With deep powder right around the corner, the boys at Alpenglow Sports in Tahoe City, California are excited to embark on episode one of their “Backcountry Gear Reviews” for Unofficialsquaw.com. The focus of these reviews will be on items such as skis, boots, bindings, packs, and apparel that are new, high-tech, functional, trend-setting, or indispensible for backcountry travel. We hope to get people fired up for backcountry skiing and riding, and depart some knowledge on what gear they might need to get there and enjoy the experience.
AMPERE: “Ampère’s force lawstates that there is an attractive force between two parallel wires carrying an electric current.” Wikipedia
The AMPerage (Amp) is an exciting new addition to Black Diamond Equipment’s Power Series. As part of their gear testing with Black Diamond, the boys at Alpenglow were able to spend two weeks on this ski during a massive storm cycle in December of 2010. The conditions contained everything from deep, blower pow to mank, crud, and firm – variable conditions that truly allowed the performance of the ski to shine.
For those who have skied Rossignol’s S7, there is no denying their extreme fun factor. These skis are so much fun, and so easy to ride due to their shape, that it basically transitions skiing into a different sport. The AMP is no different, and was actually created as a direct competitor to the aforementioned, highly successful Rossi model. With rockered tip and tail and plenty of muscle underfoot, the Amp is a ski that is eager to please and one that is bound to become a Tahoe staple. Black Diamond’s ultimate result is a super playful ski that turns any slope into a ripe canvas. They are just an absolute hoot to ride.
Other popular models in Black Diamond’s Power Series include the ever-popular Verdict, Zealot and Megawatt. These skis are designed as true hybrids that are designed to rip at the resort and still maintain respectable weight for backcountry travel. The AMP, while a skosh heavy for skinning (10 lbs. 2 oz.), possesses the adequate trade-off of alpine-ski performance at the hill. Three convenient lengths of 165, 175, and 185 cm and physical dimensions of 142-115-124 with a 22 meter sidecut (185cm), make the AMP an ideal Tahoe ski.
With 40 centimeters of rockered tip, paired with 32 centimeters of rockered tail, the AMP is a true play-ski with competition style-performance. The drastic rocker makes it extremely maneuverable and just flat out fun. Dump speed in an instant, surf turns, stomp big airs – the AMP does all these big mountain components while not bucking a beginner or intermediate skier. Additionally, such pronounced rocker makes trail-breaking in deep powder much easier than a traditional tip shape. The AMP falls into the Tahoe “all-mountain” category of 115mm waisted-skis and truly could be the “mythical one ski quiver.”
While the true skills of the AMP are felt in soft snow, it isn’t disappointing on hardpack either. One might think that the drastic tip and tail rocker would adversely affect hardpack performance but luckily it does not. On a Texas Powder Day (dust on crust) the AMP had great edge hold at higher speed, although it did take a little more muscle to get it there. Obviously, in powder it was a dream, but most skis are. Black Diamond categorizes the optimal usage of the AMP as a 60% soft and 40% hard snow.
In powder, the ski handles similar to it’s bigger brother the Megawatt. The Megawatt, however, lacks tail rocker – with this infused into the AMP, the result is a skinnier ski that is extremely playful, snappy, and fun. However, because the weights of the two models are nearly identical, we still be strapping on the Megawatt, which we consider Black Diamond’s best powder charger. But for jib-inspired, backcountry play days, the AMP will be hard to pass up.
The construction of the AMP is the reason it schralps in powder and maintains admirable personality on firm snow. Black Diamond’s Formula One Technology uses three major ribs and a sway bar at the nose to lock into high G-force turns while their Torsion Box Cap creates the classic race-like core wrap of fiberglass that wraps the core like a burrito. The 3D CNC poplar/birch internal core makes the ski responsive, fun, and easy, while ABS sidewalls, and a high speed sintered base maintain the longevity of the ski. The bottom line for the AMP is that it is “as comfortable sending backcountry booters as it is smearing through windbuff or arcing on groomers.” It’s a winner, trust us.
Besides our faith in the board, the AMP also won Backcountry Magazine’s Editors Choice Award, Powder Magazine’s Skiers Choice, and Freeskier Mag’s Editors Pick for 2012.
With more and more Tahoe skiers using the 115mm width as an every day, all-mountain ski, the AMP is bound to be a huge hit in the coming seasons. Alpenglow Sports stocks the AMP in all sizes and will also have the ski on hand at our 5th annual Alpine Touring and Telemark Demo Event at Alpine Meadows on January 7, 2012.