Nordica first introduced the Steadfast and the Hell and Back a couple of years ago. At the time they were one of the first companies to heavily tout the lightweight “sidecountry” ski concept. Those two models have evolved into Nordica’s two best selling skis despite the nichey market position that they billed it as being for. Fortunately for Nordica, their skis are exceptional as normal in-bounds skis as well and I think that is the reason for their wide ranging success. In fact the Steadfast and Hell and Back have been universally praised by the skiing press and rewarded with top scores in the magazine tests when skied against ‘normal’ alpine skis. I have tested the Hell and Back every year and owned one in my constantly revolving quiver for a year as well.
Every time that I ski the Hell and Back I am impressed by a couple of things. Balance is the first. The Helen (as I like to call it) has a very even flex that is about in the medium range for this category. This allows it to bend evenly and pull the skier around smoothly whether it is on firm snow, soft snow with some depth, or on that nasty test run at Mammoth where the conditions can only be described as rough. The other thing that is really notable about the Helen is the grip. This light and nimble ski has grip that is in the upper reaches of this category despite not having metal in it. While a lot of good skiers think that they need a ski with metal for stability and grip, the Nordicas really don’t need it. For western biased skis they offer all the grip any skier could realistically want. The benefit, of course, is that the light weight really helps to make this ski lightning quick in mixed snow and choppy terrain. While the Hell and Back is not as damp as some of the heavier metal skis, it is much snappier and energetic than all of them and that places the emphasis on what most people buy this ski category for — mixed snow versatility.
Hell and Back