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Everyday AK ski? - need a "not a Pontoon" for everyday @ Alyeska... liberty, ramp, icelantic?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

...or yet another "what ski do I want (need?)" thread....


Getting excited about skiing again as the snow starts to top the mountains here in AK and of course that means I've got some skis to replace.  I have a pair of K2 Pontoons I started riding last year, which are so unbelievably fun when there is fresh snow....However, I also have a pair of old (2007ish) Rossi B3 Bandits that just aren't enough "fun" for everyday use anymore - between their difficulty with the freeze/thaw mashed potatoes & crud late in the year to the lack of pop/camber they used to have. 


I've got the promotive deals under surveillance and have been eyeing the Ramp, Liberty, and Icelantic skis to see if something on there meets my definition of an "everyday AK" ski.  I'd go outside the promotive brands, but they'd have to be new skis in the $400-and-under to compete with those deals...


I want the ski to, in rough order,:

1.  Ski the cut-up, crud, highly variable  conditions we get when we don't have feet of snow.  

2.  ski tight steep trees, often in HEAVY snow.

3.  be some fun on the groomers when we have flat light and you can't see at all 

4.  Be fun to ski all over when I bring them to Tahoe, Alta, summit county, etc (my Pontoons def. don't fit that description).


Based on that, I've been looking at the Ramp Peace Pipe, Liberty Helix/Double Helix, and the Icelantic Keeper, Shaman, Nomad.... realizing many of these are very different skis.


Part of my problem is that after the Pontoons, plus demoing some skis w/ rocker like the K2 Rictor and Armada JJ, I don't think I want to go back to "no early rise" or straight camber anymore with all the off-piste skiing.  


Our snow is probably similar to pacific NW or Whistler with the added bonus of very flat light, so that could help you understand the conditions.


Any ideas?





post #2 of 12

I've skied Alyeska, your snow is better than NW, but not Utah light. The Double Helix would be too much overlap with your Toons, Single H. with rocker released after last Christmas would be a nice complement. If you like trees and tight spaces, then something like the JJ or an S7 is perfect, but hard to find cheap and neither are great in heavy deep chop or ice. Not a fan of Icelantic, although some are. The real issue is $$. Hard to find much of anything under $400 that's superior and has rocker. Level Nine might have some older twin Heads (105's) that will smash through anything, good grip, acceptable in tight spaces, not rocker but better than a traditional tail. You might find some other ideas on TGR. Be clear about your price point. 

post #3 of 12

I bought a pair of Icelantic Shamans last year and I absolutely love them.  I skied them probably 80% of the time and used them for teaching as well.  That said, they probably are not what you want since they have camber and are probably not the best thing for skiing tight trees.  Either the Nomad or Pilgrim would be better except that they also have camber.  I didn't hear much about the Keeper last year but what little I heard didn't impress me.  Except for your budget, I would really recommend the Blizzard Bona Fide or even the Bushwacker.  I demoed the Bushwacker last year and was really impressed.  I had tried some other rockered skis and just never really felt in control but the Bushwackers had a totally different feel and were a lot of fun. 

post #4 of 12

Scott and Bluehouse also have skis on promotive. :)

post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the feedback so far - the budget thing is basically limited by the fact that I can pick up a brand new ski from one of the aforementioned makers (Ramp, Liberty, Icelantic & apparently also Bluehouse and Scott - thx spknmike) for ~50%....  which basically means I can get a brand new ski for ~$400.


The S6/S7//CRJ/JJ/bonafide and others may all be possibilities (although I think an S7 might be little big for the everday) - except it's hard to justify spending an extra $200-$300 for 'em.  Unless you want to find someone to sell me one of their skis new for $400 bucks wink.gif?


I must admit the gushing bonafide reviews seem nice, but given my constraints & wants I'm pointing towards the Liberty Helix right now... but still open to feedback & suggestions for sure.  For further info, I'm 5'10, 185, athletic & probably level 8/9 skier. 


Beyond (& anyone else) - have you skied the Helix in conditions like I'm describing above?  


Did I overlook anything out of the Bluehouse/Scott lineups?  I've seen quite a few P4's around Alyeska (mostly w/ the tele or AT crowd, so I think they just like the colors)... Nothing in the Bluehouse lineup appears to fit, from what I'm seeing...


post #6 of 12

ON3P out of Portland builds their skis for the Pacific Northwest snow conditions, which would include Alaska's heavy snow.  They have models for just about anything you need.



post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 

Mudfoot - I glanced through their website (and have seen people on the Billy Goats before) but it looks like you can only buy direct from these guys ( and they all list in the $750 and up price range...)

post #8 of 12

I believe you are correct that you can only buy ON3Ps direct from the factory.  If you check on the TGR  "Gear Swap" forum there are people selling used ON3Ps (I am selling some Viciks myself), but the deal on new ones is to pre-order them in July and get them for about $570.  They claim to be shooting for making "everyday PNW skis", which I thought would be perfect for Alaska.  Their skis are light, but beefie, and handle heavy snow very well. On my only trip to AK I lucked into 5 feet for new snow in a week at Alyeska, and I know from experience that wimpy skis don't cut it up there. Fortunately I was on my heavy metal Volants at the time. I can see why the Billy Goats would be popular.


