Ski Review – Rocky Mountain Underground Carbon Apostles
Chillin’ here at Outdoor Retailer 2015 at Salt Lake City, we were reminded about the many indie ski brands brewing skis south of the border. Then outta nowhere comes this gear review of one of those well known USA born & bred ski brands, RMU. Here’s Lee Lau’s take on it…
Tested is a Rocky Mountain Underground Carbon Apostle in size 185 (size 175 is the other available). This ski was mounted with Fritschi’s new tech binding the Vipec and used mainly for touring (12 days) but with some days (3) on Whistler Blackcomb resort pounding out inbound laps. It was mounted on the recommended line.
The Apostle is a 5 point sidecut ski with full rocker, camber underfoot and a generous early rise tail; so generous that it comes close to approximating a twin tip. Dimensions are 126 – 132 – 105 – 120 – 114. It’s a quick ski with a 17.3m turning radius. Actual measured weight was 1665g and 1672g per ski which was within 0.5% of claimed weight boding well for RMU’s quality assurance. The list price is $999.
Having only skied the Carbon Apostle 15 days impressions about the skis durability are limited. Construction details of the Apostle are bomber on paper with the spec including thick military-grade UHMW sidewalls (basically an exceptionally strong plastic), thick 2.2mm edges and a solid wood core. Carbon is in a sandwich layup. The RMU bases are reputed to be exceptionally durable and my brief experiences did not dispel that reputation. It’s worth noting that the bases are exceptionally thirsty so wax liberally. If good looks are important to you I did find that the topsheets chipped relatively easily.
I’m not a big skier at just 160lbs but do spend 100+ days a season skiing with most of the days in backcountry. I managed to put 15 days on the Carbon Apostles with almost all of the days spent in backcountry of Whistler, the Duffey and the BC Interior. My skiing is usually in high moisture-content snow. Accordingly, my preference is for bigger skis and relatively stiff boots.
The Carbon Apostle turned out to be a perfect ski for this seasons’s early conditions where you almost always had get some touring vertical to find good snow. Light enough to not be a huge slog so you could get the goods. Yet versatile enough so when you encountered every kind of condition under the sun, snow and rain you’d still be comfortable attacking downhills.
One particular standout of the Apostle was its maneuverability and forgiving nature. I’ve not been on a ski which turns so quickly since the venerable blue Salomon Pocket Rockets. But unlike the big blue noodle the Apostle has a certain amount of stiffness underfoot so that if you need to lay on the speed it won’t fold. The Apostle’s quick turning attributes can almost certainly be credited to the nice even round flex of the ski; it’s forgiving rocker and tail; all of which can be engaged and/or broken loose with simple weight-transfers. I found that skiing the Apostle centred worked best and adjusting weight fore-aft slightly gave tremendous feedback. It means that you don’t need exaggerated movements to get the best out of the Apostle. The ski is so well-mannered that it’s got tremendous ability to handle variable snow; from powder, to chopped up conditions, to windcrust, and to do so with confidence.
It seems that most reviews want to say that a ski is a do-it-all. I would say that the Apostle is not quite the quiver-of-one.
In hardpack you’ll have a hard time getting full edge-bite. Even discounting my sloppy technique, you’ll be breaking those tails loose so look elsewhere if you want to carve trenches. Even discounting one’s hopes and dreams for CSIA level 4 certification in my opinion this is a ski better suited for lighter skiers (like myself). Bigger skiers or harder chargers are going to be maxing out the carbon Apostle’s performance envelope. Perhaps sizing up might alter that equation but the 185 is the largest size.
I had a few more specific concerns when touring. I found the early rise/almost twin tipped tails to be annoying. It detracts from the Apostle’s ability in steep skintracks, or when sawing back and forth in tight spaces like couloirs (twin tips tend to slide backwards detracting from slow-speed control). Twin tips suck for use as pickets; ie stabbing the tail in the snow either to use the ski as an anchor or other bizarro backcountry tricks. Basically, to me as a dedicated touring skier, twin tips have no place.
As a lighter guy the Carbon Apostle would be a good choice for a dedicated touring ski (provided one didn’t have a hate on for twin tips). Due to its incredibly wide range for everything except for hardpack, I felt the Apostle also had so much versatility that it will work exceptionally well for a slackcountry setup. The wide range of the Apostle also means that it will work for most skiers except for bigger aggro cliffhucking gorillas.
The Rocky Mountain Underground carbon Apostle will remain unchanged for next year so this review will remain relevant for next year’s version.