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2013-2014 Atomic Access

Emily Cleveland reviews the Atomic Access, Blister Gear Review

13/14 Atomic Access

Ski: 2013-2014 Atomic Access, 181cm

Dimensions (mm): 129.5-100-121.5

Turn Radius: 20 meters @ 181mm

Boots / Bindings: Lange Exclusive RX 90 / Marker Griffin / (DIN) 8

Mount Location: Factory Recommended

Test Location: Jackson Hole, WY

Days Skied: 6

[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 11/12 Access, which is unchanged for 12/13 & 13/14, except for the graphics.]

After last winter’s epic snowfall and rumors of a second appearance from La Niña (I’m still hoping she’s just fashionably late), I couldn’t help but do a little powder ski window-shopping last fall. It’s easy to think that bigger is better and get swept away by the array of beefy skis, but for some reason, I found myself curious about one of the slimmer options.

The Atomic Access can easily be overlooked on the sale wall when surrounded by its bodacious neighbors. Yet the majority of us don’t spend our time shredding big AK lines, which means that the more modest dimensions of the Access are pretty much ideal for the average skier.

At 100mm underfoot, the Access is one of the narrowest skis in Atomic’s powder lineup, and features tip and shovel rocker, traditional camber underfoot, and a non-rockered, partial twin tip tail.

New from Atomic last year, the Access came back unchanged for the 11/12 season. With the same basic geometry of the popular women’s Atomic Century, the Access is lightweight, playful, and very maneuverable. In a word, the Access makes skiing easy. The camber and sidecut make carving effortless, but the tip rocker enhances the Access’ performance in powder when the snow is deep.

During six days on the Access, I skied every type of terrain that Jackson had to offer, and I was impressed with the results. The snow in Jackson earlier this season let me hone my skills on icy hardpack, rock-studded bumps, and chundery off-piste snow. Although marketed as a powder ski, the Access excelled in these conditions.

For my first run on the Access, I went down Amphitheater trail, a wide groomer that just calls out for big GS turns. Initiating turns was effortless, and the skis were easy to control at both high and slower speeds. The camber of the Access extends into the tail, which made the ski really pop out of turns.

Considering that they have a medium flex, I was pleasantly surprised by how stable the Access was at speed. In addition, I wasn’t seeing a lot of tip flap like I have on other skis with more significant tip rocker, like the DPS Yvette.

Emily Cleveland on the Atomic Access, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Emily Cleveland, Rendezvous Bowl, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.

Although I usually ski a 168, the 181cm Access felt more like 171 because of the considerable tip rocker and partial twin tip. The slight taper of the tip and tail also made it easier to turn the longer ski.

4 Comments

  1. Josh April 1, 2012 Reply

    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. Alex P July 21, 2013 Reply

    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. Claudia Putnam April 27, 2014 Reply

    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. carsoi October 1, 2014 Reply

    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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