The Black Diamond Helio 105 Carbon Ski is flat out an incredible ski. Of course, like all skis, it has its time and place and its own set of drawbacks. But so far, after skiing 3 seasons on them, I can officially say it’s a great ski. Early models of the Helio 105 were definitely a work in progress, like any new product, but their latest models have really dialed it in. As a full disclosure, I live and ski in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah, where I primarily use these skis to access backcountry terrain, where I ski between 50-70 days per year.
Who is This Ski Meant For
This ski is designed as a backcountry ski, who is looking to climb to the top of their lines and charge down with technical precision. The ski is meant to handle powder and soft-snow conditions, but I’ve taken these inbounds over a dozen times and love the way it carves and turns on groomers.
Is the Ski Light Weight
First off, yes. I ski a 185cm length, which comes in at 6 lbs 11oz for the pair. As a comparison, the popular Nordica Enforcer 100 ski at 185cm weighs 9 lbs 11.9oz for the pair. And as they say, a pound on the foot, is like 3 lbs on the back. So these skis are designed to be light enough for touring 5,000′ vert days, but burly enough to not feel like you’re going to blow them up on the way down. With that being said, they’re not an ultra-light ski meant for massive days or ski mountaineering pushes like the Blizzard Zero G 95 ski which weighs in at 5 lbs 8oz for the pair. But remember, at the end of the day, it’s the weight of your full setup (and the shape you’re in). The lightest ski in the world won’t do you any good if you’re rocking the Salomon Shift Bindings and a beefy boot.
In general, the ski balances very well for such a light weight ski. I hate when touring I have a front heavy, or back heavy ski that doesn’t navigate well when cutting up a skin track and having to kick turn in a tight situation. Overall, these climb very well.
How Capable is the Ski
I am by no means an expert skier compared to some of the lines you see draped all over the Wasatch Backcountry. But this ski has never once, in any condition, let me down. The Wasatch, in most years, is covered in 5-10 feet of snow throughout the mountain range, and the skiing is amazing. Most lines, are massive powder runs where these skis excel. They float on top of the ski at high speeds and really allow you to make sweeping turns like you own the mountain, or tight turns to create ribbons with your friends. When it comes to steep, technical terrain, these skis also shine well. Their lightweight, yet, stiff construction allows you to jump turn with the best of them. I’ve gotten myself into some steep, precarious situations on these skis and have always had the confidence in getting out.
Downsides to This Ski
Because it is a lightweight, carbon layup ski, it means that it is a delicate ski. You cannot ski this think like your in-bounds skis you’ve had, and beaten up, for a decade. These are a tool for backcountry and powder skiing. If you crash the nose of these skis into a tree, rock, or anything, chances are they will completely split open or delaminate the carbon. I unfortunately landed in the back seat off a small cliff and delaminated the tail of the ski 2 seasons ago. Luckily, BD was able to warranty them and upgraded me to the latest model.
Additionally, these skis, because they are light, do terrible in crust and ice. There simply isn’t enough mass on the skis to charge through broken crust or icy mogul fields, and you end up going for a ride. I’ve also heard, but haven’t experienced, skiers setting their bindings a step back towards the tail because they’ve noticed the nose tends to dive under snow and not recover. I haven’t had this experience and I have my bindings mounted at factory recommendation.
Lastly, the tops of these skies tend to warm up in the sun, causing snow to stick pretty bad onto them. Some might say this isn’t a big deal, but every ounce really does count. And when you pay this much for a ski to be light weight, it sort of defeats the purpose if the entire tour uphill, they are carrying another pound of snow. Unsure if this happens to all touring skis, but in comparison to my friend’s skis, these have a much worse problem.
Is the price worth it?
At a price point of around $800, depending on the retailer and time of year you buy them, it’s a hard pill to swallow. These skis are a tool to further you backcountry skiing experience, but will not be your all around ski that will last you years to come. This ski is not priced for the average consumer, but for the skier who has a few skis in their quiver and are looking for a specific tool that will allow them to ski big, powder-filled lines, with confidence, and also have a blast doing so. So is the price worth it? It depends on who you ask. This ski is in the lower-to-middle price point for carbon fiber skis, which range from $700-$1200. If you have the means to afford it, or have a great discount or deal, I totally recommend these skis.
After skiing on these skis for three years, I really do love them. I’ve skied long days in them, short powder laps, and everything in between. The cores are very hard, but not invincible. Like any ski, with enough care and maintenance, they’ll last you many seasons. If you beat the hell out of them, take’m out on low snowfall years, and smack a few rocks, well, they’ll turn into a great shot-ski.
That’s my review, hope you found it interesting and helpful. Please reach out if you have any comments or questions. Have a great ski season! Pray for Snow.
..Photos Courtesy of Black Diamond..
Hi there, my name is Zachary Kenney and I’m an adventure filmmaker & photographer. My passion is to tell stories that will hopefully motivate you to go live a more adventurous life. Whether that is to experience the view from the summit of a mountain, or wandering through a new town on a road trip. Currently based out of Park City, UT.