Do Powder Guides do anything but Ski? Perlmutter reviews Megawatt, Dawson installs dishwasher.

Post by blogger | February 15, 2008      

Colorado backcountry skiing.
Installing the new machine at WildSnow HQ.

Intro from Lou: Ever been in a ski bum rental house? Lived in one? Most such dwellings retain a scary edge of un-repaired appliances, stove burners that smoke as they cook off the last ten meal’s bacon grease, and dishwashers that shudder through their terminal load the same morning you’re waxing for an eighteen inch dump.

If the winter is big, sometimes our own beautiful home starts a downward spiral. Toilet hissing and burbling? Leave it for later and just turn the shutoff on and off to flush it. Roof need shoveling? It’ll live for another week. But when it’s a few days before Valentine’s day and your dishwasher quits, you’d better install another one or V-day may cease to have much meaning in your life.

Yet to paraphrase Warren Miller, even when you’re installing a new dishwasher, someone, somewhere is skiing. In this case, our guest blogger and Aspen Skiing Company powder guide Bob Perlmutter was indeed up there in his element. More, he was hosting a gaggle of journalists trying out Black Diamond’s new skis. Thus, Bob joined the esteemed scribes at their own game and filed this interesting review of BD’s new Megawat widebody reverse camber ski. I’m sure glad guys like Bob are around, so I have time to fix dishwashers instead of banging out perfect powder laps. According to Bob:

Review – Black Diamond Megawatt Ski
by Bob Perlmutter

Is it appropriate to giggle and laugh while skiing? Because that’s what I kept finding myself doing while riding Black Diamond’s new ski, the Megawatt. Was it because the ski seemed so unlikely or because I was just having that much fun? It was initially because of the former but ultimately because of the latter. I kept thinking it must be illegal having this much fun — and kept exceeding my own personal speed limit, on purpose, on a ski that on first glance appears nothing less than strange.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
Bob on the Megawatts.

Megawatt is a wide(153-125-130), zero camber ski with a rockered tip. It comes in one size only, 188cm. I am hesitant to call this solely a powder ski, as our perceptions of what’s inside or outside the box (or if a box even exists anymore) are being shattered and obliterated on a daily basis. Let’s just call this a primarily off-piste tool and leave it up to imagination to come up with the Megawatt’s limits, if any.

The group I was with included male and female freeheel and alpine skiers of varying shapes, sizes and abilities. We kept trading pairs of Megawatt’s back and forth throughout a day of cat skiing with the Aspen Mountain Powder Tours, in boot top powder Regardless, everyone seemed right at home on the user friendly wide body planks. I watched slightly struggling skiers become smooth soft snow glisse specialists and hard chargers up the ante one more level.

Black Diamond backcountry skiing.
Black Diamond Megawatt.

At first I was a bit concerned about the long length but felt comfortable from the very first turn. The reverse camber tip provides good float, easy turn initiation and smooth transitions over any chop or mank, but does not figure substantially into the running surface equation. The effective shorter running surface combined with an overall soft flex and light feel made for very easy and relaxed medium radius turns. That said, the wide body and damp feel allowed one to put the pedal to the metal and let the wind blow back your hair for a stable ride. If I wanted to feel some pop or make a quick move in the trees then all I needed to do was push a little more under the foot and the ski came right back at me or the radius of my turn shortened up nicely.

Is the Megawatt a backcountry touring ski? This question really applies to all reverse camber skis. The effectiveness of climbing with skins is a function of having as much of the surface area of the ski covered by the skins and in contact with the snow as possible. Reverse camber skis by their very nature eliminate a certain amount of skin/snow contact and thus may make for less effective climbing while backcountry skiing. I have no doubt some people will see the advantage of skiing reverse camber skis outweigh the loss of climbing performance, and I’ll be watching to see how common it becomes to climb on this type of plank.

Lastly, I finished the day with a run down Aspen Mt. to see how the Megawatt would handle packed snow. They felt a bit like an old Cadillac on the freeway; certainly capable of turning but nothing was going to happen in a hurry. They felt more responsive and started to come to life as I allowed the speed to pick up.

All in all, Megawatt is about as much fun as one can have in soft snow. Let people stop and stare because eventually you will be viewed not as weird but at the vanguard of a new movement. Make room for yet one more pair of skis in the quiver because here they come.

Shop for it.


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20 Responses to “Do Powder Guides do anything but Ski? Perlmutter reviews Megawatt, Dawson installs dishwasher.”

  1. Mike Murphy February 15th, 2008 11:43 am

    Bob and Lou,

    I’ve been touring with a pair of Line EP Pro Skis (153-127-150) with reverse camber and have to say they tour really well. Skinning is not as easy as a traditional ski, but they do pretty well, especially breaking trail. The main beef I have is the skis are usually wider than the skin track. By the way, I’ve got them mounted with Dynafit Vertical ST bindings and Scarpa Spirit 4 boots.


  2. Matt Kinney February 15th, 2008 12:39 pm

    Really like that photo of Bob skiing. Beautiful form. Knees tight, smooth on fats. Ski powder, don’t beat it up. Point made.

    Hang in there Lou. BD Telemark knee pads work well doing dishwashers.

