For all-conditions ski mountaineering, a 105 underfoot ski is the ticket. Big enough to have fun in pow, while still skinny enough to save some weight and ski well on hard snow. Also, having a bit of width helps in variable back-country snow, such as wind crust or mashed potatoes. 90% of the time when I’m in the backcountry, I ski a ski this size.
I was pretty excited when, on our Christmas vacation in Nelson, I picked up a pair of G3’s new, lighter version of their Zenoxide, the Zenoxide C3. G3 constructed these skis with 100% carbon fiber (no fiberglass), and a wood core. Weighing in at 1500 grams (178), and being the same shape as their original Zenoxide (131 / 105 / 123), they are in a category with a very small number of light, fat skis. Even though they are crazy light, they are still quite stiff (due to the copious amounts of carbon fiber). They also have a fair amount of rocker in the tip, a necessary feature.
Sure, they are light, but how do they ski? There are lots of light skis out there, but I generally choose slightly heavier skis that ski much better. I’m willing to give up a little weight for a ski that is more fun and less work on the down. The fact that that the Zenoxides are stiff gave me some confidence, since many light skis are noodles, given the lack of material and low density cores that are common. However, I’ve traditionally preferred somewhat soft, forgiving skis for ski mountaineering. Stiff skis are like sport cars, fun to drive when you put some muscle into it and want to speed like you’ve got Andretti DNA, however, when you just want to cruise, they aren’t the best. Conversely, I can muscle a soft ski into going fast and shredding (as long as it’s a nice, damp, ski), but when I’m tired and my legs are rubber from an 18 hour push, it’s great to ride a soft, forgiving ski. That being said, the Zenoxide C3s are stiff, really stiff.
My first day on the skis, all I could find in the Nelson backcountry was pow (bummer, right?), but I was pretty impressed with how they skied. In powder they were fast, and also quite poppy. I had a blast popping off pillows and out of deep turns. That same day I also managed to take a few runs on some icy groomers and crud at Whitewater ski resort. Being such a light ski, I was worried they would be chattery and get thrown around by the crud. Surprisingly, they laid nice rails in the groom, and were more than passable at busting crud. Being so light, they did get thrown around a bit, although quite a bit less than I expected, and they didn’t chatter.
Since then I’ve taken them out on quite a few other trips, encountering a slew of conditions, and they’ve performed well. Having such a light ski on long days is a breeze, and it’s a treat to have the width on the down. Being a stiff ski, you do have to stay on your game somewhat, and It was nice to have stiff boots to pair them with. However, they are more forgiving than I first thought they would be. They’ve become my new go-to ski, and I’m looking forward to skiing them more this winter and spring. Also impressive about these skis — MSRP is $849.95, pretty good for a fully carbon fiber touring ski.
Zenoxide C3 105 specs:
Length tested: 178
Dimensions: 131 / 105 / 123
Wildsnow verified weight (per ski): 1465 g
Skier: 5’10”, 150 lbs
Louie Dawson earned his Bachelor Degree in Industrial Design from Western Washington University in 2014. When he’s not skiing Mount Baker or somewhere equally as snowy, he’s thinking about new products to make ski mountaineering more fun and safe.