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  • Writer's pictureWFG

Marquette vs Altai Hok vs Altai Kom

Updated: Feb 9

After 5 years of wondering how these Washington based no transition skin/scale skis would stack up against my beloved Marquettes the time has finally come.


Huge thanks to Nils from Altai Skis for helping me and my squad (you) get this crucial information in a world where Marquettes are nearly impossible to find and no longer being produced until Backcountry.com allows me to help them out of their inadvertent cul-de-sac.


Hi Melanie. I have skis your company can try out since you no longer have any of the product that you acquired and shut down without ever appropriately skiing it. We can do it tomorrow. I also have answers to all your other historical questions. I think you have a person in Denver whom I can take out for a ski. This is not a hard problem. Let's solve it.


Ok moving on to the task at hand...


This post will be amended after I get out on all three skis on a different snow condition in the coming weeks. Day one was on generally poor conditions of slightly tracked somewhat refrozen yet penetrable/soft mank. Temperature was around 40 degrees. Date was February 7, 2024. Jefferson County, Colorado. 8,000 feet elevation. Lap vertical was about 250'.




The first ski I pulled out of the van was the Altai Kom, which is their scaled "traditional" ski and comes in 3 different lengths. I had access to the 150cm version. This ski had a bit less up grip than the Hok, but still more than the Marquette.


On the down it's very much a telemark ski that should be telemark turned, which was challenging in the deep refrozen mank, but would be fine in most other conditions if you are a telemark skier. As with both the Altai skis this is a lightweight and medium/light duty backcountry setup suited for many uses. It would also be pretty great for zero transition resort uphill if you are a telemark skier. Videos from Altai show this ski being turned non-telemark so that is likely possible in certain conditions and ski sizes.


Of the three skis the Kom would be best suited for a long ski tour or even a hut trip alongside partners with regular gear. Certain aggressive uphill sections might be too steep for grip compared to skins but you'd also be happier existing without them.


  • Lightweight

  • Telemark turn specific (in that day's snow)

  • Can manage firm snow

  • Most traditional ski of the three

  • Efficient for long access hauls

  • Excellent for resort uphill aside from steep up pitches

  • Unlikely to glop when in warm/cold snow combos


 

The second ski I pulled out of the van was the Altai Hok, which is their skin based I'll call "adventure" ski which comes in one size of 145 cm (*edit there is also a 125 and a 99 for kids). I'm more excited to keep skiing this one and learning its unique methods. I think I'll get better at it with practice and different snow conditions.


The uphill grip is amazing. It weighs basically nothing. If I didn't care about the downhill I could do 200,000 vertical on that sucker. This thing will take you anywhere. It doesn't glide on the flats like the Kom so long access hauls would be slightly less speedy but it does glide more than the Marquette by a tad. It's better suited to creative snow adventure through varying, unknown environments, slopes and surfaces than the Kom.


I have not figured out exactly how to ski it gracefully on the down, but I expect I will to some extent. Not to the extent of the Marquette, though. On lap 2 I grabbed the long pole / talisman / excalibur looking stick (actually called a Tiak) and left my poles behind. I can see how dragging it as a rudder (aka third leg of a tripod behind you) is a part of the overall method, but again I still have work to do to be good at it. Because the uphill is so grippy the lack of poles on the up didn't matter much.


  • Lightweight

  • Not telemark turn specific

  • Firm snow unsure so far

  • Exploration without limits

  • Amazing up grip

  • Learn the Tiak if downhill matters

  • A few nbd Marquette style rock hits could break em

  • If Marquette didn't exist I'd do these

  • Might choose this over Marquette on certain days, tbd (stay tuned)

  • If want to buy something now in this category, buy Hoks, you will have fun


 


After three laps on the Altais I pulled my Marquettes out.


At that moment I was reminded how heavy they really are. Likely 3X the weight and you really feel it by comparison. After 20 minutes though I sort of forgot and got used to the weight again.


The Marquettes require the most creative up routing to keep grip effective, but I'm sort of used to that. Others do struggle with it, especially at first. Long access hauls from parking to ski zone are not what you aim for with the Marquette for the above reasons. However... There's no doubt that if very stable and smooth powder turn feel in most non firm snow, nearby where you park, is what you want out of this experience, the Marquette is vastly superior on the downhill, as it was that day.


Perhaps when I try all the skis in better snow conditions the Altai skis will come closer to the Marquette level downhill experience.


For many users the general snow travel experience is more important than just the downhill experience and for all of those users the Marquette finishes last. Or if edges are needed for occasional firm/packed snow descent, the Altai's would be a safer fit.


The Marquettes are dominant in the downhill, untracked (old or new) snow category, but require a moderate pitch. Flatter meadows would prefer the Altai options.


  • Heavy

  • Alpine powder turn (yes in tele boots)

  • Avoid firm snow on downhill (no edges)

  • Exploration tool but weight limits distance (3-5 miles not 15)

  • Up grip least of the three

  • Super stable downhill even through impacts (rock, stump, etc)

  • True alpine powder hop skiing feel

  • Least glide of the three

  • Dislikes warm/cold snow combos (can glop in them)

  • Durable (but irreplaceable for now) until Backcountry.com talks to me

  • Historically inexpensive

  • Favorite condition is 3-8" of new on consolidated base

    • Perhaps true for all three skis


I will add section two below after I ski them on a different snow condition and hopefully get better at the downhill on the Hoks.


There are a variety of ways to mount these skis but you can see my mount in the photo and it was paired with the 1990's Scarpa T2 boot. If using for light duty touring or dog walking some people will go with more of a snowshoe binding and soft boot. Or potentially a XC style connection.


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