Women's gear, up first
Here's what one of the nation's strongest ski mountaineers chooses for both resort and backcountry missions
Christy Mahon rips. In 2010, the Aspen-based mountaineer became the first woman to ski all 53 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks. Then she teamed up with two other pros—Chris Davenport and her husband, Ted Mahon—to climb and ski Colorado’s 100 highest mountains. That feat won them a nomination for National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year award.
Stio and Kästle are among Mahon’s sponsors, but she fits her training around a nine-to-five job at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. Her predawn workouts include skinning up 3,200-foot Aspen Mountain. And the weekend? That’s when Mahon logs some of the Aspen area’s most committing climbs and scouts new lines on her state’s 12,000- to 13,000-foot peaks.
This is what she brings.
Osprey Kresta 40 Pack ($190)
Mahon carries this women-specific pack on day tours and hut trips. “It’s perfectly sized for multiple down layers, a couple pairs of mitts, and some tasty snacks when out for a long day in the backcountry,” she says. She also likes the organizational features: ski carry options, loops for ice axes, and various compartments for backcountry gear.
Kästle BMX105 HP Ski ($1,149)
Mahon doesn’t ride a women-specific ski. The BMX105 HP is a unisex model that she loves for resort skiing and describes as a “great all-mountain powder ski that charges through chunder, grips on hardpack, and is nimble yet powerful.” When women shop for skis, Mahon recommends trying out various demo models (women’s and unisex) to find out what type of flex they prefer. “I usually go with a unisex ski that is playful, turns easily, yet can drive through snow of any kind with some power,” she says.
Kästle TX98 Ski ($949)
“For years, this has been my go-to, all-purpose backcountry workhorse ski,” says Mahon, who has found the newest version to be the best yet—maybe even the holy grail of backcountry skis. “It’s crazy light but still solid in all conditions,” she says. “It could even be a great option for women who are looking for a lighter, easy-to-maneuver resort ski.”
Stio Women’s Environ Pants ($365)
“I wear these pants every day, whether I’m in the ski area, touring in the backcountry, or skinning up the mountain before work,” Mahon says. They’ve proven to be totally windproof in brutal conditions yet breathable enough for tours—and the fit is “the best I’ve found,” attests Mahon.
Hestra Heli Ski Mittens ($130)
Mahon may seem impervious to fatigue, but like most of us, her hands get cold. So she wears these super-warm mitts on climbs and descents, sometimes supplementing their insulation with chemical hand-warmer packs. Says Mahon, “You can also get extra-warm down inserts [also made by Hestra] for super-cold days, which makes these gloves good for any temps between zero and 40 degrees Fahrenheit.”
Buff Polar Hoodie ($45)
“My favorite new addition to my pack this year,” Mahon says of this fleece hood. “It keeps my head, ears, and face cozy and protected in snowy or windy conditions, but it’s also breathable enough to wear while working hard going uphill.”