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Tahoe Powder Ski / AT Gear Demos?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

Just moved back to CA after 15 years in exile.

Found a home, enrolled the kids in school, leaving just one more box to tick off:

*powder skis*!

 

Our new pad is in El Dorado Hills, ~1hr south of South Lake Tahoe.

Our family skiing & season passes will most likely be at Sierra, with solo strikes @ Kirkwood after big dumps.

 

What are my best bets for demoing powder skis between Sacto & South Lake?

The skis are going to be for a backcountry setup with Marker Barons & skins, and ideally I'd like to demo powder skis likewise set up for AT use, but if push comes to shove, I'm OK with demoing w/ regular bindings & testing in the side country.

 

 

post #2 of 24

Every year Alpenglow in Tahoe City does a demo day at Alpine Meadows with all sorts of BC gear. But it is held later in the season so it isn't going to help you for this year.

 

Since you're now a local again, I'd suggest shopping local. Look at PM Gear www.fkna.com  Praxis www.praxisskis.com Moment www.momentskis.com and pick one. Lhasas and Praxis BC's are two very popular options around here.

post #3 of 24

Last I checked, Tahoe City isn't "between Sacto & South Lake."

 

Unfortunately, I don't know the SLT shops, but I think I've heard good things about Powder House in the past.

post #4 of 24

^^^^ I've done a small bit of business with the Powder House, worked out well, but this was a while back. I'd still go for TC or Truckee for shopping. Yeah, in the winter, getting from SLT to TC/Truckee is a schlep, but that's not what he's asking. OP, you can get over to 80 pretty quickly from your new home, and that'll zoom you up to Truckee and TC. Forget about 50 and SLT...

post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by beyond View Post

^^^^ ... OP, you can get over to 80 pretty quickly from your new home, and that'll zoom you up to Truckee and TC. Forget about 50 and SLT...


Google maps puts Truckee at 2hrs from my home, and the bulk of my skiing will be at Sierra, but assuming I did expand my search to Truckee & Tahoe city, which shops would everyone recommend?

 

FWIW, the first 3 skis on my demo list are the ON3P Billy Goat, the Armada JJ, and the Rossi S7, so if anyone has the scoop on where I might find these, I'm all ears.

 

post #6 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post

Yeah, in the winter, getting from SLT to TC/Truckee is a schlep, but that's not what he's asking.


Maybe I misinterpreted it, but I think that's exactly what he's asking.

 

In any event, the Rossi should be pretty much everywhere, the ON3P pretty much nowhere, and the Armada in between.  For ON3P, the problem is that they're still primarily sold direct rather than through distribution, so you should contact the company and ask whether they have any suggestions.  For Armada, check out the dealer database on their site and contact those who stock the skis.

 

In North Lake, Start Haus is a great place to demo.  Closer to your target zone, I believe that Cornice Sports in Kirkwood demos PM Gear skis (or at least they used to; ask for the "maggot special") and may carry some other indies as well.

post #7 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDad View Post

Maybe I misinterpreted it, but I think that's exactly what he's asking.

 


This is funny, because I thought, "hmm, isn't he kinda between 80 and 50, Googled it, found that he was closer to 50 but 80 wasn't way far away, just to the north. I may have punched in the wrong data or something. I can be fairly retarded with that stuff. 

 

OP: Start Haus for sure, and they can also turn you on to Moment (very nice skis for Tahoe, made in Reno), perhaps Praxis (also hand made, also local), yeah probably every other shop will sell/demo S7's, and good luck on the BG's. Which are said to be a great ski for Tahoe - like conditions, you might look over at TGR for lots of reviews.

 

Two caveats: 1) of the skis you mention, the S7 and JJ are 5-point designs that are super forgiving, but cater to a certain style of skiing: neutral stance, like to pivot and smear. Silly easy to ski but can change characteristics dramatically if you shift weight. The BG (and any of the Moment or most of the Praxis skis) will be heaps o' fun, but not as silly easy or non-traditional in stance and weighting. The Moment Tahoe, for instance, is, uh, perfect for soft snow at Tahoe, but relatively traditional. So think a bit about what kind of style you like, not just what kind of snow you seek. 

