I look into the maw of a chute, my nerves and heart-rate high. I can handle the terrain, but my concern is with the unfamiliar skis on my feet.
A final peek and I drop in, link a couple turns, and my anxiety vanishes — the just-released Dynafit setup carves solidly as I pick up speed on the run.
The Denali is Dynafit’s latest rendition of a well-rounded backcountry touring ski that is a happy blend of light weight (3 pounds, 1 ounce), moderately fat (132-99-117), and responsive (lots of camber and carbon fiber).
Available in winter 2014-15, the Denali is a $900 ski designed as a wide yet lightweight and stable touring ski. It was developed in partnership with the International Mountain Guides Association (IVBV) and was tested by 13 members of an IVBV expedition to Denali.
Dynafit claims it is the first ski emblazoned with the IVBV logo, which sits prominently on the topsheet.
The camber underfoot is combined with a little tip and tail rocker for a turning radius of 22 meters on a 176 cm ski. The Denali will be offered in 168, 176, 184 and 193. I tested the 176.
Those familiar with the Dynafit line will see a striking resemblance to the skinnier Cho Oyu ski.
My personal “expedition” on the Denali was much shorter that the original IVBV test: A morning skin and boot-pack up 11,132-foot Mount Superior in the Wasatch range overlooking Snowbird and Alta ski areas to a knife-edge ridge.
The ski performed admirably on the uphill coupled with Dynafit Radical ST bindings. I used a pair of Dynafit TLT 6 boots to drive them. The combination was comfortable, light and confident on some tricky side-slope and steep, narrow areas on the way up.
The skis were light on my back on the exposed boot-pack to the summit. Scrambling along the knife-edge was not a problem.
Downhill, the Denali performed well, but would certainly take some getting used to for anyone who skis fatter boards most of the season. Like many super light skis, it didn’t dampen the terrain as much as heavier alpine gear. That said, it was very responsive and allowed me to link nice short, consistent turns over variable powder and windpack with complete confidence.
We skinned a second route late in the afternoon and I enjoyed the ride. A stiff ski with active camber, the Denali handed back nice rebound on hard turns as I became more surefooted.
A final jaunt down a long winding snowmobile track showed the ski handled icy, rutted terrain fine.
It won’t be on the market for a year, but this is a ski to consider if you’re looking for a light touring setup that can handle difficult and varied terrain, from Utah to the literal summit of Denali.