2023 Vӧlkl Rise Above 88 W Review
If you have your sights set on long backcountry tours even during low tide, this ski may be just the ticket
This article was first published by SkiMag.com.
The Scores (out of 10)
- Crud Performance: 7.6
- Responsiveness: 9
- Stability at Speed: 7
- Flotation: 5
- Playfulness: 7.2
- Forgiveness: 6.8
- Versatility: 7.4
- Quickness: 8.6
- Price: $700
- Lengths: 149, 156, 163, 170
- Dimensions: 130.6-88-111
- Radius: 14
- Weight: 1,187g (170cm)
- Level: Intermediate, Advanced
In a Nutshell
- Pros: Quickness, Responsiveness
- Cons: Floatation, Forgiveness
For the 2022-’23 season, the Rise Above 88 W sees a new topsheet, but otherwise remains unchanged, bringing the reliability and solid feel of Völkl skis to long backcountry tours. The Rise Above 88 W is light and efficient on the ascent, yet slices through crud and hardpack like a butter knife. The narrow 88mm waist makes this ski shine in firm, variable conditions.
Völkl’s 3D radius sidecut design provides a shorter radius in the center of the ski for short swing turns, and a longer radius at the tip and tail for big sweeping turns at high speed. Since no two backcountry runs are the same, testers appreciated the Rise Above’s willingness to respond to a variety of conditions and make the most out of a low snow season (or year). “A great backcountry ski for Colorado skiers who rarely get fresh, awesome snow,” said tester Jenny Wiegand. “Ideal for skiers who get out no matter what, even when it hasn’t snowed in a while.”
Combined with Völkl’s hybrid multilayer wood core, a combo of strategically placed poplar, Paulownia, and beech wood translates to a confidence-inspiring ski for big missions. Its low swing weight makes the Rise Above lively and easy to whip around, with camber underfoot delivering stability and edge hold you can count on in steep chutes where precision is non-negotiable. While the wide 130mm shovel and early rise tip do a valiant job of keeping the ski from sinking like an anchor in a few inches of fresh, the flat tails boost stability as well as making it easier to plunge your skis into the snow to create a makeshift snow anchor.
Testers touted the Rise Above’s capabilities and trustworthiness in a variety of terrain, but agree that it’s definitely not a one-quiver ski. Unsurprisingly, it falls short in deep snow, although the wide shovel allowed it to float better than some of the other 80-something underfoot skis we tested, like the Black Crows Ova Freebird and the Salomon MTN 86 W Pro. “Versatile and fun!” noted tester Kianna Lauck. “I’m an intermediate skier and I felt comfortable and confident.”
You’ll want to leave this ski at home on a real pow day, but for resort fitness laps, spring objectives, and areas that see lots of high pressure, it’s a blast to rip around on and a good reminder that wider is not always better. “I truly think anyone from an intermediate backcountry skier to an accomplished ski mountaineer could have an insanely fun day on this ski,” summed up tester Jordan Garrett, who logs a lot of vert in the Colorado backcountry. “Beginners will find the turn initiation a breeze, and advanced skiers will be able to jump turn and zip through all types of terrain.”
Lily Krass is a freelance ski journalist based in Jackson, Wyoming with work featured in SKI Magazine, Powder Magazine, Freeskier, Teton Gravity Research, and Ascent Backcountry Snow Journal. She spends winters backcountry skiing in Grand Teton National Park and riding lifts at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, with the occasional trip to the Alps (for the food, obviously). While she’s been in ski boots since she learned to walk, Lily has been professionally writing about skiing, gear, and all things outdoors for the past seven years. In addition to an all-consuming addiction to powder skiing mixed with heavy doses of Type II fun, Lily takes snacking seriously, and when she’s not writing or sliding on snow, she’s likely deep into a baking project in her tiny kitchen. She is the co-author of Beyond Skid: A Cookbook For Ski Bums, a collection of dirtbag-friendly recipes inspired by life in a mountain town.