Alaskan skiing pioneer and one-time extreme skier Dean Cummings stopped off in Boulder this week to talk about his heli-skiing operation, H20 Guides, his new film, The Steep Life, his traveling avalanche education program, Be Snow Smart, and his latest venture, a line of skis dubbed Access The Goods or ATG.
We caught up with Cummings at a coffee shop—though he doesn’t seem to need caffeine as it is. One moment he’s shuffling coffee cups and press materials to build a working model of an avalanche slope complete with safety zones, the next, he’s running to the car for a pair of skis.
Why is Cummings getting into the ski hard goods business? After years of building his own skis, the buzz they generated everywhere he went got him thinking about taking them to market. He demoed countless models and went through rounds of research and development, then debuted the line last season. ATG skis are built on an ash and aspen cores—materials Cummings chose because they absorb more energy than any others he tested. A design called Lay Down Technology combines camber and sidecut underfoot with rockered tips and tails. And heat-fused sidewalls protect the edges. “We’ve never had a compressed edge that I’ve heard of,” says Cummings. “And I don’t try to protect my skis.”
Currently there are three models in the ATG line: The Tazlinas are the all-mountain skis (pictured far left). They come in three lengths (174, 184, 191) and sport resort-worthy dimensions: 137-108-124. When Cummings lays them out on a table at the coffee shop, the glacier and salmon themed topsheets turn heads. Next up is the big mountain entry called the Kodiak (center). Available in the same three lengths and at 151-120-132.5 dimensions, it’s built to rip powder and variable conditions inbounds and out. And then there’s the big Alaska ski that Cumming’s dubbed the Karen’cito (right) in honor of his wife Karen. At 171, 181, or 191 centimeters, it’s a burly deep snow ski that looks to be unsinkable (165-133-149).
Last winter Cummings sold through all the limited production skis ATG pressed. This winter he’s producing 380 pairs in a custom shop in Tahoe. Nobody here at Mountain has skied a pair yet, but look for a report when we do. —Olivia Dwyer
Learn more about ATG skis at H20 Outdoor Gear. Check out the trailer for The Steep Life below.