Ski: 2015-2016 RAMP Groundhog, 179cm
Dimensions (mm): 136-100-121
Turn Radius: 19.4 meters
(See Detailed Product Specs)
Blister’s Measured Weight Per Ski: 1986 & 1993 grams
Boots / Bindings: SCARPA T-Race / Black Diamond 01
Mount Location: Factory recommended 793mm
Test Location: Alta Ski Area
Days Skied: 20[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 13/14 Groundhog, which is unchanged for 14/15, and 15/16, except for the graphics.]
RAMP Skis, based in Park City, Utah, is a collaboration of rider, artists, and musicians (the “Riders Artists Musicians Project”), that produces handmade skis in the USA with an effort to reduce environmental impact. Launched in December 2010, the company offers a line of nine snowboards and 13 skis, with the Groundhogs designated as their “one-ski quiver West Coast ” (a slightly wider version of the Woodpecker, their “one-ski quiver East Coast”).
Construction / Design
The Groundhog is constructed with a full vertical bamboo core, layers of Kevlar in the bottom laminations, and fiberglass outer layers. The ski also employs early rise reverse sidecut tips, flat tails, a good amount of sidecut, and 11 mm of traditional camber underfoot.
The 7500 sintered bases are built to be durable, while RAMP’s vacuum press allows the company to produce the Groundhog with no sidewall (the core of the ski extends all the way to the edges), allegedly without diminishing the ski’s integrity or durability.
RAMP also claims that their process of vacuum pressing skis enlarges the “sweet spot” under foot (more on this below).
Additionally, the graphics are innovatively printed onto the raw wood, giving the ski, in my opinion, a very appealing natural aesthetic.
Groomers / Alpine vs. Tele Turns
With stiff tails, 100mm underfoot, and a 19m turn radius, the Groundhog reminded me of a narrower version of the Bluehouse Radius with more sidecut, and I expected they would carve well on groomers. But I was also initially concerned that the soft tips would chatter when ripping groomers—the Groundhog is stiff underfoot with soft shovels, not a ski that progressively softens toward the tips.
On corduroy and hardpack, the Groundhog carved very well. While making alpine-style turns, I felt well supported by both skis, and there was minimal chatter in the tips.
But when I switched to telemark turns, the chatter in the tips became more pronounced, and the stability in the uphill ski was noticeably reduced. The softness of the shovel was accentuated in the tele turns on groomers, resulting in a less damp sensation then when I had been performing alpine-style turns.
In comparison, the Bluehouse Radius was equally supportive skiing alpine- and tele-style with no tip chatter. However, I found the Groundhog much easier to initiate edge-to-edge than the Radius. Once the back/uphill ski was engaged, it stayed where I put it and railed turns, while providing a lot of rebound out of each turn.
This being said, the “expanded sweet spot” felt much narrower when telemark skiing on the Groundhog. Any adjustment in the radius of my turn had to be made with the downhill ski, relying on the tail to support and carve the turn. I couldn’t just drop my uphill knee deeper and rely on more edge from the uphill ski to bring me around, which is what I experience with most other skis.
When skiing tele, the front/downhill ski did have a wider sweet spot than other skis I’ve ridden—it was just much narrower than when skiing alpine—and I never felt it on the back/uphill ski, which was only solidly carving with my heal lifted about 45 degrees and the pinky toe fully squashed.
On steep groomers like Alta’s Schuss Gully and Collins Face, the downhill ski did feel extremely stable, and I was able to rely on its tail for support. But they also did not permit me to forget their presence. They don’t catch while carving, but they did push me back forward if I ever got into the backseat.
But the tips were not stiff enough to ride with my weight forward, so I had to remain centered at all times to remain in control. It also kept me in more of an upright stance and didn’t really permit me to drop my knee as far as I’m used to. When freeriding, it didn’t allow the freedom to move my weight around to adjust to the natural flow of the features of the mountain.
The DPS Wailer 99 has a similar shape and flex pattern, and in hindsight, I think I may not have been a big fan of the Wailer 99 for largely the same reasons.
The more I skied the Groundhog, the more I wondered if mounting the bindings back 2cm would have opened up the “sweet spot” on the uphill ski. I would suggest considering this if you are planning on buying these skis and mounting them tele.
In short, the Groundhog inspires a different kind of tele-turn on the groomers, one that is dependent on locating the sweet spot on the uphill ski, setting it there, and then adjusting the radius of the turn with the downhill ski. Once I figured out how to ski the Groundhog this way, I found that I had to ski them off piste and in other snow conditions with the same approach. The skis then performed well, so keep this in mind as you read the rest of the review.