OR All Mountain Demo – Ultimate Quiver Preface


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

Lou is schussing around Europe drinking copious steins of beer and eating strudel religiously while we here at Wildsnow HQ North America are in the midst of putting the final touches on the ever growing mountain that is the “Ultimate Quiver.” The review below is from earlier this season, featuring a few similar skis to our Quiver project. Please do not stress as this is just a small preface to the multitude of ski and binding configurations to come!

The 2012 Outdoor Retailer All Mountain Demo kicked off at Solitude in the last year of the Mayan calendar without much celebration, no chants praising Ullr or anything of the sort, just plenty of eager testers running around like mad. Thankfully some homebrewed firestarter Insta-fire made for an interesting way to summon the gods and start some snow on fire for the day. While Lou and Lisa were out being harassed by the Solitude Ski Patrol, for skinning up resort slopes during the demo, I subjected my knees, and thankfully not my personal skis, to the Wasatch Range’s finest variable conditions; rocks, boulders, branches, stumps, rime, wind blown cat tracks and plentiful bumps all while avoiding fellow testers. Not as easy as you may think.

OR on snow demo 2012 eagle lift 2

My chariot for the day, Solitude's Eagle lift, a detachable four pack lift turned up to max-speed, kept me on the ski patrol's good side for the most part.

I was able to test eight skis throughout the day in various binding and boot combinations.

I would have taken a few more skis with tech bindings out for a run, and I really tried, but lots of struggles were had due to the limited demo mount range of bindings and worn hardware. I guess I missed the strict rule stating only “normal” sized feet are allowed in Utah. Since when is a 30 sized boot that abnormal? Then again where do you find beer with 3.2% alcohol content? Hmmm…

Atomic Atlas w/Atomic Tracker bindings & Dalbello Krypton Pro

OR on snow demo 2012 atomic tracker & atlas

With a length of 190+ and minimal sidecut these planks are certainly for your hard charging, straight-lining and cliff hucking skier, not for any weight weenies. The Atlas is part of Atomic's Tracker line which includes the Charter and Drifter at 100 and 95 underfoot respectively. The Atlas binding feels extremely stiff and low compared to the Duke. It even passed the test of both Lou and the Atomic rep's attempt at pushing me over while standing on both the front and tails of the skis: no lateral play whatsoever. Testing these skis on the day's conditions was akin to eating dinner with a machete: a tad overkill. Perfect for Silverton, AK, or straightlining backcountry chutes.

Dynafit Baltoro w/Dynafit F 12 bindings & Dynafit TLT 5 Mountains

OR on snow demo 2012 Dynafit Baltoro & FT 12

After my introduction to the Dynafit boys and navigating the crowds around their booth I went out for a run with Hende of Dennyink.com, Dynafit's PR guy. He insisted on taking a run down a fun line with some ADK reps; Rocks, stumps and twigs were the obstacles, but hey these were demo skis. I had to keep telling myself that. With awesome graphics and lightweight feel due to the Palownia core, the 183's made quick work of the dicey terrain. When we both realized we had ditched the boys from the Dacks, Hende insisted we rip a bump line in sync. I can honestly say these skis handled knee sized bumps like a champ, and yes, I threw a daffy and spread eagle in dynafits. Definitely a first for me. These skis would be on my list for next year without a doubt. Superb ski.

DPS Cassiar 80 w/Marker Tour 12 bindings & Dalbello Krypton Pro

Unfortunately I didn’t snap an image of this ski. Regardless, they rocked the terrain and were a perfect match for what Solitude had to offer. After talking to Philip at the DPS booth about the lack of a “fun” ski for today’s conditions from other manufacturers, he said I had to try their Cassiar 80. With dimensions of 120/78/108 in a 178 with a small amount of tip and tail rocker these were the narrowest skis I saw that day by far. Taken from their site: “It’s the dedicated frontside choice for the entire mountain when there isn’t new snow.” The quote was entirely true. Turns like a slalom ski with ease but felt like a flexible park ski when boosting over moguls and stumps. This was the perfect ski to match the day’s terrain without question.

G3 Zen Oxide w/G3 Onyx bindings & Dynafit TLT 5 Mountains

OR on snow demo 2012 g3 zen oxide

Just getting fit into the Onyx bindings was a major hurdle with these sticks as the hardware was beginning to strip from multiple binding adjustments; same story over at BD. After the third pair we finally found a set that looked like it would work. With a new topsheet and slight modifications to last year's Zenoxide the ski looked and felt ok but I really can't attest to how they skied because of my nervousness about how they were mounted. I was unable to push them to their likely potential. The jury is out for me on this backcountry ski.

