Crested Butte, Colorado’s Romp Skis developed custom skis, tailor-made to get you back on the slopes after knee surgery. Here’s how it works.
Romp Skis built its brand making custom and stock skis by hand. Founders (and brothers) Morgan and Caleb Weinberg, both lifelong skiers, started by building skis for themselves and their friends. But after Caleb suffered bilateral ACL reconstructions and a broken leg, he had to design skis to help him stay on the slopes.
Since then, Romp Skis has designed, engineered, and fabricated fully custom skis to best pair a skier’s ability and physical condition with the terrain and desired performance characteristics. The brand parlays materials, shape, size, and the skis’ physical attributes to deliver skiing experiences that are only possible with a custom ski.
Recently, Romp agreed to utilize that expertise, craftsmanship, and Caleb’s own experiences with injury to help me come back from a devastating knee injury by designing and fabricating a custom set of its FH alpine touring skis.
Romp Skis’ History
Morgan and Caleb started melding their ski racing, construction, and fiberglass backgrounds to produce eight pairs of skis in the winter of 2009-10. These self-proclaimed “ugly” skis won high praise from their friends, so the brothers honed their manufacturing processes and moved out of Morgan’s garage to officially launch Romp Skis for the 2010-11 season.
Since that time, Romp has moved again to accommodate more extensive production needs. It now offers high-tech options like carbon fiber core materials to cut weight, as well as Countervail carbon fiber to cancel vibration.
But, every ski is still handmade with the skills, knowledge, and passion that initially launched Romp. All of this points to one goal: have the most fun possible.
Romp Custom Skis vs. Standard Skis
The initial step in crafting your own unique Romp Skis is to fill out a skier information form. Or better yet, set up a phone interview. The goal here is to determine what type of skier you are, what terrain you like to ski, and how you want to evolve as a skier. This shapes the game plan for the perfect pair of skis.
Step two is to choose one of the 11 shapes available for customization. Romp offers silhouettes for frontside, all-mountain, powder, and backcountry skiing. The custom ski-building process involves massaging variables around this chosen shape to best fit the skier, terrain, and ambitions.
Romp ski builders take the chosen shape and manipulate ski flex (and placement of this flex), ski profiles (camber/rocker), and graphics (Romp offers a dizzying array). And although a fiberglass poplar core is the standard, the carbon fiber ($200 more) and Countervail ($400 more) are premium options worth considering.
Plus, Romp offers a complete custom program that includes custom ski shaping for the ultimate in ski-building control. This $2,000 option allows the skier to work with ski designers to formulate a genuinely custom shape, and the price includes all other options.
The skier “owns” this custom shape and can order additional sets, with a few restrictions, at a discounted rate of $650. Meanwhile, an off-the-shelf ski has to cater to the bell curve, fitting the most significant swath of skiers possible for that particular ski model.
For example, a single ski can fit a massive variance in body weight. But custom skis eliminate these lowest common denominator compromises that stock skis demand.
Custom Skis to Fit an Injury
In 2018, I suffered a motorcycle-related injury that required an ACL reconstruction. This escalated via two consecutive staph infections within the knee, eventually requiring 10 total procedures over 18 months. Almost 3 years from the original injury, I am now again pursuing the outdoor adventures I love and missed dearly.
Skiing is the last and scariest thing for me to pursue again. The unpredictability of skiing backcountry terrain, combined with the massive leverage a ski applies to lower leg rotation, is terrifying as it mimics the original mechanism of my injury.
A conversation with Caleb revealed that he had undergone ACL reconstruction in both knees and overcame a broken leg with the help of a ski design he formulated himself. By increasing the vertical compliance to his skis’ tails, Caleb was able to reduce the pressure on his knees, while loading the rear of his skis.
He adjusted the skis to compensate for his injuries, balancing the additional flex with performance, helping not only himself but others as well. And now he’s helping me.
The Custom Romp FC Ski
Climbing is my main jam, and skiing is mostly a complement to climbing. Most of my planned climbing with skis are remote multipitch ice climbs in Alaska. These objectives involve skiing with a load over widely variable terrain and conditions to access the ice routes.
Ski weight is an essential factor to save energy for the climb, descent, and return trip. Any gravity-assisted skiing performance is secondary to cross-country and uphill efficiency. And finally, extreme durability is a must, regardless of how light the skis could be.
These factors, my skiing history and ability, injury and rehabilitation status, and future endeavors were all points of discussion with Caleb during our ski fitting call. And as a result, the Custom Romp FC (base $1,050) was the obvious choice.
Custom Romp Specs
- Romp FC Shape: 106-75-100 in 163 cm
- High camber, 12cm rocker in tip, flat tail
- Flex Pattern: M in tip, M+ in mid, M+ in tail scaled to my weight
- 969 g each
- Endless Powder graphic
To further tune the skis to match my needs and desires, Caleb prescribed the Ultralight Carbon Build upgrade on top of the increased rear compliance discussed above. The MSRP for this custom version came to $1,250, while the stock Romp Ready version runs $750.
Romp stands behind its skis with an impressive warranty. This includes a damage replacement policy — wreck a ski within a year of purchase, and Romp will send you a replacement for half price. This gives the aggressive skier some peace of mind to chase the fun regardless of terrain.
Romp specifies a wait of 3 to 6 weeks on custom skis during the season, but supply chain problems due to COVID delayed my set, and ultimately Romp required 2 months. But this was of little consequence, as traveling was not in the cards due to the continuing and rapidly worsening pandemic.
Romp Custom Ski Process
As you can see from the images, the skis were worth the wait, just on visuals alone. And talking to Caleb about our shared experiences with knee injuries and surgeries — and his ingenuity in building skis to help overcome them — inspired confidence. His apparent investment in my outcome gives me incredible comfort in returning to the one activity that gives me the most pause.
I have yet to use the skis; traveling to climb and ski outside of my local area by air is something I have yet to get comfortable with. But Romp is installing Dynafit ST Rotation 7-82 bindings in anticipation of my return to Alaska, and I’ll file a full review when that glorious time comes.