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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    37N 122W
    Posts
    396

    Demo Report! Backcountry Ski Demo Weekend - Alpine Meadows

    Hey Folks, its been a while but I still think of you often...

    Got to jump on about 10 different touring skis last weekend at Alpine and circulated my thoughts to a few friends. Figured there are enough people around here who might appreciate some basic soft data points. Here are my impressions based on 1 - 2 runs each through groomers and moguls on a very firm post rain recovery weekend. Mostly Wolverine bowl and Alpine bowl. Definitely not enough for an in-depth review, but as usual, you're getting what you paid for here :-)

    Skier: 185# without gear, 6' tall.
    Current Quiver: Touring: 183 extra carbon 3/5 yeti w/ speed superlights, 185 huascaran w/ plum guides. Resort: 180 bonafide, 187 XXL, 191 UL GPO, 196 Protest. Love all my resort skis but wish the bonafide was a 187.
    Style: No racing background, just grew up skiing. Probably ski like most hacks who have been logging 5 - 40 days every year since they were 4...More conservative in the backcountry.
    Boots: Dynafit Mercury w/o black tongue + Intuition tongue liners (not the tour version, not the luxury). Not a great fit for me, honestly. Too much vertical volume in the forefoot...but they get the job done.

    183 BD Helio Recon 95. Great ski. Holds an edge really well. Fairly turny but easy to break free and can basically make any turn angle. Gets kicked around slightly due to its light weight but not bad. Surprisingly fun given how light it is. impressed with this ski. If I was going to replace my yeti with a similar ski mountaineering oriented ski, this is on top.

    180 blizzard 0G105. Loved this ski too. Def not a light weight but punches above its weight class in terms of skiability. Holds an edge like a champ, very stable. Feels more like a resort ski but still totally driveable with my Mercuries without black tongue. Only concern here is how it performs in bc typical variable. Does it have enough rocker? I think so. The rocker starts pretty far down the ski but isnít very aggressive. I could see this ski replacing my Huascaran (114 waist) and becoming my daily driver winter touring ski with the yeti only coming out for spring missions.

    184 Fischer recon 102. This is a real ski. Damp, holds an edge. Significantly more swing weight slows down your turning but plows through anything. Heavy. Way too much ski for the mercury without a stiff tongue and even then I donít think I would enjoy this ski until I got a better boot with lower forefoot volume. But it would be great with a stiff, properly fitting boot. This could be a one ski quiver if you didnít mind the weight.

    183 Fischer Hannibal 96. Light weight, feels stiffer than it is, great edge hold. Carved like a champ. Turns of any radius easy. Not as pivoty as the helio recon. Super impressive performance for the weight. At the same time, not particularly inspiring. Nice, well behaved ski.

    177 Volkl VTA 98. Didnít get a good eval on this. Ski seemed great and did what it was told but the short length just made it feel small and light and swively. In a longer length this seems like it would be very similar to the Recon but probably deflect less. Seemed really light weight, but likely due to short length. Lot of promise here. Would love to try them in an appropriate length.

    178 Scott guide 95. Build by Fischer very similar to the Hannibal 96. Punches above itís weight class similarly well, but VERY turny. Plenty stable and good edge hold but man it wants to turn sharp and thatís about all. Mine didnít have an adjustable toe binding so I was probably 2cm behind the line and appreciated the extra stability.

    188 Scott Slight 100. Similar to the Fischer recon but lighter weight. This was really fun and more driveable with the mercuries than the recon. Nice and damp feel. No complaints except the only surprise was it got a little chattery at speed. Impressively driveable in the 188 length.

    185 DPS 112RP tour. Wow, this was a fun ski. Interestingly the boot center mount was way back compared to my yeti and the shovel is huge. Super versatile. Turned any radius easy. Really light weight. Easy to throw around even in moguls. I was impressed. If I replaced my huascaran with this, it would likely become the primary ski I tour with in the winter and the yeti would be a primarily spring mission ski.

    179 DPS foundation 100. This was the nicest skiing ski in its class. There was absolutely nothing to complain about when matched up to my mercuries other than weight on the uphill (weight wasnít an issue in this test). Nice and damp, held and edge when you wanted it to. Did what it was told. Awesome ski. Foundation could be a 1 ski quiver for someone who isnít married to metal at the resort and doesnít mind resort skiing in BC boots. Tour version would probably be an excellent touring ski but assume not damp enough for resort. Could easily replace the yeti and likely be more fun in more conditions.

