I'm looking for some advice on skis to buy as it is my first time purchasing skis. I'd say I'm a low-end intermediate. I usually go skiing twice a season in California (either Mammoth or Big Bear) but planning to start going more often this year. I mainly stay on groomed runs and looking to start to get more comfortable to ski black diamonds, more difficult intermediate runs or off piste.
I'd love some suggestions of ski brands that might be good for me to take a look at.
You would be looking for an all mountain ski, probably in the 88-95 width to handle the type of skiing you describe. Length of ski should be about to your chin or nose for intermediate skier or you can go to your head if you want to be a hard charger later in your skiing career. If you are more into turns and carving, than having the slightly smaller length ski is more for you. I would suggest demoing skis at the resorts before you buy. Mammoth and Big Bear almost certainly have demo gear. All are going to handle slightly differently and it really is more about what you find you like. Rossi, K2, Salomon, Vokl, Nordica, etc. can all be good or bad depending on the individual personal preferences. I have skied Black Diamond skis (currently helio recon 95s) for years and years, so they are still my go to for all mountain and powder, but there isn't anything wrong with the others. Don't neglect getting some stiffer boots too if you are still below 100 flex rating on your current setup.
I would worry less about skis and get good boots. Not whats on sale, not what the models are wearing. Take a trip to a bootfitter. Buy or take good ski socks, cut your toenails, and get a professional opinion. If they can get one off the shelf that works, great, if they cant, they can fit it there. Look for labor day sales selling this seasons equipment. The ski boot is a prosthetic, it is the most important thing to buy. Flex rating is not industry standard. A Lange 120 is stiffer than a Rosignol 120 that is stiffer than a Saloman 120 ect ect ect. Your size weight and style determine what works. I am a terminal intermediate. I ski blacks after I have gone a few times in the year. No more moguls, I wear 2 knee braces so its groomer boomer baby. I am skiing a Lange 120 which is 10 under their "racing" boots because I am what is called a Clydesdale. Bigger than the others but still pretty.
After that, hit demo days and ask a lot of questions about the mountain you are skiing. East coast groomer skis are not west coast powder skis.