Ski Review: Altai Kom 162cm

Real reviews by real skiers. What a concept! Add your own today. Reviews only please, questions can be posted as replies but new threads looking for opinions should be posted to the main Telemark Talk Forum.
User avatar
lilcliffy

Rank: XCD KNIGHT
XCD KNIGHT
Posts: 1663
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2015 7:20 pm
Location: Stanley, New Brunswick, Canada

Ski Review: Altai Kom 162cm

Postby lilcliffy » Thu Feb 15, 2018 4:23 pm

So- to start- I have already made at least one mistake with this ski already.

First mistake: thinking that my first test should be to cross-country ski- in hilly terrain- some ~8kms (5miles) in VERY deep snow (50cm of powder), in order to access some sweet, steep ravines….

A XC ski the Kom ain’t- period. And- although its flotation, stability, grip and trail-breaking performance is simply AMAZING- slogging through VERY deep snow for 5 miles in T4s was a BRUTAL slog. (I did two separate tours in the same snow conditions and terrain with both my Annums and then my Combat Natos- both of these skis were more than TWICE as efficient cross-country skiing than the Kom- though I was using Alpina Alaska NNNBC boots with the Annum/Combat Nato...)

In very deep snow, the Kom is no more efficient when breaking trail and climbing than its more utilitarian sibling, the Hok. (The Hok offers enough flotation, has a similar Earth-shattering trail-breaking tip, and has even more grip, than the very grippy Kom.) However, on the return trip, the Kom definitely glides better and performs “better” than the Hok on a broken out track (I say “better” with quotes, because a XC ski like the Combat Nato might be 4 times more efficient the Kom when XC skiing on a broken-out track).

I think I may have made a second mistake- will get to that later…

NOW- what the Kom is: an absolutely AMAZING backcountry downhill ski- especially for low verticals, and skiing tight lines on truly steep terrain and in highly variable snow:

• It climbs VERY well- the combination of width, low camber and smooth flex, enables superb grip for a scaled ski. This is perfect for low-vertical yo-yo skiing as one does not need climbing skins (just lay a low-angle track). (In fact the only scaled ski that I have tried- that compares- is the Vector BC.)

• The absolutely wicked fat, broad, raised and rockered tip breaks trail through deep snow like nothing I have ever witnessed (aside from the Hok).

• The rockered tip shortens the effective edge, and offers early tip rise in deep snow. At downhill speeds, the Kom rises to the top of even the deepest pow.

• The Kom simply wants to turn- especially in deep, soft snow. I have the 162cm, and with my T4s I can carve and smear turns of most any radius I choose- on truly steep terrain.

• The Kom has a moderately stiff, round flex, offering excellent stability in deep snow, and at speed.

• The Kom is fairly torsionally rigid (certainly WAAAY more rigid than a ski like the Annum/Epoch/S-98/S-112). This combined with its flex, means that the Kom effectively holds an edge- even when you charge and push it to carve.

The Kom is a world-class backcountry yo-yo ski for low-vertical and downhill skiing tight lines below tree line.
At 98mm underfoot, the Kom is beyond I think any normal human’s “XCD” capabilities (I say “XCD” from a classical perspective (i.e. downhill skiing with XC boots and bindings))- I cannot imagine being able to drive this ski with a XC boot. In my opinion one needs at least a T4/Excursion class Telemark boot to drive the Kom (Nils Larsen has told me that the longer 174cm Kom may require even more of a boot than the T4…)

My second tour I drove to within less than 2 kms of sweet, steep, north-facing hardwood ravines, sloping into the Nashwaak river valley. With less blood, sweat and tears getting to the downhill skiing, the Koms were in their element- spend 3 hours climbing and charging downhill through absolutely spellbinding deep snow and hardwood forest (approx.. 150m vertical).

Which leads me to perhaps my second mistake- the binding I chose...

