Gear Review

Black Diamond Justice (2013)

Black Diamond Justice

Black Diamond's revised Justice is a highly-specialized ski. The fat-waisted eight-pound Justice is built specifically for powder-bomb touring—and not much else.

New as of 2012 (the green version), the Justice returns in 2013 with orange graphics but otherwise unchanged, offering tip and tail rocker and quite a lot of area—an impressive 111 millimeters underfoot. By today's standards the Justice is not crazy light, at eight pounds per pair (175cm), but it is certainly one of the lighter skis you'll find with this much flotation.

As you'd expect, the Justice is quite at home in powder, with a nice, snappy feel and of course lots of flotation. It might seem pointless to contemplate the Justice's performance in other conditions, but I do feel compelled to mention that the Justice becomes quite unbalanced on hard snow.

To be specific, the Justice becomes noticeably touchy, even skittish, requiring you to gingerly feather the edge and pivot the ski to initiate the turn, and then tending to rail and break an arc as soon as you do try to settle into a turn. Obviously, hard snow performance is moot for those who'll be touring Little Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch on a standard-issue Greatest-Snow-On-Earth day.

Riders of other ranges, however, may find themselves wishing for a bit more versatility. Consider Volkl's Nunataq, which rides 107mm underfoot and far outclasses the Justice on mixed snow at basically dead even weight. There is also Blizzard's upcoming Kabuki, which should be close in overall dimensions and weight, and which offers a similar feel to Blizzard's double-outstanding Cochise.

Again, only you can decide how relevant hard snow performance is to your own needs when it comes to a backcountry powder ski. But let me say my own thinking on this subject has evolved. What we are seeing especially in the 2013-model year is that makers are finding ways to build solid hard-snow performance into all of their skis, rockered powder planks included. Two years ago or perhaps even last season, the Justice was far more newsworthy. Today, I fear, it already looks a bit dated.

About SierraDescents

When there is snow, SierraDescents is Andy Lewicky's California backcountry skiing and mountaineering website. Without snow, sierradescents becomes an ill-tempered hiking and climbing blog.

Pray for snow.