2013-2014 Atomic Access

After establishing that the Access could rip groomers, I decided to try them out on the ungroomed trails off the Thunder and Sublette lifts. To my surprise, they were amazingly nimble and forgiving through the bumps and trees. The low swing weight made them easy to maneuver though tight chutes and moguls. The tip-to-tail woodcore also made them poppy, responsive, and fun for smearing turns.

Emily Cleveland on the Atomic Access, Jackson Hole
Emily Cleveland, Bird in Hand, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.

I was curious to see how they would handle deeper snow, so I hiked to some areas that get a little less traffic. About four inches had fallen several days before, but fluctuating temperatures had done a number on the snow quality. The snow was still good where the tree shadows shielded the sun, but in exposed terrain the snow was crusty and thick.

Coming down through the trees, the Access floated nicely, but it didn’t quite have enough brawn to handle gracefully the low-angle intermittent crud. The tips stayed up, but they really didn’t want to turn, and I struggled to charge through the crud.

The last few systems to move through Jackson brought everything from blower pow to cream cheese. In wind buffed or dry snow, the Access was a blast, but in the wet, denser snow, they didn’t quite have enough muscle and were difficult to turn.

In the light stuff, however, these skis were a lot of fun and didn’t feel at all undersized. Coming down through Rendezvous Bowl with six new inches from the night before, the Access was at its best. They didn’t give quite the same surfy feel that a fatter ski does in deep snow, but the substantial tip rocker made up for the lack of width, and they floated easily.

The best thing about the Access is that it is so easy to ski. Everyone from beginners to smaller expert skiers can enjoy it. East Coast skiers might need something a little narrower underfoot for the ice, and West Coast skiers might need something a little beefier for deep, heavy, wet days. But this is a perfect one-quiver ski option in the Rockies for someone looking for a little fatter ski for powder days that will still be fun between the storms.

4 comments on “2013-2014 Atomic Access”

  1. I bought a pair of these (also 181’s) last fall and would have to completely agree with your review. I am a lightweight male skier, 130 pounds on average, strong level II/weak level III. Very fun ski with all of the characteristics that you pointed out but I hadn’t noticed the camber in to the tail although now that you mention it it explains a lot ha! I too found the tips a bit weak for my liking but overall for a lighter skier I would definitely recommend them. I don’t know what the actual weight is on these but according to my bathroom scale and mounted with Head Mojo 12’s they come in at 11.6 pounds which I didn’t find to be very fatiguing (all resort, no backcountry touring).

    They ski short for their length as I have some 172cm Salomon Hurricanes and the Access feel shorter; easier to swing around. I’d guess low to mid 160’s. I noticed a fair amount of tip flap whenever I would open it up on groomers but not too distracting. The only conditions that I didn’t like them in was near-ice/icy conditions but then again…not what they’re for and it’s why I have the Hurricanes.

    Thanks for doing this review as I couldn’t really find any when I purchased these! This site is a much needed fresh breath for gear reviews. Just picked up some 179 obSETHed’s as replacements for these Access mainly for the added width and hopefully better crud capability. And in hopes that next winter won’t be so miserable around the Summit/Eagle County areas ;) Thanks again!

  2. TANGENT POST: ATOMIC CHARTER

    I got hooked up with a pair of ’13/’14 186cm atomic charters midway through this past season and felt that they share many of the qualities you describe in this review (the charter and access appear to be nearly identical, as their dimensions are the same): They are very easy to ski, and quite maneuverable.

    But, the charters are different in a number of ways. The charters are STIFF (stiffer from the camber contact point in the tip through the tail than my ’12/’13 191cm ON3P billy goats) and want to ‘go.’ They are built with the ‘ti-backbone’ metal laminate that the ritual and automatic have, which i thought was kind of funny since atomic bills these as one of their ‘tracker’ skis (backcountry/sidecountry series), which I would think would be lightweight… the charters are definitely NOT light, at least for their size….but back to performance. The charters have significantly less camber than the ritual; pretty close to the access from my comparisons. They have a nearly flat, squared tail, which, along with the stiffness though that part of the ski, combine to allow a lot of power to be transmitted through the end of a turn. The flat tail also has a rubber-coated notch to protect for/better accept skin clips.

    I spent this past winter (november 2021-june 2013) in southcentral AK and mostly skied on my billy goats with tech bindings. 80% of my ski days were in the backcountry, either at turnagain pass (maritime-ish snow pack) and hatcher pass (continental/intermountain-ish snowpack), with 20% of my days at Alyeska or prince william sound. As the days lengthened towards the end of the season, and weather allowed for access to more remote objectives (february had 4 days without snowfall, march only had 5 days of snowfall), I began to desire a ski that was a bit better suited to steep skin tracks, long side-hill traverses, and ski mountaineering than the billy goat. The charter met all of these requirements, and ended up being an incredible ride. Very easy to ski with either a slightly more neutral upright stance, or with an angulated drive-with-your-shins stance. Very smooth, even in choppy melt-freeze rock-peppered aprons and run outs, and easy to ski in moderate amounts (6-8”) of powder because of the enormous amount of tip rocker on these things. They certainly did not provide the surfy, drop-200’-of-vert-with-your-skis-sideways feel that the billy goats give, which was fine for me, and not what I was looking for in this ski. They did exceed my expectations in 2-day-old 12’’ of wind-deposited powder, which was a surprise. But for slightly firmer snow, variable sun affected/wind affected snow, corn, and techy, ice-y entrances, and for long approaches with difficult steep climbs, they pretty much blew my mind….so. good.

    So, I would think these would be great for someone skiing in bounds a lot who dabbles in soft snow when its available but rips around on firmer snow when the fluff is gone. They were amazing for me as a end-of-season backcountry ski, as they worked very well for my style of skiing: mostly forward stance, fall line skiing, gs turns, but easy to jump turn in hairy spots, easy to handle in sketchy entrances, and a TON of fun when skiing fast (very stable, no tip flap). AND, I could carve them! which was fun after not carving a turn for the first 3 or 4 months of the season. Can’t say how they would be in very deep snow, or in trees, as I didn’t ski the charters in those conditions (and yes, alaska DOES have tree skiing, in some places, GREAT tree skiing).

    I agree with the reviewer about the fact that these skis, along with the access, really seem to be flying far below the radar of most ski buyers. If you see a pair of these leaning up on the sale rack this year, don’t hesitate! If you are one of those folks looking to build a k2 coomback/dynafit stoke/etc backcountry setups for yourself, and you enjoy skiing aggressively on the way down, pay the slight weight penalty with the charters and have more fun than your friends with the lightweight skis…the charters absolutely schralp!

  3. I don’t really love these skis. They don’t handle variable conditions or cut-up snow very well. I’ve found they’re fine in crud if there’s even 2″ of powder on top–they really like to float. They’re fine in deep powder, even if it’s a bit heavy, and great on the uphill. Light enough (w Dynafit bindings) to carry in one hand if you happen to be hiking Highlands Bowl without a strap.

    Switching to Nordica Hell & Backs.

  4. I’m looking at a pair of 2013 Atomic Acess and am trying to decide between going for the 171s or the 181s. I’m 5’9, 150-155 lbs, and a high intermediate/advanced skier. I usually ski on the east coast, but I’m heading out to Banff for the first time to work a winter season. One of the key things is that I want to be able to progess in my abilities (both on the piste and off) with the skis. Any advice would be great!

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