Fischer Transalp 88 Skis — Long Term Review, Ski Touring

Post by blogger | June 26, 2015      
Scott testing Fischer skis on Independence Pass just a few weeks ago.

Scott testing Fischer skis on Independence Pass just a few weeks ago.

Just a few weeks ago: It’s springtime here in the Colorado Rockies backcountry, which really just means it’s spring, summer, and winter — all rolled up into one. One day you may ski perfect corn, then next a foot of powder, then frozen breakable, or slurpee-esque conditions, and maybe mix in some blown-in dust as a topcoat just for fun. If you’re lucky you’ll get to hit all that in the same day or even the same line. It’s tough to find a ski that will deal with all of the above. Key word for this kind of ski is versatile, and the Fischer Transalp 88 totally fits that description.

Fischer offers quite a fleet of ski touring skis. Left to right: AlpRoute 82 1250 grams. TransAlp 88 1150 grams. Hannibal 94 1250 grams. Hannibal 100 1500 grams. AlpAttack 650 grams.

Fischer offers quite a fleet of ski touring skis. Left to right: AlpRoute 82, 1250 grams. TransAlp 88, 1150 grams. Hannibal 94, 1250 grams. Hannibal 100, 1500 grams. AlpAttack, 650 grams.

My only experience with Fischer skis prior to Transalp had been on the nordic side of things. Somewhat irrelevant here, but for the most part they make terrific nordic skis, particularly on the higher end of that spectrum. Perhaps that translates to making quality touring skis? In any case, seems to me that Fischer is making a serious move into the ski touring and ski mountaineering market. That’s where the Transalp 88 fits in.

We’ve been testing a 177cm Transalp, as well as the Fischer Hannibal 94 throughout this season. Lou posted some initial pics and thoughts about these skis here after they arrived at Wildsnow HQ last fall.

Without restating too much what has already been said, the Transalp 88 177cm comes in at 123-88-111, has a 19m radius and weighs on average 1303 grams per ski. That’s fairly light for a backcountry ski. There seems to be an ABS sidewall, but only underfoot, and it is all this ski needs. Edge hold is stellar. Uniquely, the Transalp, like the Hannibal 94, has a nice, thinner, convex top running from the flat binding mounting area to the shovel, and back to a few centimeters shy of the tail. This reduces material and makes the ski lighter, and also helps shed snow buildup when skinning up (which works to a certain extent, but as we constantly allude to here at WildSnow, the solution to keeping snow off ski tops is still a mystery). Wetter snow still adhered to the topsheets on the up, but was definitely reduced as compared to other skis I’ve been on. Cold dry snow didn’t seem to stick at all. Nice to see an innovative approach to this never-ending problem.

The Transalp features moderate rocker. About 300mm at the tip and 140mm at the tail is what I informally measured on the test pair. Not a lot, but enough to add versatility. Skin attachment is via a small hole in the tip that utilizes a nifty “cam hook” feature (found on Fischer and K2 skins) and proved to be bomber in my testing. Tail attachment is a traditional strap/hook, and worked fine. And of course one must mention, as many have, the utterly bombproof binding mounting plate, which I think we concluded really is titanium or perhaps unobtainium. Even with a brand new bit, I struggled to drill holes in the thing. Nice piece of reassurance in my opinion though.

So question is, with all these cool features, how do the Transalps ski?

In a phrase, really well. Initial impressions were that the Transalp is a totally solid, damp, fun ski. The edgehold is impressive, important downhill, but also while skinning up: think scribing a tenuous line across frozen spring corn while pondering why you forget your ski crampons. No worry, the Transalps hold really well.

Much like an all terrain tire, I would call the Transalp an all terrain ski. They can handle a variety of conditions pretty easily, like the stuff you’ll probably encounter in the backcountry or peak skiing in the spring, without throwing you around.

The only place where I’ve been hesitant on the Transalps was in some mild sastrugi. Short, quick turns with some speed induced chattering, much like speed wobbles you’d get on a road bike. Not pleasant. But that’s been the only situation where I felt the ski was a bit out its element. Though I attribute that more to skiing a little too aggressively for the conditions.

