PM Gear Archive

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.

This Is Not Your Average Rainstorm

Well, hopefully, you listened to the voice of reason today and did not bother driving to Squaw for skiing. As enticing as talk of fresh powder and more than 2 feet of new snow sounds – there were just too many issues to deal with today. High winds ended up closing both Squaw and Mount Rose today, shutting off powder hounds visions of fresh snow today. Sugar Bowl had already thrown in the towel yesterday. Kirkwood also severely limited operations today – with significant avalanche danger as the reason.

In case you have not paid attention to one of the many weather bloggers or TV forecasts, here’s the visual for Sunday at 6AM. Note the lack of pink colors that indicate snow:

In addition to heavy rain, winds will also be a factor. Sierra ridge winds are expected to be up to 140 mph tomorrow. Damaging winds are forecast all of the way down to Reno. We’re pretty much looking at a hurricane for tomorrow in the Sierras.

The flood warning we posted yesterday remains almost exactly the same today. Flooding is expected along the Highway 89 corridor and in lower laying areas near the Truckee River in Truckee. In Reno and Sparks, the situation continues to develop into a moderate flood event, with the Truckee River forecast to be up to 4 feet over flood stage.

We spent our afternoon sand bagging at the PM Gear factory in Sparks. PM Gear has been one of our site sponsors the last 2 seasons and they make some awesome skis. Sadly, they are in the last business park to be relocated by the Truckee River Flood Management Authority in Reno/Sparks. All other business parks along North Edison Way have been relocated to other areas – but legal wrangling has delayed the relocation efforts for PM Gear and about forty other businesses. A small army of people have been sandbagging in the area for  two days. We were glad to help out Pat at PM Gear and hope to be skiing Bro Model skis for years to come.

 

A small group of volunteers completed sandbagging at PM Gear’s factory, as well as the auto shop next door.

Operations at Squaw are unlikely tomorrow given the weather conditions. Reportedly, some employees have been called in to fill sandbags to protect base area lifts and lodges. Yup, a lot of runoff is expected. Hopefully the colder air will come in sooner, less rain will fall, and we can get back into the business of skiing Alpine Meadows next weekend.

And as I was putting this post together, Andy Wertheim chimed in with his observations from Alpine Meadows:

Hello Skiers and Riders,

Squaw is closed today. Not really a surprise.  They are claiming 20 inches of snow in the past 24 hours and 32 inches total for this storm on the upper mountain.  I can see snow on the trees in the highest elevations around Alpine Meadows.  However, it was pouring rain and howling wind overnight and into the morning hours.  This afternoon the rain has lessened, but forecasters are calling for much more rain tonight and Sunday with very high winds.  Snow levels are supposed to be very high which is not good, although the last of the storm may bring lower snow levels.

The local forecast is calling for flooding of the Truckee River between Squaw Valley and Truckee with levels not seen since the 1950’s.  I guess we will wait and watch and hope for the best.  Soil in the area is saturated causing water to seep into crawl spaces and garages in some homes. Snow that was covering the land along the Truckee River is gone.  Perhaps the upper elevations will offer up some skiing when the sun shows up late Monday or Tuesday. That is the report from soaked Tahoe.

Enjoy your day,

Andy

Equipment Review: PM Gear Skis

My curent PM Gear quiver.

It took some time for my friends to get me on skis from PM Gear. One in particular, an Alpine Meadows instructor, had tried for about 5 years. I should have listened sooner. After a year of skiing PM Gear products, I am a believer. PM Gear skis are more commonly know as the “Bro Model” ski, as that designation is more apparent than PM Gear. What many people notice first about PM Gear skis is the tagline “FKNA Made In The USA” found on the rear of each ski. Indeed, the skis are made locally in Reno, Nevada.

There’s essentially not much advertising for PM Gear. It’s likely the only way you would learn about them is seeing a pair on the hill or frequenting the ski forum at Teton Gravity Research. In fact, jump on a pair of Bros and you will likely meet strangers asking you for “change for a nickel” or if you’re “training for Alaska”, the current TGR secret handshakes. It’s at TGR that PM Gear CEO Pat Keane heard I was looking for the proverbial one ski quiver.

