1-Ski Quiver: Reviewers’ Choices (13/14)

Robin Abeles, Blister Gear Review

Reviewer: Robin Abeles

Age: 33 | Vitals: 5’6″, 135 lbs. | Years skiing: 30 | Current Residence: Sandy, Utah | (See complete bio)

One-Ski Quiver Selections:

Taos Ski Valley

1st Choice:  DPS Wailer 112RP, 178cm

DPS Wailer 112, Blister Gear Review

Taos’ hike-to technical terrain makes me want a super light ski to throw over my shoulder. The 112RP offers this and more. Its 16-meter turn radius, rockered tips and tails, and regular camber under foot provide all the support I need to rip any face, bump, chute, or tree run, and in any snow condition. This super playful ski is also extremely fun to toss switch on the way back to Lift 2.

Runner-Up: H20 Gear Kodiak, 184cm

H2O Gear Kodiak, Blister Gear Review

Dampness and versatility make the Kodiak my second choice for Taos, where variable terrain and conditions demand a ski that can support you on the steeps and bust through chop and crud. While much heavier than the 112RP, the Kodiak is designed for technical steep skiing (and it doesn’t hurt that it was designed by New Mexico native Dean Cummings).

Alta Ski Area

1st Choice: DPS Wailer 112RP, 178cm

DPS Wailer 112, Blister Gear Review

This ski floats in deep pow and carves hardpack amazingly well. While I’d love the same ski with a little more tail for Alta, the 112RP never ruins my day. In fact, the 4FRNT CRJ is the only ski that challenges the 112 RP for my favorite ski to jib on in the Westward Hoe.

Runner-Up: 4FRNT CRJ, 180cm

4FRNT CRJ, Blister Gear Review

OK, I know that I stated in my review that the CRJ isn’t a one-ski quiver, but at Alta, most seasons don’t call for an all-around workhorse. To me, Alta is about deep pow and jibbing off natural features, and that is exactly what the CRJ is built for.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

1st Choice: DPS Wailer 112RP, 178cm

DPS Wailer 112, Blister Gear Review

I haven’t skied Jackson Hole yet, so I’d bring the ski I know the best. Jackson sounds like a mixture of Snowbird and Taos: Tram-accessed insanely awesome technical terrain with a ton of backcountry access added on top. Not a problem for the 112RP.

Runner-Up: Moment Belfonte, 182cm

Moment Belafonte, Blister Gear Review

I’m breaking the rules: I haven’t skied the Belafonte, but I want to charge hard at Jackson, and I’ve read the 3 BLISTER reviews of this ski….

Las Leñas

1st Choice: Bluehouse Radius, 184cm

Bluehouse Radius, Blister Gear Review

Hands down, this ski is built for Las Leñas and Andean skiing in general. A a super stable, 32-meter turn radius ski with no speed limit that floats in pow and carves windblown and variable conditions with grace make the Radius an easy choice. ¡Ya esta amigos!

Runner-Up: H20 Gear Kodiak, 184cm

H2O Gear Kodiak, Blister Gear Review

The Kodiak has the second longest effective edge of any ski I’ve reviewed (just shorter than the Radius). Again, the great dampening qualities and the ability to smoothly carve wide open faces and handle tough snow conditions and challenging tight technical terrain win these guys a place in my ski bag for South America.


1st Choice: Black Diamond Megawatt, 178cm

Black Diamond Megawatt, Blister Gear Review

I haven’t been to Niseko yet, but some of the most fun I’ve had in deep pow was a day at Alta on the Megawatts. Even with a rather large turn radius, it’s not hard to slash them in the trees, and their swing weight is pretty light. The Megawatt has a nice rockered tip and enough traditional camber under foot to handle harder layers underneath the fresh snow while their semi rockered tail land airs in pow extremely well. My snorkel is already packed for Niseko, and I’d want to have the Megawatt with me, too.

Runner-Up: 4FRNT CRJ, 180cm

4FRNT CRJ, Blister Gear Review

Again, deep pow and tons of jibbing? This sounds like a job for the CRJs.


Q: What skis were the most difficult to leave off your list?

