Fischer Hannibal 106

NorthChutes2

In 2020 Fischer added a much-anticipated wide ski to its Hannibal lineup, the Hannibal 106.

I know the narrower, time-proven Fischer Hannibal 96 well. For most of the 2019 ski season, I used these boards everywhere from northern BC to the Selkirks to the Wapta to Svalbard, as a professional ski and mountain guide. I liked them a lot. They ski well, they are light, and they are tough. A great all-rounder if weight is important. The limitation I see with the Hannibal 96 is the relatively narrow width. For most of my winter I am skiing bottomless powder and so having boards that float is an asset. You can ski faster and more confidently on a wider variety of snow surfaces with a wider ski, it’s as simple as that. Hard supportive surfaces are a rarity in my experience guiding here in Western Canada, so going wide makes sense for me when I’m not concerned about saving weight or side-hilling with ski crampons on ice.

Fischer makes great skis and so I was naturally pretty excited when they finally got on the bandwagon of making a real Canadian-style powder touring ski: the Hannibal 106. Reading through the early (Spring 2019) reviews though I was a bit worried. Terms like “widowmaker in the trees” got me wondering if Fischer was really thinking about Canadian pow instead of the slackcountry freeride crowd. I got a chance to see them at SkiUphill last spring and flex tested them. Sure enough, they seemed really stiff. “Yup, widowmakers in the trees,” I was all-too-quick to agree.

Rave early reports last fall

As usual, the 2020 ski season here in the Canadian Rockies got an early start last fall. And with it came early reports about the Hannibal 106 and everyone was raving about how awesome they are. Consensus was that 106 is a totally different ski than the Hannibal 96, which is considered by most skiers to be a friendly intermediate ski. In fact Joel Desgreniers (co-owner at SkiUphill) says he’s selling the 96 like hotcakes to skiers, and especially lighter men and women, who want easy turning boards that don’t tip the scales. So, in what way are these two Hannibals different? I had to find out. I picked up a pair in January and started putting them through their paces.

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Austrian-born and -trained Mountain Guide Gery Unterasinger (left) and I this spring. Gery now rides a pair of Fischer 106s after seeing mine in action. Photo: Jorg Wilz / OnTop Mountaineering

My first week of using them was at Selkirk Lodge mid-January. While Selkirk is known for its mind-blowing alpine terrain, we spent a lot more time in the trees what with it being mid-January pow season. And so I am pleased to say they are not widowmakers in the trees. Quite the opposite: it’s like the Hannibal 106 reads my mind in the trees. They are responsive and quick turning while at the same time being super fast and fun when that’s what you’re after. Powerful but not at the expense of playfulness. I’m left wondering why the reviewers were so quick to judge the Hannibal 106 during the pre-production race to put out ski reviews.

The author descending the final pitches of “Solitaire Glacier” at Burnie Glacier Chalet this summer, chased by a group of South Tyrolians.

So fine, they’re good in hero snow. So are wooden skis. But how are they when the terrain steepens and the snow surface gets gnarly? Well, these are lightweight skis designed as much for the up as for the down. They aren’t what I would call “damp” but they also don’t have the skittery feel of skimo skis. They handle rugged conditions very well, thanks in part, I suppose, to the fact that they are fairly stiff after all, and definitely not ultra-light. My 106s, which are 185 cm, weigh in at 1972 g each with bindings. I use the SkiTrab Vario.2 bindings which are about 220-250 g each depending on who you ask. So that leaves me with, say, about 1730 g per ski (the 178 cm Hannibal 106 weighs 1572 g).

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Hannibal 106 by Fischer. It’s hard to read, but that says 1972 g on the scale. It’s all dusty from flour from covid break baking.

Weight comparisons: Middle of the class>

Here are some weight comparisons to put it into perspective:

  • G3 SENDr 188 cm (139/112/127 25.8 m radius) – 1880 g
  • Volkl BMT 109 186 cm (133/109/113 26.5 m radius) – 1740 g
  • Hannibal 106 185 cm (138/106/122 22.0 m radius)1732 g
  • Blizzard Zero G 105 188 cm (134-105-120 24.0 m radius)1700 g
  • G3 SEEKr 185 cm (139-110-127 18.2 m radius)188 cm – 1600 g (the lightest wide ski I’ve tried)

So it’s right in the middle of the spectrum for its class. Paired with a lightweight binding like the Vario.2 it feels light enough. I used these skis for a Wapta-in-a-day in early April and they didn’t seem to slow me down noticeably (they were my second choice but my Hannibal 96s were in the shop getting tuned and I couldn’t pass up a perfect weather day!)