 

2) If you're gonna put on an AT mount, I assume you're gonna skin. Otherwise there is no earthly reason to put on an AT rig. And if you plan to skin, then keep in mind most of these are silly heavy. Especially the S7 and BG. The JJ's not bad, but skinning in its shape and rocker can apparently be interesting. Some of the other companies mentioned make fatter skis that are more aimed at AT. The Moment PB&J, for instance, is super light for a 101 mm ski, and has rocker. Praxis makes a well-regarded BC model that's decently light. And so on. Alternatively, assume you'll be boot packing and forget the AT's...

post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post

This is funny, because I thought, "hmm, isn't he kinda between 80 and 50, Googled it, found that he was closer to 50 but 80 wasn't way far away, just to the north. I may have punched in the wrong data or something. I can be fairly retarded with that stuff. 


The point isn't whether he can get to 80 easily, it's that he's going to Sierra and occasionally Kirkwood.  It doesn't make any sense for him to drive from Sac to North Lake, pick up demos, and then drive down to South Lake.

post #9 of 24
Thread Starter 

Easy fellas, it's all good - all of this is valuable feedback.

 

Dad: You've hit the nail on the head regarding logistics, and I'm guessing this may have something to do with the fact that you're cosmically attuned to my predicament as a Ski-Daddy ;~>

I'm buying season passes to Sierra for myself, my wife, &  two daughters: ages 5 and 8, because:

A) the wife told me she's not dealing with two squabbling girls on a 2 hour drive to North Lake on a weekly basis.

B) and because my pride, both as a former North-Lake loyalist, and side-/backcountry skier has been saved by the fact that Sierra looks to have tapped some amazing expert terrain with the addition of Huckleberry Canyon.  Having K-Wood an extra 30 minutes up the road for midweek solo-strikes doesn't hurt either.

 

The punchline: I may be able to sneak off to North Lake a couple times this season, but realistically, 99% of my skiing will be in South Lake.
I've got a flexible work schedule, but my midweek solo skiing is still constrained by my kids' 9-3 school schedule.  If I've only got 6 hours of combined driving/skiing time, it makes zero sense for me to spend 4 hours commuting to North Lake.

 

There is another wrinkle, however:

Beyond: I really appreciate the feedback about skinning & ski design.  One of my aspirations is to find terrain, ideally less than 1hr from El Dorado Hills, where I can do early morning solo strikes after fresh dumps - skin up 1-1.5 hrs for the cardio workout, and then soak up adrenaline all the way back down to the car.
I'm just getting started researching this so I don't know how realistic my <1hr drive requirement is, but the bottom line is that I don't have any short-term plans to do any serious, multi-day backcountry touring.

That doesn't mean that ski weight and skinning efficiency won't be important factors in my ski selection process, but other factors will weigh in as well.  I'm leaning towards designs with a camber section underfoot for "does-not-suck" performance while skiing frontside with the family.  I really don't want to have to bring 2 pairs of skis every time I ski w/ the fam.  I've got enough girlie-gear to schlepp, so a powder-centric "quiver of 1" design is what I'm after.  For harder conditions, I'll just grab my Watea 84s and have done with it.


Edited by Veloscente - 10/15/11 at 9:38pm
post #10 of 24

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Veloscente View Post

That doesn't mean that ski weight and skinning efficiency won't be important factors in my ski selection process, but other factors will weigh in as well.  I'm leaning towards designs with a camber section underfoot for "does-not-suck" performance while skiing frontside with the family.  I really don't want to have to bring 2 pairs of skis every time I ski w/ the fam.  I've got enough girlie-gear to schlepp, so a powder-centric "quiver of 1" design is what I'm after.  For harder conditions, I'll just grab my Watea 78s and have done with it.


Consider the Black Diamond Justice.  Light, cambered, rocker tip - great all-around soft snow ski that doesn't fold on hardpack.  This year's model is a pound lighter than last year's, so if the weight isn't that important look for last year's.  I'm skiing an older one as a powder ski and like it a lot for it's all-around qualities.  

 

Google black+diamond+justice+review for other's thoughts.  

post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDad View Post

The point isn't whether he can get to 80 easily, it's that he's going to Sierra and occasionally Kirkwood.  It doesn't make any sense for him to drive from Sac to North Lake, pick up demos, and then drive down to South Lake.


Didn't think it did, and didn't miss the point. I just prioritize differently than you guys. And I have two kids I take skiing all the time, too. With season passes. But if I'm getting back into a sport after 15 years, and have all these grand plans about AT, I would find a way to get up to the north shore, and demo some AT feasible skis. If it required a sick day or two as soon as snow fell, I'd take them. If it required an extra $80 of gasoline, I'd buy it. If it required weird logistics and owing my wife a favor or three, I'd pull them off. Getting the right ski trumps getting the right highway...my .02. th_dunno-1[1].gif

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Lee View Post

 

Consider the Black Diamond Justice.  Light, cambered, rocker tip - great all-around soft snow ski that doesn't fold on hardpack.  This year's model is a pound lighter than last year's, so if the weight isn't that important look for last year's.  