A: The DPS Wailer 99. This is an amazing ski that could handle Taos and probably Jackson Hole conditions well and could quite possibly be the best-made ski on this list. There is no doubt I would take the Wailer 99 any where on the East Coast, but out here in the West I want a little more ski under foot. That being said, my ideal DPS ski would be a combination of the Wailer 99’s flatter tail and the 112RP’s width and flotation.

Q: What skis do you imagine have the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski them (or get to ski them more)?

A: I’ve begun to find that the best all-around ski for my style of telemarking (jib-oriented, aggressive, all-mountain/backcountry with a mixture of traditional and modern stances) is a fatter ski that has a stiff underfoot and a stiff tail flex with a rockered tip and slightly rockered tail. One ski I’ve been able to find that fits this description is the Moment Belefonte. With that in mind, the Blizzard Cochise, Surface One Time, the Moment PB&J, and the Moment Bibby Pro are all candidates.

And finally:

Q: If over the next three seasons you had to ski one ski, every day, regardless of location, what would you choose?

A: If I had to choose today and could never test another ski, it would be the DPS Wailer 112RP. However, the Moment Belefonte, the Bibby Pro, and the Blizzard Cochise are certainly contenders.

29 comments on “1-Ski Quiver: Reviewers’ Choices (13/14)”

  1. Hey Guys, awesome article. I am stuck on the east coast and usually don’t have the joy of multiple feet of fresh pow. I am interested in the Volkl Mantra to replace my frontside carve skis but am having a hard time finding a “real” review. How would it compare to the Belafonte as a hard pack ripper/crud buster?

    • Hi, Barry. I’m afraid that I haven’t been on the Mantra for a few seasons. The Mantra, of course, is 98mm underfoot, the Belafonte is 106mm. Both skis have tip rocker. The Belafonte is one of my favorite crud skis, so I have a little trouble imagining that the newest Mantra would be vastly better. However, it isn’t hard for me to imagine that the Mantra would be the better carver (in the way that I would regard the Rossi Experience 98 as being a better pure carver than the Belafonte – check out our review of the Experience 98.)

      But the more specifically you’re talking about carving turns on groomers, the more I’m sticking to a ski like the Mantra or Rossi E98. But if you’re less interested in carving pure arcs on consistent hardpack / ice, and more interested in charging through variable, chopped up snow, the more I’d lean toward the Belafonte.

      Sorry for the lame speculation. I’ve got the Mantra high on my list for early season testing, so hopefully I’ll be able to contribute a real review in the fall.

  2. Great review, and have to agree with the Bibby… Granted it’s been a bumper snow year in Austria, but I spent at least 90-95% of my time on them. Pow to crud to corn to slush, they just kill it. Even with the drought last year I still had plenty of funtimes on them.

    Would have been really interesting to see how the Whitedot Freeride Preacher and Director fared though, both look like potentially brilliant everyday skis.

      • Mainly Nordkette (above Innsbruck), but several other places too – Saalbach Hinterglemm, St Anton/Arlberg, Axamer Lizum, etc. Generally all the mountains of the more Northerly mountains in Austria got dumped on, East and West.

  3. But wait, there’s a missing test area! What might you go with for 1st choice/runner up in Summit Co.? This is a great review format, can’t wait until next week.

    • Hi Jonathan,

      The Cochise might take the cake for Summit County, Colorado, because of the greater variety of terrain and predominantly tighter, lower-angle trees.

      Cheers, and thanks for reading.

      Will B

      • Thanks for the feedback. I rode the Cochise 185 at Kirkwood in late February in morning refreeze, soft shaded trees and afternoon warm spring delight. It was maneuverable and forgiving and high speed stable, but it was also the ‘almost’ you describe when you state the preference of the Belafonte’s camber over the flat Blizzi: I just didn’t like how it felt (or didn’t feel, really). I am wondering if the 182 Belafonte would be more rewarding (I have the 190 112RP hybrid for deeper days; and yet I am wondering if I should trade them for the 190 Bibbys for that role!). I have also read great things about the 104mm Head Inferno, and the Turbo, although Jason’s review of that left me feeling it was in the ‘somewhat lifeless’ category of the Cochise.

