Skimo Co

Atomic Ultimate 78 Ski


A wider version of the Ultimate race ski, the 78 is an elite mountaineering ski made by Atomic. Inspired by Kilian’s transition from racer to extreme alpinist, the Ultimate 78 is designed to go high and fast. An all-mountain rocker and innovative sidewall give confidence when you need it. The light wood core and carbon laminates keep your legs fresh for when you need them. Good luck talking yourself out of needing these skis.

  • 78mm width is great for ski mountaineering in unknown conditions.
  • 16m radius and 15% tip rocker turns quickly and overcomes obstacles.
  • Step Down sidewall is thickest under the binding to improve dampening and edge grip.
  • Half-cap construction near the tip and tail is lightweight yet resistant to damage.
  • Wood core is made from Karuba Paulownia and poplar, making it light and lively.
  • Core is laminated with carbon fiber which is the light way to make a rigid ski.
Lengths (cm) 158, 164, 170, 176
convert to ounces
945g [158]
1035g [164]
1075g [170]
1145g [176]
Weight (pair) 1890g [158]
2070g [164]
2150g [170]
2290g [176]
Sidecut   111-78-101 [158]
112-78-102 [164]
113-78-103 [170]
114-78-104 [176]
Turn Radius   15m [158]
16m [164]
17m [170]
18m [176]
Skin Fix   Tip notch, flat recessed tail
Specs Verified Yes
Profile   15% rocker, 85% camber
Shape   Round tip, steep-ish sidecut, flat pintail
Construction   Step down sidewall w/ carbon laminates
Core   Karuba Paulownia + poplar
Skimo Co Says
Usage High level ski mountaineering
Notes Wide "rockered" parallel skins available
Bottom Line Competitive all around
Compare to other Low-fat Skis

Questions & Reviews

Nate (downright abused product)
If you don’t have time for my wordiness…. BUY THIS SKI. It’s fantastic and certainly a contender for the best mountaineering ski on the market.

In late winter, even though we were still skiing 1-2ft storms every couple of days, I knew I needed to find a mountaineering ski for the spring. As an employee of the store, the selection at Skimo Co wasn’t making it easy for me to decide. Constantly nagging my co-workers about their likes and dislikes of every ski on the wall wasn’t really getting me anywhere because each ski I asked about someone loved and someone else was lukewarm about. I happened to demo a ski with very very similar dimensions to the Ultimate 78, and realized that this was the dimension I was looking for but not the flex.

After hand flexing the Ultimate 78 and checking the price, I decided that I needed a ski and this one seemed decent. I purchased the 170cm length, mounted it, and headed out.

On the skin track, it felt as I would expect from a 1000g, 170cm ski. I barely noticed it. The one thing I guess I did notice was that even with a Hagan ZR race binding mounted on it, the weight distribution was such that the tail dropped very nicely enabling effortless kick turns.

My first descent with the ski was a 55+ entrance to a committing chute remaining above 45 until the apron. I side slipped in a couple feet until I was committed. I made a ski cut, stability assessed, I got to turning and was BLOWN AWAY. The first series of 5-6 hop turns above a rock rib were automatic. I needed no adjustment, the skis just did as I wished. With the technical difficulties behind me, I opened up into more flowing carves and the Ultimate 78 continued to respond. I felt like I had been skiing these skis for years.

When I cut across the apron, the aspect changed and the snow turned to buffed powder. I was sure that a ski so skinny and light was going to give me trouble. To my surprise, I was impressed. As long as I did my part by keeping the turns a little shorter the ski responded by staying on top. It bounced from turn to turn with tons of energy.

With many more days on the Ultimate 78 since that first run, my positive experience has continued. I’ve since skied every condition imaginable and had 100% positive experiences. On the occasional resort groomer heading back in from a tour I have pushed this ski very hard to see if I can find its limit. I have not. It stays engaged, stable, and energetic. In breakable crust, which no ski truly can excel, it’s the one I want to be on because the low swing weight keeps it from running away and enables me to muscle over the crust. It’s as fun in corn as anything I’ve ever skied, but light enough to give me a few more laps over the others. The same low swing weight and stable personality make it my #1 choice any time I know I’m skiing something steep.

This ski is a real keeper and is going to be staying in my quiver for as long as it lasts. Then I’ll probably buy it again!
Comment on this review:

Question from Veenstra
I am considering these for telemark... but they are getting pretty light. Any thoughts on whether or not I'll just rip out a big hole where the binding used to be? Is there a mounting-plate area?
Answer from jbo
Hi Veenstra, there is a strong titanal plate in the mounting area that seems like it would hold anything in.
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Question from Ira O'Meara
Hi There,
I'm wondering about the difference between these skis and the Atomic Backland UL 78 Skis. They are compareable in camber, weight and cut... what is the differences that i cannot see from the pictures?
Answer from jbo
Hi Ira, Atomic reshaped the tips a bit for the Backland UL. They are very similar in construction.
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Patrick (downright abused product)
This is my third season on these skis, and they're still amazing. Lots of light skis are either super stiff or super noodly-- must be hard to find the perfect medium flavor. Atomic found it. This ski feels like it's 10 cm longer than it is, and it skis soft snow better than it has any business doing with a 78 mm waist. I have these mounted up with the dynafit superlight v1.0 bindings, and I couldn't be happier.

