, slush, slop, and almost every kind of Iwo Jima condition you can imagine. A good test for an AT ski.
First of all, the Shuksan can hold an edge on hardpack, and for such a short ski, it tracks well. As you would expect, it likes to do short-radius turns; this can be an advantage in steep narrow terrain with hard or frozen snow, and it is very easy to initiate a turn with these skis, and they just keep on turning.
In heavy, cut-up snow, the Shuksan carves through with confidence, producing one reliable turn after another. In fact, it seems like you can pull out a turn whenever you need it, which is especially helpful in desperate situations. And in the spring, when you are sometimes skinning up frozen snow, the Shuksan’s 78mm width underfoot makes it much easier to walk on than a wide ski. With a wide underfoot ski like the Verdict (98mm) a long traverse across a frozen slope can be very tiresome and uncomfortable due to the ski’s width underfoot. With a narrower ski like the Shuksan, it’s much easier to hold the ski on edge while traversing.
This spring, I have been out on the Shuksans in Colorado’s pitiful corn conditions. I guess it’s still a little early for good corn snow, and it snowed a lot in April, so instead of corn, I often got oatmeal or molasses. Heavy, slushy, knee-ripping, slow-motion snow. The Shuksans handled this crap quite well.
The main characteristic of this ski is a steady, reliable turn. It doesn’t have the snap and devil-may-care rip of the Verdict, but it always gets you through. And unlike the Verdict, you can turn it whenever you want.
If there’s one thing I don’t like about this ski is that it doesn’t like to do long-radius turns. It probably a combination of it’s 174cm length and it’s sidecut. It would be interesting to try this ski in the 181cm length. The Shuksan comes in 153cm, 160cm, 167mm, 174cm, and 181cm, and I’m 6’1″ and 165 lbs, so I’m probably right on the edge between a 174 and 181.
If you can only have one pair of skis, and you ski from November to July, the Shuksan could be the ski. Your quiver of one. I still need some deep powder days before I can verify it’s performance in powder.