H2O Outdoor Gear Kodiak w/Rossignol 12 Demo bindings & Dalbello Krypton Pro (Not pictured)

I was interested to ski these planks after working alongside Dean for several years in Alaska and Utah on several projects. He is one of the most iconic, hard charging and few original skiers still alive pushing the limits in Alaska’s Chugach Range. I didn’t count any other 46 year-olds winning awards at the 2012 Powder Awards in which he won for Best Line. The Kodiaks, Dean’s son Wyatt’s middle name, are handmade skis made out of Reno, NV and have an extremely detailed topsheet with a Kodiak bear in the Alaska wilderness. The feeling on the downhill was damp and solid construction with absolutely zero chatter while straightlining through the crud, and a moderate amount of sidecut made turns easy to initiate and exit. The sidewalls and edges were double the size compared to other makers. These skis will last through thick and thin for many seasons. His ski fleet will be coated with plenty of rotor wash come heli season in Valdez, where on last check there had accumulated over 40+ft of snow in the mountains and over 350+ inches in town. Bottom line: Solid feel, great graphics, bomber skis, awesome on the down. Not ideal for touring but if your pointing down 60 degree slopes these would be a top contender.

LaSportiva Hang 5 w/Marker Tour 12 bindings & Dalbello Krypton Pro

OR on snow demo 2012 LaSportiva Hang 5 & Marker

LaSportiva's non-rockered version of the Hi-5 was quite a looker. From it's banana/tangerine topsheet, that could be seen from space, to its lightness off the rack in its 188 length I was ready to peel the skin off these bananas and see what they were all about. Previously skiing the Hi-5 ski I had a good feeling that I would like this ski from the get go. With zero chatter and minimal sidecut this ski plowed through everything on the way down without a hiccup. Turns weren't as easy due to the lack of snow and minimal sidecut, but if you're trying to make lots of turns with this ski you need to look for other options. With the Markers they felt solid but certainly not the lightest ski in the lot as my large feet kept me from sampling them in a tech binding offering. If you're looking for a hard charging ski with skin attachments built in LaSportiva's newest offering doesn't disappoint.

Salomon Rocker 122 w/Salomon Guardian bindings & Dalbello Krytpon Pro

OR on snow demo 2012 salomon rocker 122 & guardian

After trying out Atomic's version of the Guardian and because, quite frankly, their booths were next to each other I had to jump on a pair of Salomons. Similar scenario: super stiff and burly bindings with a sidecountry emphasis, just a different color-- I'll call it a vivid blue. Suggestions? In the 188's the Rocker 122's were the fattest ski I was on the whole day. The rocker made turns easier but there was no escaping the heftiness of this ski. I would hate going up anywhere on it. I avoided most of the bumps and stayed to the somewhat groomed terrain. Definitely a ski for the powder hungry resort chargers that venture into find the deep stuff.

Volkl Nunataq w/Marker Tour 12 bindings & Dalbello Krypton Pro
Previously reviewed: Check out (Anton’s Review w/Dynafit rig)

OR on snow demo 2012 Volkl Nunataq & Marker

Before I passed out to the drone of Lou's Duramax heading down Big Cottonwood Canyon, I jumped on the 187 Nunataqs. A lightweight backcountry ski with a Palownia core offering by Volkl on which I actually skied two runs. I honestly lost count on how many runs I did the whole day. It was quite a blur. Their lightweight feel in steep turns with a low swing weight in the bumps had me sold. They were damp when pushed and almost weightless in the air. I'm interested to see how these tour in an even lighter setup on some more snow in the Elks. A solid offering by Volkl without a doubt.

After ripping my pants in the bumps, rubbing shoulders with some of the industry’s finest and barely being able to stand the next four days at the OR Show, I came up with my top three skis from the All Mountain Demo; which were Volkl’s Nunataqs, DPS’s Cassiar 80′s and Dynafit’s Baltoro option. Hopefully the avi danger subsides and I get out on a few of these skis for a “real” test this season.

Comments

4 Responses to “OR All Mountain Demo – Ultimate Quiver Preface”

  1. Mark W April 13th, 2012 9:45 pm

    Nice reviews. I rarely get enough of gear reviews. Testing is fun, isn’t it?

  2. Lou April 14th, 2012 12:10 am

    Just returned from a bit of schussing and stein hefting. I like the way Joe’s ski review from OR turned out, hoping you WildSnowers enjoy it. Amazing how many good skis are out there…

  3. Nick April 14th, 2012 10:23 am

    Agree, nice review Joe. Was wondering how you liked the Onyx bindings, as limited as your exposure might have been? I always thought they would be a nice alternative to the Dynafits when weight might not be as critical, i.e more sidecountry than vertical. Any thoughts?

  4. Dave Bell April 14th, 2012 8:10 pm

    Amazing how many great skis are out there compared to 15 years ago. Just amazing. it seems hard to go wrong with any of the skis…….

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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