Testing Conditions: Powder (in & out of resort)/Chopped Powder/Cold Weather Snow/Groomers
A year ago this October I started posting about RAMP Sports, a Utah-based company building skis by hand right here in Park City. Now that I have gotten the opportunity to ride some of their skis, during PRIMELittle Cottonwood stormrides/powder cycles mind you…the only thing that would have made the skiing better the last 10 days would have been a 140″ base! I thought I would start out with a report of the Peacepipes (Get Ski Only). More RAMP ski reviews are coming, so watch for them.
We have a season that’s off to a good and consistent start. As of this posting (Happy Merry!) we’re on the heels of an 18 inch storm, with 173″ snow total so far and a 69″ base. No complaints for pre-January. It was a solid month of good ski riding at an empty Alta. With the snowpak building the Peacepipes certainly have not disappointed. I have been riding the 189s (146-115-134mm).
I was advised they ski long and that’s no lie. This is a LOT of ski, but that’s just what the LCC calls for. I skied them as hard and as aggressive as I could in area, knowing where (for the most part!) it’s good to let them run with the early season snow base. I also got some untracked and deep pow out of area. I did some base damage on the demos one day, which I felt really bad about. But the one good thing that came from that: I can honestly report that these skis weren’t faded by taking some serious licks. One massive core shot was right under foot, and too close for comfort to the edge. I have shredded edges with half the impact on skis from other well-known (worldwide) ski brands. So that’s the first point to make. Peacepipes are burly, and rugged.
Secondly, they are solid feeling (and sounding, like when the edges hit together) skis. My immediate thought first few turns was that they felt stiff. By the 10th turn I was noting responsiveness. After five laps of skiing them in soft snow/powder conditions, I was completely aware of how responsive they felt for being such a solid ski. The technical specs of the Peacepipes say essentially the same thing: The full vertical bamboo core makes the ski feel more rock solid and energetic than any other construction. I had not read tech data description, but nailed it.
I also rode them a bunch on groomed terrain while heading back to the lift, and did some high speed top-to-bottoms just to get a feel for them there. All good, in fact all great. The harder I dug them into the groomer, the more they responded to me. A nice change for a powder/big mountain ski considering I am used to feeling no edge or grab on most skis that size on groomers.
Final thought: if you’re interested in a real deal charging ski for an array of snow conditions check out the Peacepipes for this season. They are burly enough to last you several. RAMP does a lot of out reach and their demo schedule is available online. You can even reserve some demos FREE if you’re from the Park City area. Try before you buy, and see what you think. So far, so good from RAMP and it’s nice to know they are being manufactured here by Wasatch skiers, instead of in some factory overseas.
Who Would Ride It-
The Peacepipe is a blend of War and Peace. For the out-of-bounds warrior who lives for charging big, open slopes in the deep white, yet has a proclivity for the peacefulness of the White Room. The most versatile wide ski out there—strong and solid on windblown hard sections and fast and furious on groomers.
The 115mm waist and 18m turn radius provide the best planing and turn shape for actually carving turns in powder and soft spring velvet (waist on size 179 is 112mm; size 169 is 110mm). The Pow Camber has the most early rise and reverse sidecut in the tip for effortless, catch-free skiing in all snow conditions, even heavy crud. The Razor Cut Sidecut gives this wide ski incredible edge grip on the hardest snow. The full vertical bamboo core makes the ski feel more rock solid and energetic than any other construction.
Although we had a great snow event in October, and a major pounding with “Winter Storm Brutus” early in November, the snow in the Wasatch has been scarce since. Rather than dealing with rocky traverses we decided to spend Thanksgiving this year down in Southern Utah. My folks visiting from central NY, two wee ones, short days and cold nights inspired us to do something we have never done before: rent a house instead of camp in the desert near Gooseberry Mesa.
Sidenote: We found Gooseberry Mesa Loge in Apple Valley on VRBO. If you’re looking for a rental in that area we highly recommend staying there…especially if you have young kids!
We have done our share of pedaling in Southern Utah in the autumn, but never this late in the year. The low sun angles and temps made for a pleasant and unique riding experience (for us, anyway). During the 4th week in November the prime hours during the day for pedaling Gooseberry trails were from 10am-2pm. Before 10am it was quite chilly, and after 2pm the sun was real low and the chill was returning.
Both days (rode South Rim and JEM/Rim Trail) temps hit in the upper 50s and perhaps even 60. Pretty darn ideal. I made a short edit with the YouTube video editor. Be sure to watch the whole 2:10, or at least the last 45 seconds
Here is another short edit from the same trip. This is the first section of JEM trail from highway 59 just outside of Hurricane, UT.
This season officially marks 75 years of skiing at Alta! Of course before the ski area opened there were a select few “ultra humans” accessing Alta’s terrain via Park City & Big Cottonwood Canyon…including Alf Engen (Alan Engen interview by Johnny B), who was hired by the Forest Service in 1935 to determine the area’s potential as a winter sports site. Check out the Alta Historical Timeline we put together for AltaCam a spell ago. It’s due for an update, but it’s still worth browsing.
