High Gear: Review of the RMU Carbon Apostle men’s ski
RMU Carbon Apostle men’s ski
Sizes: 165 cm, 175 cm, 185 cm
Waist: 105 mm
Weight: 3,188 grams (7 pounds) in 175 mm
Camber: Hybrid, with camber underfoot (70 percent of ski) and full rocker camber on the nose and tail
Construction: Yellow aspen core with two layers of carbon, 2.2 mm World Cup sintered base
To Carbon Apostle is made by hand at the Rocky Mountain Underground factory in Canada. At this point in the season, the RMU online store only has 165 cm and 175 cm models available. Other options are found at authorized dealers. For more info, including RMU’s full line of backcountry skis, see www.rockymountainunderground.com.
It seems like just about anyone who steps on a pair of skis dreams of heading into the backcountry. These days, it’s no longer just a dream — it’s in your face.
Part of the allure is fresh, untracked terrain. Duh. Resort skiing has always been about the convenience of chair lifts and groomed terrain; but, at some point, folks who hardly thought about venturing into the great, white unknown decided unmaintained snow was better than never-ending lift lines and $100 lift tickets.
Count me among them.
My guess is that this shift was led by equipment. Over the past 10 or 15 years, backcountry gear has dropped in price and, at the same time, become more visible than ever before. (The alpine touring section at Denver’s SIA Snow Show this weekend has nearly doubled in the past few seasons.) All this new gear made the terrain itself more accessible, which in turn made the idea of a three-hour trek for a single immaculate run somehow more appealing. Price and simplicity were the final barriers to entry for most backcountry riders.
Count me among them.
The guys at Rocky Mountain Underground might agree. Most started as park skiers, including co-founder and CEO Mike Waesche, before they discovered the joys of the backcountry. Today, RMU makes a ski for just about everyone, but the company’s heart and soul is still buried deep in that luscious backcountry powder. It started with the Apostle, the brand’s flagship men’s model made with the signature five-point design. The original Apostle is still RMU’s best-selling model, and, at $799, it’s right in line with the majority of purpose-built skis.
Then came the Carbon Apostle. Last season, RMU started experimenting with carbon inserts in the core to make a lighter ski with enough backbone for bumps, drops and steeps. The original Apostle weighs 3,359 grams (7.5 pounds) in 175 cm, while the carbon version weighs 3,188 (7 pounds). The difference seems miniscule, but, on a long, sustained skin trip, it can be a leg-saver. The carbon concept was a hit with alpine-touring fanatics and returned this season with an updated profile, including refined carbon inserts that are designed to cut chatter.
The Carbon Apostle is built just like its forbearer — the measurements underfoot and on the tips are the same — with one major addition: the carbon ribs. I brought them on a skin trip up Baldy Mountain to see if the high-tech inserts are worth an extra $200.
The field test
I took the Carbon Apostles to Baldy on a gorgeous January day between snowstorms. The road leading to the Iowa Mill at the mountain’s base was packed solid by then, but I’d been out on the face just two days before and knew there were fresh tracks to be had.
After 10 minutes of skinning, I nearly forgot the skis were on my feet. They aren’t quite as light as some — the La Sportiva Vapor Nano weighs all of 5.5 pounds and costs about $1,200 — but my legs couldn’t tell the difference on a relatively short trip. The skis also felt stable and responsive on the occasional mellow uphill.
At the end of the 40-minute skin trip, my legs felt about the same. I’ve been on AT setups in the past (usually a powder ski with combo AT/alpine bindings),and the Baldy trip is about my threshold. Those bulkier setups are murder on my groin and hips after an hour. With that in mind, I have no problem recommending the Carbon Apostle for full-day or even multi-day trips. They’re made for this stuff.
But are they made for charging powder? The shape might be the same as the original, but sometimes light doesn’t mean responsive and powerful, even with carbon inserts. I skinned a bit higher to a ridgeline beneath the upper mill and dropped into an open, untouched line through the trees on skier’s right. The skis were responsive side to side and floated like a dream. Sometimes all you really need is 105 mm underfoot.
My only qualm: chatter on hardpack. After the short-but-sweet powder run, I went back on the road for a mellow downhill to the parking lot. The edge control was just as precise and, thankfully, the carbon inserts provided plenty of backbone. This is not a dead fish ski, but it’s also not the same as a ski with pure wood in the core. Though the carbon ribs vibrated ever so slightly on the choppy road, it wasn’t a deal-breaker. Just something to keep in mind.
Is it a good thing the backcountry is now more accessible than ever? Maybe. But if a burgeoning AT industry means more skis like the Carbon Apostle, I’ll make peace with a few more tracks on my favorite routes.
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