I mounted the Voile 3-pin hardwire. I chose this binding so that I might truly “XC” ski in 3-pin mode for significant distance in order to reach sweet, remote downhill skiing. As I have discovered- the Kom is no XC ski. I have gone out once with my leather Alico Telemark boots- this was more efficient XC skiing than the T4s, BUT, there is no way I can drive the Kom with a leather Tele boot- like I can with my T4s. SO- what is the point of taking the Kom with a leather boot, if I can’t charge down the steepest slopes when I get there? I might as well be on my Annums/Combat Natos if I am not going to be able to charge and carve on truly steep terrain- right?

So- what I have realized is that the free-pivot Switchback (I spent a couple of weeks trying to decide between the hardwire and the switchback) would have been a better choice. Why?

1. The difference in climbing efficiency of the free-pivot just cannot be underestimated. (I will NEVER forget the first time I climbed a real mountain with AT bindings (1998) after years of climbing with a 3-pin toe!!!!)

2. I just cannot get enough momentum with the Kom-T4 to take advantage of the XC 3-pin binding. I doubt VERY much that I the free-pivot mode on the Switchback would be any less efficient than the 3-pin when XC skiing.

I am NOT disappointed that I stepped up to the hardwire cables however (I had originally planned on just throwing ye-old 3-pin cable on the Kom…) The Kom at 98mm is a lot of ski- and I don’t do enough local backcountry-downhill skiing to justify having multiple pairs of downhill-specific backcountry skis. The hardwire gives me enough stability and activity to drive the Kom- even when the snow is not ideal.

This is quite a ski- I am thrilled with it. It is a downhill ski. Which is good- because that is what I bought it for! My old Guides are officially retired.

The specs:
• Length: 162cm.
• Sidecut: 124-98-120mm.
• Camber profile: rockered tip, low profile single camber.
• Flex: moderately stiff, smooth, round flex.
• Tip: broad, raised.
• Base: extruded with scales- geared towards climbing traction.
• Edges: full-length, but not wrap-around.

This ski has early taper, and does not have a parabolic sidecut.

altai kom1.jpg


(And BTW- I am very impressed with the 3-pin hardwire regardless- a true “Swiss Army knife” of Telemark bindings it certainly is. I am about to mount it on a second backcountry ski- that I am confident is an even better fit than the Kom- more on that later…)
The pursuit of XCD balance: cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry

connyro

Rank: XCD Guide
XCD Guide
Posts: 772
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2015 12:46 pm

Re: Ski Review: Altai Kom 162cm

Postby connyro » Thu Feb 15, 2018 4:42 pm

Another interesting, well thought out review LC, thanks! I agree the Koms are not an XC ski. I suspect you would enjoy touring on the Koms better with SB's or some other free pivot binding. IMO, it makes these types of skis much easier to tour and climb with. Yes, you have to figure out how to pressure differently for K+G, but it's not that big of a deal. The duckbill on the T4s/Excursions is so stiff that it kills the advantages of a 3-pin binding, but others, including a couple ski buddies of mine, would disagree.
Also, one other point, considering you and I are similar size, I am surprised you went with the shorter Koms instead of the longer ones. I find that the Vector BCs tour real well but I suspect I would not really feel that strongly about that if I was on a 160 cm Vector BC instead of the 180s. As a side note, I've completely retired my fat skis (Voile Asylums) since I got the 180 Vector BCs. Even in our deepest conditions, the Vector BCs at 180 cm is plenty of ski for even super-deep snow.

User avatar
lowangle al

Rank: XCD Guide
XCD Guide
Posts: 917
Joined: Sat Jan 11, 2014 4:36 pm

Re: Ski Review: Altai Kom 162cm

Postby lowangle al » Thu Feb 15, 2018 6:22 pm

Good review Lc. I could have bought a pair at the local consignment shop for 220 bucks mounted with 3pin cables. They were gone the next day.

Probably the reason I don't mind touring on the HWs is because I'm used to a heavy leather boot as opposed to an nnn bc set up. I'm glad you have a plan for them though.

