Reviewed by Chris Rhoads
January 30, 2011
For many throwers out there, the Peak IS CLYW. This is the most commonly associated product with the company and the most beloved of all the yo-yos CLYW has produced. When the Peak was retired, many in the community were saddened. One member of the community, Ben on the YYN forums, recently took it upon himself to write the definitive history of this venerable yo-yo. Once all the dust settled and people came to terms with the fact that the Peak truly was no more, everyone began asking the same question, “What’s next?” What is Chris at CLYW going to release to replace this classic yo-yo? At this point there have been two contenders to the Peak crown, the Sasquatch and the Avalanche, both based in part on the popular Gnarwhal design. While the Sasquatch has the distinction of coming out first, the Avalanche seems to be getting quite a bit more press. Everyone seems to be gravitating towards this, at the moment, European only release. Some have even gone so far as to say that the Avalanche is the Sasquatch done right. Those are some pretty big words considering that I know a couple players who consider the Sasquatch to be the best thing since sliced bread. Over the past week or so I have been putting the Avalanche through the ringer to see if it deserves to be considered the Peaks successor and I think I have come to an answer to that very question.
• Diameter: 55.5 mm
• Width: 43.0 mm
• Gap: 4.14mm
• Weight: 67.2 g
• Bearing: Size C Steel 8-Ball
• Response: Flowable Silicone
Looking at the profile of the Avalanche it is easy to see the Gnarwhal influence in the design. It has a similar V-Shaped catch zone, complete with the little step near the gap to reduce string friction. Unlike the Gnarwhal and Sasquatch, the Avalanche has a little groove where the rims meet the catch zone giving the rims a more pronounced look. Looking at the cup of the yo-yo, the Avalanche is completely indistinguishable from the Sasquatch and Gnarwhal design. The floor is flat with a raised ring at the edge, the hub is a flat raised cylinder, and the rims are completely devoid of an IGR. The finish on the Avalanche is totally unique in looks. This particular yo-yo is blue and clear acid wash with a modest pink speckle. There is currently an alternate version on the market that swaps the pink and blue. The acid wash is applied extremely well, giving a nice blend of the colors while also giving a clear separation in spots between the clear and the blue, very much a best of both world approach. The blast is the typical finish you would find on a CLYW, meaning it is great. It feels velvety smooth while holding it in your hand. As for how the Avalanche feels in your hand, this yo-yo fills a big hand quite nicely. My large middle finger rests comfortably and completely in the gap of the yo-yo while the adjacent fingers sit on the edges of the rims. All or the edges have been rounded off so that there is no pain from any possible points of contact that could cause discomfort during play. Over all I am impressed with the design of the Avalanche. About the only thing I would have liked to see is some slight variation in the cup, a spike, an IRG, something that would give it a little more visual distinction from the similarly designed Sasquatch. This is just a minor quibble from me and at the end of the day I would have a very hard time finding fault in this very well designed yo-yo.
This is where the Sasquatch and the Avalanche differ. The Avalanche is a full gram lighter than the Sasquatch. I have played a Sasquatch for a grand total of 5 minutes when I grabbed Brett’s from his case the last time I was in Cleveland, so I really cannot compare the two. What I can say about the Avalanche is that it is speedy on the string and the weight distribution gives a great amount of stability and some float as well.
Response and Bearing
The response is CLYW’s always excellent and expertly applied flowable silicone response. The first couple throws on the silicone are going to be a little grabby, that is normal for a new flowable installation. The nice thing is that it will break in quickly. After about 15 minutes of play it will be dead unresponsive and should last for quite a long time. It has been six months since I received my Gnarwhal and I have yet to need to replace the silicone.
The bearing is CLYW’s standard steel 8-Ball bearing. The bearing is your typical crown cage bearing that gives good spin times and stays relatively quiet. I have never had a CLYW bearing sputter out on me so it is a good one in my book.
On the first throw I was surprised by the speed that I was greeted with on the string. When I first read up on the specs of this yo-yo I was expecting a medium speed yo-yo similar to some of the other recent V-Shaped yo-yos released to the market. What I got was a decently speedy yo-yo with a similar feel to the Peak. I always found the Peak to move at a good clip on the string and give a nice amount of float while performing tricks and I am getting that same feeling on the Avalanche. Where it strays hard from the Peak path is the design of the catch zone. This yo-yo is much easier to hit tricks on thanks to that wide-open catch and suicides are smoother than on the Peak thanks to the vast reduction in string friction due to the little step near the gap. I have recently been watching the tutorials of SPYY team member Alexis JV and found a new trick of his that I decided to learn during the play test of this yo-yo. The trick is his Tutorial 19 trick, Slack to Green Triangle, which is a slack whip from trapeze to a Ninja Vanish Green Triangle. The wide catch zone on this yo-yo makes it a perfect candidate for learning this trick because you are going to be throwing quite a bit of slop at the gap until you smooth it out, at least that is what I was doing. Moving on to grinds, this yo-yo is just about perfect. The finish is great for arm, palm, and finger grinds; something everyone has come to expect from CLYW. The one grind weakness is in thumb grinds. The lack of an IGR means that you will have to throw the yo-yo at an angle to perform thumb grinds or it will slip off. Not a deal breaker but definitely a bummer. I have always considered CLYW to have some of the best-implemented IGRs on the market and I would like to see them bring them back on future releases.
Now it comes down to the million-dollar question. Is this the Peak replacement that we have been waiting for? No. There is no replacing the Peak, it is an icon in the industry and is near and dear to the hearts of many players. That being said, I think the Avalanche is quite a bit better than the Peak. The Avalanche is the culmination of almost four years of all the experience Chris has learned from his past designs. It plays exceptional on the string and it lends itself quite well to multiple styles of play. While I like the Peak quite a bit and would love to have another one in my collection, if I had to choose between the Peak and the Avalanche, I would choose the Avalanche every time. In the end, this is the best way I can convey what I mean. The Peak was CLYW at its absolute best in the yo-yo world of 2006; the Avalanche is CLYW at its best in the yo-yo world of 2011 and 2011 CLYW is completely full of win. When the Avalanche finally drops in the United States this year, pick one up it is well worth the money.
I would be remiss if I did not give a shout out to my good friend Adam Hunter of YORAD fame for making this review possible. He sent this particular yo-yo all the way from his Calgary, Alberta Canada home for a surprise long-term play testing session because he knew I had wanted to review one. Thanks Adam, you rock like Ash Williams.