PM Gear Lhasa Pow 186 Review: Clearly A One Ski Quiver Contender

PM Gear Lhasa Pow 186

PM Gear Lhasa Pow 186

There’s essentially three types of skiers out there. We’re not talking about the ability levels of Type I, II or III skiers – we’re talking about ski owners. You know who they are:

“Owns One Pair Of Skis And Doesn’t Know Any Better” Guy: Often seen skiing on powder days on their X-Screams, or on east coast ice days with noodle Pocket Rockets; often resorts to rental skis to avoid the bother of traveling with skis; always looking for that deal on Craigslist

“Owns Ten Pairs Of Skis To Match Changing Conditions, Resorts, or Ski Pants” Guy: Drives a Suburban with two Thule boxes to fit all of his gear; has never skied more than a few days a season on each pair; constantly says he would ski better if he had the right skis today

“Always Looking For The One Ski Quiver” Guy: Skis the same ski nearly every day; may experiment with a lot of different skis in order to find “the one”; travels light and travels with a light wallet as great skis aren’t always cheap

I fall into the third category. I love having one ski that does it all. Because I ski in variable conditions throughout the year at several different resorts, I never really want to ask the question “which skis should I bring today?” I just want to go ski, and be able to do it well, despite changing terrain and conditions.

There was a time where the Line Prophet 100 was my sweet spot. It was a lightweight ski, that had a nice lively feel, with a metal matrix top that gave awesome torsional rigidity and edge control. Sadly, Line sold to K2 and production was moved from Karhu’s factory in Canada to K2’s factory in China. Quality went way south…actually east.

That started a quest to find a new one ski quiver. I have found many skis I have liked over the last few years, especially enjoying some Scott P4’s and Ski Logik Ullrs Chariots. Neither have met the one ski quiver challenge. Then I picked up a pair of PM Gear Bro Model skis in 2010 and that was the beginning of a new era. Last season, I alternated between the Bro 183 Fats and Lhasa Pow 191. One was great for everything but short for powder, the other was awesome for everything but scary in tight moguls and trees.

This season, I found out that Pat at PM Gear had a pair of Lhasa Pow 186’s available with a minor blem at a great price. I’ve put in about 60 days so far this season and they are the only skis I have had on my feet, with the exception of a few tele days. Anyone that has been around knows that we have seen a lot of variation this season, with deep powder in December, spring corn, amazing groomers, east coast ice, and lately Utah champagne powder on Vermont ice. I’ve got to say, there has not been a day this season where I have wished I had a different pair of skis.

The Lhasa Pow 186s are a carbon fiber & fiberglass hybrid construction. It’s not you average carbon fiber construction. Most ski makers add a few strands here or there. PM Gear builds these skis with two layers of fiberglass and five layers of woven carbon fiber. The current lineup includes a clear nylon topsheet that lets that cool fiber show through. The result is a ski that can be incredibly stiff, without being excessively damp. Some of the excessive chatter found in other carbon fiber based skis is damped through the addition of tip and tail metal inserts that may have seemed purely decorative. With an aspen core and very little metal, this ski comes in super light at 4.3 pounds per ski. It’s a burly tough ski that is super lightweight, which means you’re controlling the skis instead of them controlling you. That also makes them valuable as a tele ski, AT ski, or to anyone that is strapping skis to their pack and hiking.

A close up of the carbon fiber weave...

A close up of the carbon fiber weave…

The profile for the Lhasa Pows is 140-112-120 with a 34 meter sidecut. There’s just a hint of early rise, which makes the effective length just a bit shorter. The longer sidecut lets you put the pedal to the metal on groomers or wide open slopes, while the shorter length, liveliness and light weight allow for quicker turns in trees and moguls. There’s plenty of shovel in front for pow days and a semi pintail in back that allows for easy control in anything soft. It is easy for these skis to throw you in the back seat if you are not skiing assertively. The torsional rigidity lets you carve deep trenches on groomers and hold steady on ice.

The durability of the PM Gear skis is unsurpassed. I am not careful with them at all, skiing through peppery slopes, traversing across scree with my skis on, and skiing across bare dirt, pine needles and branches. Yes, there has been plenty of opportunity for such testing during the last two seasons. In my last review of the Bro 183 Fats, i even reported skiing down a creek bed during the summer. I have yet to suffer a real core shot or blown edge in hundreds of days of skiing my Bros.

PM Gear skis are manufactured right in Reno, across the river from the Moment ski factory. PM Gear owner Pat Keane and a small crew have been perfecting designs and making skiing fun for about 10 years now. Hand built skis are not cheap, but mine have been totally a great investment. More information on PM Gear skis can be found at their site. Feel free to click the ad when it appears in our side bar. Demos of PM Gear skis are available at Tahoe Dave’s in Tahoe City.

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