A Fortnight of Planks #1 – Black Diamond Verdict

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | April 3, 2006      

We should review skis in the fall or at latest just before Christmas. So says conventional wisdom of the establishment ski press. Ever the contrarian, my take is that skis should be reviewed in spring, when folks are looking for sale bargains and they can file the information for early season shopping next fall.

To that end, I’ve picked seven skis we used (and liked) last winter, and will cover one pair every few days till we’ve got ’em all blogged. Some are current models, some a few years old but still available on the used market. Keep in mind that all our ski reviews are based on skiing with fixed heel, not telemark. Today’s pick: Black Diamond Verdict, 170 cm (mounted with Dynafit TLT).

Black Diamond Verdict backcountry skis
With a light weight of 59.6 ounces per ski (170 cm), the Verdict extracts little weight penalty for the platform it provides. (Though touring with fat skis can be tough when heavy wet snow builds up on top of the skis, and the wider skins add weight). I enjoy just about any ski in powder, but I like a wide ski for tough conditions such as breakable crust or bottomless mank, Verdict does not disapoint in that area. It skis powder nicely too — thus a good choice if you like a fatter ski for the fluff. In my tests I found the Verdict to have decent edgehold on hardpack, though it’s obviously a soft snow ski. The flex is supple — snappy but easily pressed into service for a soft snow arc.

As an experiment I mounted the Verdict with a Dynafit TLT, without a binding riser. In soft snow I didn’t feel any need for more stack height, but during test runs on tightly frozen resort snow it did seem that more stack would have helped. Using a Dynafit Comfort (with its added height) would probably have done the trick.

We’ve pulled in a few reports from friends using the Verdict, basic sentiment: “good choice for a fatter backcountry ski — without the added weight and inconvenience of twin tips.” That’s my take as well. Shop at will.


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6 Responses to “A Fortnight of Planks #1 – Black Diamond Verdict”

  1. Bryan Wickenhauser April 3rd, 2006 9:13 am

    Lou – Missed ya at the Grand Traverse! Father/son team in the future? Would love to see some one do it on light AT gear, like we see at the Rando races….Romeo???

  2. Joel April 3rd, 2006 1:23 pm

    Sweet Lou – I’m looking forward too seeing some of your reviews – thanks for publishing your tests – I should hit more demo days, but these reviews really help in the mean time. In particular, I’m looking forward to your review of the Atomic Kongurs. You spoke pretty highly of them earlier in the year. You’re the only person I know who has spoken highly of them. Everyone else I’ve asked to comment on them had various complaints and not much good to say – the consensus I got was that Atomic killed the TMX’s flex pattern and edge hold. When you review the Kongur, could you mention something about the comparison between the TMX and the Kongur?

  3. AKBC April 3rd, 2006 5:20 pm

    Lou, can you describe your size and weight? I know you are pretty tall; am wondering whether big frames will like the 170 verdict

  4. Davey April 3rd, 2006 10:51 pm

    Ok, I like my Verdicts and I don’t like my Verdicts. I mounted up the NAXO 21’s on 170’s. I weight 150 and I’m about 5’7, and ski in rando boots. Now, with all that said I’m starting to believe you need to REALLY need to consider your weight and height against surface area under your foot and forebody on these or any other fat skis. Weighing in at 150 the forebody (128) and under your foot (98) is really fat, and it keeps pushing me in the back seat, I have to really get out front on these things, (there’s a lot of surface area up front) or maybe I should just have shorter ones. Also, I can move the NAXO’S forward a little and that may help.
    Yesterday with 10â€? new on steep slopes and clean lines, these soft guys were great, then as the sun baked the snow they really preformed well in the heavy stuff with no problem. As the snow turned into crud and chop they preformed really well on this heavy junk too. Now it’s late in the day and the ski home on regular icy, packed out to death slopes, they try to kill you. These planks perform on icy or hardpack conditions like Home depot 2 x 6’s with bindings, almost no control until you can get an edge in somewhere. Then when you do get some bite it sounds like your snowboarding. (Although, as Lou said, when it’s a groomer or playing on slopes with some (soft) new snow, they actually carve really well, I even have fun with these big things on packed power slopes). The bottom line for me is, big powder, junk, crud, slush, choppy, I would give them an A. Icy, hardpacked, windblown, bring your earplugs, maybe a C minus. Swingweight for these fat guys is ..well… slow. (At 150 pounds I think I should have 165’s, or a little less, OR mount a small barbell up near the tip)

  5. Lou April 4th, 2006 6:47 am

    Davey, thanks for the excellent review!

    All, I’m 5′ 11″ tall, weight around 160. Wouldn’t call myself an aggressive skier anymore, though I don’t futz around either.

    One of my projects this winter is to ski on shorter skis. The 170 cm range might be slightly short for me at times, but other times I like it. They also weigh less and carry on a pack much easier (the main reasons I’m trying to go shorter).

    One thing I’m finding is that the new skis we’re getting appear to ALL need a base grind so they are flat, then they need to be beveled by hand. Otherwise the tunes are all over the map and the ski can’t be evaluated. The last three pairs of skis we got in (Atomic Kongurs and Dynafit FR10) were all edge high and skied weird on hardpack before I took them in for a grind.

  6. AKBC April 4th, 2006 2:24 pm

    thanks for both reviews – I flexed both the 170s and 190s in the store and was amazed at how soft the 170s were (as if catering to the light-weight crowd) and how STIFF the 190s were (the huck your meat crowd). Hmmm – maybe the 180s? Funny but it sounds like there actually isn’t a big difference between the Havoc and the Carbon Surf at 170.

    Second the base grind issue – Lou. Seems like all kinds of skis need so much work from the factory – Atomic is the worst though, both nordic and alpine.

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