Alarmingly, the snow was heavy and violent. Walls of white crashed down in front of us like froth of large breaking ocean waves — the type I always turtle under. This was not the weather we expected with June just around the corner.
A large snowstorm had dumped several feet of snow over the Grand Tetons. My partner Doug and I watched an avalanche pour off the cliff and dump into the small couloir we had wanted to descend, canceling our summit plans for several days. After aborting, our respect for the Grand grew. Our plan for a one-day car-to-car ascent gave way to a staged effort with the added delight of winter camping.
Despite this change of plans, I did not alter my boot choice to get up and down the mountain safely. I trusted my feet in a pair of Dynafit PDG which, along with a free hat, were the perks for putting in hours of unpaid work at Cripple Creek Backcountry, a ski mountaineering store in Carbondale, Colorado. These boots are everything I want in a ski-mountaineering boot: they are light, durable, comfortable (I have narrow feet), and stiff enough that I feel solid in terrible snow and mountain conditions. In fact, they induced so much confidence, that while ascending the peak, I did not put on crampons. Even during the technical mixed climbing sections of the route my toe placements felt solid.
The boot has a rocker rubber sole, the full range of motion of my natural ankle, and felt lighter than my mountaineering boots (that stayed in the car throughout our month long trip). Thankfully it was spring and relatively warm. Cold feet had been my main concern about using a boot with an ultra lite liner and a cuff that only partially encases it.
It is a testament to the boot’s “ski ability” that someone like myself, a mediocre skier at best, felt secure during the descent off the mountain. With only two buckles, and weighing nearly nothing, you may think the PDG Dynafit boot is in the ski-mo “Race” category. But my positive experiences with this boot — climbing over technical ground on several mountains, as well as successfully and even sometimes joyfully descending down them, have convinced me that this is terrific all around ski-mountaineering footwear.
I have little doubt that I will return to the Tetons. My feelings about the place echo those of professional climber, skier, and photographer Jimmy Chin when he said, “I always treasure coming back to Grand Teton National Park. I still think it is one of the most beautiful places on the planet.”
My journal is full of objectives for the area: climbing the North Face of the Grand, skiing the Apocalypse Couloirs, skiing Teewinot. I am not sure which, if any, I will accomplish, but I do know which ski boots I will be taking for light and fast efforts in this awesome range.
If your local shop doesn’t have a pair, find Dynafit PDG boots here.
(Having grown up in upstate New York, guest blogger Steve Dilk considers the worst conditions in Colorado to be manna from heaven. What he may lack in skill and style, he makes up for in enthusiasm. When not working, skiing or climbing, you’ll find him moonlighting at Cripple Creek Backcountry in Carbondale, CO.)