I am not familiar with a lot of the skis on your list, but the Keepers might be a good call for an all-rounder. They have enough stiffness and camber to handle the crud when the going gets rough.  You can still find deals on last year's Icelantic models if you look around the net. I think the only thing they changed for this year was the topsheet.


By the way, did you notice that they did away with the pin tail on the Toons this year?

post #9 of 12

I had two pair of Icelantics last year...Keepers and Pilgrims.  The Keeper was a good ski and my only real complaint was the weight.  It was extremely heavy and the Look PX14 XXL's didn't help matters either.  The Keepers were a replacement for a pair of Hellbents and I went with them because of the slight rocker, traditional camber under foot, and tighter turn radius.  They weren't the best for powder but they were great at blasting through crud and skied much better on groomed snow than the K2's.  For me the Pilgrims are a decent everyday ski and I love how light they are.  I really enjoy them in the bumps when it warms up and the snow is soft but even with a more aggressive tune up they really don't have a lot of hard snow edge grip.  I think unless you are skiing on the down side of a freeze-thaw cycle they would be a very good "daily driver" out west.  I did find one common problem with both pair of Icelantics...they came from the factory with concave bases that required some grinding to correct.


I have since sold the Keepers and replaced them with a pair of DPS Wailer 112RP Hybrids.  I have yet to ski on them but I have heard nothing but good things about them from those that have but they do go well beyond the $400 budget.  I just wish Icelantic would offer a ski like the Nomad with just a little more sidecut.

post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 

Mudfoot - Depending on what happens, maybe I'll look at the ON3P stuff next year and get in on a pre-sale deal.  With the promotive deals I can always pull the trigger on one of the other skis and sell it if it just doesn't work for me.


Pon2oons & Pontoons (sort of rant):

As far as the new Pon2oon my disclaimer is, of course, I haven skied the new ones yet BUT my semi-informed opinion is: 

I'm not quite sure I love them doing away with the original design - not that it was perfect as a plain old Pontoon, but I think adding the "versatility" via some of the shape change in the tail and adding camber underfoot starts getting away from the whole point of the 'Toons...  


I love the original ski for its intended use (POW) and it's surprisingly good out of its comfort zone with the ability to slarve and smear - but the WHOLE point of the Pontoon was that it doesn't have camber & the pintail lets you surf and smush them around for any turn you want. When you add camber, shrink the shovel, make the tail a bit bigger, lose the twin - that's not a pontoon its a new (& different) ski.


I'm not saying the Pon2oons aren't fun or won't be any good - more that the original Pontoon was the biggest baddest powder ski K2 had & it's replacement, IMO, won't be as good of a specialized powder tool.  More versatile, with a better ride on the groom back to the lift maybe, but that's not why I think people get Pontoons.


Maybe K2 thinks they'll sell more by bringing the ski back a notch, but again, I think K2 probably made their best (& most fun/interesting) powder tool slightly less so. 


I mean, Shane designed 'em that way on purpose. 


/end rant


As you can see, I love my Pontoons.  I came from E.C. skiing, with trips out west, to live out here and started trying to figure out Pow on my '05ish Rossi B3s.  Once I demo'd some fun-shapes, I knew there was no looking back for this kind of skiing.


Honestly I can't stand when we have the "in-between" days where the 'Toons can't come out but I know my old Atomic SX:12's will have me glued to the groom because that means I'd be on the B3's again - call me lazy about working to turn, but smearing, slashing, and flying through the leftover stashes of Westline or NW passage woods at Alyeska is impossible to beat once the open stuff gets cutup.

post #11 of 12

Once you reach a certain level of proficiency the secret to life is as good crud ski, because 80% of skiing is "in-between."

post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 

Just as an update - after much searching the interwebz, I've gone with the Liberty Helix after meeting someone here who had ridden them (and the Double Helix).  Nice new change is that they finally offer a 182 in that ski, which seems perfect for what I need it do.


Once I saw they had the 182, I was pretty much sold on it.  Thanks for all the advice & ideas - if I hate 'em it looks like I'll be waiting for a ON3P pre-order next year.  I'll make sure I post some reviews once I get 'em...


Planning on putting some binding freedom inserts in them as well, so we'll see how they tour.

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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › Ski Gear Discussion › Everyday AK ski? - need a "not a Pontoon" for everyday @ Alyeska... liberty, ramp, icelantic?