I spent quite a few days this past winter on two pairs of Atomic Kongurs, a 177 cm and 168 cm (both mounted with Dynafit). Overall impression: a nice all-around ski that can be pressed into service for anything from powder to bumps. For all but the steepest tightest terrain I prefer the 177, but the 168 skis almost as well for me, and thus became my choice for most tours as I love the convenient handling and lighter weight of a midget ski. (Bear in mind that I don’t ski fast in the backcountry, and don’t usually jump off anything taller than I am, so I don’t need a ski with stability at speed.). As with most good quality skis of this width (83mm waist) the Kongurs handled powder and crud with aplomb, and with a proper tune they had adequate edge hold on hardpack, though this is not what I’d call a hardpack edging ski. I like a ski that’s not too damp, and the Kongur delivered in that area, perhaps because of a metal layer in the build. In all, this is a fun ski that can be a good value as it’s sold as a “telemark” ski with the corresponding lower price-point.
|The burning question is how the Kongur compares to the previous TMX model it replaced. First, know the TMX and Kongur are exactly the same dimensions, with the same molding pattern on top and same bottom to top thickness, and thus probably come from the same mold. As for weight (177cm single ski), Kongur is 55.5 oz (1573 g), TMX is 56.1 oz (1588 g). Kongur marketing claimed it was a lighter ski — true — but saving a whopping 0.6 ounces per ski is not cause for celebration. Static tested side-by-side, the Kongur is slightly softer than the TMX and has slightly less camber. This makes sense, as it is said skis with a metal layer can be made more limber and still maintain a least a modicum of edge hold for hardpack. I’m aware of how well the TMX is liked, and how tough it is to duplicate the feel of a favored ski. The fairest thing I can say is that it does a disservice to the Atomic ski designers to ask the Kongur to duplicate the TMX — it’s not the same ski. And yes, if you like the TMX you will find the Kongur to be different. In other words, don’t think you’re getting another pair of TMX when you buy the Kongur.
Skied without a tune these skis would have been awful (I know, I tried). I suspect that many skis are first used with the factory “mystery tune” — a bad foundation if you want an accurate first impression. I recommend tuning most backcountry skis with a 1×1 (bottom/side) bevel so you end up with a 90 degree edge angle along with the 1 degree base bevel, and aggressively dulling the tips and tails down to the snow contact area, then slightly past that point if the ski still feels too “edgy.” If skis tuned this way seem too washy on hardpack, change the side bevel to 2 degrees for more edge bite, and perhaps try 3 degrees.
In my opinion the Kongur is a good ski, but if you’re a TMX fan I’d advise a demo before you buy.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.