Dimensions (mm): 142-115-124
Turn Radius: 22 meters
Actual Tip to Tail Length (straight tape pull): 185.4 cm
Boots / Bindings: Lange RX 130 / Marker Griffon, DIN (10)
Mount Location: +1
Days Skied: 9
(Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 11/12 AMPerage, which is unchanged for 12/13.)
For years, when sitting around with friends, talking skis and dreaming of our next additions to the quiver, Black Diamond skis never seemed to enter the conversation.
This is strange.
How could a company as well established as Black Diamond, a company that makes not only sick climbing gear, but very good back packs, ski poles, probes, and touring skins, fail to generate tons of excitement about their ski lineup? It seemed like the only people super stoked on Black Diamond planks were ski mountaineers who refused to hit the backcountry with twinned-up tails.
Over the past couple of seasons, this situation has begun to change. When Black Diamond introduced the Megawatt, non-mountaineers took notice. Then came the Justice (reviewed here), a good ski, and one of the more playful planks that BD had offered. But the Justice was still not exactly a riot to ride, and there were still lots of other interesting options on the market.
Enter the AMPerage, a fun-shape offering from Black Diamond that enters a crowded, very competitive class of skis in the 115mm waist-range, have both tip and tail rocker, large, tapered shovels (and generally tapered tails, too), and traditional camber underfoot. (Think Rossignol S7, Armada JJ, DPS Wailer 112RP, MOMENT Bibby Pro, etc.)
Just about every company is putting out its own version of this shape these days, and for good reason: these skis tend to be super versatile, are a blast to pivot around in bumps and tight trees, do really well in powder, and do quite well on groomers. Yep, they’re fun.
The AMPerage seems like a high risk, high reward ski for Black Diamond. It feels like they need this ski to work in order to assert their relevance and reach new customers who haven’t previously given much thought to buying a BD ski. On the other hand, tossing a dud into the fun shape category would have exactly the opposite effect: show that they still don’t seem to get it, and allow critics to get back to ignoring BD.
Well, it turns out that the AMPerage is impressive, and certainly holds its own in the fun shape class.
Saturday, May 7th, was a gorgeous day at A-Basin: a bluebird sky, 52 degrees, 91” base, and the party on The Beach was in full effect.
Plus, the very cool, very understanding sheriff of Alma, Colorado – The Highest Incorporated Town in the USA, FYI – had let me off with a warning for being overly eager to get to A-Basin. (Do NOT speed in Alma, people. It’s a great little town. Enjoy it.)
I’d been skiing the AMPerage off and on since April 23rd at Alta, and the tails of the AMPerage had been reminding me a little too much of the tails of the Rossignol S7, i.e., not much there. I started skiing the AMPerage at +1, and would recommend going at least that far forward, as it definitely helped the tails to wash out less, and less than I experienced on the Rossi S7, even with the S7 mounted at +2. (I’ll say more about the whole fun-shape, tapered tail issue in a minute….)
With the bindings at +1, I headed over to the Pallavicini lift to ski The Spine, Pali Face, and Main Street, long runs with a decent pitch, and broad, rounded bumps with troughs that ranged from pretty mellow to very deep. The AMPerage did really well here in the soft snow (just pivot pivot pivot), and I was definitely making frequent turns rather than charging.
The AMPerage pivots so easily in bumps that you can choose either to carve wider, mellow turns around the bumps, or force the issue and just pivot away in a zipperline. I tend to tail gun in the bumps, and that caused the only issue I really had with the AMPerage there. If you’re a bit of a tail gunner like me, the Armada JJs, MOMENT Bibby Pros, or the DPS Wailer 112RPs offer the more supportive tails; if you’re not a tail gunner, you’re good to go.