        It is a great time to be picking skis; I don’t see many ‘bad’ skis, just arrows that don’t match the Indian!

        Thanks for all the carpal tunnel you guys brave to bring us this stuff; there’s nothing else like it on the ‘net.

  4. I’m enjoying these reviews. Blister does it right. Jonathan (Ellsworth), I’m with you on the Protest. I’m usually into a more trad shape, but those things ski like a dream. The Praxis MVP is also on my list for next year. Whatever they put in the Protest, I want the same materials in my MVPs.

  5. Just wanted to say that I love your site and read it often. Keep up the great work!

    Love that there are no advertisements and that the reviews are so thorough! Reminds me of Consumer Reports quality.

    If I had a request, I would love to see a review or two of some Prior skis–specifically the Overlord in carbon.

    Again, great site. I have recommended it to many friends. Cheers!

    • Nick – thanks for the kind words and for letting others know what we’re up to around here.

      We would love to review some Priors, and that carbon Overlord looks like it would be a fantastic place to start. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Prior, hopefully we can make it happen this winter; we’re putting it on our list.

      Thanks again, Nick.

  6. Hi Jonathan,

    season in the Alps will not start before October with one of the glacier openings. However, planning is in progress. Cham is high on the list for one of the longer spring trips.

    So, three guys are sitting in the park, it is 30 degrees celsius in late July and we debate which of the skis we would like to demo next season would be the best ONE SKI QUIVER FOR CHAM. It turns out, the top 3 on the wish list have not only all been reviewed by the Blister crew, but also by Mr. editor in chief Jonathan Ellsworth himself. Actually, these 3 skis have already been released in the 2011/2012 season and will return – almost – unchanged.

    1. Moment Belafonte (182 or 187): most stable in the draw from what I read from Blister’s reviews. Possibly best edge grip for ice and steeps. However, may be overpowering in tight spots and difficult to release in bad snow. Finally, too much kicktail to stick into hard snow, which is a nice feature in a place where roping is part of the daily business.

    2. Blizzard Cochise (185): quite nimble, but damp, from what I read. The tailrocker is probably sufficiently subtle and gradual in order to be able to use the ski as an anchor when required. Not too much side cut, what is good in the steeps. Full rocker and flat underfoot should make for the best bad snow performance, e.g. in breakable crust. However, does this full rocker ski provide enough edge grip in the endless icy steeps?

    3. Black Diamond Zealot (182): The best compromise? Tailnotch for skins, gradual semi tail rocker for easy releasing, but where you can still stick the ski into the snow. Camber and enough effective edge for the ice. Generous taper in the tip and tail to provide a smooth ride through variable snow. One penalty point for the fact that with 4,6 kg for the pair it is the heaviest in the lineup, but the one that is most marketed as a backcountry tool among the three.

    What are your thoughts? I don’t know whether you have skied in the French Alps already, but I am certain you have read enough about the place and have skied so many places on the globe that you will be able to provide valuable input. We figured two shops that carry the 2012 models as demo versions mounted with ATs or Jester Demo bindings. Thank’s in advance for your thoughts!

  7. Hi, Hannes – I haven’t skied the Alps, so I’ll definitely need to do so sooner than later.

    And man, I’ve been thinking about your question for a couple days, I’ve reread all 3 of my reviews, and I’ve got to say….I don’t know. The good news is that I do compare the Cochise and the Zealot quite a bit, and Will Brown has compared the Cochise to the Belafonte quite a bit in his review of the Belafonte.

    Personally, I would be torn between the 187 Belafonte and the Cochise, but I would probably go with the 187 Belafonte. I skied the 187 Belafonte a good bit this spring with the tail pretty heavily detuned, and I found it to be much less grabby than I initially experienced (and wrote about) in my 182 review.

    I don’t think there’s a terrible choice among your three, and it will mostly come down to skier’s weight; and how much you want the ski to shine in chop.

