Originally Posted by ocarpo
Yeah it is a bit of a pickle, I have some 85mm for purely packed days. But in Japan when the gates close its usually due to high wind and there's still a fair bit of snow on the groomers/ off the sides of them, so something 110ish underfoot that isnt a complete pig on more packed stuff i guess is the go. Thanks for the recommendation on the DPS
I haven't skied Japan, but I do ski in the PNW so I see a fair amount of snow in a good season.
Seems like those days where there is enough snow inside the gates that you wouldn't enjoy your 85s you should just bring out your powder sticks. Something like a Bent Chetler (my personal choice), Rocker2 122, Petitor, Opus, would be super fun in 6-8" of soft powder, just about the point where your 85s could be less than you are looking for. And the 85s will be just fine in up to that depth. So that becomes the overlap point, where you take into consideration other factors (where you are going to ski, what the base under the snow is like, the vibe of the day, the crew, etc. . ..)
And speaking at least for the Chetlers, I've found them way better than expected as the mountain gets skied off. I wouldn't necessarily start the day on them in less than 6" (unless there has been steady accumulation that hasn't been skied off), but they are actually really fun in mixed terrain (bumps, tight trees, terrain features, etc. . . and serviceable - not epic - on soft groomers back to the chair). Soft bumps are actually a blast if you look at the bumps as terrain features - airplane turns, off the bumps into the piles of soft snow in the troughs (no PMT style zipper lines on fatties, but that is a fine compromise). But you don't need 2 feet of blower to make a ski like that fun - as long as you know how to ride it and accept that your day won't be about carving PSIA-approved trenches on groomers, they are still a hoot. But not a OSQ by any means - you've got to pair something like that with a more versatile, narrower, more moderate shaped ski to really cover most anything you'll encounter in a season.
If I were spending a season in Niseko, I'd add a real powder ski of choice the quiver to pair with your 85 and just make one or the other work on those in-between days. Optimize for the best the mountain has to offer. Compromise in the middle - the 85 and the powder ski will migrate toward each other enough to make it work. And skiing is fun, even if the set up is less than perfect.
The more I think about it, and read the thread about the quiver set up, I think that is really less about "what ski for what condition" than "what ski for what kind of day." For most freeskiers at western mountains (primarily skiing off piste in the best terrain the mountain has to offer), I think that it usually comes down to the ski you choose for a powder day and the ski that you choose for every other day. Lots of debate about what that daily driver should be, and that is pure preference, and size of the driver is also a factor, but your 85s are in the zone for covering that slot. Heck, some would choose a mid-70s carver to cover all conditions up to the dedicated powder boards - and that's cool if that's what "floats" your boat.
In my experience, notwithstanding preferences, those two skis probably overlap somewhere around 6-12" depending on preference, set up and conditions.
After you have your powder ski and daily driver covered, then there are other specialty skis, depending on what you are into and where you ski (a carving ski for full-on groomer day; full blown race skis; a park ski; a big mountain charger ski (that may be somewhat redundant with the daily driver but optimized for crushing it at places like Jackson, Whistler, Snowbird/Alta, where you have space to open it up). And it goes on and on.
But at the end of the day, out west or somewhere you see a lot of snow, I think anyone can make it work on one - and for sure on two (powder ski, everything else). Skis are fun and more is better, but if you can only bring 2, leave a hole in the 3 ski quiver depending on personal preference and don't look back. Some of us choose to leave that hole in the narrowest slot, some in the middle and some at the widest slot.
In your case, for a season in Niseko, I'd cover the widest slot perfectly and make the rest work - the shops there stock what they do for a reason. Sacrifice the 95-110 slot and make sure you are covered for the days that you'll remember for the rest of your life.
Have fun. I am jealous.