Far from the terror its name evokes, the Hell & Back can be playful. But it also seeks the fall line with an authority that some might find helpful on a journey to and from the underworld. It locks into carves--which gave it high hard-snow and stability scores--but tip rocker allows it to change gears and smear in tight spots. As the mid-width model in Nordica's new Sidecountry series (along with the Unleashed Hell and Steadfast, pages 58 and 66), it was the most versatile, a backcountry-capable ski that eats up hardpack. What a combo.