^^^^ Ideas like this are what you want. A pound is no joke if you're skinning. You might also ask yourself if your AT plans are necessarily best served by resort fatties in the 115 range. Just sayin'...

 

post #12 of 24
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by beyond View Post
...  I just prioritize differently than you guys. And I have two kids I take skiing all the time, too. With season passes. But if I'm getting back into a sport after 15 years, and have all these grand plans about AT, I would find a way to get up to the north shore, and demo some AT feasible skis. If it required a sick day or two as soon as snow fell, I'd take them. If it required an extra $80 of gasoline, I'd buy it. If it required weird logistics and owing my wife a favor or three, I'd pull them off. Getting the right ski trumps getting the right highway...my .02. th_dunno-1%5B1%5D.gif

...

^^^^ Ideas like this are what you want. A pound is no joke if you're skinning. You might also ask yourself if your AT plans are necessarily best served by resort fatties in the 115 range. Just sayin'...

 


I haven't spent 15 years away from the sport, just from Tahoe.  Been busy skiing MT, UT, CO, VT, and some of Europe to boot.

I'm aware of Start Haus by reputation: I'm an ex Bay Area ski industry guy, FWIW.

I bought my Watea 84s and put Marker Griffons on them when shopping for all-mountain skis, in part because I didn't want to A-frame & bootpack many of the heavier models I demoed, so I'm pretty attuned to uphill weight / downhill performance trade-off considerations.
What I'm *not* up to speed on, are the full range of demo options between Sacto & Tahoe, and so I appreciate each and every bit of intel I get, including the post on the AT demo later in the season at Alpine.

 

Don't know exactly what in this thread has ruffled your quills, Beyond, but in the big scheme of things, all of us share a very similar set of priorities: not only do we all believe in (extensively) demoing gear before we buy, we believe in it enough to spend extra money & time doing research and discussing it.

We are all part of the same vanguard of OCD gearheads, and normal consumers think we're all equally nuts.

 

If the demo scene down around SLT really is as grim as the initial response would indicate, then I *will* sacrifice some of my available ski time to the North Lake commute.

I called Kirkwood yesterday, and though the person I talked to didn't have all the details, they did say they'd have powder skis by Moment, as well as mainstream models like the Pontoon, & the S7, so it looks like I will have some on-slope demo options.  Sierra's website lists a range of Backcountry skills clinics for the Huckleberry area, and goes on to list the full range of backco gear: from transceivers, probes, skins to AT skis, available for rent, so I'm going to follow up with their demo shop as well. 

Demoing from multiple shops will mean that I inevitably leave some coin at the shops I don't buy from, but frankly, as long as I get to demo a good range of top contenders, then I'd rather burn a couple extra bucks if it means I don't have to sacrifice slope time to driving to NLT.

 

Anyway, a follow-up question to others joining this discussion:

What's your favorite Tahoe-worthy powder ski, and where can I demo it?

I'd prefer to demo from a reasonably-well-stocked shop down along the Route 50 corridor, but I'm open to suggestions.

post #13 of 24


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Veloscente View Post

Quote:

I haven't spent 15 years away from the sport, just from Tahoe.  Been busy skiing MT, UT, CO, VT, and some of Europe to boot.

I'm aware of Start Haus by reputation: I'm an ex Bay Area ski industry guy, FWIW.

I bought my Watea 84s and put Marker Griffons on them when shopping for all-mountain skis, in part because I didn't want to A-frame & bootpack many of the heavier models I demoed, so I'm pretty attuned to uphill weight / downhill performance trade-off considerations.What I'm *not* up to speed on, are the full range of demo options between Sacto & Tahoe, and so I appreciate each and every bit of intel I get, including the post on the AT demo later in the season at Alpine.

 

Don't know exactly what in this thread has ruffled your quills, Beyond, but in the big scheme of things, all of us share a very similar set of priorities: not only do we all believe in (extensively) demoing gear before we buy, we believe in it enough to spend extra money & time doing research and discussing it.

We are all part of the same vanguard of OCD gearheads, and normal consumers think we're all equally nuts.

