REVIEWS AND TESTS
Ski Tests & Reviews
Whitedot Altum 114 179cm (2019-2020)
Whitedot Skis Ltd
91-93 Green Lane,
Leeds, LS16 7EY, United Kingdom
Suggested Retail Price (MSRP):
Rating (with comments):
(1="get me off these things"->10="I have to own a pair")
7+ Technical hardpack or packed powder carving for its dimensions
9 - Mixed surface conditions, chop
8-9 - Powder
Whitedot Skis began to really get skis out of prototype mode and sold to the public in 2009. (We tested some of their first production candidate models back in 2009 in France.) The collaborative effort of several enthusiasts who wanted to build unique and effective skis in small batches using designs developed with pro freeriders at Chamonix and Verbier testing grounds. The guys at Whitedot believe in constantly evolving their designs and exploring the effectiveness of different materials, so their models often behave differently from year to year. Whitedot Skis are very popular in Europe for a reason...they seem to work for the conditions found in the Alpes of France, Italy, Switzerland and Austria.
"Twin tipped, double rocker, built for fun!
Drawing on our years of ski building experience, the Altum Series is a playful, versatile all-mountain ski collection. Twin tipped, rockered and built for fun, the Altum Series utilises Whitedot’s unique design philosophy and rocker profiles to form a range of skis for creative riding.
From first lifts to last light.
Utilising our new twin rocker profile the Altum 114 is designed to bring a new level of flexibility to the mountain, with the 114mm waist you can easily release the tail at the end of the turn giving you an intuitive and adaptable feel to a ‘big’ ski.
Our signature tip and tail taper pushes more width into the forefront of the ski, this allows for a forward mounting position making turn initiation easier without sacrificing float and balance in the deep snow. A resort friendly 2mm of camber and hard carving sidecut provides a stable and agile platform to give you an adaptable ski for all over the mountain and side country adventures."
- Website March 2020
Technical Ski Data:
Length 179cm, 187cm
Radius 22m, 24m
Effective Edge 1411mm, 1491mm
Dims 143 - 114 - 132 (187cm)
1.9mm steel, 360 degree edges
Screen printed ISO foil topsheet with two layers of lacquer
Poplar/ash laminate core with tri-axle fibreglass, carbon fibre/kevlar stringers, dry weave binding retention plate & rubber foil dampening tape
Bindings and Boots Used:
Tyrolia Attack 12 Demo
Salomon S-Max 130 Carbon boots.
On first look, the Altum has a significant rocker rise and depth tip and tail, with a somewhat conservative looking sidecut. Flex is somewhat softish at the tip and tail, with a nicely solid underfoot flex. Fit and finish are very nice, with a glossy, handsome topsheet you just know looks great now, but may show some scars later after some crashes and liftline antics. The Altum 114 feels fairly light in hand for its 114mm width underfoot and looks playful and floaty. The quality of the construction and clean graphic gives the impression of a really nice ski for a relatively lower-than-expected price point.
Shin-deep dry powder, packed powder, wind-pack, corduroy groomers, eastern hardpack and cut-up fresh powder, some small bumps.
Head honcho Paul Jamieson at Whitedot suggested we formally review the Altum 114 since he considers it a personal favorite. When the boss of a ski company says you should try his favorite ski in the lineup, you pay attention, so we did. Whitedot says the Altum series is playful and versatile for all conditions. We would have to agree. The Altum 114 skis shorter than its measured length, and feels more like a 105mm ski than its 114mm midbody width would have you believe. Agility and edge-to-edge transitions with the 143-114-132 chassis are quicker and easier than you expect, immediately leading the pilot to seek out fun-and-giggles runs and attitudes rather than feel like "this is all business today". The Altum 114 has a spunky, energetic feel with a nice dose of quiet and secure feel underfoot, and is definitely an easy-skiing ride, despite its largish surface area.
