Dynafit Denali Ski — Review 2

This post by WildSnow.com blogger  
Yours truly on Dynafit Denali a few days ago. Click all images to enlarge.

Yours truly on Dynafit Denali skis a few days ago. Click all images to enlarge.

I just returned home from three days of Colorado ankle-deep springtime bliss. Nearly any board would have worked for much of the skiing. It was that perfect. But sometimes a special ski, like a special woman, makes even the best things in life better. My wife is the woman, and for the time being Denali is the ski. (I’ve been through many more skis than I have wives, happy to say, and hope to continue the trend.)

Testing, testing, radio check, camera on, beacon check, boots buckled, testing, testing.

Testing, testing, radio check, camera on, beacon check, boots buckled, testing, testing.

What is it about gliding down a mountainside, water crystals stabbing your face and your tribe hooting what are essentially chimpanzee feeding sounds, is so special? Perhaps I already answered that question. If not, I think it’s about flow, and velocity. If you’ve mastered skiing to some degree, not necessarily world-class standards, but at least you can do loose, relaxed, fast and smooth, the feeling seems to lock into your limbic as a primordial dance. I’m thinking perhaps your lizard brain senses you’re moving fast enough to catch anything edible, and that is good.

Thing is, you’ve got to have the right tools on your feet to make the limbic limbo happen.

Consider the Dynafit Cho Oyu. These lively, edge-happy yet powder friendly skis are possibly one of the best touring boards ever produced. Possibly. Yet their >< 88 mm waist still doesn't give you that platform feeling we've come to crave for skiing North American soft snow conditions. Up or down.

Truly, even the most trad European ski tourer -- that guy making one turn for every sixteen inches of elevation drop -- will find that somewhat wider skis offer countless benefits. If for no other reason than easier trail breaking -- or more importantly, how amazingly effective some width and a bit of rocker can be on difficult snow.

Thus, take equal parts Cho Oyu and Huscaran, include a weight-aware core along with careful manufacturing. Name the new guy after one of the most powerful mountains in the world. Result: Denali. Weight, currently 4th lightest on our weight/surface chart and at 98 mm waist still the 6th lightest on our weight/length chart!

Denali mounted up and ready for limbic limbo.

Denali mounted up and ready for limbic limbo.

Denali skis on the feet.

Denali skis on the feet.

But can she ski? Expecting one plank to clone the performance of another model is like trying to have twins 2 years apart. Not gonna happen. But wait, skis are not babies, so perhaps…? I’m here to tell you that yes, Denali skis. They’ll easily be included in our Ultimate Quiver this year, and are most certainly a go-to in my personal stash. Results of now extensive testing:

Powder: While I enjoy playing with the 36 mm (radius 16/11/15, 88 mm waist) sidecut of the Choodie, they don’t slarve or open up that well. In a word, they’re indeed trad. Denali struts 33 mm sidecut (radius 22/21, 97mm waist)). I can easily feel the difference. Denali is more relaxing, more fun. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a zillion beautiful powder days on the Choodies, but I do have them both available and I’d grab the Denali if pow is on the program. Downside? Dark graphics that create icing events.

Breakable crust: From the 2014 Dynafit press event in Switzerland to the forests of Colorado, I’ve skied breakable on both Choodie and Denali this season. If you’re a traditionalist and can keep the ski carving, Cho Oyu will master the breakable; they’ll feel nervous and a bit demanding, but they’ll do it. Denali does it better, due to increased support and relaxed profile.

Hard snow: Choodie is a lively ride on piste or frozen corn. You’ll find yourself grinning as you attempt to imitate the carve fanatics on their specialized rigs. Denali does fine as well, does tilt & carve, but is not going to inspire you to channel your inner Austrian in the wedlin sense of things. Steep “white ice” corn snow is another matter. I tend to grab the Cho Oyu for corn tours just because it’s a bit lighter weight, but in testing I prefered how the Denali feels on steep hard snow, again because the relaxed profile isn’t trying to turn when you don’t want it to.

In denser loose snow, width is almost always key.

In denser loose snow, width is almost always key. With their 97 mm waist, Denali yields what I feel is a good compromise between being too wide and too skinny. As we've done before, we'll call this sort of ski the '100 mm' class.

Slush and muck: Width always rules. Denali has a longer sweet spot that helps when you get a bit “off” in your body position (e.g., RIDE ‘EM COWBOY!). Slightly extended but not “twin tip” tail is supportive when you need to back-lever out of a situation where a tail tip would result in a wash out.

Ego booster for sure.

Skis that perform like this are an ego booster for sure. Reality check, the name 'Denali' reminds me of the times a mountain has most humbled me.

In summary, Dynafit has come up with two skis that are leaders in the weight/performance arena. Both Cho Oyu and Denali have similar construction. Moderate amount of tip rocker in both skis makes them feel “current” but still turn on the traditional side of the equation. While it won’t perform like a wider, massively rockered boat, Denali will delight the modern human powered pow seeker (moderate width, super low weight = uphill like a ski lift). Cho Oyu is a bit more the traditionalist but still one of the most appealing planks out there for the committed ski tourer. Both skis could wreck your marriage if you’re not careful, and even casual relationships can suffer if time with a ski is picked over that of a human. You have been warned.

Denali tip rocker profile, on this pair of 176 the rocker extends about 39 centimeters.

Denali tip rocker profile, on this pair of 176 the rocker extends about 39 centimeters.

From the Dynafit catalog. This is probably an approximation of how Denali is constructed, but it gives an idea of the sophistication involved in this type of ski.