  3. Ken February 15th, 2008 1:12 pm

    I’m not sure what I’d do if my plummer showed up dressed like Lou. I suppose the potential exists for full-on conditions when messing with water pipes, though. How about a review of those plumbing duds? -Ken

  4. Lou February 15th, 2008 2:51 pm

    Marmot Barn jacket, Cloudveil Wrench Spinner pants, North Face ABP (ankle bite prevention) shoes, BD Wire Splicer’s headlamp.

    Matt, I actually needed hip pads more than knee pads, but both might have been good. Or how about full body armor?

  5. dave downing February 15th, 2008 2:57 pm

    Mike. I want to see a pic of those Line’s mounted w/ Dynafit pronto. That’s the coolest sounding set up i’ve heard of in a while 😉

  6. Lisa February 15th, 2008 5:20 pm

    A tip to all those mountain monks out there: installing appliances earns one MAJOR sweetie points. Now we can have fun in the powder instead of doing dishes. Yea! Thanks for the nice Valentine. XOXO Lisa

  7. Dave Johnson February 15th, 2008 5:53 pm

    Curious how the Megawatt skis compared to the K2 Pontoon – I know the Pontoon’s are a bit bigger in the tip & waist. I just skied Silverton 2 days and all the guides ski the Pontoon.

  8. Shane February 15th, 2008 6:39 pm

    I have had a pair of K2 Pontoons (160/130/122 – Reverse Camber and Pintip-type side cut) for two years mounted with Fritchi Freerides, and they are the best piece of gear I have ever owned! So Fun! I have only done lift-accessed touring so far, but they work ok, especially breaking trail. Probably heavier than I care to take on a full day tour.

    Up here in the NW, reverse camber skis are becoming the norm if not the majority … especially during seasons like this one (400+ inches and counting)!

  9. Njord February 16th, 2008 1:28 am

    Reality sucks… of course, will all the snow you needed a rest day! 🙂

    Long live the dishwasher!


  10. George T February 16th, 2008 7:59 am

    mmmm… Lou scores points with wife for completing honeydo list, Lou gets rest on a day without freshies and Bob writes his blog… Did Louie wax your skis for you too? Niccccce.

  11. Fritz February 16th, 2008 9:08 pm

    In my opinion, what would make or break this as a legit touring ski would be it’s weight, not it’s dimensions.

    I tour on the DPS Lotus 138’s in the 192cm, and they are about 8 pounds. Not bad for such a fat ski.

    My guess is the Megawatt is on the heavy side, given the trend of BD making beefier and heavier skis as of late. Probably great for their mantra “It’s all about the down”, but I wonder if you can get the beast up there in the first place.

  12. bjørnar February 17th, 2008 4:21 pm

    I’ve been touring approx. 90.000 feet on my big Line 130, not alot of reverse camber, but alot of float in the pow also while touring. Also Dynafit mounted of course. My friend on Hellbent has no problem with skitips getting stuck while touring either!

  13. Lou February 17th, 2008 6:57 pm

    George, you’re correct, the day went just fine (grin).

  14. jess downing February 18th, 2008 3:03 pm

    I need to send dave over to WS Headquarters for more than just ski/et all testing. maybe he can learn some home improvement tricks too!

  15. Tony February 20th, 2008 1:32 pm

    Lou, what is the weight on the Megawatts?

  16. Peter April 13th, 2009 6:55 pm

    I’m confused as to why a tip rockered ski like the Mega Watt might be considered bad for skinning because of the rocker ( we’re leaving weight out of it for a second).

    On a ski of these dimensions, even with 1/3 of the tip off the ground, it would seem you still have WAY more skin on the the ground than with a traditional 70mm waist touring ski. No?
    What’s the skin surface area of, say, a BD Arc Angel versus the contact skin area of the BD Megawatt? I’d be surprised if the Megawatt wasn’t more.

    So, the tip’s off the ground, so what?

  17. Lou April 14th, 2009 5:28 am

    Peter, I think the take on a rockered ski’s skinning performance is just theory and of no great concern. Indeed, most skin traction comes from somewhere just forward of the foot to the tail of the ski anyway, so having less traction in a rockered tip area shouldn’t matter. For me, the weight of these skis is the issue. I see how fun they are and how easy they can make skiing junk snow, but for powder I have tons of fun on just about any plank, so I’m not on the bandwagon for hauling these things around on my feet if I’m earning my turns.

  18. Peter April 14th, 2009 8:38 am

    The weight is holding me back too. this little meadow skipper can’t haul *that* much. But I think the market will be giving us more options soon, something for us mere mortals, in between the Manaslu and Megawatt -> skis designed to skin, designed to expand our threshold of skiable snow that is still “fun”.

  19. Lou April 14th, 2009 9:00 am

    Peter, I heard some rumors in the same direction. That a well known European ski company would be coming out with a light ski that’s a bit wider then the Manaslu, possibly with more rocker, designed for uphill efficiency and without the heavy binding reinforcement plates required for tele bindings. Sort of an even more freeride oriented Manaslu sort of ski, or something to that effect.

  20. photonexit July 1st, 2009 6:06 pm

    Instead of worrying about rocker or no rocker, being effective or ineffective climbing or sliding, eliminate most of the ski! On climbing, only a 2 feet pressure patch underfoot really makes a difference. Same goes for sliding, you need flotation directly underfoot. The rocker eases or channels you in the right direction, which you can do the same with correct body position. I say just go for the widest possible skiboard in the 130-140cm range, with Atomic Fat Boys dimensions.

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