By Scott Nelson
Having stumbled across Wildsnow.com a couple of years ago, I got hooked on Lou’s daily dose of information and stories. Having never been a backcountry skier and totally unfamiliar with AT/rando gear, it would seem that I didn’t fit in.
But what kept bringing me back was his talk of super lightweight backcountry skiing gear such as we cover here at WildSnow. I’ve really become addicted to the fitness side of the randonnee style. I love going up. But for the last several years I’ve done it on tele gear which has been restrictive, heavy, and inefficient.
|My new rig. It works.|
Even with the newer tele tour pivots ( I use the BD 01), it still seemed like something was missing. After surviving the 24 hours of Sunlight this year ( I did it on two different tele setups: BD 01 and some old G3 Targas with NO tour pivot, which was miserable to say the least) I decided that enough was enough and I needed something different, something much more efficient, something that made me look forward to going up for another lap.
After looking through some links here on WildSnow.com, I decided to put my tele pride aside and lighten the load with some new Dynafit Vertical ST’s, Scarpa F1’s and K2 Sahales.
Now, I’ve been a dedicated telemarker for about the last ten years. I love it. And always will, but after about 30 seconds on the new rando gear, I’m sold. It was like the light came on, and a voice in my head screamed, “Why did you wait so long?!”
The Dynafits are everything everyone said they were. Super light, super efficient, super comfortable, super easy to use. There is no comparison between the way the Dynafits climb versus how a touring tele binding climbs ( at least my tele bindings). I feel like I’m walking, not pushing my skis uphill. That translates into more energy and less fatigue for me, which is a good thing. Heck, you can even sort of run in these things if you want to. I’ts more like a classic cross country skiing motion. Super efficient.
(To anyone who wonders: I picked the ST instead of the slightly lighter TLT because it’s more versatile and could be moved to a more backcountry oriented setup in the future. Not that the TLT doesn’t work, but the ST is just a more state-of-art Dynafit.)
Mounting Dynafits on my new planks was pretty easy as well. I just followed Lou’s article (see menu above) about how to mount the Dynafits, and all went well. At first it seemed like I was reading a tome or something, but he’s got it dialed and all that sometimes tedious information is necessary to cover various things about the mounting process. Thanks Lou !
I debated back and forth about boots, and decided that I wanted the lightest boot I could get, and it seemed that the F1’s were really popular with uphillers and rando racers.
My primary focus right now is on pure fitness uphilling, lap after lap. I love climbing and I wasn’t as worried about the downhill as much, so the Scarpa F1 seemed like the perfect choice. I was lucky in that the F1 fit me fit really well ( I have medium high arches, and the F1 seems to have an arch built into its shell, which works really well for me). So, theyâ€™re very comfortable. I followed WildSnow advice on fitting the thermoliners, and it worked out great. A little snug, but they’ll pack out soon enough.
The F1’s are super comfortable and very lightweight. Great combo. I’ve never been so comfortable climbing up. And coming down, the F1’s were plenty stiff for me I’m about 160 lbs and I ski fairly aggressively) on the packed powder I was on. So two thumbs up for the F1, at least for my purposes.
It is definitely a little stressful buying skis over the internet without having demoed them first. I didn’t want to shell out the dough for the Ski Trabs that many people seem to use. So I tried to find a value priced ski that would seem to work well for my purposes. k2’s Sahale seemed to be just what I was looking for. It’s fairly narrow, about 70mm at the waist, and pretty lightweight at around 1100g per ski. Being 160 lbs. I was a little worried about skiing on a 160cm ski, but they are great !
Skiing some late afternoon spring softpack on moderate steeps (around 30 -35 degrees), with some patches of icy hardpack thrown in, the Sahales were as good as expected to be. I had no problems making short or long radius arcing turns. They have good edgehold and they’re pretty stable -l at least to a point. Straightlining at speed is not their forte, but I could crank along within reason.
The uphill is were my K2s really made me smile. Skinning up fairly steep stuff (again around 30-35 degrees) or skinning the flats they were great, even did well on some off camber stuff. I’m really happy with the Sahale. But apparently, K2 stopped making them. Yet you can still find a few in some of the more obscure corners of the internet. For doing laps, they’re almost ideal for me.
So that’s my newbie perspective. I have no regrets about the Dynafits and the Scarpa F1, nor the K2 Sahales. Everything is perfect for my needs, and has made life way easier when climbing up, transitioning and then coming back down. I look forward to another lap, and another, and another.
Dynafits rule for this genre — a truly great design. Simple, efficient and ultralight. Just what I was looking for. And I must say that I owe a lot of appreciation to Lou for all the information, how-tos and enthusiasm he shares about his passion for backcountry skiing. Thanks Lou!