Forget how to pronounce it, but how do you spell it? Dhaulagiri (or Dahla, as I’ll start calling it) continues Dynafit’s enjoyable trend of naming skis after big mountains. But yeah, it’s a mouthful.
Essentially, this plank is a rebake of the well liked but in our opinion fragile Denali model that launched in 2014. (Denali ski has known breakage that we feel is an issue, we do not recommend unless you are a lightweight non-aggressive skier.)
Since Dahla boasts the same profile as Denali, which was one of our lightest ever skis per surface area, let’s go with the comparo. On our ski weight chart, Denali scores a 66 and is our 7th lightest. That is impressive. Dhaulagiri at 1430 grams per ski for the 183 cm version scores quite nicely as well, with a 71. Average score on our chart (which is biased to lightweight touring skis) is 69, so the Dahla is right in there and we can recommend it as a ski with below average mass (though it’s not an ultra-light as the Denali was).
Here at WildSnow HQ we generally prefer a touring ski with moderate sidecut difference between waist and tip (sometimes sidecut is fun, but I find extra sidecut can add challenge to difficult snow such as breakable crust). Dhaulagiri sidecut is not extreme — yet it’s above average and you notice it. Dahla difference between tip and waist is 33 mm, while some of our other and favorite skis have tip-waist difference of significantly less at amounts around 27 mm. Bear in mind that factors such as tip rocker, tail rocker and overall radius are big influences as well. My using tip vs waist is simply a way of illustrating that the Dhala is “sidecutty.”
Tester and WildSnow guest blogger Mike Arnold does nothing but rave about the Dahlaguri “no matter what the conditions,” and the Denali was a favorite of his as well. Me, I found Dahla to be fun both on the piste and in soft but forgiving conditions. On the other hand, just as I found with Denali during a few sessions with difficult trap crust in South America, the sidecut on the Dahla is sometimes too much for me to handle. That’s me, don’t forget. Plenty of people liked Denali in all conditions and I respect Mike’s opinion. Let’s just say this might be a ski for experts, and a ski you want to demo before you mount your own.
Since this could be termed an “alpine-like ski that tours” I did my tests by simply doing cable laps at Aspen. With Dynafit TLT6 boots positioned on the factory recommended mark, I found Dhaulagiri to be fun on piste. They felt solid at speed compared to the touring gear I’m usually on, and I could get somewhat of a carve when so desired. Short radius choppy turns worked fine, and I could open it up to the 22 meter sidecut radius when the feeling tickled me. Definitely damper than Denali, with a stronger and less nervous input at your boot soles.
I played around in a bit of soft snow, as well as crud bumps. All fine there as well. The pure powder testing I leave up to Mike, who skied them during a day with us up in our local backcountry hills. He looked good on the Dhaulagiri, taking an aggressive and speedy couple of runs in the shin-deep. His choice in mount position is plus 1.5 centimeters from the mark. A ski with this kind of width and a nice big shovel can support that sort of aggressive stance. In my case I skied with my boots on the “standard” position mark and felt no reason to move from there, even though I was on demo bindings that allowed me to do so.
The Dhaulagiri’s bright orange color does burn the retina, yet it does an acceptable job of reflecting sun heat and thus preventing “Colorado powdering icing.” The bright graphics do have the advantage of making lost skis much easier to locate. While our favorite color is still the lack thereof (white), a bright reflective graphic that contrasts with snow is probably more practical in the end.
Conclusions: First, if you liked the Denali look no farther (if you’re willing to haul extra grams). Dhaulagiri skis similar to Denali, only better. Second, know this is an “alpine like” board. The weight is reasonable but you can do better for a ski touring platform. Third, this is indeed a versatile ski. Powder or piste, it will not disappoint aggressive experts.
Length tested: 183 cm.
Weight per ski: 1430 grams.
Sidecut 132/99/116 = 33 mm sidecut, 22 meter radius (same as earlier Dynafit Denali).
Binding offset 270 mm.
Dhaulagiri will begin retail in fall of 2016.