By the way: it’s called 185 cm but I’ve compared them with the SENDr and SEEKr 188 and they’re identical in length and do, indeed, fit into a Sportube Series 3 along with three other pairs of touring skis and for sets of poles! I managed that on my Japan trip this January. 

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Late season ski touring in the Canadian Rockies. I’m on the deadly Travers / Hannibal 106 boot / ski combo. Photo credit: Gery Unterasinger

Quiver of One?

You’ll read a lot of reviews that tout these skis as the ideal Quiver of One, as if that’s enough to recommend them. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that (I’m a proponent of well-stocked quivers), but of course the fact that I used them this winter for everything from very deep snow to crud to long distance touring means that you can happily use them for everything. But here’s my scoring for different uses, and I’ll let you decide if it’s the Quiver of One for you, or an ideal addition to your fleet to fit a niche:

Downhill 9/10

I would give these 10/10 except, come on, they are primarily touring skis. They are light. But despite this fact they ski really, really well. They are confidence inspiring at high speeds, whether railing on hardpack or blasting pow; you can wiggle your way through the trees as they read your mind for the next tight corner; they smash through crud and crust just fine. As a touring ski there’s nothing lacking here.

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Fischer Hannibal 106 eating up some crusty snow late season. The author heading down to 40 Mile in Banff National Park. Photo: Jorg Wilz / OnTop Mountaineering

Durability ?/10

So far so good. I am reluctant to give them a rating for durability until I’ve spent a full season on them. But as a wood core board in the middle of its class for weight I can only assume these are tough. The layup is a Paulownia wood core with carbon fibre — a typical combo for tough, lightweight skis. And the sidewalls seem pretty beefy — certainly beefier than the 96s.

There’s a little hole in the shovel of the ski that accepts Fischer’s proprietary skins. I like the design a lot, and the new skins are EXCELLENT — but there’s a problem with the ski construction in that the little pink piece of plastic that helps with the fitting has a tendency to fall off when you’re not looking. I had the same problem with the Hannibal 96s last year. Fortunately this poses no problem at all to the function of the skis or skins and is mainly aesthetic. But I would dock a half a durability mark for this oversight. Really, Fischer knew about this already last year and they haven’t fixed the problem yet. Good news is that SkiUphill will pry them off and glue them back in with epoxy for you for a permanent fix — they offered, but I was in a rush to go skiing!

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Fischer’s touring skis have a great mounting system for their proprietary skins — but the plastic doohickey falls out. Fortunately it doesn’t affect the useability at all — skins still attach just fine. But it’s one of those things Fischer really needs to address before another season passes by.

Touring 10/10

Sure, I’m biased by my Wapta-in-a-day on these boards. But really, all winter (until Covid wrecked it all) I was putting in some pretty big days including a personal record-breaking 2 weeks of guiding where we put in over 30,000 vertical meters (100,000 ft) at the Burnie Glacier Chalet. I did it all on the Hannibal 106s. That’s an average of over 2200 m/day with several days in the 2600-2750 m range. And I’m 50 years old with a history of pretty serious leg injuries in my not too distant past. Not bad for a gimp! It’s hard not to credit the Hannibal 106s at least a little bit here. This is a great touring ski.

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Hannibal 106 by Fischer. Made perfect with a pair of lightweight bindings, like these by SkiTrab, the outstanding Gara Vario.2.

Design 10/10

The topsheet’s Euro-bright color & design might startle you, but it is super photogenic and quite different from any other graphics I’ve seen lately. Kind of 1970s style, maybe. The topsheet is made of a tough, smooth snow-shedding material that stands up well to hard use.

Apart from aesthetics, I love the straight tail that is reinforced with aluminum and comes with a skin-friendly notch for seating the skin clip. You can stab them into hard snow with confidence while de-skinning or making a quick anchor. The skis have a good amount of early rise which rides over pow and crusts nicely, but they aren’t twitchy or floppy like many carbon fibre skis. I’ve already touched on the skin mounting system, which is excellent but needs a bit of a tweak yet for perfection.

Conclusion

These are great skis. Pair them with a pair of Travers boots and a lightweight binding like the Gara Titan or Vario.2 (review tohttps://sawback.com/articles/gear-review/fischer-travers/ come) and you’ve got an awesome touring setup. Go buy them if they haven’t run out of stock yet. Grab a pair from SkiUphill and they’ll fix the skin hole problem and give you service second to none even during this cursed time of Covid. Get the Fischer skins too, you won’t be sorry! I’ll write a review on the skins soon but in the meantime just take my word for it.

Tom Wolfe
Mountain Guide, ACMG/IFMGA
Sawback Alpine Adventures

 

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