Being a believer in wider skis for powder laps, I was hesitant to ski the Transalps in the fluff. But a test was of course necessary. Our most recent storm brought a foot or more of spring fresh to our valley. Though not a modern powder ski by any means, the Transalps skied it pretty well. The 123cm shovel with some rocker helped create some float, but not a totally surfy feel. Whether it was the drier colder powder up top, to the moister, transitioning to Sierra cement down lower, the Transalps made me, surprisingly, smile.

I’d still use a dedicated powder ski for deep days, and probably a super lightweight rig for plain ol’ uphilling, but for everything in between (especially peak skiing in the spring), the Transalp could be that ski. I’ve really enjoyed this ski on steeper lines with variable conditions, but they have been just about as much fun everywhere else.

Wanna pair? The Fischer Transalp 88 can be found at our supporter 8k Peak.


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35 Responses to “Fischer Transalp 88 Skis — Long Term Review, Ski Touring”

  1. David H June 26th, 2015 10:53 am

    I skied the Fischer Transalp 88 and my wife skied the Fischer Gerlinde on a trip to Val de Isre this past March. These are exceptionally versatile. We encountered vastly variable conditions and they were totally capable of handling it all. I have to say that I even put away my Kastle FX 94, as they were not quick enough to handle the variable terrain and short radius turns that were required. The weight of these ski’s adds another super positive!

  2. Scott Nelson June 26th, 2015 2:39 pm

    Thanks for your feedback David! Yeah, the Transalps seem really versatile. Skied them all spring and early summer here in CO, still really like them.

  3. Daniel June 28th, 2015 12:54 pm

    88 is widely seen as the new touring standard here in Europe. 88 is the new 70!
    Very interesting ski, unfortunately I cannor justify new gear in the new future…

  4. Scott June 28th, 2015 2:05 pm

    Hi Scott –

    When I skied the Hannibal on hard pack they had a very strange either on-or-off to their edge control. So much so that they tripped me up several times. Does the Transalp have the same feeling on hard pack?

  5. Trent June 28th, 2015 4:50 pm

    I skied my old Black Diamond Crossbows—87s I think, at 187—this winter on mixed conditions in NH after a long absence and was shocked at how well they performed. I didn’t take them out in blower powder (we had a few days of that!) but in New England hardpack through our version of powder they ripped. I’ve had some in-elegant days on brand new Völkl Nanuqs and wonder if the 96 doesn’t work as well here. I suspect the problem lies with the skier, not the skis, but I can always dream that technology will solve my shortcomings…

  6. Mark Worley June 30th, 2015 6:46 am

    You’re right about Fisher making top-shelf nordic boards. They’re noticeably nicer than others out there. As to versatility, this Transalp has very versatile dimensions. Glad it has turned out to be a quality ski.

  7. Scott Nelson June 30th, 2015 6:30 pm

    Didn’t notice any on/off edge control issue.

    But I did occasionally catch the tips one under the other during some turns, which would throw me off a bit, though I probably ski with too narrow of a stance.

    Also there was this weirdness for a bit where I felt like I was too far forward on the ski, thought mounting point was wrong, but the weirdness went away, maybe I just started to sit back a bit to compensate? I think Lou noticed the same thing on the Hannibals.

  8. swissiphic July 1st, 2015 3:57 pm

    Re; on/off edge control and other handling quirks; were bases checked for flatness (concave/convex?) In my experience, a concave base (edges high) results in a wide variety of handling quirks from the front of the ski; sometimes only noticeable in specific snow conditions like hard crusts and similar snow conditions. Also, some skis respond very well to subtle to aggressive detuning from tip with varying distances towards the rear of the ski.

  9. Scott Nelson July 1st, 2015 7:50 pm

    Good point on checking base flatness. I didn’t do that, but am curious now…. I did detune tips and tails quite a bit though and that definetly made the Transalps better handling for my style of skiing.

