Exclusive First Look: 2012-2013 DPS Wailer 112RPC

After two days of intermittent but persistent snow, days 3 and 4 in Las Leñas brought cold temps and mostly gorgeous, bluebird skies. Marte was open, and we were eager to take advantage of some fresh snow and the ridiculous expanse of terrain this place offers.

Right off the bat, we headed to a long chute called Errare Humanum Est. The top was steep and narrow, demanding quick, precise turns through ~2” of nice, soft and consistent, blown-in snow.

Las Leñas Ski Resort, Blister Gear Review
Top, Center Line: Errare Humanum Est, Las Leñas Ski Resort.

Making quick turns in the chute was no problem on the RPC. I tried to stay relaxed, balanced, and centered, and I was able to swing and pivot the ski around easily as I picked my way down the top section. (Last year, I skied a very similar neighboring chute on the 192 centimeter MOMENT Jag Shark, and I had more difficulty.)

In the middle section of Errare Humanum Est, things got a little trickier. The softer blown-in snow from the top turned into a thick, weak wind crust covered with thick slough gathered from above. As I tried to make longer, faster, skidded turns down the fall line and I feathered out the tails to try to control speed, directing the shovels of the RCP became a priority. Here I encountered the same sort of imbalanced hooking problem I had before (and I experienced this again on other runs off the Marte chair the next day).

If I slid the shovels into the heavier debris or crust with the ski thrown sideways, the sidecut through the shovel would catch and hook, but the tail would often continue to smear. The only real option was to take things much slower than I would have liked, in order to maneuver the tips as I wanted while being able to maintain balance through the tails.

In the lower sections of the chute, as the snow became deeper, slightly heavier, but much more consistent, I was able to maneuver and control the RPC’s shovels a lot more easily. Toward the bottom, the lower angle of the terrain allowed for wider turns that didn’t bring as much of the skis’ sidecut into play.

The final pitch back to Marte was a long, wide apron with only a few tracks to run over. I opened things up, making big sweeping turns back toward the lift. There the RPC did wonderfully; this must have been the fall-line speed and directional “charging” the ski was made to do. I wasn’t hitting any real debris under the fresh snow, but the shovels were planing up and tracking well, easily running over and through other tracks and light chop as I arced each turn largely from the center of the ski.

In that section, a number of things pointed to a beefed up Wailer 112RP. I never felt any bothersome chatter from the RPC’s flatter tips and tails (when I might have on the 112RP with a softer, more dramatic shovel), so that definitely stood as a more “charging” oriented characteristic.

Furthermore, the RPC’s overall stiffness and rigidity (which was very apparent when trying to carve the ski) provided a nice, direct feel for the snow at higher speed where the softer, more rockered 112RP would have felt less predictable and stable.

I still need to get the RPC in some deeper, light snow on a big day back in the U.S. I’d think that this ski would shine in deep (1-2’) untracked conditions. Even in 6-8” of fresh, somewhat tracked snow, the rigidity through the RPC’s tail is perfect for making huge GS turns.

Really, for any day skiing new, untracked snow, and then cleaning up any of the fresh chop after the fact, the RPC seems like a great option, certainly a better one than the Wailer 112RP Pure for the reasons noted above. The RPC does handle chop well at speed with big, sweeping turns, and feels comfortable when skied seriously fast in soft conditions.

So calling the RPC a “charger” is okay, but it is important to keep the “112RP-” prefix in mind: the RPC is indeed a charger, but specifically in comparison to the original Wailer 112RP and fun-shaped skis in it’s class (think Rossignol S7, Black Diamond AMPerage, Armada JJ).

I’ll admit that I had some preconceived expectations about what the RPC was bringing to the table, especially after reading that word: “charger.” To be fair, it’s a term that gets thrown around pretty loosely in the ski industry, so it may mean something different to you, but the C-word makes me think of skis like the Moment Belafonte and the Völkl Katana—two damp speed demons that will bust crud well at any speed, in any turn shape.

The RPC isn’t a 191 Katana or a Belafonte, it’s a Wailer112—C, a Resort Powder Charger, a very different genre of ski.

