…NOAA forecast: A winter storm watch is in effect for the Aspen area above 9000 feet. Heavy precipitation is likely to occur…
It is time; the change of seasons is upon us. As climbing and mountain biking come to a halt, we think about the winter ahead.
Whether it’s avalanche education or the newest and coolest of ski gear, status quo is a term seldom used within the innovators of the backcountry ski world. Big changes continue.
Dynafit is typically known for its light weight approach to mountain travel. No longer. With the birth of the Beast binding and now the Freeride Series skis that consists of the Chugach and Hokaido, the Snow Leopard is on a path to round out their selection of gear with, yes, heavier skis and bindings. Heavier!? Dynafit!? The payoff, performance for extremely high energy skiing.
During my testing, I found the Chugach ski to be the most enjoyable of the two planks. After mount and tune, I took them on our local slopes around Aspen, Colorado. Highlands Bowl is our best testing grounds for a ski like this. Last spring it had three elevations bands to ski through: cold pow, hot packed pow, all the way to hard pack and slush.
The first thing I noticed about the Chugach was the benefits of the tip rocker. Most skis have that design quality, but this was different. The carbon stringers helped when breaking through hard “crud” to give it a smooth soft transition. It also performed when I needed more rigidity. I was sold on the ski after only a few days on them.
For testing on more technical terrain, I brought them over to Europe for steep skiing and off piste touring. My second day in Chamonix, I skied the big iconic Cosmiques Couloir, off the Aiguille Du Midi. As we threw the ropes, I strapped in with confidence, rappelled into the couloir, and carved the first technical turns at 45+ degrees. Small radius turns with the full rocker felt playful and effortless with the Chugach.
In summary, the 181 Chugach felt short in larger terrain. With the full rocker, the contact surface of the snow was not adequate for Super G style turns. But in Colorado, where we are limited to tree skiing most of the year, this is a perfect tool for tight trees and narrow couloirs if you desire a full-on “freeride alpine” feel from your skis. Is the weight tradeoff worth it? Up to you, but worth considering.
Tester: Michael Arnold, IFMGA Mountain and Ski Guide
Test zones: Aspen, Colorado, USA; Chamonix and La Grave, France; Courmeyeur, Italy
Terrain: steep hardpack, powder
Touring binding and boot: Beast 14 and Dynafit Mercury/Vulcan boot
Test ski: 181cm Chugach, mounted +1cm
WildSnow bench verified weight: 2052 grams
Available lengths: 173cm, 181cm, 188cm, 194cm
Shape: [173cm] 134/106/124 mm, [181cm] 135/107/125 mm, [188cm] 136/108/126 mm, [194cm] 137/109/127 mm
Construction/core/profile: ABS sidewall; poplar, ash, carbon stringer; double rocker
Dynafit Chugach available here.