In April 2011, Pat contacted me with an offer I couldn’t refuse, a pair of Bro 183 Fats with an extra stiff layup. And so it began…

Bro 183 Fat (2010 model)

I managed to get the skis mounted up just in time for the Sierra’s record breaking spring and summer ski season. The skis had just the right amount of stiffness for skiing spring corn and crud, without the added weight of a metal layer. The specs on the 183 Fats are 136/112/126 with just a hint of tip rocker. The 2010 layup is fiberglass over a poplar core with a weight of just over 4 pounds per ski. What you get is a stiff ski with a very versatile shape that is lighter than most production skis on the market. That makes it a great choice for alpine skiing, an AT setup or telemark setup. Even with alpine bindings, these skis are a pleasure to strap onto a pack for a hike.

These skis do rally to any occasion. The skis are snappy on groomers and hold an edge as well as my sloppy style allows. The 33m turn radius lets your arc big turns, while the short length gives you some room in moguls, trees and chutes. The stiffness was just what was needed for dominating spring and summer snow conditions, while the rocker made spring powder effortless.

The construction on the skis is nothing short of burly. I put roughly 50 days on them between May and November. That included skiing in all sorts of conditions, including creek beds and talus slopes and countless rock encounters, with not one blown edge or core shot. With the marginal coverage this season, I actually used my “summer skis” for most of the season, finally getting a coreshot in March on Tiegel Chutes. For what it’s worth, both skis lost their metal tail vibration dampeners within the first 7 days of use. That really did not affect the way they skied, but Pat still made good and offered a new pair from the fall lineup. He definitely stands behind his product.

A quick word on mount points. The factory mount point was a bit far back for my tastes. it’s there to allow for easy slarved turns in all conditions. Danny at the Sports Exchange knew I was looking for more responsiveness, so mine are mounted considerably forward, which gives them the feel of a Porsche on a race track. In talking with Pat, he may be marking both points on future models.

2011 Bro 183 Fat Hybrid

In November I picked up the new 183 Fats, which are essentially the same ski with a new hybrid carbon and fiberglass layup. The ski is topped with a clear nylon topsheet, allowing the carbon fiber to show through. They are beautiful, and even lighter than last year’s model. With conditions extremely marginal through the holiday season, they didn’t go anywhere until a January trip to Revelstoke. With fresh powder every day and a lot of tight tree skiing, they were a perfect tool for that trip. The stiffness also allowed for some fast rallying down Revy’s long groomers.

In continuing to ski the 183 Fats through a regular season, the only place I saw a short coming was that the short length did not hold up as well in light powder, mostly because I am a a big guy and 183 is pretty short. I would love to try out the 187 Fats. But that led to another PM Gear acquisition…

Lhasa Pow 191 (2010 model)

I know people that call the Lhasa Pow their “one ski quiver” and I can see why.  The specs are 140-112-120 with a 39m turn radius, and still under 5 pounds per ski. The pintail design is becoming pretty popular in powder skis and it’s easy to understand. There is amazing control at high speeds in powder on these skis. Although described as a “big mountain ski”, it’s quite responsive when you ask it to make turns. A few people dislike the narrower tail, claiming it bogs down in denser snow. That just makes me get my weight more forward, which is usually a good thing.

They are not just a powder ski though. The stiff layup and rigidity means they can lay down some fine big arcs on the groomers and slash through the crud at high speeds. They would definitely be my one ski quiver, but at 191cm they scare me in bumps and trees. No fears though, the Lhasa Pows come in 179, 186, 191 and 196 lengths.

Where can you get some?

Pat puts the finishing touches on my 2012 183 Fats

There’s the rub. This season, demos of PM Gear skis were available only at Tahoe Daves in Tahoe City and the skis are currently sold only online at PMGear.com (or the easy to remember FKNA.com). Availability is limited and some models go quick. It’s often best to check in with Pat and see what’s coming up in production to plan your purchase accordingly. It’ll be worth the wait.