From the Dynafit catalog. This is probably an approximation of how Denali is constructed, but it gives an idea of the sophistication involved in this type of ski.

See our previous Dynafit Denali first-look review.


17 Responses to “Dynafit Denali Ski — Review 2”

  1. Joe RIsi April 9th, 2014 11:05 am

    The pictures speak a thousand words. Canon SL1 I presume?

    Congrats on saving your bride and picking the fatter skis.

    These skis maybe the “one” for 14′-15′

  2. bvl April 9th, 2014 12:03 pm

    How much rocker do they have in the tips? How does this compare with similar skis in this category like the carbon converts, LS Nano, etc.

  3. John D April 9th, 2014 1:39 pm

    What binding is that? (Sorry if that’s a silly question. I assume it’s a dynafit given the ski, but I don’t recognize it / the red parts).

  4. Lou Dawson April 9th, 2014 6:15 pm

    Custom, baby! This is WildSnowDotCom, where everything shall be modified!

  5. Lou Dawson April 9th, 2014 6:27 pm

    BVL, I’ll add a rocker photo. Should have done it, thanks for the reminder!

  6. Jim Knight April 9th, 2014 11:45 pm

    (More sauce for the Gander) You might want to test the new G3 Carbon Synapse series. 109/101/93 mm widths. Just saying’…

  7. lou dawson April 10th, 2014 6:06 am

    We have them here

  8. GeorgeT April 10th, 2014 8:27 am

    How about a comparison of Denali, Synapse, Vapor Nano and Carbon Convert since you have been on all 4 and all have similar dimensions and low weight?

  9. Lou Dawson April 10th, 2014 5:04 pm

    BVL, see a few construction photos I added to bottom of post. The 176 Denali has about 39 cm of tip rocker, about the same as a 180 cm Carbon Convert. Lou

  10. Erik Erikson April 10th, 2014 10:18 pm

    Lou or anyone else: Any experiences if the Cho / Denali – construction also works that well on the similar build Nanga Parbat? Not that I myself would like to go back to such skinny skis, but in Europe the 80 mm class (Nanga) is still not considered to be narrow and the Nanga Parbat could probably be a good choice for spring ski-alpinsim, when the amount of carrying the ski on the pack, scrambling and so on gets higher and there is not much powder anymore.

  11. Dave Borchers April 13th, 2014 1:08 pm

    Thanks for the review. If you skinned 70% and lift skied 30% how would you choose between the Dynafit Denali and the DPS Wailer 99 pure3 (cost aside)?
    Thanks, Dave

  12. Lou Dawson April 13th, 2014 5:51 pm

    I’d stand and stare at my quiver until Obewanskinobee whispered in my ear, then I’d choose the one he suggested. Lou

  13. GeorgeT April 13th, 2014 10:44 pm

    Obewaniskenobee (aka Lou ) our ears are less sensitive compared to your “feel-the-force feet”. Our quivers are lacking and our Padawan suck the ski dollars from our wallets. What say you about the new skis?

  14. Lou Dawson April 14th, 2014 6:33 am

    Well, in all seriousness I’d need a lot more data to make a recommendation, as neither ski is what I’d pick as a resort ski unless the “resort” is off piste at Hokkaido or Chamonix, and even then I’d want to know where on the resort Dave was skiing. Also, Denali has only been out in the wild a short time so we have no long-term durability take. Perhaps most importantly, those are two super different skis, apples and oranges for sure. So, I’m happy to discuss both skis…

  15. Silas Wild April 19th, 2014 11:08 pm

    GeorgeT wrote: “How about a comparison of Denali, Synapse, Vapor Nano and Carbon Convert since you have been on all 4 and all have similar dimensions and low weight?”

    I have skied the Denali, Synapse, and Vapor Nano with TLT5P boots in Colorado powder and packed powder. As a 170lb senior skier on Medicare, rarely exceeding 35mph, I found the Denali to be more forgiving of less than perfect technique and to have better edge hold than the others. The Vapor Nano skis pretty darn well for such an amazingly light 103mm width ski.

  16. Silas Wild May 23rd, 2014 5:07 pm

    Had the good fortune to demo the Dynafit Denali on 1″ corn and 3″ sloppy snow the past two days. The skis are a joy, as Lou says they inspire flow and are forgiving. In what backcountry conditions would another ski be better?

  17. Silas Wild June 1st, 2014 5:59 pm

    I got to test the Denalis for three more days, similar to last week, except one day with frozen corn. They hold an edge very well! (non-working URL deleted)

Got something to say? Please do so.

Anti-Spam Quiz:

If you need an emoticon for a comment just copy/paste off the following list, or use text code you might be familiar with.
:D    :-)    :(    :lol:    :x    :P    :oops:    :cry:    :evil:    :twisted:    :roll:    :wink:    :!:    :?:    :idea:    :arrow:   
Due to comment spam we moderate most comments. Please do not submit your comment twice -- it will appear shortly after approval. Comments with one or more links in the text may be held in moderation, for spam prevention. If you'd like to publish a photo in a comment, contact us. Guidelines: Be civil, no personal attacks, avoid vulgarity and profanity.
Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

All material on this website online magazine is copyrighted, the name WildSnow is trademarked.. Permission required for reproduction, electronic or otherwise. This includes publication and display on other websites by whatever means. PLEASE SEE OUR COPYRIGHT and TRADEMARK INFORMATION.

Backcountry skiing is a dangerous sport. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. While the authors and editors of the information on this website make every effort to present useful information about ski mountaineering, due to human error the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions or templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow its owners and contributors of any liability for use of said items for backcountry skiing or any other use.

Switch To Mobile Version