  10. Michael July 1st, 2015 10:25 pm

    I’d love to hear some input from others on detuning tip and tail edges. IMO it’s a big determinant (and not often talked about) in touring ski performance.

    For on piste carving, sure, have your edges razor sharp if you want. But natural snow is obviously a different animal. With the exception of perfect blower pow and perfectly timed corn, BC snow is grabby. Wind effect, sastrugi, crusts, wet mank – it’s all catchy. When it turns to bulletproof, I think most of us are slowing down anyways and not making high speed high angle carves in the backcountry.

    I’ve skied a number of touring skis from multiple companies (DPS, Praxis, Dynastar, G3, Sportiva, etc) before and after a detune and I can’t remember it ever affecting performance negatively. I’ve always found it beneficial. Maybe I’m a crappy skier or maybe it’s my style, but I think all touring skis need a good tip and tail detune. The skis are so much more predictable in weird snow.

    All reverse sidecut/tapered sections should be immediately detuned. No point at all in sharp edges here. Personally I detune to rocker contact points and like the way it improves ski feel in weird snow. Most edge hold is underfoot on firm snow, and I think the positives of a less grabby ski outweigh the minimal (perhaps) loss in edge grip.

    Fully rockered skis like Volkls with the ELP rocker might be a little more challenging but I always start with the tapered portions and any portion of the rocker with more dramatic splay and then go from there. Just do it with a gummi stone and you can always get it back if you need to.

    In fact, every time I read a ski review that mentions a grabby or hooky tip/tail, my first thought is to ask if the ski was properly detuned or was it skied out of the wrapper. I can understand the desire to review a ski exactly how it comes from the manufacturer, but it’s hard to know if certain negative characteristics are inherent to the ski itself or just a crappy tune.

    Flat bases are in this discusson as well. I skied a very edge high ski once without knowing it and it skied quite poorly on firm snow, but that was only at the resort.

  11. Scott Nelson July 2nd, 2015 5:29 pm

    I’ve probably detuned every BC ski I’ve been on. Like you said, I think it just works better in variable BC conditions. More neutral on the ends, and sharper underfoot for good edge hold is usually what I do. Case in point, the Transalps reviewed here were pretty aggressive from the factory, more set up for carving, but detuning made them more versatile, which I should have mentioned in the review.

  12. Lou Dawson 2 July 2nd, 2015 8:41 pm

    I too am a huge fan of detuning. Especially on skis with lots of sidecut, I ski much better if I aggressively dull the edges all the way down to the engagement point when ski is tilted, I then extend a less aggressive de-tune into the running area of the edges. For my aggressive detune I knock down the edge with a disk grinder then smooth with a file and stone, ending up with a radius edge which tapers into the less aggressive detune.

  13. Mark Worley July 2nd, 2015 10:13 pm

    Excellent points regarding detuning here. I intend to incorporate more of this down the road.

  14. Kevin S July 4th, 2015 5:44 pm

    The key for me with all skis is to ensure that the base is flat before any detuning is inflicted upon a ski. Many of today’s skis, especially those utilizng cap construction are a challenge to flatten with a stone grinder. Ask your shop to make more passes with less weight so the tip/tail flexes less during the grinding process. Ok, I’m a firm believer is a one degree base bevel for my resort and BC skis and use a gummy stone to debure or detune to my liking. In my case I do not detune at all but ensure the edges are deburred with the gummy by running it the length of the ski is a one degree base file guide and then a 90 degree side edge file guide. This ensures a consistent roll onto the edge in all snow conditions and I do not experience a hooky ski. Back to the gummy, I cut it in half so it fits iinto the file guides.

  15. Chris N July 30th, 2015 7:19 am

    Thanks for these great reviews.

    Do you have any thoughts on the durability of the Transalp 88s and the Hannibal 94s? I’m trying to decide between the K2 Wayback 96s and one of the Fischer skis (Transalp 88 or Fischer 94) and I’m wondering if the reduced weight of the Fischer skis comes at the expense of durability? I’m 6’1″ and 180lbs and ski on the East Coast. I often encounter bumped out and rocky trails lower down the mountain in the backcountry.. lots of stress on my skis.

