Indigo SlipNot ski poles

In steep backcountry terrain, ski poles must be absolutely solid and failsafe. A hop-turn above a cliff band, for example, is a tenuous move that depends almost as much on a stable pole plant as it does a good ski edge in the snow.

For this reason, I usually shy away from length-adjustable poles for serious ski descents. Though things have improved dramatically in the past five years, the twist-lock adjustable poles common in the ski world have slipped and readjusted on me without warning in inconvenient and scary places, and thus I’m biased away from those models.

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Indigo Equipment takes a different path with its SlipNot series of adjustable ski poles. The Epic and Mojo models, which have been upgraded for the 2005 season, use a push-button telescoping system to adjust the poles between 44 and 56 inches in length. When adjusting the pole, a spring-loaded metal button locks in to a drilled hole to make the pole virtually slip-proof.

To keep moisture out of the hollow pole so that it will not freeze up, Indigo has added small plastic bubble seals over the holes. The push button is large enough to allow for adjustment while wearing gloves.

Testing the Mojo model out on a week-long ski trip in terrain as steep and deep as Jackson Hole’s famous Rock Springs Bowl, the poles remained solid and stable, despite much abuse. Made with a hollow aluminum top shaft and a slightly flexible carbon-fiber rod that extends to the basket and carbide steel tip, the poles felt well balanced.

The Epic and Mojo models are almost identical, as both feature the push-button adjustment system and aluminum and carbon-fiber components. The Epic, which costs $99, comes in two sizes and weighs a couple ounces less than the $75 one-size-fits-all Mojo. Both models weigh just over 1 pound per pair.

In their shortest setting, the poles are about 44 inches long. I’d prefer if they would telescope shorter or pull apart for stashing more easily on a backpack when necessary. Otherwise, I had few gripes with the Indigo poles. They’re well made and fairly priced, and they did their job for six ski days in a row helping me navigate my way down thousands of vertical feet of steep mountain playground.

Contact: Indigo Equipment, 1-970-429-1005, www.indigoequipment.com.

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