More from Reiner Gerstner, the Brand Manager at Dynafit. First, the overall impression I got about Dynafit was stunning. We all know it’s a well capitalized company that sells huge amounts of product all over the world. But are the resting on their laurels, or can we look to an exciting future? Gerstner was adamant about Dynafit becoming “the brand for ski mountaineers,” and something that would be in use “somewhere in the world 365 days a year.” More, he was obviously very interested in all how we North American’s dress, how we use our bindings, and what style we ski. He told me they were designing gear for 3 different areas of use, for day-to-day ski mountaineering, fitness skiing (short jaunts, frequently up ski resort slopes), and for racing. He said that skin/ski climbing up ski areas for fitness is becoming ever more popular in Europe, and we of course know that randonnee racing is huge, as is full-on ski alpinism.
But on to the goods. Reiner seemed very interested in climbing skin development. He said their skins next year will be 30% lighter, and that they’re working on a Kevlar backed skin that’ll be lighter still. He really perked up when I told him about the innovative Ramer polypropylene skins that Paul Ramer made for a brief time in the late 1970s. These were amazing skins that weighed almost nothing (the backing was as thin as paper) and used a poly fiber that had amazing glide and climbed as well as mohair. They lacked durability so were not marketable. But with Kevlar backing? Who knows what a skin like that could do! I told Reiner I’d try to find an old pair of those things, so if anyone out there has them in their junk collection, how about sharing them with Reiner and let’s see what happens!
As for bindings, Reiner said they would be using more magnesium in the future, which is a very light metal but hard to work with. I was also interested to learn that the titanium parts for the Ti Dynafit models are made here in the USA! I guess we know how to do something…
The Dynafit ski scene is interesting as well. Like many, I’ve always wondered if Dynafit skis were just re-packs of another brand. While Reiner didn’t get into the background of who exactly makes their skis, he did describe the incredibly detailed scientific process that’s been going into their ski design, especially regarding core materials. Best story (it’s in the new catalog) is that during the recent Dynafit sponsored speed ascent of Mustagata, they found out about a special tree that’s grown to make wedding chests out of. It grows very fast, with a wood of interesting density. The Dynafit ski engineers thought they’d give it a try as a core material and yep, it worked, now we have the Mustagata ski. If you call hype on that I don’t blame you, but Reiner was very sincere when he told me the story first hand, and I have no reason to doubt it.
Perhaps the most interesting part of what’s happening with Dynafit is that they’re very committed to developing a complete line of ski mountaineering product (bindings, skis, clothing etc.) that all works together and is super stylish. It will be interesting to see how well the Euro styles translate to places like Jackson, but one thing is certain, the skis,boots and bindings Dynafit is developing will know no boundaries. Exciting.
I should mention that Reiner had all sorts of praise for the Dynafit content here on WildSnow.com. I’m sure he was joking when he said “you know more about our bindings than we do!” but after all the hard work over the past several years it was nice to hear some praise.
Jackson fashion report: I mentioned a few posts ago I’d be checking out if everyone in Jackson wears Cloudveil. It’s not quite 100%, but sitting here at Pearl Street bagels and blogging, my informal survey says it’s about one out of five. Of course, when I strolled over to the snowmobile hillclimb world championships, I didn’t see any except my own, but I don’t think Cloudveil is exactly chasing that market.
Ski report: Had a nice tour up near Teton Pass today, did a quick 2,000 vertical on a nice open powder shot they call the Doits. A bit crusty underneath, but enough fresh to make it fun. As always I was amazed at the amount of ski terrain up there. Anyone who says it’s crowded must be delusional, or perhaps they’re talking about the parking, or only touring the first shots you get from parking? True, they only allow about 50 cars at a time up there, so “crowding” does use up the parking. Ridiculous. I can’t believe they don’t expand the parking area. I know nothing of the local politics that prevent that from happening, but it’s sad they build all these trophy homes around here, have major highways, a huge ski resort, and can’t build a larger parking area at a trailhead.
Shovel thoughts: I’m still thinking about the great shovel debate, and it still seems simplistic to divide and choose shovels based on plastic or aluminum — to me that’s like choosing skis based whether they have a wood or foam core. How stuff is made is key. I do think avalanche rescue shovels should get rigorous testing, if aluminum wins that’s fine (I use both aluminum and plastic shovels), but to be guessing how shovels perform when lives depend on it seems a bit much for myself or anyone else to be doing. And yes Virginia, some of my advertisers sell shovels — both aluminum and plastic. My opinions about shovels formed long ago, not in the last week when Life-Link came on board as a sponsor.