    Finally, there are two skis in particular that we’re taking to Las Leñas that might deserve to enter the equation, so stay tuned. One is 103 underfoot, the other is 106. We’ll be rolling those out over the next two weeks.

  8. Thank’s Jonathan,

    I am anxious to see what your proposals will be. I have read some of Will Brown’s teasers on the gear you will be taking to Argentina. Great stuff for sure.

    So, I’ll make a guess on one of the two skis you mention above. The narrower one could be the 4frnt Cody, but just a guess…

  9. Ok, now it is “official”. Watea 106 and Atomic Ritual. Have posted you a note on the big stix 110. No more “powder hull” with Fischer skis. What an improvement – they are back in the game with their lineup!

    • Yep, the Watea 106 and the Ritual are the skis I had in mind for you. Will continues to think / hope that the Ritual will be a twinned out Cochise; I think it could be a slightly narrower, beefier Zealot. I don’t know, but I know we’re soon to find out! And yeah, the Big Stix 110 might have a tail that’s more twinned up than you’d want, but the ski looks impressive.

  10. Really like the way you guys did this review series. One thing I’m wondering, though – I’m a Tahoe local, and I might be in the market for a ski like these this season. Of the locales you tested at, which one would be the closest analogue? i.e., which test location’s reviews should I be paying the most attention to if I’m trying to glean some useful direction for what to try this season in Tahoe?

    • Hi, Max – we’ll have to speak in generalizations here, but since Tahoe snow may commonly come in wetter and heavier than the snow does at our other resorts (doesn’t always, of course), I would mostly pay attention to the details of the review itself. E.g., Taos has some of the lightest, driest pow in the world, but we can still get a wet storm (see my Moment Deathwish review). So I’m afraid that the devil is in the details of each review for now, but we will point out when we we’ve had the ski or snowboard in heavier snow.

  11. First off your site is my go to site to get real world reviews, For that I thank you.

    Theres a ski that ranks in my mind up there with the best as an all round one quiver that is up and comming that we all, im sure would hear about more than ever next season. The Faction 3.0 Zero and the Candide 3.0. Both at 112 under foot and rail groomers and float in pow and ski crud like its not there. Has there been any thought of you guys putting some of Factions skis threw there paces this season? I really would love hear what you think of the Candide3.0 in the 183. The 191 has a narrower profile tip and over 30R But the 25R 183 in the Zero and 3.0 seem great at 142 112 136 early rise tip and tail med stiff flex.



    • Thanks, James! And yes, we’ve been hoping to review some Factions for a while, and I’ll be surprised if we don’t get on the Candide 3.0 in the new year. We always welcome reader requests and keep records of every ski or snowboard (and length) that readers would like to see reviewed. (When readers state lengths, that often breaks the tie for us if we’re on the fence about going with a 183 or 191, for example.)

      So we’ll do our best to get on the 183 Candide 3.0, and we’ll let you know when we do. Thanks for writing!

      • Jonathan,
        Have you guys had a chance to check out a Faction Candide 3.0 in 183 yet? I’d love to hear about it as I’m looking for a one ski quiver for Montana, and from the few reviews I’ve seen it sounds pretty interesting.

  12. The Rossignol Sickle and Scimitar – the shape seems to be similar to the Blizzard line. would you agree?

    How does a Scimitar (98) compare to a Bonafide (98)?


    • Sort of, Al. But the Scimitar and Bonafide really don’t ski / feel similar at all. Jason Hutchins has written well in his Kabookie review about how the ski is a little slow to initiate and to finish turns. That is definitely not true of the Scimitar. The Scimitar is also a more center-mounted ski that skis switch well; the Bonafide is definitely directional and has a more traditional / farther back mount point. Finally, the Bonafide has metal, the Scimitar does not. The Scimitar has a nice flex pattern, but it is a softer, less damp ski overall.

      • Jonathan,

        Yes, that would have been helpful. My skiing is some bumps, some off-piste, but mostly afternoon skied up pow, icy used-to-be-groomers, and spring slush. If I were picking %’s I’d say: 15/10/25/25/25 in that order. I ski mostly Maine, with trips to various places out west.

        I’m 5’8″ 170.


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