We started this series of articles with the WHY - what motivations get us outside touring…
Mountain Chalet is forever on the lookout for brands that are exciting and new to us and to our customers. Often new brands represent their strongest efforts creating products that appealing to the bulk of the marketplace and familiar trends within.
Black Crows is something else to Mountain Chalet. Their endeavors present a passionate and focused attention to the personalities of the founders, as well as the personalities of their patrons. By melding minds bringing forth the freedom of freeride skiing and the stark crispness of contemporary design, Black Crows breaks a mold. They lead us to an unlikely partnership of fresh aesthetic and a free and playful approach to sliding on snow on our favorite mountains.
A COLLISION OF BEAUTY AND EFFICIENCY
During the late 90s, Black Crows got its start around a dinner table in Chamonix. Bruno Compagnet and Camille Jaccoux came together with ideas for a new twist on the freeride skiing equipment of the day. They shared their long-held passion for skiing, but approached it from seemingly disparate lifestyles. By embracing both their individuality and their like-mindedness, the duo created a company that gives a fresh view of the contemporary freeride world without the influence of too much of the past.
Enter Bruno – clad in dreadlocks and army pants – a maverick with a rocky history on the French mogul team. Bruno was at the end of his professional ski career and looking to experience more freedom in his skiing, but like most of us, had to create support for his habit. His iconic representation of the freeride ski culture is what makes his successful partnership with Camille Jaccoux such an unlikely one.
Sitting down next to Bruno, Jaccoux, who I’ve read once stunt-doubled for James Bond, seems to be cut from a much more tailored cloth. A lanky bobo (French for hipster) with an equally impressive history as a professional skier, Jaccoux brings the sleek – passionate and unflinching attention to design and aesthetic- that complements Compagnet’s freeride swagger.
Together with their third partner, Christophe Villemin, a less-visible industrialist investor with a deep passion for skiing and mountaineering, they brewed up the idea for Black Crows – a company that played on all of their strengths with a refreshing vision for the future of freeride and its culture.
“I think it’s cool if you have a company that is more about the human feeling, you know? And I think that’s super nice.”
LAUNCH CORVUS (CORVUS: Genus for medium-large sized birds)
Around 2007, the trio had a vision for a new freeride ski that flew in the face of the narrow and shapely skis in vogue at the time. Their early efforts birthed the Corvus – a powder ski which combined a wingspan big enough to withstand high-speed turns and a shape which could endure sudden changes in direction. In their first year, Black Crows sold 30 pairs of their new Corvusmodel in the local shops of Chamonix. Since then, it’s a company that sells over 10,000 pairs per year, with an expanded product line that includes a full freeride clothing line and accessories.
FREE THE BIRD
This brand success ultimately led to the creation of their Freebird series – a tight collection of skis patterned after some of their most beloved freeride silhouettes, but with light and playful layups, seemingly designed specifically for the Colorado backcountry. This collection sits squarely in the wheelhouse at Mountain Chalet.
The name, Black Crows, was dreamt up by Camille and alludes to the Alpine Chough, a regional black bird that can fly at an altitude of 4000 meters, lending reassurance for skiers and mountaineers facing the solitude of the high mountains.
THIS IS A TEST
Every winter, the international ski community lands on the mountains of Colorado so shops can test the new and build their assortments for the following season. The Mountain Chalet crew joins them on the slopes to demo new gear presented by each brand.
One thing I can say for sure, it’s an amazing time to be a skier, but it’s a difficult time to be a ski buyer. There is such an amazing amount of great gear being created that it makes it a challenge for a small backcountry shop to make choices for its customers. So, when the test crew converges at the base with smiles, all for the same ski, it’s important to pay attention.
This is what happened with Black Crows and their Freebird touring series. As a backcountry centric shop, we unanimously decided that Black Crows had to have a place on our selective ski wall.
CAMOX FLIES FREE
The Camox Freebird (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jQCLXLYS34) is the ski that made me a believer. At 96mm underfoot, the Camox Freebird saw great success in its first years, but Black Crows made it so much better for the 2018/2019 season. By updating its Paulownia/Carbon core and shortening the ABS section they made the ski much more lively and maximized its edge-hold on difficult conditions. Most importantly, they reduced the weight of this already svelte ski to just over 6lbs/pair, an amazing reduction of over 1.3lbs., or 600 grams to the metrically minded.
By introducing the Camox Freebird and the Navis Freebird, (102mm underfoot, floaty, and playful) to our assortment, we believe we’ve made an amazing choice for our customers, and we’re looking forward to where Black Crows will take us and you. Come see the new Freeboard series at Mountain Chalet, while supplies last.