Black Diamond Carbon Megawatt Ski Review — Tordrillo Mtns, AK

Post by blogger | August 8, 2012      
Anton on Megawatts, Tordrillo Mountains, Alaska.

Anton testing the Black Diamond Carbon Megawatts, Tordrillo Mountains, Alaska.

By the time April rolled around this year in the western United States I was acutely aware that I could count the number of powder days I had on one hand. Needless to say I had the itch.

Lucky for me I have friends who happened to have time and a few extra bucks for scratching. So Jordan, Matt, Brad and I jumped on a plane to Anchorage, Alaska, and then flew a much smaller plane into the Tordrillo Range. Accompanying me on this trip were a pair of Black Diamond Carbon Megawatt skis. I spent the next three weeks on the Hayes Glacier seeing what those planks could do for backcountry skiing adventure.

Black Diamond Carbon Megawatt 2012/13

Black Diamond Carbon Megawatt 2012/13

Our plan was what I can only describe as “ski plane base camping.” After the aircraft set us down on the glacier we unloaded our mountain of gear and spent a day setting up a camp. For the next three weeks this was our home. Whenever the weather cooperated (which is about half of the time in AK) we set out to ski whatever looked fun.

The options were endless. But so were the approaches. During the infinite slogs I was beyond happy with my ski selection. The Carbon Megawatts I had weigh in at a mere 9 pounds 5 ounces a pair (188 cm). This helped turn the slogs into easy jaunts where I could enjoy the breathtaking scenery instead of work my rear off to simply keep up. We would then continue our journey across the crevasse fields that line the edge of the glacier and head up and up to our objective for the day. And then, down.

The options were endless -- but so were the approaches. Having light skis

The options were endless -- but so were the approaches. Having light skis made it happen.

In previous years I have not been happy with the performance of the Black Diamond Megawatt. I have skied them in all conditions, both on the resort and in the backcountry. I overpowered them in most conditions. They felt floppy. With the introduction of carbon into the construction of the ski things have changed. After a few turns of my first run in the Tordrillos I could feel the difference. Essentially, these are an old-school Megawatt in name only — they should have called them Megawatt 2.0 or something to that effect.

Since it had not snowed in a while there was a pretty serious crust forming on all but the pure north facing slopes. I found this out the hard way after I took a few turns on a pure north face and then meandered over a bit. The difference was jarring, and I thought I was going into my first tomahawking session in Alaska. Didn’t happen. The Carbon Megawatts responded beautifully. I was able to power through the crust and regain control. Relieved and impressed is an understatement.

Backcountry skiing with aircraft access in Alaska.

Backcountry skiing with aircraft access in Alaska.

In the middle of our time on the Hayes it began to dump the white crystals of water. About 6 days and 10 feet later, we came out into the sun ready to ski pow. And we did. A lot. In the steep powder spines, chutes and faces that we found to play on the Carbon Megawatts shined. With dimensions of 153-125-130, a 188 cm length, and a tip and tail rise with slight camber underfoot, I was living the dream. I could go as fast or slow as I wanted. I could slash turns, carve turns or simply pivot with ease. Being able to outrun my enormous sluffs was also a huge plus.

Not all was perfect though. There were times when we hit variable sections after the storm. One day we found ourselves having to ski a wind hammered section bordered by seracs. The wind had stripped all the new snow away and left a very firm section for us to ski. I chalked it up as a grip test for the powder hungry Megawatts. In my opinion they passed. I can’t say with a straight face that a super light 125 underfoot rockered ski completely preformed on the hardpack. But while these are definitely not an “edgehold ski” I wasn’t wondering if they would grab or if I would slide to my demise amongst the seracs. In fact, there was a decent amount of snap coming out of the turns that pleasantly surprised me. I was actually able to ski with confidence.

I’m sold. Carbon Megawatts preformed as I had hoped they would. For human powered powder skis these planks are at the top of my list. I can’t wait to get out and play with them in Colorado once the snow starts flying again.