Back on Nov 1st Alta Ski Lifts posted the following question to their Facebook page: Question: If Alta Ski Area was transformed into a tasty microbrew, what type of beer would it be? The question generated a buzz with over 50 people taking a guess (including my guess, which was the Dubhe Imperial Black IPA LOL). Well later that day, it was clear why that question was asked with a follow-up post:
Ladies and gents, we here at Alta Ski Area are proud to present the Alta 75th Anniversary Ale. This thirst quenching steep and deep dry hopped Pale Ale, brewed in collaboration with Wasatch Beers, is the perfect pairing for those deep days to come this winter. Drink up and enjoy.
Photos by Tara Thomas
So there you have it. Not only do we get another year of skiing “The Greatest Snow on Earth”, we get to celebrate the 75th year with an Alta-dedicated pale ale after the lifts close. For more info check out this excellent write-up at the Alta website.
For the past couple of winters I have been proud to be riding Garage Skis. Proud for one because my friend custom builds these out of his garage in the Salt Lake valley. But I was also proud to be on skis that were handmade in the USA, rather than built by machine in a land far away. My Garage Skis have served me well, but like any hard charging ski they are pretty much done after 80-100 days skiing in the Wasatch. They held up with quite the beat down, considering last season was literally “the winter of no snow”. The 2011-2012 season was one of the worst snow years on record in LCC.
So when I started thinking about what skis to line up for this season, it occurred to me that RAMP Sports was now building skis by hand right in my back yard. For my day job, RAMP Sports is a client so I was already familiar and intrigued with their mission and branding strategy. I had also seen some press recently about their new factory here in Park City. I decided to reach out to them because it is my goal to support ski companies (well, any outdoor company) with a sustainable vision. Not only are RAMP skis built by hand here in Park City, they are all about responsible green practices and materials and do plenty to walk-the-walk when it comes to these things.
“Now handmade in the U.S.A., RAMP is transforming the way skis are manufactured. The Park City, Utah, based company uses a revolutionary patent-pending process that makes use of Earth friendly, U.S. made materials to produce the most technical ski products on the market. The new process allows for tremendous flexibility giving RAMP the ability to change shapes and designs by adjusting computer DXF files versus making a new mold. This allows for much more innovation and creativity. Read more…“
When I reached out by email Vanessa and Polly responded right away. They invited me to the factory for a tour and to spend some time learning more about the brand. To simply say “I was impressed” would be an understatement. Although I already knew this, it was easy to see they were on to something good just by interacting with the team, and observing the company culture close up. Take a look at the embedded video below with Brant Moles. It says it all and speaks clearly to why RAMP Sports is such a unique start-up in the ski industry. What other ski brand can have team members come to their factory in the USA and mold their own skis?!
Similar to the attributes of Soul Poles that I like (featured on my last post) RAMP Sports is local, walking-the-walk when it comes to green business practices and giving back to the community. Stay tuned this winter because I am going to have LOTS more to say about these guys…especially once I get my boots locked into some Peacepipe 2013 Skis after the first big Wasatch dump!
Heard of Soul Poles? The company has been around for over a year, but not yet two. In that short amount of time they have made TONS of progress spreading the word…
No snow. No ski. That’s the simple fact of global warming and the grim predictions of disappearing alpine snow. And it inspired Soul’s singular focus: Innovate the greenest equipment in the snow sports industry by merging sustainable design with uncompromising performance and truly original style. Read more…
I knew they were in PC, and although I heard the company name mentioned by friends, and saw some stuff online, I only just recently had a closer look. It took hearing Park City resident Bryon Friedman (Soul Poles founder) on KPCW (our local radio station) talking about their bamboo trekking poles for me to think to myself: Hmmm, I need to email Bryon and see if I can check these out. So I did. Bryon responded immediately, had me in to the shop for a tour and set-up me up with some “Original Soul” poles for this winter. To say I am “Psyched” is an understatement.
As soon as I held them in my hands, my first thought was that everyone is going to be asking me about these on the lift. I know I would be intrigued if someone sat down next to me with Soul Poles. REALLY slick and unique looking product! Of course the best part to me is that they are sustainably manufactured BY HAND here in Park City, not to mention their durability.
Some Soul Poles highlights include:
Sustainable Design: Unlike traditional ski poles, Soul Pole’s 100% biodegradable bamboo shafts create a minimal environmental footprint. Other green design ingredients?
Water-based, low VOC paints.
Grips and baskets made of recycled plastics.
Recycled aluminum tips.
Straps made of a blend of hemp and recycled poly.
Optimum Performance: Don’t let the retro look fool you. These are solid poles designed by former U.S. Ski Team racers competing at the World Cup and Olympic level. They give you balance and stability, and help you push into the fall line whether you choose to ride a first descent in the backcountry or to an apres ski party at the base of the lodge.
True Originality: Soul Poles are functional art, designed and hand-painted by acclaimed artist R. Nelson Parrish. On a mountain of mass-produced sameness, distinctively unique Soul Poles makes your individuality stand out. They can even be personalized with your name or logo.
Every year around this time online ski stores need to clear space for new winter (and next year’s) gear. So there are more than just back-to-school deals to be had out there, especially if you’re active outside during winter months skiing or whatever. If you’re in the “gearing up for winter” mode, check out several recent posts tagged “Ski clearance” at our Ski Deals Website. D does a great job featuring the deals…more regularly during ski season. Check it out!
Here is the summary of our favorites so far. Look more great opportunities to save in the coming weeks and months, as we ramp up for the 2012-2013 powder season. Each store/offer featured is vetted by someone in the know, so subscribe and never pay full sticker for your ski gear.