The Altum's bias is more toward the all-mountain fun freeride spectrum than the "hard-charging freight train" category, so it has a great appeal to a very wide audience ranging from backcountry freeriders to frontside resort skiers. The Altum 114 has a progressive, slightly cab-forward mount position and its geometry delivers a surprisingly quick response when changing direction in 3-dimensional snow, so expressive freeriders will find it easy to send and land in all kinds of terrain, while fun-loving terrain cruisers will spend very little energy getting the skis to do exactly what's needed in all kinds of situations. The somewhat softish tips and tails deliver quick response, absorb terrain irregularities and eliminate hangups in tight conditions, but can feel a bit flappy at highest speeds and buzz a bit underfoot on rock-hard corduroy at race-pace, but the Altums never feel skittery or unhinged at speed, keeping their midbody nicely planted at all times.
Hardpack bite is surprisingly good for this size ski, and you can trench some GS-like turns into packed surfaces easily. The rockered tip and tail make the Altum 114 feel a bit shorter than its measured length on hardpack since the contact length is relatively short, but there is always bite available so there is never any insecurity on hard surfaces unless you fail to roll the 114mm midbody up on edge sufficiently. Some heavier, more muscle-bound hard-charging skiers may overski the Altum until they learn to relax and ride the ski instead of drive it. Smearabilty, pivotability and mid-arc radius adjustments are pretty darn effortless and quick. Some testers coming off a stiffer or larger-radius ski felt the Altum 114 came around in 3-D snow conditions a little too quickly, or at least faster than they expected. The forebody focus of Whitedot's geometry and mount position on the Altum 114 is intentional, and a few runs quickly tells the skier how this ski will behave in snow. Whitedot wanted a 114mm category ski to be fun and versatile all over the mountain, and they hit the mark with the Altum with a modern geometry and flex pattern, while still retaining the distinctive feel of a Whitedot ski.
Hardpack and Boilerplate:
Normally, a ski 114mm underfoot with soft tip and tail is never expected to really bite that well on the hardpack surfaces of our testing terrain in New England, but right out of the box in stock tune, the Altums delivered a really respectable, if not surprisingly good, grip along their length. We always start testing a ski with the tune it's delivered with out of the box. Whitedot's new production and finishing facility is to be thanked for the way they delivered the Altum 114. Out of the wrapper, the skis were very respectable and in better tune than some we've tried from the big-10 brands. With a quick pass of a diamond stone by hand, the Altum's were grippy enough to take anywhere on the frontside resorts of Vermont when conditions where nearly glossy underfoot. The Altums deliver a nice bite into the surface at the point of rocker departure in the forebody, and maintain a strong and stable grip along the entire length of the ski back to the tails with confident consistancy...something we really like in a large-ish ski. Vibration control on hardpack surfaces is very good, but a definitive and sometimes annoying buzz can be generated at very high speeds on rock-hard corduroy. Once the ridges of the corduroy are scraped down to a dusting of sugar from skier traffic, this buzz disappears. The feel for the texture of the snow underfoot was detailed without being distracting unless you are warping at GS speeds on solid corduroy surfaces where the buzz underfoot can be felt. The Altum 114 can deliver a spunky bit of zest out of the turns on hardpack during carving sessions, something most people don't expect with a relatively wide ski oriented toward soft snow conditions, making the 114 playful even on groomers. Resort skiers and those who haunt sometimes "durable surfaces" in the backcountry will find plenty of security with the Altums. Reduce the factory base bevel tune with a pass on a modern stone grinder, and you get get even more grip and hardpack performance. Skiing the Altum 114 at high speeds on firm surfaces was confident, with just a bit of tip flap at warp 9 speeds, but the overall chassis remains quiet and stable without feeling planky or jittery, and carvy enough to ski the frontside all day if you want...not bad for a soft-snow oriented big ski.