    185 black crows Navis freebird 102. This was an interesting ski. I could see this being a one ski quiver for backcountry only. It has more rocker than I would have thought and isnít particularly stiff and you get a lot of tip flap when itís firm. Impressive light weight for a non-light-weight. similarly to the DPS foundation, I found little to complain about...it was just a little soft and...uninspiring? Very forgiving. Versatile. Also seems like an amazing first touring ski for someone.

    Compared to my 183 3/5 extra carbon + wood topsheet Yeti: I finally think I sorted out all my issues with this ski. Background: When I first got them I was somewhat horrified. I felt like it took every ounce of technique I could muster to get them to ski and turn properly. They would jump and bite like crazy through carvy turns. They would hook up and not let go of turns through variable snow. I would feel like my downhill ankle was getting rolled in soft snow. I would feel like the tails just wouldn't let go at times in soft snow. Other times, I couldn't get them to turn. I would feel like the tips wouldn't let go in the steeps and constantly feel like the ski was trying to turn me backwards down steep couloirs...ugh!

    I had mounted them at -2. I moved them to -1. Small difference. I detuned the tips and tails at the suggestion of friends. Another minor improvement. Finally, thanks to a friend I checked them with a tru bar, had a stone grind and edge tune (1/1) and then re-detuned the tips and tails and now finally they feel almost like a normal ski. Based on comparison with all of the skis above, I think the mount point is fine. Slightly forward of most of the above skis or same.

    My Yeti is now really fast edge to edge and finally will do what itís told and make turns of any radius. Hookyness seems to be gone and they pivot much more easily now. The main thing I notice is the tips still ďfeelĒ long and the edge hold is significantly worse than many of the other skis I tried - this with a pretty fresh tune. My conclusion: theyíre stiff! The ski is noticeably stiffer than anything I tested above. It also is by far the lightest ski of all skis I tested. This is due to the bindings I have (and love) as some of the above skis are clearly lighter ski weight.

    A further note on bindings: I tried a range of tech bindings on all these skis. The only ones that pre-released were the dynafit ones with the pivoting toe pieces - Sorry, just not as up on the binding market these days. Tried two skis with them and they both pre-released and I just found myself generally annoyed by them. I'm sure my knees/tib/fib would appreciate them, but I feel like they've upped the ante on the dynafiddle factor...

    One final general comment: per usual, I donít think skis make that big Iím of a difference once you pick which general design youíre going for (and assuming they're not edge high...ugh). Most of the designs are pretty similar and they all ski well. I would follow my usual practice of just finding one of the DPS, Volkl, BD or Fischer 95-100ís on sale or used for a spring focused ski and go for it.

    In closing, everyone at Alpenglow was visibly working super hard all weekend to keep this demo weekend running smoothly. You guys did a bang up job. Huge thanks for the fun times!
    "Kids today, all they talk about is big air. I say, stay on the mountain, that's where the action is. If you want big air, pull my finger." ~Smooth Johnson~

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Posts
    68
    Thanks for this - interesting to read your take. I am still super stoked on my Blizzard ZeroG 95s for volcanos and longer tours. Maybe I should add some 105s....

    Also stoked to read that Alpenglow put this on. Theyíll definitely get my business when Iím in Tahoe visiting the family.
    Last edited by bjorn240; 01-12-2020 at 02:39 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Posts
    120
    Having toured in a dps 112, i have to say, not a fan of the Tour1 construction. Seems like that construction is just way too light. Tips were super squirrelly and deflected way too easily, and this was in perfect untracked, hero pow. I use a pair of the 112s in the hybrid (pre- foundation) construction for my resort pow skis. Love the shape, and the hybrid construction is substantial enough to handle resort duty. If i wanted to tour in these skis, I'd take the alchemist construction over Tour1 construction without hesitation.

    Sent from my SM-G965U1 using Tapatalk

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Squaw valley
    Posts
    2,837
    I ski on vwerks katanas with mtn and guide pro 2019 boots.

    I love these skis, even for spring steep skiing.

    I had the Salomon mtn explore and, while decent skis, on Shasta, when frozen, they were not very stable.

    Sold them.

    Sent from my Armor_3 using Tapatalk

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    266
    13 years running so far. Always enjoyed the demo day. Moment was generous enough to send up a bunch of demos too which was a pleasant surprise, they were flying out the booth.

    Thanks enginerd for the review. Regarding the 112, if you do ever get one I'd take the recommendation below and go with the Alchemist if you're primarily skiing on the West Coast. Just makes it much more versatile when it's not fresh or during heavier storms.

    Quote Originally Posted by bjorn240 View Post
    Also stoked to read that Alpenglow put this on. Theyíll definitely get my business when Iím in Tahoe visiting the family.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
    Posts
    98
    Mad respect to Bren, Dostie and all at Alpenglow. Nobody bleeds skiing more.

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