 

If the demo scene down around SLT really is as grim as the initial response would indicate, then I *will* sacrifice some of my available ski time to the North Lake commute.

I called Kirkwood yesterday, and though the person I talked to didn't have all the details, they did say they'd have powder skis by Moment, as well as mainstream models like the Pontoon, & the S7, so it looks like I will have some on-slope demo options.  Sierra's website lists a range of Backcountry skills clinics for the Huckleberry area, and goes on to list the full range of backco gear: from transceivers, probes, skins to AT skis, available for rent, so I'm going to follow up with their demo shop as well. 

Demoing from multiple shops will mean that I inevitably leave some coin at the shops I don't buy from, but frankly, as long as I get to demo a good range of top contenders, then I'd rather burn a couple extra bucks if it means I don't have to sacrifice slope time to driving to NLT.

 

Anyway, a follow-up question to others joining this discussion:

What's your favorite Tahoe-worthy powder ski, and where can I demo it?

I'd prefer to demo from a reasonably-well-stocked shop down along the Route 50 corridor, but I'm open to suggestions.


I demoed skis at the on-mountain shop at Kirkwood a few years ago, and it was a good operation with a pretty good selection of powder skis, including multiple lengths of most models.  They had a trade-out-several-skis-during-the-day that worked well.  The first day was a storm day, we had plenty of selection, and generally a great time.  In fact, my son and I both wound up buying skis we tried that day.

However, the next day was kinda thin.  The hill itself was crowded (by Kirkwood standards - still not bad) but the shop was picked over.  We still got powder skis, but I had a few things in mind I'd seen the day before that were out all day.   If there is something in particular you want to try, you should put dibs on it ahead of time.

 

post #14 of 24
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by mdf View Post
I demoed skis at the on-mountain shop at Kirkwood a few years ago, and it was a good operation with a pretty good selection of powder skis, including multiple lengths of most models.  They had a trade-out-several-skis-during-the-day that worked well.  The first day was a storm day, we had plenty of selection, and generally a great time.  In fact, my son and I both wound up buying skis we tried that day.

However, the next day was kinda thin.  The hill itself was crowded (by Kirkwood standards - still not bad) but the shop was picked over.  We still got powder skis, but I had a few things in mind I'd seen the day before that were out all day.   If there is something in particular you want to try, you should put dibs on it ahead of time.

 

Thanks - that's the impression I got on the phone: granted I had someone at the front office, since the demo shop guys weren't available to give me the full skinny.
I'm definitely going to aim for weekdays when it comes to demoing, which should spell better availability.

Did Kirkwood give you a certain amount of your demo costs back towards a purchase?
 

 

post #15 of 24


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Veloscente View Post

Quote:

Thanks - that's the impression I got on the phone: granted I had someone at the front office, since the demo shop guys weren't available to give me the full skinny.I'm definitely going to aim for weekdays when it comes to demoing, which should spell better availability.

Did Kirkwood give you a certain amount of your demo costs back towards a purchase? 

 

I didn't buy them there -- I hadn't made up my mind at that point.  I bought at the very end of the season, after I had tried a few more things in other places.

I think they did give some sort of credit, but I suspect they still may not be cost competitive.  It's definitely a demo operation, not a full-service ski shop with a demo program.
 

 

post #16 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Veloscente View Post

Don't know exactly what in this thread has ruffled your quills, Beyond, but in the big scheme of things, all of us share a very similar set of priorities: not only do we all believe in (extensively) demoing gear before we buy, we believe in it enough to spend extra money & time doing research and discussing it.

 

Amen. Have no ruffled gills eek.gif (weird picture) The Dad indicated I was missing the point, which both of you indicated was about constraints on getting to the north side of the lake. You  had not said at that point that you had continued to ski while you were "in exile," or that you were an ex-industry guy, or that you believed in "(extensively) demoing gear", or any other signals that you knew a whole lot about what you were doing. It was all about highways and kids and driving time. So I demurred about whether logistics should be the deciding factor. That's all. No big thing; disagreement is OK on a web forum and misunderstandning is almost required. wink.gif

post #17 of 24
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by beyond View Post

Amen. Have no ruffled gills eek.gif (weird picture) ... You  had not said at that point that you had continued to ski while you were "in exile," or that you were an ex-industry guy, or that you believed in "(extensively) demoing gear", or any other signals that you knew a whole lot about what you were doing. ... misunderstandning is almost required. wink.gif


Gills? The scuba forum is next door!

