Giga-light Gignoux Ski Boots

Post by blogger | August 26, 2014      
12,000 feet of vert, 25 miles long crossing our local ski areas -- Snowmass, Buttermilk, Aspen Highlands, Aspen Mountain -- a true human powered ski race.

12,000 feet of vert, 25 miles long crossing our local ski areas — Snowmass, Buttermilk, Aspen Highlands, Aspen Mountain — a true human powered ski race.

In whiteout conditions I struggled with my downhill transitions, the wind nearly ripping my skis out my numb hands. Rarely has a “ski mountaineering race” ever really felt like actual mountaineering until this year’s Power of Four at the top of Highlands Bowl, above Aspen. We were one of the last teams waved through for the boot pack. The teams that followed were given the choice of going to the top and still others were eventually denied as the violent wind knocked racers to their knees for minutes at a time.

Hypothermic and exhausted, I felt the sudden relief as my Pierre Gignoux Morpho boots simultaneously snapped into ski mode, clicked into my race bindings and fled the hellish summit. At the time, skiing these incredibly light boots was new to me and skiing them through hip-deep, wind-transported powder seemed inconceivable. As a true testament to their ski ability, I never once thought about the boots as my quads burned through the incredibly agonizing, yet heroically fun descent.

The lightness of the Gignoux Morpho 400 was never in question, nor is the range of motion in touring mode, both of which I still find amazing every time I put the boots on my feet. The stiffness of the carbon gives greater control at high speeds and in variable conditions, more so than any other race boot I have tested.

The durability has also been impressive and at 50+ days on these boots, they have been left muddy, smelly and worn, but still 100% intact. It is impressive to have such a minimalist piece of gear hold up so well when I am that guy whose closest friends cringe if I ask to borrow any piece of equipment.

Gignoux breaking trail in 2 feet of late season snow.

Gignoux breaking trail in 2 feet of late season snow.

Powder skiing in Morpho 400.

Powder skiing in Morpho 400.

Spring corn, Independence Pass, Colorado.

Spring corn, Independence Pass, Colorado.

I have found two criticisms for the boots. Out of all materials that tend to be used for ski boots, carbon (and associated resins) have the highest thermal conductivity. This means that when it is cold outside the boot you don’t have long until that cold saturates the space around your foot. Combine that with the stock ultralight sock liner and an all-night race like the Elk Mountain Grand Traverse and you have a miserable recipe for cold feet.

The tension in the cuff has to be exactly right to ensure firm yet comfortable skiing. Too loose and my shin slops around in the cuff and loses the super power of a carbon exoskeleton. If too tight, circulation begins to get cut off from my already thermally challenged feet on long descents. Unlike most every other closure system on the market the adaptability is completely binary. The choice being open or closed with no micro adjustment short of taking your gloves off and untying and retying tiny little knots. This works great once the tension is dialed, but figure this out before you are doing anything even half-way major.

Randy and I on the summit of Sopris not sure if he is checking out my boots.

Randy and I on the summit of Sopris not sure if he is checking out my boots.

With the long spring season we had in Colorado this year, warmth was no longer the issue and although I tried to go back to my other superlight, two buckle boots, it was tough to love the extra weight. When peaks with long approaches and steep skiing are calling, it is great to have a minimalist boot that you don’t notice on the way up, with a performance you don’t ever doubt on the way down.

Order a pair of Gignoux boots and bindings here.

(WildSnow guest blogger Doug is co-owner of Cripple Creek Backcountry ski shop near our home base in Colorado. We’re enjoying working with them on partnerships, from a bit of advertising they’re doing in support of our blog mission, as well as a place we go when the WildSnow HQ workshop lacks talent or tools — a rare occasion but it happens. Exciting lead into winter 2014-2015!)


8 Responses to “Giga-light Gignoux Ski Boots”

  1. Lisa Dawson August 26th, 2014 4:10 pm

    Now we know your secret weapon. Congrats on Power of Four. Bad weather made it extra tough.

  2. Mark Worley August 26th, 2014 4:36 pm

    Nice review and photos, but the shorts? Really?

  3. Chris Cawley August 26th, 2014 10:27 pm

    Apparently Dynafit wants us to only use their RC5 with PG bindings–have seen a few pairs of PG boots in use but never any bindings. Any indication of how the RC5 is different that would make them unusable with other bindings?

  4. Doug August 27th, 2014 8:11 am

    I am not exactly sure, but I believe it could have to do with the depth of the tech fits on the boots. They are deeper so when you step into a binding it really locks you in without even having to pull it up into a lock position. It could possibly cause some releasability issues.

  5. Skihelm August 27th, 2014 9:03 am

    Great photo’s!

  6. JCoates August 27th, 2014 12:34 pm

    Doug, please tell Dynafit you could sell a few more of these if they came in sizes bigger than 29. Would love a pair of these or the other Dynafit race boot offerings but I guess it’s not financially viable for Dynafit to make them. Big guys like to go light too. Thanks.

  7. Doug August 27th, 2014 4:14 pm

    JC your feed back about larger boots is one i hear nearly daily. Luckily I think this season’s boots generally are offered in larger sizes. Check out the new La Sportiva Syborg (goes up to a 30.0) or the Scarpa F1 Evo (31.0). I think as the sport grows it will definitely be easier to find boots on either end of the size spectrum, but it would be nice if they were out there already.

  8. biggb August 29th, 2014 12:49 pm

    I gave up on trying to get Dynafits to fit my 12.5 feet and moved on to Sportiva.

    I purchased the Spitfires and love them. Great boot.

    Not only do they really fit a larger american foot but they ski great as well. Sportiva all the way.

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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.

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