Powder-Gun, Freeride, Big-Mountain, Hypersonic Piste-Weapon Selection
So in late July, after waiting through the second consecutive predominantly gray Pacific NW summer (what happened?), some synapse in my brain suddenly snapped and now all I can think about is boosting off a cliff in Squaw Valley with Motorhead playing at maximum volume and charging champagne powder for a couple hundred yards at Mach 7ÖÖ [sigh] A few more months
For some perspective, I ride a stiff binding/boot setup (Ride Double Agent at +15/+6 and Burton Driver X with inserts) on a 157cm 2004 Burton Omen currently. I am 5í10Ē (178cm), 165lb (75kg) plus a 10-15lb pack on occasion, 10.5 US boot (42-43 EUR), and a fairly advanced rider. I spend no time in the park, and thoroughly enjoy steeps, bowls, chutes, drops, open trees, and high-speed carving. I like a responsive and stable ride. The Omen has a smaller side-cut and is torsionally mellow, thus it becomes unstable at very high speed. Also, the camber and shorter length becomes a float issue in deep powder, even with a larger binding setback. I intend to continue riding the Omen for smaller resorts and poor conditions (unfortunately, a majority of the riding I do in the local Seattle area), though the new board would be my go-to for powder conditions, backcountry hiking, side-country, and larger resort riding (Whistler, Revelstoke, Squaw Valley, Mt. Baker, etc). The board would likely see a majority of powder and off-piste riding, though I want something that I can confidently push at maximum speed on very steep groomed and hardpacked trails with the same setup. If I go on a week-long trip, I only want to fly with one board, and I want that one board to levitate powder and obliterate groomers if the weather is indecisive.
The Omen is tons of fun for casual riding (extra surfy for leaning into turns for looser carving) and has treated me superbly. However, over the past few seasons, last winter in particular, Iíve increasingly arrived to a point where Iíve found myself on multiple occasions needing something longer, faster, stiffer, more stable, and more aggressive to keep up with my riding (and make my skier friends look bad ;). I need an animal of a board. I want to back off on the reins only when the terrain and fear of imminent mortality tells me to, not when my board gets jittery a third of the way through a gnarly line.
I am interested in a ~161-164cm length (towards the longer end of things for my frame, but still need to thread the occasional mogul field or dense glade) and a directional camrock profile. I like full cambered boards for their craving response, but I want to go with something different this time around (rockered boards that Iíve borrowed have been a blast). Full-magnetraction (even detuned) feels too digitally-grippy for me, but I do want something extra that will dig-in when I push it on mixed conditions and wind-blown traverses. I donít want much profile taper as to where trail-runs become squirrelly.
Basically, I want a board that will allow me to continue advancing my riding and negotiate bigger and more-technical terrain (including cat and heli access in future seasons), though is versatile enough to thoroughly enjoy for basic resort riding also. I would rather be punished for my riding mistakes and learn than not having enough headroom to ride harder. Going with my newfound self-improvement mantra of Ďcommit, go faster and turn lessí when things get scary, a big-mountain board design philosophy is right up my alley. I need a powder-gun quiver board that isnít a quiver board, but is much more specialized than an Ďall-mountainí board, if that makes sense.
Here are the prospects, in likely order of acquisition probability:
1) Jones Flagship 164 (maybe 161 or 163W?). GOOD: Camrock, mellow-mag, stiff nose, fast, ĎNideckerí deck. BAD?: heavy (true?), low dampening = brutal time for exclusive groomer days?, unknown changes from 2011 to 2012?
2) Nidecker Ultralight 163. GOOD: Carbon topsheet, camrock (supposedly stellar profile), serrated edges, stiff, damp, light, fast, probably a better overall board than the Flagship. BAD?: Prohibitively pricey (potentially worth it?), where do I get one?
3) Nidecker Megalight 163. GOOD: See previous, less expensive than the Ultra (might actually be Candidate #1 if the $200 gap from the Jones is well-spent???). BAD?: See previous, comparative ride to Ultra (besides slightly heavier)?
4) Never Summer Raptor 159 or 164 (maybe 161W?). GOOD: Damp, fast, excellent edge-to-edge, easy to ride. BAD?: Canít think of muchÖ.. limited comparative mixed reviews from crotchety powder snobs used to longboard Priors and Tankers?? [haha absolutely no offense intended to anyone riding one], comparative ride to Premier F1 or Summit?
5) Nidecker Legend 164. GOOD: See previous Nideckers. BAD?: Too stiff?, no camrock??, where do I get one?
Close calls, but not under consideration:
Rossignol Experience (full-mag, Flagship has stiffer nose with similar shape), Arbor A-Frame (dig the design, but wanna shy away from full camber for a change), Salomon Burner (ditto), Bataleon Undisputed (ditto), Lib/Gnu boards (full-mag, though my friends swear by their TRS and T.Rice), Rome Notch (fairly tapered, more geared towards straight pow), Capita Charlie Slasher (ditto), Burton Malalo (ditto, no EST binding plates), Ride Slackcountry (want some level of camber, price is spendy; but in the same breath, Iím considering Nidecker), YES Optimistic (very likely an excellent all-around board, though looking for something more specialized so that I donít retire the Omen), Capita BSOD (ditto), Nidecker Platinum (more BX than freeride), Elan Vertigo (ditto), Venture (flat profile between bindings, definitely looking for the pop of camber in a hybrid profile with rocker for float), Bataleon Enemy +++ (just like Nidecker, is the pricetag justified? Isnít it more of a Ďdo everything awesomeí board than a purpose-built big-mountain gun? is TBT an advantage or hindrance for aggressive hardpack carving?)
Any rationale based on first-hand riding experience or similar boards is most helpful. I am most interested in detailed comparative perspectives and factors that I am overlooking above all else. I want the total ride that will be the heavy munitions of my arsenal for years (unless I miraculously start dropping remote heli runs in AK or upper BC regularly). Graphics and gimmicks be damned.
I need the board that Lemmy would ride if he wasnít preoccupied making peopleís heads explode with a Rickenbacker.
Thanks for your help!