Nothing but high-flying alpine prose here: I was riffing on ruffled feathers -> feather quills -> quill pens... and was rather pleased at the thought that "ruffled quills" conjured not just the image of a flustered writer defending his dignity, but also a bristling porcupine deploying his quills.

Turns out, all I conjured up were the gills on a red herring nonono2.gif

 

As for my time away from Tahoe, by "exile" I meant "New Jersey."  It's difficult for me to talk about this dark chapter in my life, but it's OK, new powder skis are going to be an important part of my recovery process...

 

So, right back on topic -- I've been reading some of the past powder ski threads on Epic, which have me wondering if what I am after right now is really a true AT setup, or really more of a "sidecountry" setup.  Like I said, this season will be about sub-2hr skinning sessions, and I'm going to start out using my regular alpine boots.

If I find myself going longer & deeper into the backcountry in the future, then I will likely spring for more of a "Pure AT" setup, including AT boots, lightweight skis, & potentially a lighter binding than the Marker Baron (I'm 6'2", 160lbs, really like my Maker Griffons, & don't need to schlepp around a pair of heavy metal Dukes).

My short term buying priorities, however, include scoring a good transceiver, shovel, & probe, and getting the highest-performing, most versatile powder ski I can get that still offers reasonable skinning performance & a respectably light overall package when mounted up with a Marker Baron.

 

I'm still all ears for specific intel on Tahoe demo opportunities!

I do think I'm going to thread a new forum topic on "Sidecountry / vs. AT Powder Setups: Skinning vs. Downhill Performance" though, with an eye towards getting more ski-specific feedback, so I can draw up a prioritized "Top-10" list of skis, and then plan my demoing strategy around that.

post #18 of 24

Check out Sports LTD in SLT near Stateline.  I think someone mentioned Powderhouse.  Also Gary Bell at Sierra Cycle Works used to have some AT stuff, maybe some demos.  There was a new little mountaineering store opening up next to the Subway at the Y this summer, not sure what they would have in the way of demos but will probably have some AT stuff.

 

Coop at Kirkwood is pretty knowledgeable about the latest in skis & very enthusiastic.

JF

post #19 of 24

We are sooo similar. I'm moving to Cameron Park after being away from the bay area, on the EC, 15 years this November.

 

For Tahoe, I bought a pair of ON3P Billy Goats with Marker Dukes for on-mountain and sidecountry, and a pair of Praxis Back Country and PLUM bindings for BC. Unfortunately, I don't know where you can demo these setups.

post #20 of 24
Thread Starter 

@ 4ster: thanks, those are some great leads. I'm going to start making some calls to see what the various SLT shops plan on having in their demo program this season.

 

@ TAJ: looks like you'll have a 15 minute head start on me to South Lake: we're going to be in the Marina Village area, up by Folsom Lake.  So did you have to buy both skis blind, direct from the manuf., or did you get a chance to ski them first?

post #21 of 24

Being on the EC I bought both pair blind. I did buy them during the preseason sales and got more off the BC's using the maggot deal. I did do a lot of research and talked to a couple of people who know what I like in a ski, so I'm pretty sure that I'm going to be happy with both.

 

Good luck with your search. You may want to contact Praxis to see if they have demo's available somewhere in south shore.

post #22 of 24
Thread Starter 

Hey TAJ, what length are you running in the Billy Goats, and what is your boot size?
I'm in a size 28 boot (326mm sole), and have been known to pay in Stone Brewing for bro-demo time ;~>

Where are you skiing this season?

I just bought Sierra season passes, but weekdays at Kirkwood are also in the cards...

post #23 of 24

^^^ They are 186's. I going to put a pair of Dukes on them after I get a new pair of boots. I think I'll end up with a 27, somewhere around a bsl of 315. I'll be skiing at Heavenly, but not until the start of the year.

post #24 of 24
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by TAJ View Post

^^^ They are 186's. I going to put a pair of Dukes on them after I get a new pair of boots. I think I'll end up with a 27, somewhere around a bsl of 315. I'll be skiing at Heavenly, but not until the start of the year.


Do you have the size "Large" Dukes that adjust 305-370mm?

Does "start of the year" mean Jan '12?

I'll make the trip to Heavenly if you could spare your BGs for a couple of runs.
I could try and bring another set of demo pow skis with me to make swapping more interesting...
Lots of good suggestions on the Sidecountry vs. AT setup thread I posted...

Let me know if you're up for a little freelance demo day, and some Stone brew...

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