    I know the Waybacks are tried and true, which is why I am leaning in that direction right now..

  16. Lou Dawson 2 July 30th, 2015 7:29 am

    Hi Chris, I don’t think the Fischer skis have any particular shortcoming in terms of durability, but knowing how the Wayback is constructed it might be better for abuse on rocky trails. That said, I’d suggest NEITHER ski is appropriate for more than very occasional moguls and rocks. If you want a ski that’ll hold up to that sort of stuff it’s better to simply mount a ski touring binding on an alpine ski. The weight wars are indeed resulting in touring skis that are often not particularly durable when it comes to rock hits, especially on the edges. Lou

  17. Chris N July 30th, 2015 8:12 am

    Thanks for the response Lou. I suppose it’s not too different than encountering melted out skintracks at lower elevations in the spring out West… just be careful and transition to hiking earlier. I have a pair of Marker Baron equipped alpine skis that I can trot out on those days that I know will be ugly.

    Still can’t decide between the Wayback 96 and Hannibal 94, you seem to really like them both!

  18. Lou Dawson 2 July 30th, 2015 8:27 am

    Hi Chris, most certainly many of us use our touring skis on harsh terrain, but with care, not as a matter of course. I’ve dented the edges of a few pair over the last couple of years, usually by accidentally hopping down on a tree stump or log. Judging from past experience, In those situations an alpine ski would have suffered no damage. Rocks are a different story, seems like they damage anything, though thicker edges and thicker base do help. Not to over simplify, there are indeed “touring skis” that have thicker edges, for example. Edges are heavy so the chase to save weight results in thinner edges on a lot of skis. We don’t measure or spec out edge thickness in our reviews as most people really don’t care much about that, but if we do have a ski here in our hands I can sometimes give a take on edge thickness if asked, yet a better person to ask might be someone at the company. Lou

  19. Scott Nelson July 30th, 2015 10:09 am

    Having skied both these skis pretty extensively ( Wayback 96, Transalp 88) in about 95% BC spring conditions in Colorado, I haven’t noticed any difference in durability as you guys are talking about. I’ve got a few gouges and edge nicks on both sets of skis, but they’ve faired really well. Those mostly came from “walking” over rocks with skis on. Not trying to be politically correct, but either ski would be a good choice from a durability standpoint, IMO.

  20. Lou Dawson 2 July 30th, 2015 12:52 pm

    I’d agree, not to effort at being too egalitarian, I’d still say they’re much more similar than different though I’d give a slight edge to the Wayback (which is not exactly a beefy ski.)

  21. gary hollenbaugh August 10th, 2015 4:14 pm

    re: fisher transalp 88 Scott, will the mounting plate satisfactorily support a telemark binding mounting? Fischer is ignoring my query but everybody,s distancing themselves from those of us on telemark bindings these days! Thanks, Gary Hollenbaugh

  22. Michael August 10th, 2015 7:46 pm

    Gary, I can’t speak to Fischer’s official policy on the matter but that metal binding plate in the new Fischer skis is beefy. It’s the hardest plate I’ve ever had to drill through, so I imagine a tele mount should be fine.

  23. Toby October 9th, 2015 3:04 pm

    Scott, Thanks for the Fischer review, and Lou, thanks for the best skiing blog in the universe.

    Hannibal 94 mounting point question:

    Scott wrote:
    “Also there was this weirdness for a bit where I felt like I was too far forward on the ski, thought mounting point was wrong, but the weirdness went away, maybe I just started to sit back a bit to compensate? I think Lou noticed the same thing on the Hannibals.”

    Today I picked up pair of 184cm Hanninbal 94’s. Fischer’s boot center mark seems to be much more forward than what I used to have. From the skier’s perspective they are looking like having 174s instead of 184. I’m seriously thinking to drill bindings about 1 inch rearwards, at least! what do you think?

