Big and floaty and so so … so fine in ideal powder. This can be said about many skis, but, in particular, it is true of the DPS Pagoda Tour RP 112. And it turns out, this ski just flat out makes less-than-ideal powder more fun too.
The DPS Pagoda Tour RP 112 arrived in a wider cardboard ski box than I’m used to. Wide it is: the dimensions are 140/112/127 in a 184cm length. This is a powder ski. To get some insight into the taxonomy of the powder ski, here’s Slator Aplin’s assessment of the Pagoda Tour RP 112 and how to classify it from 2021:
“I consider there to be two types of wider backcountry skis: powder touring skis (like the 112 RP) and freeride skis. Powder touring skis are big and light. They’re designed for powder wiggles and have a high surface area-to-weight ratio (with a lot of surface area in that equation) to stay on top of deep, fluffy snow. Comparatively, freeride skis are big and heavy.”
The compartmentalization of the Pagoda Tour RP 112 as a supreme powder ski is spot on. The waist is immodest. The five-point taper puts the widest part of the tip and tail in from the ski’s true tip and tail. The mega rocker in the tip and tail and low camber underfoot makes the ski surfy and forgiving. (There it is; I’ve used my self-allotted limit of one usage of surfy.) The tip rocker extends back ~33cm, whereas the tail rocker is ~15cm in length.
But a bad day on true powder? Is that even possible? Is spending $1550 on a pair of boards, algal sidewalls or not, worth that amount of coin? That is a question only you can answer. The only financial advice we’ll spill is to start a Roth account.
I will come out and say this: if you lack a certain amount of width on a ski, say you’ve settled in at 90mm and below, you could do yourself a favor, get some more width, and thus have more fun on a powder day. The same logic can be applied to rocker. Maybe just a bit more tip and tail rocker too, and the smile you thought you’d maxed out on will get wider and wider and crack your sunburnt lips. Have some Dermatone on hand, and apply it to your lips: we want that smile to expand.
Is the path to powder ski nirvana a pair of Pagoda Tour RP 112s?
Pagoda Tour RP 112 Stats
Available lengths (cm): 158, 168, 178, 184 (size tested), 189
Dimensions (mm): 140-112-127 (184cm)
Turn radius(m): 15
Mass (g): 1590
Mount Position (mm): See Slator’s comments, but this is a rear mounted position.
Construction (bottom to top) as noted by Slator: UHMW polyethylene base, prepreg carbon fiber, the vertically laminated core of ash, paulownia and aerospace grade foam, another layer of vertically laminated ash, another layer of pre-impregnated carbon fiber weave, HDPE mounting plate, textured polyamide topsheet.
The Backstory with the Atomic Backland 107
I’d written about this before: how a day of skiing in decent conditions with the wrong ski had me craving for more. The Atomic Backland 107 became that “more.” This well-balanced ski offers enough floatation and tip rocker, and excellent feedback in its moderately soft tip (which could also be called moderately stiff) to allow me to cruise in powder and get more aggressive on days when my spice tolerance shifted towards the go-for-it end of the spice scale. This ski makes me more confident, generally, in all types of terrain and most snow conditions (minus hardpack).
In my own micro-world, I’ve become a more confident and creative skier with the Backlands underfoot.
On a Canadian hut trip, I brought both the Backland 107 and the Pagoda Tour RP 112. Half the days, I used the Pagoda Tour RP 112, and on the others, the Backland 107. For steeper, more technical runs, I opted for the Backlands; for the more cruisy days, the Pagoda Tour RP 112.
Let’s be honest; I’m no freeskier. There’s no air. There’s no huck, grab, spin, or intentional slarve. I do like speed usually, and longer radius turns. Unless required by the terrain and snow, I’d rather not wiggle.
The Comfort Zone
I like to be comfortable to a point. My bias became clear — I chose the Pagoda Tour RP 112 for days where I thought they’d be comfortable; lower angle, relatively open powder runs. I rarely use cruise control when driving— it makes me complacent. It’s the same with skiing. I like to keep the turns lively.
