AMGA Instructor Team Member, Mike Soucy Reviews the DPS Alchemist Wailer 106
The “winter” of 2017-18 was an underperformer here in Colorado with erratic temps, meager snowfall, and plenty of disturbingly weak snow at the bottom of our snowpack.
I was unaware of this future in November when I gazed daily at my Alchemist Wailer 106’s, still wrapped neatly in plastic in the corner of the garage. Little did I know that it would be January before I even had the gall to mount them up and begin tiptoeing around rocks and over brush, finally willing to play the game that we all play with fresh p-tex and edge… Right up until that first scratch.
Fortuitously, I had decided to mount a releasable tech binding with brakes onto these boards, assuming that they’d ski well at the resort with their aspen wood core/carbon laminate sandwich construction. This latest build from the folks at DPS gives the skis a predictable, stable, and damp feel that I found to be worlds different than their previous carbon-dominate skis.
So it went: my first days were spent dodging resort-goers, building fitness, and trying to stay psyched.
One can learn a lot about a ski via repetition on the same piste, and I found the Wailer A106 to be smooth at speed and responsive to a variety of turn requests. Don’t expect a radical “spoonbill” rockered tip or multiple sidecuts; this ski has a more traditional shape. Turn initiation felt predictable from the tip and the rounded, slightly raised tail released easily from grabby crusts.
Finally, February delivered a bit of relief from the doldrums and all was right in the world, despite not being able to touch any slopes over 30° steepness for fear of bringing the whole mountain down on top of you.
The skis continued to deliver, even if the only thing I was asking for was a balanced feel in the skin track and a little bit of float to keep me noodling above the depth hoar. Our relationship began to blossom: excitement grew as Deep Persistent disappeared to green.
March came through with a consistent series of small storms that softened the top layers of a strengthening snowpack. I finally felt like I could ski these things. Each season, my pendulum swings back and forth about ski weight: lighter for covering lots of ground or heavier for charging on the down with confidence? The 2017-2018 season was on the latter side of the arc, with lots of variable and unpredictable snow. As we inched into terrain above 40° and I hit the gas pedal, I was confident that these boards would push through any death cookie, sastrugi, or snow snake that would surely deflect the tips of a lesser ski. The added weight felt less cumbersome on my feet than it did when strapped to my pack.
In Colorado, April and May often deliver some of the best steep powder skiing of the season, but it can be hard to choose one ski at this time of year because surface conditions change often. The ideal ski will be light enough to take you deep into the mountains and up the highest of peaks. It will float on warming spring snow and bite the refrozen steeps when you need it most. I found the A106 to be a great choice, particularly if you are still skiing pow in Alaska, or in the high peaks of the Rockies. If you are looking for increased performance on hardpack and corn, I’d check out the Alchemist Wailer 99 or perhaps the svelte Cassiar series.
One thing I know for sure is that as we head into winter once more, our eternal optimism says that we’re due for a good year: 2018-2019 is already shaping up to be a great ski season in Colorado, and the Alchemist Wailer 106’s will be occupying the “daily driver” position on my ski rack. Here’s to a great season!
Stats for the A106 Wailer
– Mike Soucy
American Mountain Guide/IFMGA Guide
AMGA Instructor Team Member