Six years ago, I spent a summer in Jackson Hole, making money for more ski-bumming in British Columbia. In the kitchen of Stiegler’s, I heard quiet rumors of a local ski company making boards that could hold up to seasons of beating in the Tetons, and better yet, are custom made for each rider.
A few phone calls and one getting lost episode later, my friend Sarah Light and I found an unmarked entrance in the side of a large, industrial-looking warehouse. We tentatively pushed the door open and were greeted by a spiky, blue-haired kid. He introduced himself as Mike Parris, co-owner and engineer for Igneous, and he took us around the factory, explaining the process of making custom skis. Parris spoke with obvious passion and knowledge, and we were fascinated. Sarah ordered a pair the spot.
Igneous was formed in 1993 when local skier Adam Sherman decided he was fed up with mass-produced skis that couldn’t hold up for a season in Jackson. He made a pair of 214 cm boards with no metal and started Igneous. After a few seasons, he turned his focus solely to powder skis.
Sixteen years later, the name Igneous is practically synonymous with Jackson Hole locals. According to Parris, a childhood friend of Sherman, local orders comprise about 60 percent of Igneous’s business. The rest ship out to the western U.S., Canada, Europe, and Asia. Parris proudly shows images of a snowboard with a convex base recently shipped to Narvik, Norway, after a year of collaborating with the rider over the phone. They’ll customize the topsheet along with the rest of the ski.
Although Igneous does no marketing, advertising, and puts no logo on their products, once you know the look they are instantly recognizable. Here’s how to spot them: Look for serious girth and unmarked wood topsheets.
Since 1995, their intense focus on fatter, bigger, stronger powder boards came from the demand of local rippers long before the mainstream companies made fat skis a priority. Igneous’s small crew of ski-makers, Mike Tierney, Mott Gatehouse, and Aaron Dahill, keep innovating and listening to customers. Each pair is labor intensive and the factory produces only two or three skis per week.
Today, the main product is still powder skis, but they can create everything from longboards, edgeless water ramp skis, FIS-approved GS and slalom skis, to approach skis commissioned by famed snowboard mountaineer Stephen Koch—or you.
You can find out more at www.igneousskis.com, and if you are in Jackson and want to stop by, give them a call. They can probably give you better directions than what I had.