Ski: 2016-2017 K2 Pinnacle 95, 184cm
Available Lengths: 170, 177, 184, 191 cm
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 185.8 cm
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 1856 & 1850 g
Stated Dimensions (mm): 132-95-115
Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 133-94-116.5 mm
Stated Sidecut Radius: 17 meters
Core Construction: Aspen/“Nanolite”(Composite) + Titanal & Fiberglass Laminate
Tip / Tail Splay (ski decambered): 63 mm / 29 mm
Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~1 mm
Factory Recommended Line: – 11.7cm from center; 81.2 cm from tail
Mount Location: Recommended Line
Boots / Bindings: K2 Pinnacle 130 / Marker Jester
Days Skied: 3[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 15/16 Pinnacle 95, which is unchanged for 16/17.]
For the 15/16 season, the K2 Pinnacle 95 replaced the Annex 98 in K2’s “freeride” line up.
K2’s description of the Pinnacle 95 makes it clear that they are positioning the ski as a serious contender in the all-mountain category. On the Pinnacle 95, K2 says that you’ll be able to “attack the resort in any snow condition,” with “power, strength, and stability,” but with “added ease and control.”
That’s some fairly typical product copy these days for new all-mountain skis, so we wanted to see (1) how similar / dissimilar the Pinnacle 95 is to the Annex 98, (2) find out whether the Pinnacle 95 ski was more of a powerful and stable all-mountain ski, or more on the friendly & forgiving end of the spectrum.
Alex Adams and I had the Pinnacle 95 in a wide range of conditions around New Zealand, so I’m going to weigh in first, and he’s going to be offering his take soon.
Flex Pattern & Shape of the Pinnacle 95 (vs. the Annex 98)
As was the case with the Annex 98, the Pinnacle 95’s tips are a good bit softer than its tails, while the center of the ski and the area behind the boot is very stiff.
The flex pattern / overall stiffness of the Annex 98 and the Pinnacle 95 are pretty similar—I’d call the tails a ‘medium+’, and the tips a ‘soft+/medium-’.
What’s different is that, unlike the Annex 98, the Pinnacle 95 has almost no traditional camber underfoot, and the Pinnacle has a bit of tail rocker and more tail taper than the Annex 98.
In short, I think the Pinnacle 95 represents a better overall blend—is a more balanced ski—than the Annex 98. I said of the Annex 98 that it felt like it was two different skis under one topsheet: the front half of the ski was ready made for easy turn initiation at moderate to very slow speeds, while the back half, with traditional camber underfoot and a fat, flat tail, felt better suited to advanced and expert skiers who know how to put a tail like that to good use.
The Pinnacle 95 doesn’t have this split personality, despite the fact that its flex pattern and tapered tips are similar to the Annex 98’s. Reducing the camber underfoot, loosening up the tail a bit, and tightening the sidecut radius has resulted in a ski that can still be pushed and offers some stability, but is best / most suited to a lighter, quicker touch.
Skiing down big, open faces (Porter Ski Area’s Bluff Face) through untracked, consistent snow, the Pinnacle 95 behaved very well. Big turns at high speeds felt fine on the Pinnacle 95, though the smooth snow was extremely forgiving and presented no difficulties.
And in perfect pow or less-than-perfect snow, the fact is that if you prefer to make more controlled, shorter turns down big open canvases, the Pinnacle 95 is set up to do that extremely well.
I only skied pretty end-of-the-day groomers at Porters that had built up piles of fresh snow. The Pinnacle didn’t want to nuke through those soft pushed-around piles of snow, but it was very easy to bang out shorter-radius turns. The ski has a fairly stout, very supportive tail, but still works very, very well at slow-to-moderate speeds. Unlike the 13/14 Volkl Mantra or the 15/16 Salomon X-Drive 8.8, you don’t have to bring the Pinnacle 95 up to speed to get it to come alive.
If you like to make powerful, fast, big turns through variable snow or deep chop, the Pinnacle 95 isn’t your best option. But if you slow things down a bit, or if you maintain a lighter, centered stance, you can still push these skis pretty hard. But even with it’s significantly set-back mount point, the Pinnacle 95 isn’t a ski that will let you get all over the shovels and blow up firm or refrozen snow.
But if you do slow down a bit, I found the ski quite easy to work around, in line, I’d say, with the DPS Wailer 99 and the old Rossignol S3.
Tight Chutes, Deeper Snow
Craigieburn Valley’s Middle Basin is one of my favorite zones to ski down in New Zealand, and really anywhere. The chutes tend to hold snow well, and you can pick how narrow or wide you wish to go.
No surprise, through Middle Basin’s narrower lines, the light weight of the Pinnacle 95 made them easy to jump turn, as did their low swing weight. Same theme here: low over all weight + low swing weight (those tapered tips) + rockered tails + very little traditional camber underfoot adds up to a ski that works well at slower speeds and in tight places.
Who’s It For?
Directional skiers who prize a low swing weight and very easy, quick turn initiation. The faster you ski and the more you weigh, the more important it will be to ski with finesse rather than sheer power.
Advanced and expert skiers who do ski with a lot of finesse will be able to rally these skis fairly hard all around the mountain, but I think the skis will be most appreciated by those who (1) operate at moderate to slower speeds, or (2) those who spend a lot of time skiing in tight trees, or skiing fast in trees.
K2 is right to emphasize the Pinnacle 95’s easy turn initiation, and I would call the Pinnacle 95 both an easier and a better, more balanced-overall ski than its predecessor, the Annex 98.
If you put a premium on performance in variable conditions, or value loads of stability at speed in 0ff-piste terrain, there are better (heavier) options.
But for those looking for a ski that will allow them to take it easy when they feel like it, or ski pretty hard (with a lighter, dynamic stance) when they’re in the mood, the K2 Pinnacle is worth checking out.
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