I'm just getting used to my T4s and yesterday I skied with them a lot looser and that made for less resistance. My heel seems to come up almost 3 inches w/o out any resistance. I take advantage of this by using shorter kicks while at the same time increasing my cadence to keep my speed up. In plastic boots I try to pressure the cuff to get weight on the ski to kick and then put a little pressure on the back of the boot to lighten my tips for more glide.

User avatar
lilcliffy

Rank: XCD KNIGHT
XCD KNIGHT
Posts: 1663
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2015 7:20 pm
Location: Stanley, New Brunswick, Canada

Re: Ski Review: Altai Kom 162cm

Postby lilcliffy » Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:54 pm

connyro wrote: I suspect you would enjoy touring on the Koms better with SB's or some other free pivot binding. IMO, it makes these types of skis much easier to tour and climb with. Yes, you have to figure out how to pressure differently for K+G, but it's not that big of a deal. The duckbill on the T4s/Excursions is so stiff that it kills the advantages of a 3-pin binding, but others, including a couple ski buddies of mine, would disagree.

I agree with you.

I am not unhappy with the 3-pin hardwire- at all- but for what I am going to use this ski for- yo-yo- touring for turns- I think a Tele binding with a free-pivot tour mode would be a better choice: more efficient climbing + quicker transitions. I think the combination of the downhill camber-flex plus the downhill-oriented boot produces a context where the free-pivot mode is just as efficient when XC skiing- its still WAAAY more efficient than an AT binding for XC skiing- there is still a natural metatarsal flex with a free-pivot Tele binding!

I am certainly in no rush to replace the 3-pin hardwire in the short-term.

Also, one other point, considering you and I are similar size, I am surprised you went with the shorter Koms instead of the longer ones. I find that the Vector BCs tour real well but I suspect I would not really feel that strongly about that if I was on a 160 cm Vector BC instead of the 180s.

I ended up with the Kom and the 162cm length because I jumped on a used price. I had actually decided on a Voile BC ski- either the 180cm Vector BC or the 178cm Objective BC (am a bit paralyzed between the two).

The longer ski would definitely be more efficient on the flats- but I am actually thrilled with the maneuverability and responsiveness of the 162cm Kom. The forest in my neck of the woods has a lot of VERY dense stands. Some of the best local downhill backcountry skiing is in very steep conifer-dominated stands (red spruce and/or hemlock)- these stands do have open understories- when they are closed-canopy- but they are VERY dense, and one must ski very tight lines to truly enjoy them...I am always paralyzed about this compromise...

If I hadn't jumped on the used price of the 162cm I am sure I would have ended up with a longer ski...

As a side note, I've completely retired my fat skis (Voile Asylums) since I got the 180 Vector BCs. Even in our deepest conditions, the Vector BCs at 180 cm is plenty of ski for even super-deep snow.

This is good info.
The pursuit of XCD balance: cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry

User avatar
lilcliffy

Rank: XCD KNIGHT
XCD KNIGHT
Posts: 1663
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2015 7:20 pm
Location: Stanley, New Brunswick, Canada

Re: Ski Review: Altai Kom 162cm

Postby lilcliffy » Thu Feb 15, 2018 8:12 pm

lowangle al wrote:Good review Lc. I could have bought a pair at the local consignment shop for 220 bucks mounted with 3pin cables. They were gone the next day.

Probably the reason I don't mind touring on the HWs is because I'm used to a heavy leather boot as opposed to an nnn bc set up. I'm glad you have a plan for them though.

I'm just getting used to my T4s and yesterday I skied with them a lot looser and that made for less resistance. My heel seems to come up almost 3 inches w/o out any resistance. I take advantage of this by using shorter kicks while at the same time increasing my cadence to keep my speed up. In plastic boots I try to pressure the cuff to get weight on the ski to kick and then put a little pressure on the back of the boot to lighten my tips for more glide.

This is good stuff man.

