If I'm doing a heli trip, I'm going to be on "fat" rockered skis. They rule for virtually all the conditions and terrain I'd be paying a heli operation to find for me. So I guess that puts my take on the original post on the table.
If I'm checking out a heli operator, I ask a few standard questions. Two of them are on this very topic:
- What skis are in your company loaner/rental ski fleet?
- What do your guides ski on?
The correct answer to both involves words like JJ, S7, Bent Chetler, Rocker 2, Pon2oon, Kuro, Chopstick, ARG, Hellbent - or any number of designs in that range. I'd be extra ecstatic to hear brand names like Praxis or DPS or ON3P. And model names like RP112s, Concepts, Lotus 138s, Protests, Powder Boards, Cease and Desists, Pillowfights, etc., etc. in that context. (fwiw- I'm most likely to bring my own Powder Boards or Protests)
I want to fly with an operator who understands modern gear - and by implication - modern powder skiing. I want guides who comprehend the skiing I'm looking for and will, if possible, deliver it for me. If I'm in a situation where load management matters, I want my fellow clients on skis that let them ski faster, longer, safer. And that reduce the odds of "issues" due to people taking random headers in soft snow. The makeup of the fleet and what the guides are on is a leading indicator of these things.
I do not want to hear answers that include narrower non-rockered skis. I certainly do not want to hear something like "Choose a pair of Atomic Heli Daddy… Its best not to select a ski with a rockered tip for your first day." If I hear this sort of thing, I'm getting pretty skeptical pretty fast. It is almost certainly a disqualifier in my world.
In my experience, guides on narrower/conventional skis are generally not clued into how people use modern gear. And, frankly, it is annoying as hell to hear guides skiing on antiques make waterski jokes. Or snarkily debate among themselves whether or not a Pontoon is even really a "ski". Four or five seasons ago - fine. It was kind of amusing. Today, that sort of thing is inexcusably ignorant. It is clear to me that are a whole lot of guides (and managers) who have allowed themselves to become fossils in their view of gear and technique. IMO they need to be washed out of the industry ASAP. I'm certainly not going to pay to ski with them.
Happily, there are guides and operators out there who have kept up with the evolution of the sport. I do my best to ski with them. Heck, three years ago I had a great guide skiing on Huge Troubles who joked that he'd relegated his LPs to the "frontside". That was three full years ago…. There's no excuse for anyone in the heli business not being at least to that point today.
Edited by spindrift - 6/8/11 at 1:58pm