Apologies for the length of this, but you need the detail to help, right?
Where in the world are you skiing? (a) The Alps (b) Glencoe, Scotland
What kinds of terrain do you prefer? Off-piste, sidecountry, between the groomers, steeps, the groomers (in that order, see later)
How many days a year do you ski? Not as many as I'd like (see later)
How advanced are you as a skier? I'm unclear on the whole US Skier Level categories - somewhere between advanced and expert - level 8?
What's your height and weight? 175cm (5'9") 75kg (165lbs).
- 2009 Völkl Mantra 177 (non-rocker) - Alpine no/little new snow daily driver
- 2010 Salomon Shogun 182 (non-rocker prototype) - Alpine new snow choice
- 2002 Völkl Vertigo Motion 177 - Alpine hard snow (luckily there haven't been many hard snow says lately...)
- 2001 Salomon X-Scream 179 - Scottish daily driver (haven't skied in Scotland for over 2 seasons).
I've been skiing for 33 years, every available weekend in Scotland + typically 2 weeks in the Alps - 30 days a year in the 80s, 20-25 in more recent years. I've lucky to spend all of the past 2 seasons in the Swiss Alps, skiing 100+ days each season. Karma has terminated this season already for me (via knee injury), so please don't suggest demoing. I'm working on the quiver as a sort of stoke maintenance activity.
I bought the Mantras after demoing AC30/AC50/Mantra back-to-back against the Vertigos and deciding that (for me, on everything bar ice) the Mantras gave up little on-piste (vs the other demo candidates) and were a whole lot better off-piste. I bought the Shoguns based on the realisation that something like the Mantra would be a better daily driver compromise for Glencoe too, the idea being that one or other would come back to Scotland for use at Glencoe. But that hasn't happened yet and further familiarity means it's not going to. For me, the Shoguns don't work as well on-piste as the Mantras, but the deeper it gets the more I prefer them to the Mantras. I've taken the Mantras on week-long trips to the Alps as an only driver but I doubt I'd do that with the Shoguns.
What do I want to change?
Over Christmas I had the chance to try a pair of BMX88s in a 168 and was amazed by the ease and (relatively speaking) float they generated in 6" of not particularly light new snow. Unfortunately the conditions meant I didn't get a chance to try them on hard pack... I also had the chance to try some Blizzard G Power FS IQs, which reminded me what I'm missing with the Mantras on harder snow - when I swapped back for the home run the Mantras felt like super-tankers by comparison.
These 2 tests got me wondering whether I should be considering something more modern and a little narrower than my Mantras as my Alpine daily driver for weekly trips (direct from Scotland, not from my Swiss base). I'll still keep the Mantras & Shoguns - I just won't take either back to Scotland from my Swiss base or with me on Alpine weekly trips. Ultimately I think both the Mantras and the Shoguns are on the way out, but that's not the question for today :-) I also need something for Glencoe - if you've been there you'll realise why I'm reluctant to take a pair of Kästles there on their first day out :-)
What am I considering as additions?
For an Alpine one-ski quiver, extensive research here and elsewhere has led me to think the MX83 in a 173 would be the right tool - a little less float than the Mantra, but quicker turning on-piste and less demanding too. If it really snows on a week long trip, I'll either enjoy being deeper in it or rent something wider. (At the Swiss base, I'll use the Shoguns until I replace them with something wider.)
For Glencoe, I'm looking for something with a bit more float than the X-screams. A kick of the pre-owned tyres has thrown up some FX84s in 168 and FX174s in 166 or 174, any which I'd feel less cruel taking to Glencoe than a new pair of MX83s. I'm fairly sure FX84s will improve on the X-Screams, but what about the FX74s? For info - at Glencoe the snow is rarely very deep but it's also rarely machine-pisted. If it's really hard at Glencoe I always have the X-Screams (or a pair Rossignol 9X Pros in 177 if we're really exhuming the past), but most likely I'd just not bother.
Any other suggestions?
(Why only Kästles? You guys tell me they're "choice" and my brief test of the BMX88s (which no-one seems to have much love for) convinced me they're worth exploring further.)