Originally Posted by Smooth
After reading this thread, I thought I would post my experience with the Pontoons. As another opinion.
First, I don't think I am the typical person who posts on this site. I've never skied a Spatula, or a Lotus, or DP, or anything that esoteric. But I've been skiing for 33 years and try to get in about 25-30 days of skiing each year. Not bad for someone living in San Antonio. One of my vices is keeping track of my vertical with my watch and I try to average 500,000 feet a year.
My main ski is a Dynastar 4800. I know, I know, it's not a ski that many of you probably think much about. I like it because it allows me to do what I like best when their isn't much new snow and that is ski bumps. I am happy skiing bumps all day and skiing bumps in the trees and in steeps is even more fun. I don't like groomers. I've tried some of the fatter skis such as the 8000 and 8800 and AC4 from Volkl, and they just don't allow me to ski the bumps as well. For my size and the way I ski, the 4800s seem to work the best. BTW, I'm 5'10 and weigh 160 lbs and have good knees. As far as my level of skiing, I take lessons every year for refresher (maybe the right word is clinic), and am a solid level 9 skier.
I've generally bought a new ski every year for the last 10 years as technology changed but I've stuck with the 4800s because I like them in the bumps in a way that no other ski works for me. And they do OK in powder for me. I tend to get about 3-5 powder days a year. For example, I skied closing day at Alta last year when 13 inches dropped and no one was on the mountain. But I've always wanted to get a real powder ski to complement the 4800. I've demoed a lot of different skis on powder days but haven't found one that knocked my socks off.
Now to the Pontoons. I had never heard of them prior to skiing at Deer Valley in mid January after 10 inches fell. The very last lift (just before they closed, I had been skiing laps on Ontario bowl), I got on with two people skiing the funniest looking skis (pontoons) I had ever seen. One was a ski instructor. He spent the whole lift telling me how great his skis were and how easy it was to ski that day on those skis. I had already skied about 25,000 vertical, mostly in the bowls, but decided to follow them down one last run down Ontario bowl, which was pretty cut up by that time. I was exhausted and I watched them ski pretty effortlessly. I was intrigued.
I decided I would try them out the next opportunity. Last week I skied in Aspen, they hadn't much much snow for over 10 days and the bumps were big and rutted, but the snow was mostly OK. But while we were there, it snowed on and off for three days. I had signed up to do the powder tour the last day and it wasn't untill 7 am that morning, that they decided to go. We ended up having about 15 inches of great untracked powder.
I was able to rent from Gorusch (at the base of the gondola) a pair of 179 Pontoons and they let me take a pair of Dynastar Legend Pro Rider as a backup at no extra charge. Not a bad deal.
My first turn on the pontoons was quite an experience. It was like wow, what a hoot. But it really took me two or so runs to really feel comfortable with what they could do. Now the Aspen powder tours isn't really very steep (not like the Highland bowl I had skied the day before, but that required a 45 minute exhausting hike). But there were some mildly steep sections. It just felt effortless skiing them. One thing was that every one else was mentioning that they were feeling the hard pack crust under the powder (the sloped faces the sun) on the steep run. I never really felt it.
On the fourth run, I decided to switch to the Dynastars. By the second turn, I knew it was a mistake. What a difference. I had to work at keeping those ski tips up rather than just relax and have fun. And at one point in some dipsy doodle, both tips buried and I went over the top. Only time I fell. Another thing, on the Dynastars, every time I turned, I got a face shot of snow. On the pontoons, I rarely had a face shot. I think it was because the dynastars were burying so deep into the snowpack while the pontoons were floating. I went back to the pontoons the rest of the day.
Near the end of the day, on one run that was a high intermediate blue in slope, I decided to really let them run and flew down the hill. I had never skied powder that fast or in that much control. In the little bit of trees that we did, they were effortless. I was able to take lines through the trees that the other skiers weren't able to do. The only time I got worried was when I decided to ski between to very tight trees and all of a sudden realized that I was skiing on very wide skis. I got through it, but I decided to start looking for bigger openings.
I didn't have a problem in the powder or when sking through tracked up powder with the skis or with the skis hitting each other.
Now at the end of the day. I got to ski down from the top of Aspen (they had only 5 inches on Aspen that day and by the end of the day it was pretty much all tracked out). I wanted to see how they felt in more normal skiing. I can't say that I ever got comfortable on the groomers but they were skiable. At the same time, the groomers were getting skied out. But I skied under the gondola along the ridge and dropped into something off that ridge. The signs said they were double black, but I don't think they are (BTW, this was my first time skiing Ajax. Is it just me or do the runs seems to suffer from difficulty inflation?). But there were big bumps with some snow in between them. I was absolutely amazed at how well the pontoons skied those bumps. I was able to stay in the trough riding the back of the bumps without any real problems. Not like my 4800s but pretty damn good. Then dropping in to some trees that still had bumps and just a little bit of remaining snow, I was able to comfortably take a line through the trees that I would not have taken on my 4800s.
So at the end of the day. I was impressed. I even went ahead and bought a pair. The store told me they were the first pontoons they had sold this year. I don't know how good they will hold up. I'm not even sure how I am going to transport them (the shop is shipping them to me, my ski bag wasn't big enough). And maybe there's a better ski out there. But this was the most fun skiing powder that I have ever had. And it made for an epic day. And the performance at the end of the day was OK. I was able to kind of carve on them and I can see getting better at that, though they would never become a main ski. Hope this wasn't too long.