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Hokkaido, Japan: Volkl Karmas, or fatter?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone,


Got a quick question.  I'm off to ski Japan in early February 2011 (most likely Niseko), and given the snowfalls up there, I'm debating what to do about skis.


I currently ski on a pair of 06/07 177 cm Volkl Karmas, which are 87 cm underfoot; I am 5'11 and 74 kg.  If I had to rate myself as a skier, I'd give myself 8.5/10 all-mountain, and about 7/10 in the powder.


I think the Karmas are the best skis I've ever owned, but I'm wondering whether or not to take them to Japan -- or save myself the hassle and hire a pair of fatter skis when I get there (taking my boots regardless).  I've ridden the Karmas in Whistler, Chamonix, Grindelwald and La Plagne (in terms of powder skiing) and they've held up reasonably well.  Never been to Japan before.


So, how do you all think they will hold up?  Will I be better off on a fatter ski?


Also, just wanted to say thanks in general to all the contributors here, especially regarding ski equipment.  I demoed and bought the Karmas a few years back mainly based off the detailed reviews I found on epic, and I haven't been disappointed since.





post #2 of 8

IMO your Karmas will be fine for Niseko. Take them and rent some fatties when and if you need them. However,  if you are in the process of talking yourself into a new pair of skis, then something wider would be good. the powder can be relentless over there. i demoed some Mantras last trip and thought they were a very versatile allrounder but if i was purchasing purely for Niseko then i would have gone wider e.,g Gotamas. 

post #3 of 8

+1 on that suggestion.  Take the Karmas and rent or demo something fatter when/if you run into deep, light powder days.  At the very least you'll get to try out a variety of skis before you potentially invest in something fatter.  Can't be a bad thing.


One thing; when I was in Niseko (2006) the local stores struggled to offer much choice in skis longer than 170cm (no doubt different now, but it would pay to check).  Oh!  And my hands didn't fit in Japanese XXXL gloves - not even close.  They stock small sizes over there.

post #4 of 8

I'd say get something bigger than the Karmas for sure, I teach on Walls (very similar to the Karma) and SS Magnums quite a lot over there and they handle powder fine, but they don't really make it easy, when I ski for fun I am nearly always on Chopsticks.


A bunch of the Rental stores in town have good size ranges of proper powder skis that will allow you to enjoy yourself much more, don't worry about them not having big enough skis, many of them will allow you to switch from ski to ski depending on the conditions. The only downsides would be the cost, and having to ski on demo bindings.

post #5 of 8
I would take the Karmas, and if/when it dumps take the opportunity to demo some fatter skis.
post #6 of 8

So in a nutshell;

Will they hold up?  YES  Would i be better off with a fatter ski? YES


I would still reccommend taking the Karmas and renting some big fatties for when it dumps (and it most likely will).


Alternatively, you could buy some fatties (I've assumed you are from Oz) rather than rent. Do the sums, renting is expensive for good skis. I think I paid about $60 for demos for a day. It might be worth your while buying rather than renting. Sierrasnowboard still has some Volkl Chopsticks for a good price and if you are in Oz there is a pair of Hellbents on ebay at the moment.  

post #7 of 8

It is a question of what you are optimizing for. Ice skating or powder? I start with a fat rockered ski bias to be sure - but when the day comes for me to head to Japan, the skinniest thing I'll even contemplate taking will be about 115 wide. And odds are good if I only take one pair, it'll be fatter than that. Why would you travel to maritime snow heaven and then take crazily under powered tools?


Of course the big issue is how to find a powder oriented ski that matches your style. My kids like skis like Hell Bents (both generations) and EP Pros because they find them playful and fun to ski switch in powder. While I aspire to such things, I find Pontoons, Praxis Powders & Protests, Kuros, etc. make for even easier powder surfing in the maritime snow of the PNW - at the expense of some of the switch playing around "the kids" prefer. So even for rentals, a bit of advance thinking about what designs will work best for you is probably in order.


post #8 of 8

Food for thought: some of the deepest pow footage I've seen in a while


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