This is where I found the Pagoda Tour RP 112 to have a split personality. The wide platform and generous rocker can lull you into cruise control. There’s float and more float. The tips rise above the snow surface and plane with seemingly nothing to trip you up. You are literally cruising. On lower-angle terrain, this can be both a good and bad thing. I immediately understood why many with ample enough bank accounts shell out for DPS powder skis— it made the skiing easier. But that type of comfort zone, the one where skiing is easier, doesn’t necessarily tip the fun scale from yawns to big smiles.
So my neighbor Pete (he’s in Canada right now) did me a favor. He needed wider skis for his hut trip — he took the Backland 107s. They’ve actually been at his house for maybe a month. You see, by stashing the Backlands at Pete’s, I reluctantly weaned myself off that ski.
In the Backland’s absence, I found an opportunity. I willfully took the Pagoda Tour RP 112s out to play.
I took the Pagoda Tour RP 112s into steeper terrain populated with old-growth trees and soft snow with some wind-affected pockets. I jumped turned. I gained speed. I tapped into my wider turn comfort zone and found nothing but stability underfoot. I wouldn’t call the ski poppy or energetic, but I would call it smooth and damp gliding over less uniform snow. And, in fact, that’s where I found my Pagoda Tour RP 112 groove: in less-than-ideal powder.
Although pegged at a 15m turn radius, the ski will pivot and jig around this way and that. It likes short turns. But it will accept pressure on the gas pedal and gladly open up the turn radius. And that oh-so-sweet tip rocker helps keeps it all under control. As Slator mentioned, the Pagoda Tour RP 112s won’t facilitate super aggressive skiing or deflect dense snow imperfections like a heavier and true freeride ski. In reality, though, I’m in a knee sleeve, and full-on brace on the right knee with an MRI set for Monday. I know who I am even if I want to ski aspirationally.
Slator also wrote this about the ski, “[it] shook me with how fun they made powder skiing (which is already fun!). I love that sentence. If you have a dearth of fun in your life, I hope in some small way you found a smile vicariously through Slator’s stoke.
The ski, as you are now likely aware,boasts some considerable surface area underfoot. (A word of caution: with the skis strapped together and secured in a diagonal carry, they catch wind like a small sail. Don’t get blown this way and that in blustery conditions.)
That same surface area, full sidewall, and tasty rocker will be your friend in a wider range of powder snow than the fluffy stuff usually highlighted in photo annuals. Less-than-ideal powder snow happens. And in those instances, at least in the manner I prefer to ski, the Pagoda Tour RP 112 shines its love light. I experienced this yesterday on a tour where we sought north-to-northeast facing snow that had fallen a few days prior. The powder snow was classically less-than-ideal with the full gamut of less-then-ideal attributes: words like crust, catchy, and even trending towards breakable were valid descriptors.
Unexpectedly, I relayed, “that was fun,” to my partner after our first two runs as we ceremoniously clanked poles together. Would I have had less fun on a ski with less rocker, less width, and less stability than the Pagoda Tour RP 112 bestows in these conditions? A firm and solid yes. And more so, on the second run, where I had a better understanding of the variable snow conditions, I allowed gravity to have its way and pull me down the slope while I solely focused on the fun part: making the turns and trying not to check speed.
I go back and forth about promoting powder-specific skis. In excellent powder, many skis can work magic. And many cheaper skis at that. Is promoting a unique powder ski like pushing single-speed bikes as a means to happiness? (Is there a powder equivalent when a single speed shines? Flat roads?) Anyhow, I’m more fond of skis than bikes, and I digress.
I want this ski not to be my Grandmother’s Cadillac, and I assure you it is not. The Pagoda Tour RP 112 has me wanting to push its comfort limits.
It certainly is a legendary powder ski. But in this part of the country where the powder comes in a slightly denser varietal than where this SLC-made plank is birthed, the Pagoda Tour RP 112 and its rocker and dampness have me thinking less about hooking and cratering in imperfect powder and more about milking speed and seizing possibilities.
Jason Albert comes to WildSnow from Bend, Oregon. After growing up on the East Coast, he migrated from Montana to Colorado and settled in Oregon. Simple pleasures are quiet and long days touring. His gray hair might stem from his first Grand Traverse in 2000 when rented leather boots and 210cm skis were not the speed weapons he had hoped for. Jason survived the transition from free-heel kool-aid drinker to faster and lighter (think AT), and safer, are better.