I will need to be mindful and willing to try and tweak this setup as much as possible. For the foreseeable future- I am not in a position to spend a lot of time (and dough) traveling to more mountainous terrain. There is endless sweet snow in my backyard backcountry. There is also almost limitless backcountry slopes and ravines to enjoy- but, many of these sites require XC skiing some significant distance to reach them- hence me choosing the 3-pin binding.
The pursuit of XCD balance: cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry

Young Satchel

Rank: XCD Pinhead
XCD Pinhead
Posts: 106
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 2:52 pm

Re: Ski Review: Altai Kom 162cm

Postby Young Satchel » Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:48 am

I don’t know anything about anything, but I enjoyed reading this review! Man...these sound fun. Sigh. Snow.....yeah, I got none!

Enjoy your new quiver addition LC!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

User avatar
fisheater

Rank: XCD Pinhead
XCD Pinhead
Posts: 353
Joined: Fri Feb 19, 2016 9:06 pm
Location: Oakland County, MI

Re: Ski Review: Altai Kom 162cm

Postby fisheater » Sat Feb 17, 2018 10:53 am

Gareth
I am a bit disappointed that in my lack of experience my voice was one that said 3 pin Hardwire. I just don't have the terrain where I would experience the benefits of a free pivot binding. On a personal note, I guess I missed out on that pair of SB x 2 bindings Woods had. The first night he listed them I thought seriously about pulling the trigger, even though I didn't have any intention of purchasing a ski in that class.
Another great and interesting review of the Kom. I was pleased to read that the Kom can hold an edge well, because a deep snowpack is a terrible thing to waste. I was disappointed to read about the Kom's touring capacity, not because I was surprised, more in regards to personal ski needs. For me I really need a ski to be "acceptable" for 5 to 10 miles of touring. My downhills really don't offer low angle approaches, I tend to connect them from trails. Most of the places I ski, are the same places I chased bunnies with beagles years ago. I can't say why, but where I live rabbits would tend to try to shake dogs by running up the bigger steeper hills. When you have good dogs, you tend to enjoy good running better than good shooting. There are a few hills I ski now, that were good places to climb and have a good place to listen to the race, and get to see a better portion than you would if you went busting brush. I guess that is my long winded way of saying I deal with a lot of briars, grape vines, multi flora rose, and brush.
Great review, I hope you are still posting thoughts on this ski through April.
I just reread your post. Around 500 feet of vertical a couple of kilometers from the road, sounds very cool.

User avatar
lilcliffy

Rank: XCD KNIGHT
XCD KNIGHT
Posts: 1663
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2015 7:20 pm
Location: Stanley, New Brunswick, Canada

Re: Ski Review: Altai Kom 162cm

Postby lilcliffy » Sun Feb 18, 2018 10:47 am

fisheater wrote:Gareth
I am a bit disappointed that in my lack of experience my voice was one that said 3 pin Hardwire. I just don't have the terrain where I would experience the benefits of a free pivot binding.

Hey Bob,
Well- the 3-pin hardwire still does make sense. My very local (literally out my backdoor) terrain is more "hilly" than mountainous. There are certainly 100-200m verticals that I can reach from my doorstep (steep ravines), I have to XC ski singnifcant distance to reach many of them. I can drive some 40minutes to reach 300m verticals. A 2hr drive accesses 500m verticals.

At this point in my life- with family/homestead/work responsibilities- even 40 minute trips for turns have to wait to weekends and holidays. I live in a local climate where I can consistently ski every day- and there are many weekdays where getting out for an hour is all I can squeeze into the day.

I still think that the 3-pin hardwire is an excellent choice for the Kom- considering my backyard terrain- but, I just get the nagging gut-feeling that the fat, short, low-cambered Kom wouldn't be any slower XC skiing with a free-pivot binding. And the climbing and transitions are certainly much faster with a binding like the Switchback...