Shop for Black Diamond Carbon Megawatt

( guest blogger Anton Sponar spends winters enjoying the skiing ambiance of the Aspen area, while summers are taken up with slave labor doing snowcat powder guiding at Ski Arpa in Chile. If Anton didn’t ski every month of the year, backcountry skiing would cease to exist as we know it. Also, thanks Jordan White for the terrific photos. Jordan blogs over at


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10 Responses to “Black Diamond Carbon Megawatt Ski Review — Tordrillo Mtns, AK”

  1. Jack August 8th, 2012 10:12 am

    Great report! I have nothing to say, except snowfall in the Northeast seems far away and I can barely imagine skiing 125mm waist skis. Waiting to ski my new Coombacks (181). Lou was right, they are big! If they are just too much, I can just change bindings and use them for water skis %^).

  2. Lisa August 8th, 2012 7:57 pm

    It’s always a treat to hear about Alaskan adventures. Thanks, Anton, for the excellent trip report and gear review.

  3. Lou Dawson August 8th, 2012 8:07 pm

    Jack, come on, Warren Miller said something like “on any given day of the year, during any minute, it’s snowing somewhere….” ALWAYS remembers what Warren said… Repeat to yourself as often as possible. (grin)

  4. Anton August 8th, 2012 8:39 pm

    Wise words from Warren.

  5. TonyBob August 8th, 2012 11:26 pm

    Inspiring. I spend 6-8 months a year in some of the warmest climates I can imagine. Getting together with friends to get after it up in the big country is, is the right answer.
    Nice going guys.

  6. MorganW August 9th, 2012 4:30 am

    Nice TR….just curious, what binding and boot set up were you using?

  7. Anton August 9th, 2012 4:55 am

    Morgan, I had some Plum bindings and Dynafit Titan boots.

  8. David B August 13th, 2012 1:04 am

    Hi Anton, yeh carbon is the way to go.

    My first carbon experience was in the late 80’s early nineties with a pair of Dynamic VR35’s with Carbon rods. They were an awesome ski. Jump forward a couple of years and a pair of Trab Stelvio Free Rides, which hang on like nobody’s business but the true Nirvana moment came with my DPS Wailer 99’s and 112 Pures both like nothing else.

    Inetersting to see others trying. I heard recently that Volkl have been trying to make a carbon ski for two years but they keep breaking. It’s not easy to make a good carbon ski, so time will tell if the BD’s will hold up.

    Anton are they full carbon or traditional construction with carbon reinforcing, like the DPS Hybrids? Those things have a soft flex but still quite solid torsional rigidity.

  9. Kyle February 23rd, 2013 7:36 pm

    I am entering my first foray into BC skiing and I’ve learned a ton from this blog, thank you all!

    I’m 46 and been skiing mostly inbounds for about 8 years. And the last 3 seasons venturing into as much powder as I can and I feel I’m learning more each time I go out. I currently use Volkl Mantra 191

    I’m also going to take a backcountry camp at Mammoth CA soon. But I will most likely be learning inbounds and hopefully some powder for awhile with the new set up.

    I know I have a ton to learn but I think once I get into the BC/powder learning phase, I’ll b hooked as I love hiking and skiing so I’m confident the initial investment will be worth it.

    From the research I’ve done I am thinking Id like either the BD Carbon Megawatt or Dynafit Huascaran with the Radical FT binding and Dynafit One boot. Cha Ching!

    Any thoughts on which direction for the ski choice? There is not much said yet on the Huascarans.
    I do like the fats and think I’d like adapting early on to them.
    Thanks! 🙂

  10. Yvan Gaston Sabourin March 7th, 2014 9:33 pm

    I’ve been heli guiding on a pair of Megawatts for a couple of weeks and conditions have been challenging this due to a lack of snow in the Skeena mountains in Northern BC. We received some 40cm’s of snow today in town which is likely doubled in the head range. The Megawatt is fast and responsive and stable. The tail has some snap which is nice cause I’ve been on Rockered skis for a couple years. I did have to detune the skis because they were too difficult to sweep the tails out to glide or Conkey a turn.
    Love the weight of the ski mounted with the Marker F12. Keeping the package light.

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