Mixed Surface & Variable Conditions:
The Whitedot Altum 114 really shines when the early morning powder gets tracked-out into chop, or the windblown slabs cross the landscape. While the Altum 114 falls into the surfier category of all-terrain skis rather than the powerhouse freight train category, it's construction delivers a stable, predictable and easy-to-manage personality so you really don't think about what your skiing through... you just aim where you want to go. You can get a bit of tip flap in rotted surfaces at very high speeds, but the skis stay on-track nicely without serious deflection or unintended directional changes. Some skiers thought the Altums came-around quicker than they anticipated in 3-D snow, but not in a darty fashion...just quicker than they expected. We feel this is due to the progressive, forward-biased mount and geometry which makes the Altum so agile for its size. They deliver a nicely balanced flotation along their entire length in cruddy conditions, while allowing solid edging when needed. The ride is spunky rather than deadly dampened, with a high fun-factor and low demands upon the skier. You can ski the Altums all day in these conditions without beating yourself into an early apres-ski session on the deck at the lodge. Trees and open terrain were equally tamed by the Altums. The Altums have the traditional Whitedot lightweight feel underfoot with friendly attitude. We really liked the Altums in mixed snow conditions. If you're loking for a damp and heavy-feeling directional ski, the Altum is not your choice. It you want an agile, light-feeling and somewhat surfy ski for mixed surface conditions with a stable and predictable feel and a bit of spunk you can ski from first chair to last chair, the Altums are the ticket.
While our weather in Vermont delivered seriously sad rain and warm conditions immediately after January, we got some early shin-deep time on the Altums and found they delivered a nicely balanced ride in powder with drifty fun and plenty of float. The relatively soft tips and tails fed the ski into powder easily with zero balky feel and easy rise-and-dive on demain. You can run them flat or bank your turns, smearing tip or tail as needed without any protest, which makes them fun. (Do you sense a thread of "fun" running through the review?). "Centered" is a good word to describe the Altums in powder, and we like that. The lightweight feel of the Altum helps minimize effort from the pilot needed to navigate in powdery conditions, yet the ski always remains stable and never flittery.
Turn Initiation, Apex & Finish:
The Altum's geometry and mount point is said to intentionally focus more width into the forebody, and this reveals itself in the Altum's quick turn response in 3D snow. The Altums don't show this behavior on hardpack conditions, where they remain well balanced fore and aft and don't seem to show a bias. In softer conditions, the Altums engage the surface quickly and will pull the ski into the banked turn with very little effort and want to keep tightening the turn until you lower the edge angle. In firm conditions, they engage quickly but maintain the same directional angle and don't feel like they want to tighten the radius. The Altums like being deep into their turns at the apex with a solid chassis underfoot and you can taper the end of the turn to adjust the radius as needed. The Altums have a solid, confident grip and pressure at the apex of turns in any snow, and the finish can be feathered off or maintained in a carving fashion, which makes them versatile. Some skiers felt the strong pull across the hill by the forebody in 3-D snow was surprising, but they quickly adapted to the feel by relaxing their drive of the ski and relying on the ride of the ski instead and found it helpful in the trees. The Altum 114 has a fair amount of tip and tail rocker, so it enters and releases from turns easily, while the traditional Whitedot layup (not their Carbonlite construction) dampens flex and vibrations to keep the ski quiet on the snow surface at speed without feeling heavy and overly damp.
Manufacturer's Mounting Position:
We played with the mounting position fore and aft of the center mark, and found 1-2cm back from center on packed conditions helped create higher-speed GS turns with smoother transitions, while on-the-factory-mark was best in mixed snow conditions.
Analogies: ("This ski is like...")
A young, playful retriever willing to run and romp anywhere with you anytime, but always well behaved.. It grows on you the more you spent
Things I Would Change About This Ski:
Maybe slightly stiffer in the tip to slow down turn response at speed in 3-D snow.
Short Answer When Someone Asks "What Do You Think About This Ski?":
Great choice for a wide-ish ski for all over the mountain for those who don't want a stiff charger and want a playful personality.
What kind of skier is this ski good for and not suitable for?
Heavy hard chargers may overski the Altum. It's suitable for nearly everyone else from intermediates to experts.
Advice To People Considering This Ski:
Don't be afraid to buy it a size up from what you normally would. They ski and feel a bit shorter than they measure.
None found other than customer reviews on the Whitedotskis.com website itself.
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