While I’ve owned and skied a few Black Diamond ski models including the Verdict, Zealot, and Justice, the Kilowatt has really been my (and many of my ski partners) go to ski for ski mountaineering. For a guy my size (215 lbs), I think it is one of the most well rounded all conditions backcountry skis on the market.
Rumors were swirling a while back that BD was releasing a new model of the Kilowatt that was going to be a bit softer. My initial reaction to the news was that of disappointment, as I have come to rely on the ‘Watts for their stiff flex and great edge hold on the varying conditions I usually find myself in. Well, I got my first day on the new Kilowatts on North Maroon Peak just two days before we left for Denali. My initial worries vanished after I took my first turn down the steep powder face. Pure enjoyment. It seems this latest version has more pop than any previous iterations, while not relinquishing that hard snow edge hold I have come to appreciate so much. This new Kilowatt may finally replace my beloved older model ‘Watts, and it is probably about time given that I’ve bled them dry on the rocks of the Rockies.
Three members of our Denali team (Joe, Caleb, and myself) took the Kilowatts up the Kahiltna and I heard nothing but praise. I even noticed a guide or two who shared our taste in skis. The diverse ski terrain above both the 11,200 and 14,200 ft camps demands a ski that can do more than just a fast climb or one type of snow. The ‘Watts handled the variations of Denali snow (from blue ice to 3 feet of freshies) just as we hoped they would.
The ‘Watts were as common a sight as ravens on the headwall of Denali’s West Buttress route while we were in the area, seeing as our group lapped it about every other day during our trip.
The 185’s dimensions are 127-95-115 with a turn radius of 24.5 meters. While I am no slalom ski racer, I do like a ski with a nice short turn radius on steeper lines as it allows me to keep the speed under control and provides edge-hold on hardpack. The 185’s weigh in at 8 lbs 6 oz, not the lightest ski out there and perhaps this plank’s only downside, but in my opinion a satisfactory performance to weight ratio. I think skiing anything up there with less beef under my feet would have been a much more difficult endeavor.
The Kilowatts come with a wood core, certainly a plus, and due to durability and performance characteristics is something I prefer in all skis in my quiver.
In the end, I think Black Diamond made a winner even better, thus keeping the Kilowatt at the top of the ski mountaineering charts. The ‘Watts will remain my go to skis for big days on big lines.
Jordan White is a strong alpinist who finished skiing all 54 Colorado 14,000 foot peaks in 2009. He guides, tends bar, and lives the all-around perfect life in Aspen.