To me, part of “charging” is being able to shut down speed in a powerful, pivoted move whether conditions are soft or not.

With so much surface area in front of the boot, yet a proportionally short sidecut radius underfoot, and a rather narrow tail, I didn’t find the RPC to do very well with quick turns in steep variable terrain, or in situations in which a lot of edge pressure was required in inconsistent conditions. To try to mitigate this, I did detune the ski in the tips following the contact points, and moved the mount point forward 1.5 centimeters. Both of those things helped, and the RPC seemed to handle a little more consistently from tip to tail, though the issue wasn’t completely resolved.

What’s more, where the RPC’s rigidity helps it in untracked, consistent conditions, I’ve found it to be pretty bothersome in crud. The ski is just so light and stiff, that any sizeable jolt in the shovel rattles the ski through the tail. Little impacts seem to get transmitted through the whole ski, rather than absorbed or dampened at all. Yes, the RPC’s crud busting ability is better than that of the Wailer 112RP, Rossignol s7, etc, but it isn’t a dedicated crud buster.

When we first heard that DPS was calling this new ski the “Wailer 112RPC,” we thought it odd not to just give this ski a new name, something like the “Wailer 115C.” But now, it’s clear that there is a very good reason why DPS chose to emphasize the kinship to the Wailer 112RP.

Bottom Line:

If you fixate too much on the “C,” and ignore the “112RP” part of this ski’s name, then you might be surprised to find that the RPC isn’t the insanely stable, super damp, mank-busting missile you were hoping for.

But it seems that DPS has achieved what they said they were going for with the RPC. If you are an aggressive skier looking for a pow ski that is more substantial, more speed-friendly, and generally more soft-snow oriented than the original Wailer 112RP (but don’t need a ski to rail groomers on any given day), I don’t think you need to look further than the Wailer 112RPC.

Of course, this is only a First Look review, and is not the final word on this ski. We’ve encountered a range of demanding conditions in Las Leñas, and more testing remains to be done. Stay tuned for the Update on the RPC.


6 comments on “Exclusive First Look: 2012-2013 DPS Wailer 112RPC”

  1. I can’t help but feeling that you guys are biased toward DPS after reading this review. If Rossi or Armada or someone made a “charging” ski with the same problems you guys would eviscerate it and rightly so. As for the ski being aggressive compared to the normal 112rp, so what? Charger means charger, not slightly faster than a noddle pow ski.

    • Hi, Mike – I stand by every sentence of Will’s review. We make perfectly clear what our initial expectations were, then we evaluated exactly what DPS claims they were trying to do with the RPC, then we point out that this is no Katana or Belafonte, and that – actually – DPS never claimed it was.

      If DPS HAD said that the RPC flat out rages, then yes, we absolutely would have called them out.

      You might not feel that anybody wants or needs a more aggressive 112, but that’s what DPS decided to build, and this is our honest first assessment of what they came up with.

      • That’s cool. I guess I have a problem with DPS’s markeitng then. Sounds like they should have called it the 112RPSSS (Slightly Stiffer Ski) cause like I said charger means charger.

  2. MikeP: I disagree. DPS can call the ski whatever they want. Get over the name and compare the ski to others of its class—lightweight, pintailed, tapered skis. Even disregarding the 20-23 m turn radius, there’s simply no way an 8.8# ski can compete with Katana or Belefonte. That’s like complaining that a 1600 g AT boot doesn’t ski as well as a plug boot.

    Just like the Dynafit Vulcan ski boot, this ski appears like it’s aimed for the hard-charging touring crowd. Light enough that one can do 8K vert and still charge on the way down. And I fully support DPS’s quest for such a ski.

    Jonathan/Will: I’d love to see direct comparisons to the DPS L120, PM Gear 191 Fat (full carbon version), ON3P BillyGoat Tour, Praxis WooTest, etc. The problem with this category of skis is that it’s very hard to find reviews from people who have been on more than one of them. Few people have the cash to drop $1000-$1200 on multiple pair of carbon skis just to see how different they are.

    Also, rocker profile pics please?

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