AlpControl claims its new carbon fiber skis weigh under 2000 grams (4.3lbs) a pair in 175cm with a shovel of 120mm. That’s less than some of the skinny competition skis used the the Pierra Menta competition. However it is ultra durable, the manufacturer claims it might be the best investment in your skiing life.
AlpControl has had to overcome two challenges. Maintaining torsional rigidity in a wide shovel and providing enough meat for binding mountain.
Not all carbon fiber is created equal. There are over 50 types of material on the market and the strength can vary by a factor of 6. Only the better grades offer an advantage over the best fiberglass cloth for ski making. Carbon is up to twice as strong for around half the weight provided the mats are laid up properly. The main problem is cost, with carbon fibre costing 100x that of glass.
The Black Powder uses the strongest “high tensile” fiber: the Toray T700S. This has a high tolerance to shock. It has been developed specifically for the ski by Eurocarbon. The knitted triaxial weave eliminates the risk of delamination.
Binding mounting standards require a significant amount of material. In a pure carbon ski that means the ski will be too stiff. The AlpControl has developed its patented “partial core” technology. This uses a tapered central wood core covered with carbon with pure carbon both at both ends of the ski.
The skis have been designed by world class ski maker Alain ZANCO (http://www.az-ski.com). Zanco was given a tough spec, the ski should be able to handle powder, hard snow, crust, corn and crud. In short the normal conditions encountered by an all mountain skier in a single day.
Two skis lengths are being made:
BLACK POWDER 163 side cut 110-70-100 poids 1770 g/pair (3.9 lb), surface 1350 cm²
BLACK POWDER 175 side cut 120-78-109 poids 1980 g/pair (4.3 lb), surface 1600 cm²
Compare that to something like a Dynaft 7 Summits Superlight at 2460g in 170cm with a 113mm shovel. The 78mm width is, in our opinion, ideal for backcountry use where you often have hair traverses and have to follow or make tracks in deep snow. AlpControl point out that the skis have proper 2mm “backcountry” edges.
Carbon fiber skis are nothing new. Goode already has a full lineup but the results can be disappointing. The website http://skitour.fr says that the Goode BC82 (82mm underfoot), initially announced at 2120 grams actually weigh 2550 grams. There is always some difference in ski weight but 160 grams per ski is pretty high.
The launch date for the Black Powder is planned for October 2009. We don’t know the pricing but they will not be cheap.
Posted by davidof on Sunday, 25 October, 2009 at 02:41 PM
I can comment on these, having experienced the ‘wonder’ of the Black Powder ski… 2 days ago, just before arriving at the Femma refuge (quite far away from anywhere), my client (skiing on a pair of these) said “I heard something go snap” as he skied through a very shallow stream dip (no worse than a small mogul on piste).
On pulling on the ski tail whilst putting on skins the next morning the whole ski folded up at the point of insertion of toe piece binding screws (dynafit).
To cut a long story short we bodged it together as best we could & managed 700m D+ to get over the watershed to drop towards Val D’Isere. A long series of traverses & kick turns followed as we nursed the ski down towards the Fond des Fours refuge. At about 2650m the ski completely collapsed - as we were finally hitting some other skiers tracks i gave my skis to the client & took his one remaining functional ski. On the second traverse (slowly, through soft but slightly chopped up powder) I heard a distinct ‘Crack’, and the second ski broke.
In summary, these skis are NOT durable, and do NOT have a ‘high tolerance to shock’.
They appear to be made from balsa wood (or cardboard).
Many thanks to the battalion from the Chasseurs Alpins who we crossed paths with who saved a long tiring afternoon with the loan of their “rescue skis/blades” - merci les gars!
Thanks for the feedback Simon. As a lot of backcountry skis seem to be getting wider and lighter we seem to be hearing of more and more problems and there is nothing worse, or more dangerous, than serious equipment failure miles from anywhere.
The Montagne Magazine ski tests were panning heavy skis in their 2011 reviews but personally I’d sooner carry a few hundred extra grams than have my ski snap in two.
Apart from that how were the AlpControls while they lasted?
Posted by davidof on Wednesday, 23 March, 2011 at 10:26 AM
I build an all carbon fiber ski that weighs in less than any skis I have seen.
I have been building them for the past 4 years and am now ready for production.
I build unlimited carbon fiber aerobatic airplanes and understand the forces that are required to make a ski stay together.
We just now have a starter website up.
It is under construction, so don’t expect too much yet.
Posted by on Saturday, 09 February, 2013 at 05:57 AM