Black Diamond AMPerage 185, a perfect ski for Jackson Hole.
by Wade McKoy
Last week, several storms produced three unique snow conditions for excellent late-February skiing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I had just mounted my new Black Diamond AMPerage 185-cm skis and had high hopes that they would become my new, go-to work ski*.
My first three days on the new skis were in three unique snow conditions.
Day one: About a foot of heavy powder lay over a skier-packed base of icy moguls. The AMP's width (142-115-124) floated me above the icy base and gave me a smooth powder ride. Turning in the heavy powder was made easy by the rockered tip and tail.** When the snow became shallower half-way down the Lower Faces and the edges began touching the icy bumps, they carved on the firm surface smoothly and strongly. As I wandered into places where more skiers had already been, I found that I could make quick-turning adjustments that allowed me to "island hop" from one still-unskied snow patch to the next. At the bottom, on the groomed road going to the chair lift that takes skiers back to the Village, the AMP's ample running length of cambered edge carved nicely and almost felt like my groomer skis. I was laughing and thinking to myself, "Wow, I love these Black Diamond skis."
Weather day: The wind was so strong that the tram didn't open until 1:00 p.m. and it closed shortly after that. I did not ski.
Day two: We had an entirely new mountain – smooth, flat, and soft. The wind-buffed snow – compacted powder, soft slab, stiff cream cheese – enticed everyday skiers into long-radius, speedy turns. I was especially curious how the AMPs would run in this snow, and I'm happy to report that the substantial running length of cambered edge carved very stable, high-speed turns in the soft wind-buffed snow. And, when I saw an icy bump appear in my line, I easily squeegeed into a side-slip to avoid it. The wind-compacted snow was at times a little firm, yet the rocker tip still engaged through the arc of the turn.
Day three: A couple inches new overnight, increasing snow stability in the backcountry, a little sunlight – conditions for which I had scheduled a work tram for early ups to shoot ski photos. The AMP's rockers were back in action, carving through the couple inches of loose, light powder while the long running length of cambered edge cut creamily into the wind-buffed base from the day before. They delivered a fun and easy ride while carrying 185 lbs of me plus my twenty-five-pound camera pack. And when the going got rough at the bottom, I could more easily slide-slip and traverse backwards to squeegee through the ice-hardened tight spots and ease my 60-year-old knees down the mountain.
To sum it up, the Black Diamond AMPerage delivers easy turning in a variety of conditions:
• Heavy powder – I was laughing while I effortlessly surfed down the Lower Faces through glop that, on traditional skis, could make you groan and think way too hard.
• Soft wind-buff on a blown-smooth mountain – Arcing down Rendezvous Bowl in seven turns, the AMPS are stable at speed and carve nicely due to the substantial running length of cambered edge.
• Groomed runs and roads – Feels a lot like I'm carving my traditional, fully cambered skis.
– Wade McKoy
*To photograph ski action I need fairly lightweight skis and bindings that perform well in all snow conditions and allow for uphill travel via skinning.
**My former go-to snow-day ski at 135-102-121 is narrower by 3/4"-5/8"-1/2". Previous experience tells me they would not have kept me off the frozen-mogul base. And, without the rockered, early rise tip and tail, turning through the heavy snow would require more physical effort and more mental concentration on technical skiing.
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Service today celebrating the life of Ray Shriver, 1948- 2012.
4pm – 5:30 tonight at Center for the Arts.
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