  24. Scott Nelson October 10th, 2015 5:51 pm

    Toby- An inch sounds like a lot. 1-1.5cm would be my preference. I should say that I ended up using the factory midpoint and they have been fine. But having multiple holes is definetly not going to hurt these skis as the binding plate is exceptionally bomber, so you could experiment.

  25. Scott Nelson October 10th, 2015 5:55 pm

    And per Gary’s question, I wouldn’t hesitate mounting tele bindings on these, but then I’d have to remember how to tele….:).

  26. Jim Milstein October 10th, 2015 9:13 pm

    Scott, it’s like riding a bike. You can’t forget. Telemarking is a tune stuck in your head. You can dance to it.

  27. zippy the pinhead October 27th, 2015 5:39 pm

    Jim, I’d like to ski with you sometime.

  28. priy March 2nd, 2016 12:06 pm

    Dear all

    Do the Transalps come true to their indicated size? I’m asking because I have a pair of older Fischer X-Pedition skis which are about 5cm shorter as indicated.

    Thank you for the always helpful and interesting reviews!

  29. Gary Olsen June 8th, 2016 4:00 pm

    I picked up a pair of these cheap back around xmas time. Tried them at the resort on a freshie day maybe 12″ or so and they were lots of fun. Responsive, I compare them to a slalom ski, lively and like to turn. While they hold an edge quite well, these are NOT for speed (perhaps I spent too much time on racing GS skis). Just recently skied off Mt. Adams on them, down the SW Chutes and these skis were great up and down.

  30. Ramon October 6th, 2016 10:10 am

    Hi Scott! Thanks a lot for your review! Very complete and interesting. I wanna buy a pair of skis but doubting about Fisher Transalp 88 and K2 Wayback 88. Both seem to be similar in size and beahavor but not sure. What can you recommend me? Thanks a lot!

  31. Nordwood January 3rd, 2017 8:32 am

    Hey guys!

    I am considering to buy a current season Transalp 88 together with a last season ATK Freeraider 14. Do you think that this is going to work with the 60 mm broad mounting pattern of the Freeraider, or is it to close to the edge of the skis?

    I would like to mount the binding with binding inserts with a diameter of 8 mm (6 mm drillhole needed).

  32. Matt April 3rd, 2018 11:35 am

    Hey guys, I have a pair of the transalp 88 and toured them in Chamonix over the last 5 days through powder, crust and mashed potatoes.

    These skis are great on the way up. Light, have good edge hold on the steeps and the camber helps the skins stick well. In deep heavy snow (crust and potatoes) they are too narrow, end of story. In everything else, pow, ice and mixed they are great.

    HOWEVER, after skiing them for 5 days on the last run I felt the middle get a little weird. When I got to a safe spot I took the skis off only to find a very significant delamination under the front binding where the green side wall is. I am not sure what happened to the ski. This may be a one off instance but I am absolutely questioning the durability of the ski. They are mounted with Fritschi Vipec Black bindings.

    I will get back to you after I speak to the store the sold them to me/ Fischer to see if any warranty is offered or if they offer to fix/ replace.

  33. Lou Dawson 2 April 3rd, 2018 11:57 am

    Thanks Matt, if you go to just about any active shop selling backcountry skis, and get honest talk, you’ll find that ski durability issues are real and happening all the time. I don’t think the problem is endemic, but I’d like to see more attention to durability testing of real-life manufactured skis, perhaps by a third party. Not sure how that would ever happen, but we can dream. Lou

  34. zippy the pinhead April 3rd, 2018 8:53 pm

    Hi Matt,
    Based on your reporting of damage under foot, my (purely speculative) guess is that moisture somehow found it’s way into your ski’s core via the binding screw holes.

    Happy trails….


  35. See April 4th, 2018 9:37 am

    I have no experience with the 88’s but my Hannibal 100’s have served me well so far. Regarding broken skis and other things: take apart, examine under magnification, make pictures, share. Often the likely cause of failure can be identified. If the failure is at the transition from sidewall to cap one might suspect a stress raiser at that location.

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  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring 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 ski touring news and information here.

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