“Our customers are skiers looking for adventure,” says Jamie Kunka, head designer and craftsman at Scotland’s Lonely Mountain Skis (LMS). “They want something that can take on piste skiing, ski touring or even freeride ski competitions.” From a workshop in Perthshire, Kunka crafts handmade custom skis using a unique mix of traditional and modern materials and methods to provide a smooth ride – whether in powdery Patagonia or the icy gullies of Aonach Mor in the Scottish Highlands.
Each commission (from £1,100) begins with a consultation – in person or by phone and email – with Kunka, to determine desired fit, performance goals and the types of terrain to be covered, as well as graphics, finishes and veneers. Clients can take inspiration from several of the firm’s existing designs: the all-mountain Sneachda (from £750), which is perfect for use in Europe and beyond; the lightweight-yet-stable expedition Crua (from £750), which plays well in Scandinavia and the Alps; and the Ord (from £900), a powder and freestyle ski with a light balsa/flax core that’s ideal for use in North America and Japan. Kunka is happy to adapt these shapes, as well as to devise new concepts and work to varied ski lengths – which usually range between 168cm and 189cm.
Each hand-finished pair – made of an eight-layer laminate of natural and synthetic fibres with a beech, poplar or maple core – takes between three and five weeks to complete. The bases are sintered 7000 PTex (a polyethylene plastic) and the entire ski is pressed in a vacuum moulding system that ensures even flex. Flax and carbon fibres add strength and flexibility, while the top layer is a beautiful one-of-a-kind hardwood – maple or cherry. Most are capped with a discreet LMS logo, but bespoke clients can request any graphic finishes they fancy. One new embellishment this season is custom pyrography engravings of Scottish nature scenes by graffiti artist-cum-naturalist LeRoc.
These high-performance skis are also pleasingly friendly to the environment. “We use as many sustainable and natural materials as possible; 80 per cent are from grown sources,” says Kunka. “And for every ski we sell, we aim to plant two trees to offset the carbon dioxide we produce.”