Ski Review | Black Diamond Amperage Ski

Black Diamond's 2011/12 AMPerage ski.

 

Pick up a pair of these behemoths here:  Black Diamond AMPerage Ski at evo.com

View on Black Diamond’s website here: Black Diamond AMPerage

Black Diamond’s 2011/12 ski line up was far from average.  The three most notable of which were the Zealot, the Megawatt, and of course, the AMPerage, which won a staggering 7 awards for it’s versatility in a variety of conditions and in general it’s fun, playful, freeride shape.

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With so many awards, I set out to discover what all the hype was about around the BD AMPs and had one hell-of-a time in the process.

 

Here are the specs:

Series: Freeride

165cm Length: 139-115-123; 20 m Turning Radius; Weight – 4.1 kg/9 lb 1 oz

175cm Length: 141-115-123; 21 m Turning Radius; Weight – 4.3 kg/9 lb 8 oz

185cm Length: 142-115-124; 22 m Turning Radius; Weight – 4.6 kg/10 lb 2 oz

Construction: Formula One Tech – Torsion Box Cap – Ollie Bar – Poplar/Birch internal Wall Core – Power Edge

Best Uses: Freeride & Touring

View the official Skier Recommended Weight Chart here: Weight Chart

View the official Mounting Specs Chart here: Mounting Specs

 

Cost: $585 from evo.com:  Black Diamond AMPerage Ski at evo.com

Size Tested: 175cm

Days on 2011 Black Diamond AMPerage Ski: ~ 50

Terrain Skied: Kirkwood, CA = Steep open bowls, Tight chutes, Cliffs;  PNW Cascades, OR & WA = Steep trees, Pillows, Wind-lips, Rollers, Terrain Park

Conditions Skied: POW! Cascade concrete, Sloppy spring slush, Rock hard ice, Wind packed crud, Rain, Corn, More pow, And everything in between

Reviewer: Bevan Waite = Height 5′ 9″, Weight 150 lbs

Backcountry.com’s views on the AMPerage

Review of Black Diamond’s 2011 AMPerage Ski

The AMPerage is truly an exquisite ski.  This may not come as a surprise after considering how many awards it won, but the designers at BD definitely put out one of the better skis on the market that year.  The AMP seems to be BD’s interpretation of the Rossi S7 and it’s uber-fun, hybrid shape.  With 115mm of ski underfoot, 40cm of rockered tip, and 32cm of rockered tail, the ski isn’t the fattest on the market, but for good reasons.

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“Drawing inspiration from big-mountain powder lines, technical comp skiing and everything in between, the Black Diamond AMPerage is a hybrid fun shape that turns any terrain into a creative blank slate. Its deep sidecut, 115 mm waist, full tip and tail rocker and underfoot camber add up to a floaty ski that’s as comfortable sending backcountry booters as it is smearing through windbuff or arcing on groomers. The everyday ski of choice for Black Diamond athlete Callum Pettit, the AMPerage is the closest thing you’ll find to the mythical one-ski quiver.” – Black Diamond’s website description

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It’s big brother, the Megawatt, is also an award winning ski, and is known for it’s ability to charge big mountain lines in deep pow at high speeds.  The Megawatt, however, lacks a tail rocker found in the slightly narrower AMPerage making the AMP a much more playful, lighthearted, and forgiving ski.  The widest dimensions in the tip and tail have been shifted inward creating that surfy, fun, hybrid shape seen in the S7 and similar designs.  This allows the AMP to have a more pronounced side-cut and thus a shorter turning radius of 22m (for the 185cm length).

 

What does this mean in terms of skiing them? It means they turn on a dime and dump speed faster than any other ski I’ve skied. These skis are truly the most playful, poppy ski I’ve had the opportunity to use.  As a Telemark skier, they work incredibly well because of how quickly they turn.  I can make Tele turns anywhere, through anything.

Video of Bevan Waite skiing the Black Diamond AMPs! Skip to 01:10 for the action.

For those of you who are College Football fans, the AMPs make you feel like De’Anthony Thomas on skis (the fastest, most shifty man in College Football).  From the moment you lock these suckers to your feet you suddenly acquire an unusual ability to slash powder stashes at the resort, book it through tight trees, land stupidly large cliffs, and ultimately make any mountain into an enormous big-kid playground.

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One might assume the AMPerage to be a powder specific ski, and that it’s stylish surf-like fluidity in soft snow would be torn to sheds on hardpack and crud.  This is not as true as it might seem.  BD lists the AMP as 60% soft snow, 40% hard.  For such a wide, relatively light, playful powder ski, it preforms far better than expected on hardpack.  This, in part, is due to the generous camber underfoot allowing for it’s edges to bite even through crusty crud.  Obviously, there are better skis out there for skiing hard, beat-up snow, however, there are few that combine stellar performance in powder with an above average performance in crud.  The AMPerage is one of them.

Profile of the AMPerage

 

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“The construction of the AMP is the reason it schralps in powder and maintains admirable personality on firm snow. Black Diamond’s Formula One Technology uses three major ribs and a sway bar at the nose to lock into high G-force turns while their Torsion Box Cap creates the classic race-like core wrap of fiberglass that wraps the core like a burrito. The 3D CNC poplar/birch internal core makes the ski responsive, fun, and easy, while ABS sidewalls, and a high speed sintered base maintain the longevity of the ski.” Read this alternate review at Unnofficialnetworks.com

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From my experience, it doesn’t matter where you take the AMPerage.  Whether it’s down 50 degree faces, rolling mounds, tight chutes, trees, jumps, cliffs, they will faithfully guide you down slope without requiring much effort to turn them.  They even do incredibly well arcing down groomers on the days when the crud is just too… cruddy.  I have noticed, however, at *very* high speeds, the skis chatter a bit especially when the conditions aren’t great. 

AMP Chips

Some chips on the nose and tail. Probably just a product of my yard sale falls, but something worth noting.

 

I think that’s probably a result of a softer flexing, rockered tail as well as BD trying to keep the weight down for touring.  If your an incredibly aggressive skier going on a heli trip to Alaska, maybe these aren’t the skis you’d want to take.  Regardless, the AMPs aren’t designed for that.  They are designed to turn the mountain into a playground rather than a racecourse.

In addition to this, I have read a number of reviews that bring up issues with the tails of the skis being a bit short and soft when landing causing some to land in the back seat a bit more often than normal.  Personally, I have not noticed this as much as I’ve read about it, and I usually tend to blame myself if I land with my weight too far back.  I’ve heard mounting them +1 or +2 or somewhere in between can offset or mitigate the “wheelie” effect of the shorter, soft tail. 

Definitely my favorite ski yet.

 

Overall, I love these skis.  They have literally made me into the skier I am today.  They are fat and floaty, yet nimble and quick while still possessing the ability to charge when directed to.  I couldn’t ask for better performance.

Check out the a preview of the new 2013/14 M’s AMPerage and M’s Convert at skiingbusiness.com

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2013/14 AMPerage on top and Convert on bottom.

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments space below and I will answer them to the best of my ability.

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