I've used this ski for ski mountaineering, training, and traverses, but it has also become my go-to ski for everyday touring when there's less than overhead powder. The tip notch is a great touch, as putting a skin on this ski that requires a heavy tip loop would be close to criminal. Set it up with a race-style skin attachment and some european mohair and it's a damn light pair of matchsticks that punch way above their weight.

This is my desert island ski.
Comment on this review:

Question from Martin
Wondering about length for this type of ski. I currently ski Salmon Q105s in 174 (first ski), goal for this ski would be PCNW volcano and other Skimo. Would 170 be too long for someone 5' 9"?
Answer from jbo
Hi Martin, the length can depend on usage. Generally folks go a bit shorter for mountaineering vs general touring, so you're headed the right direction. I wouldn't say 170 is too long for your height, in fact it might be your sweet spot (noting weight can also be a factor).
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thomc (used product regularly)
I used these to break into the skinny ski (<80 mm waist) clique. I have some stelvio trabs and denalis, and really like them both, but was looking to lose some weight (nothing new.) Jason suggested these when I was looking at Hagens which he thought might be too soft given my size (6'2" 195lbs). I have had numerous other Atomics over the years, all good (my BD approach skis were made by them and still going strong about 15-20 years in, and I have some killer tele boards...if I ever tele'd anymore.) These are just amazing - to try them out I've been mostly skiing the east (ie man-made snice) with my kid and they have been just terrific on piste. I took them off piste out west and they were great there. Not as soft a rocker as the Denali, not as good an all arounder as the Trab, and certainly no floater, but good for me, especially since I'm skiing on a 170 (I ski the trabs at 178, the Denalis 184). Given how I crave an advantage on the up, and need a torsionally stiff ski for the down, it is hard to imagine a better ski, and it was an incredible value. I think this might be my go-to ski mountaineering ski, and it has some competition in the quiver.
Reply from thomc
It's worth mentioning that Jason and his crew provide by far the best mounting of skimo and ski mountaineering setups I've had, right alongside the Mountaineer in Keene Valley (props to Drew Haas and owner Vinny), all the way to Snell's in Chamonix. Binders, boot fitting, those things you may need, they do very well. They seem to know you may hang it out there skiing on their setups and take the time and do it right. I always felt like I was lucky when I got a good mount at a larger operation with a focus on alpine boards primarily, not so at SkiMo. I'm not equipped with jigs and skills to do my own. So I need a good shop. They are it. They provide a great service.
Comment on this review:

Question from Gaby
Hi, apart of the atomic skins for the 78mm waist width other mohair skin could you recommend me (with race tip fix)? Maybe coltex pdg 68mm or is too narrow to have good edge grip?
Answer from jbo
Hi Gaby, 68mm is a bit too skinny for these. Best bet besides the Atomics is to puts some race tips on some material off the rolls. Colltex 80s would be good for a fast skin, or go to something like the Ski Trab WC Race 95mm race roll or wider for more coverage.
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Question from Alastair Brunton
What is the recommended drill size for mounting bindings to these skis. I cant see a specified size? Can you help?
Answer from jbo
Hi Alastair, Atomic recommends a 3.6 bit for their wood core skis.
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Randolph R (downright abused product)
I must admit - I have likely never been so satisfied with a pair of skis as I am with the Ultimate 78. The weight to performance ratio is simply unlike anything else I have tried. I own some race class skis that I consider to be versatile enough to take out in more demanding terrain (eg. Movement Gold Fish), but the level of performance increase that comes at the price of a few hundred grams is killer. The ultimate 78 skis like a much larger and heavier ski and thus doesn't really require any adjustment in skiing style, in contrast to a more race oriented ski. I think this is mostly a product of its high torsional stiffness (really solid through the middle of the ski). Add in just enough rocker and I've had zero issue going full speed with big arcs on powder days. This hasn't been a killer snowfall season so they've seen their share rocky runs and the occasional down climb/dry ski - durability hasn't been an issue.The waist is just narrow enough to feel solid on steeps over 50 degrees, but not quite as solid as something 6 or 7 mil narrower. I wouldn't use them to race, and they're not an optimal resort ski. But for everything in between (short of hardcore freeride) they are just the ticket! Very happy.
Comment on this review:

Question from Randolph R
Any thoughts on these vs. the Hagan Cirrus?
Answer from jbo
Hey Randolph, will know more after a season on 'em! Fairly similar in weight, sidecut, etc, but these feel a bit more refined. They have a metal reinforcement plate in the binding area and a slightly stiffer flex. Both are fun skis...
Answer from Jeremy G
Just wondering if you've had anymore thoughts on this. These are two pair I'm trying to decide between.
Answer from jbo
Hi Jeremy & Randolph, my two cents on the skis. The Cirrus is a little more playful and float a bit better than the Atomic due to the big tip. Both are capable and carve well on smooth hard snow. The Atomic is stiffer and meaner, and probably a touch more durable. I retired my Cirrus last season and already thinking about getting some Ultras (aka Cirrus 2.0)!
Answer from Jeremy G
Thanks for the update! I ended up purchasing the ultimate 85s. I'll let you know what I think once I've gotten the chance to put some miles on them.
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Question from Randolph
I notice that the Atomic website lists these at 980g per ski. What gives?
Answer from jbo
Hi Randolph, it is fairly common for ski weights to be off unfortunately. It's partially due to the iterative process that goes into ski design & production, and partially due to wishful thinking. We weigh them all so you get the real story, look for "Specs Verified" in the Specs section.
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Model: Ultimate 78

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