The other thing is that the snow depth on my first distance test was ridiculous. The Kom certainly glides along much quicker than the Hok...I may well find that once the snow has consolidated a bit that the Kom is more acceptable as a XC ski to reach truly magical downhill stashes...

(I aslo have not put the Storetind to the test yet...Perhaps it will actually be the perfect balance? I have always felt that if the Epoch/98 was more torsionally rigid that it would go the distance and still allow me to charge down the ravine...Or- perhaps a ski like the FT62 fits this best- or perhaps if the new Ingstad is more stable than the E109?)

And- perhaps most importantly- it really is never fair to compare apples to oranges...

It is not fair to compare the XC performance of a ski like the Kom + Telemark boot-binding to a XC ski like the Combat Nato/Annum + XC boot-binding. Of course the XC performance is going to disappoint compared to XC skis- but even the Annum is pathetic compared to the Kom when you point them down a truly steep slope.

No matter what- I like to fly on skis- on all terrain.

Up until this point I have been content to accept that the skis that fly on the flats and hills don't allow me to charge down a truly steep slope. There may never be a setup that truly allows this...

I did buy the Kom as a downhill ski- therefore, I am very happy with it!

And I am certainly happy to pause for a few minutes after a climb and take in the scenery- as I clip on the hardwires.
The pursuit of XCD balance: cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry

User avatar
Woodserson

Rank: XCD Guide
XCD Guide
Posts: 899
Joined: Wed Feb 11, 2015 11:25 am
Location: New Hampshire

Re: Ski Review: Altai Kom 162cm

Postby Woodserson » Mon Feb 19, 2018 9:34 am

Love the review! The KOM is on of my most amazing skis I have ever owned. There's a certain je ne sais quoi about it. There are lighter skis, and longer skis, and better touring skis, but there's just something about this little baby that just screams joy and delight!

I will say I personally don't like the action/feeling of the free-pivot binding on something like this ski but this is a personal touchy-feeling thing of course. I have been very well served by the Traverse binding and my next KOM will definitely get Hardwires for the steeper down and to add more control. I hope I didn't lead you too astray LC, in the same vein as Fisheater.

The below picture was attained by skiing to the top, not driving the car...

20170411_140525.jpg

User avatar
lilcliffy

Rank: XCD KNIGHT
XCD KNIGHT
Posts: 1663
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2015 7:20 pm
Location: Stanley, New Brunswick, Canada

Re: Ski Review: Altai Kom 162cm

Postby lilcliffy » Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:54 pm

Woodserson wrote:I will say I personally don't like the action/feeling of the free-pivot binding on something like this ski but this is a personal touchy-feeling thing of course. I have been very well served by the Traverse binding and my next KOM will definitely get Hardwires for the steeper down and to add more control. I hope I didn't lead you too astray LC, in the same vein as Fisheater.

I am very happy I stepped up to the hardwire on this ski- allows me to push it as hard as I want to.

I don't have any actual experience with a free-pivot Tele binding. The only free-pivot bindings I have ever used were AT- I am well versed in the climbing advantages of free-pivot! :shock:

After a half-dozen outings on the Kom, I am realizing that in the short-term I will likely be mostly doing yo-yo laps with this ski- well over 90% climbing and turning. It is this context that makes me re-think the Switchback vs. Hardwire....

And as much as I prefer some good-ole Nordic K&G resistance when XC skiing- I truly wonder whether a ski like the Kom is capable of taking advantage of the XC performance of the 3-pin binding? It is just so short and fat- isn't it going to always be at best a glidy shuffle, when XC skiing?

Anyway- I am planning on putting some serious snow under the Kom before I draw any conclusions about the 3-pin hardwire. (BTW- I mounted the 188cm Storetind with the Hardwire last night- am excited to compare the two skis, and the binding on two very different skis!)

The below picture was attained by skiing to the top, not driving the car...

Wonderful photo my friend! Keep making that Kom sing!
The pursuit of XCD balance: cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry


Return to “Community Ski Reviews”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest