K2 Pinnacle 118 Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
For this review, we tested the K2 Pinnacle 118 in the 191cm length. It's also offered in a 177 and 184. Our testers prefer longer turn shapes and higher speeds, thus why we opted for the 191.
With a solid track record for making big mountain powder boards, K2 has a reputation to maintain. The Pinnacle series falls in line as a perfect selection for soft snow. A pronounced shovel and generous amounts of rocker make it an obvious contender for floatation in deep snow. Furthermore, the semi-cap construction helps both initiate and release turns in soft snow.
However, the Pinnacle isn't exclusively a deep snow pow ski. During early season storms, our testers gathered the impression that this ski has a preference for soft snow. It doesn't necessarily have to be deep, but soft. Generally speaking, the Pinnacle has a more intuitive response when it is tracking in fresh snow versus firm surfaces. Though we also expect it to be a top-performer in knee-deep blower, we've been totally happy with how it handles dust-on-crust, wind buff, and chalky refills.
Stability at Speed
Most capped skis don't use titanal sheets in their layup, and the Pinnacle is no exception. In most cases, we would expect even a partially-capped ski to have a pronounced speed limit simply due to the lack of a metal backbone. However, we were thoroughly impressed at how well the Pinnacle 118 handles high speeds. The only time it lost composure during rapid fall line descents was when the snow surface was hard and undulated. Though, these conditions take almost any ski off-track.
Compared to skis with full metal layers like the Volkl Confession or Nordica Enforcer Pro, the Pinnacle 118 feels less like a speed machine and more like a big-mountain technical tool. Stability comes in the form of sure-footedness rather than a buttery ride at mach speeds. Though, in most conditions we encountered, this model was able to maintain stable footing. It's only rough, refrozen snow that would limit your potential to ride these skis at your highest caliber.
When it came to playfulness, our testers scored the Pinnacle 118 in the middle of the pack. While it isn't geared towards landing switch or buttering off of knolls, the springy nature of the carbon does provide lots of feedback when bouncing in and out of your turns. Furthermore, the high and long rocker rise in both tip and tail mean that this ski has a pronounced pivot point, which allows for plenty of steeze-inciting turns and spine sprays. Though it resides firmly in the big mountain category, we see no reason why this couldn't be a passable freeride ski as well.
Carbon reacts much differently than metal does concerning power transfer and shock absorption. Because the Pinnacle 118 relies on carbon stringers in place of metal sheets, this ski is much less damp than, say, the Enforcer Pro. Dampness, in this case, refers to how well a ski can minimize natural vibrations and shocks during ski to snow contact. While it's got the aptitude to handle bumped-out snow, the Pinnacle isn't quite damp enough to earn a high score in this category.
But don't let that discourage you. The Pinnacle 118 is still plenty stiff. However, stiffness doesn't always relate to a smooth ride. For heavy or strong skiers, this ski will be easy to maneuver through variable terrain and mixed snow conditions. Lighter skiers will probably find themselves getting deflected each time they bring these into the crud. Though, this issue could be reduced by going with a shorter length.
K2 has never really been known for making skis for frontside terrain. They are almost exclusively an all-mountain ski brand, with a great deal of their focus falling on the off-piste category. To be honest, we weren't expecting much in terms of carving when we looked at the profile and camber of the Pinnacle 118. We were surprised to find that this unassuming semi-cap is capable of pulling tight-radius turns together. At the 191 length, the stated turn radius is 23m. But because of its progressive flex and minimal effective edge, the turns felt a bit tighter.
Of course, the lack of metal means that this ski doesn't have the same exit power as some others. But we still found the Pinnacle to be snappy and powerful. Thanks to carbon stringers, the wood core has an added resilience and quickness in turns. While it doesn't grip firm snow quite as well as we'd like, it provides an adequate amount of turning power and edge hold. You probably weren't looking at a 118mm underfoot ski for railing turns on corduroy, now were you?
The Pinnacle 118 ranks as an above-average powder ski when it comes to relative versatility. Not only is it a consistent performer, it's also an approachable option for those looking to level-up to big-time powder boards. Some skiers may find themselves struggling to lay these planks over or to maintain control, but that's only if they're somewhere on-piste. In virgin snow, the Pinnacle is tough to beat.
It's not quite as frontside-friendly as the Nordica Enforcer Pro, but it can certainly get you from A to B without sacrificing firm-snow stability. Novice skiers may be happier with something else as a daily driver, but most folks would be happy using the Pinnacle 118 as a mid-season powder tool.
While it's not a quiver killer, the Pinnacle 118 could certainly serve as a primary setup for those who prefer ducking out of bounds and going fast across the fall line. If you live in an area that gets storms frequently, this ski will keep you happy between reloads as well as when it's nuking. With a preference for soft snow, we'd recommend the Pinnacle 118 to people who expect themselves to be in fresh snow the majority of the time. With a pair of AT bindings, it would be a rad, albeit heavy, backcountry setup.
The MSRP price for the Pinnacle 118 is $799, which we've come to regard as pretty standard. A reputable brand like K2 also offers a two-year limited warranty that will cover manufacturer defects like delamination or cracks in your layup. This may relieve those who have suggested that the brand'/s quality has started to slip in recent years.
Bottom line — the Pinnacle 118 is a top-of-the-line powder ski that has lots of new technology and well-intentioned design cues offered up by the pros. Without the dampness and consistency of metal, it won't be everyone's favorite. Though, when the surface is soft, it'd be near impossible to not enjoy the Pinnacle 118. Grab yourself a pair and see what everyone's talking about.
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