Dynafit Dhaulagiri Ski Review — Denali Rebake Skis Better

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | March 11, 2016      

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.

Dynafit Dhaulagiri ski 2016 2017.

Dynafit Dhaulagiri ski 2016 2017.

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.

Dhaulagiri tip rocker.

Dhaulagiri tip rocker.

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.


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67 Responses to “Dynafit Dhaulagiri Ski Review — Denali Rebake Skis Better”

  1. Jim Milstein March 11th, 2016 9:20 am

    Lou, a little confusion on the sidecut numbers: You write “tip and tail” a couple of times but the reported 33 mm sidecut is tip minus waist.

  2. Lou Dawson 2 March 11th, 2016 9:26 am

    Whoops, thanks so much, I’ll edit right now.

    Edited. It’s the tip-waist measurement I’m referring to. I find that is the best way to quickly get an idea of how “sidecutty” a ski will feel, though rocker and overall width can easily change things. An example being Mythic, which has a tip-waist difference of 36 mm and a 15 meter radius and you’d think would feel nervous as a result, but it does not feel squirrely at all to me. Binding offset as well as location of sidecut center in relation to boot are also factors. Lou

  3. See March 11th, 2016 9:53 am

    So you tested a 183 Dhaulagiri (Denali tester was 176). Wildsnow reviews are the best (imo) but you consistently seem to go short. If this is a trend, I’m in favor of it.

  4. Lou Dawson 2 March 11th, 2016 10:16 am

    Hi See, I’m a skinny guy who is 178 cm tall and essentially “grew up” on 180 cm alpine touring skis, I’m also influenced by European ski touring style. “Short” is relative, but yes, I usually don’t go over 180 and enjoy trying skis more in the 176 cm range or even shorter, and sometimes I find something that skis for me in those shorter lengths. Though lately it seems I’m always hovering around 180, probably due to rocker. When doing moderate ski tours with lots of vert or horizontal I love having a shorter lighter ski. Lou

  5. Fry March 11th, 2016 10:36 am

    I love my Denali’s – they ski amazingly well everywhere (though they are a visual abomination). I had no idea there were issues with durability as I’ve not had any with mine. Caveat, not a ton of days on them. What are the known issues and is there anything I can do to preempt a long walk out of the backcountry should they break?

  6. Lou Dawson 2 March 11th, 2016 10:45 am

    Fry, they sometimes break in half. Not sure of any backcountry fix for that. I tried to update reviews in the comments and so forth, sorry I was not more adamant. Problem is I have no idea how pervasive a problem this is, but I do know from consumers and industry insiders that it’s not unusual for a Denali ski to break. I actually tested my pair for breaking strength and they did pretty well, so it must be in intermittent defect. No way to tell by looking at the ski, unfortunately. My impression is that the breaking skis happened in longer lengths with average weight to larger men. Lou

  7. See March 11th, 2016 10:52 am

    Point taken, of course, Lou. But I think the “style” question is interesting. Wider, rockered, more forward mounted skis want to be skied longer, as you suggest. Short and light have obvious advantages, but so does that big platform. (And, yeah, I could lose a few pounds).

  8. Lou Dawson 2 March 11th, 2016 11:15 am

    I was wrong, Denali is not discontinued, where the confusion comes from is I was told at press event in Greece that “Dhaulagiri replaces Denali.” Probably some language confusion resulted in me thinking Denali was discontinued for 2016-2017, as that seemed logical. I do not have any information about durability issues being taken care of. At this time I can’t recommend Denali, and am assuming from the weight and demeanor of the Dhaulagiri (as well as knowing who’s skiing on it) that it would have no problems in the durability department. Lou

  9. wyomingowen March 11th, 2016 1:16 pm

    Not defending Dynafit here, but with all the other items on this blog with problems, (cough) king pin, rad2 on and on….. I find it relatively harsh of you to basically condemn Denali sales in the opening paragraph. Especially, after further reading your personal bench test result did not support the statement. Why write it?

    Am I now supposed to be nervous for one of my favorite partners who is on Denali’s when we are several miles out??? ….he’s got >100 days and so much vert and distance.

    More soloing I guess, just me an my Delorme, cough again Garmin now

  10. Fry March 11th, 2016 2:12 pm

    Thanks for the details, Lou. I’m going to stay optimistic about the Denali’s since I’m 150 lbs and on the 176cm. Figuring my lighter weight will be spread out over the length. That and I’ll probably not use them for overnight trips so never more than a 15lb pack. I sure wish they looked as good as the Dhala’s, however.

  11. Lou Dawson 2 March 11th, 2016 3:42 pm

    Fry, I think you’ll be ok. Just make sure the bindings are mounted correctly and watch for any weirdness under or around the binding mounts. I wouldn’t try landing any 25 foot air either. Lou

  12. Lou Dawson 2 March 11th, 2016 3:50 pm

    Wyoming, the reason why I wrote it is the ski is known to break, and I know people who broke them out in the backcountry. What I wrote was filtered already, I could have been harsher. What am I supposed to do, keep it secret when I have eye witness accounts and am writing about the ski, and what’s basically a replacement? Sorry, but I’m pretty comfortable with my approach though I wish I’d been more clear on how available the Denali is going to be next winter.

    As usual, damned if I do (he’s biased!) and damned if I don’t (he’s biased!)


  13. trollanski March 11th, 2016 4:02 pm

    Just wanted to add two cents. Saw a couple of pairs of Denali’s returned snapped like twigs. Haven’t been able to recommend them to bigger stronger skiers since…

  14. Lou Dawson 2 March 11th, 2016 4:11 pm

    Thanks Troll. I was going to ask the guys I know who broke them to chime in here, but probably no need. My word is good. I wouldn’t mention a durability issue unless I knew it to be real. Lou

  15. andrew March 11th, 2016 10:11 pm

    Just FYI for the other side of the coin – I’m nearing 70 touring days between last year and this year on my 184 denalis and have been very impressed with their durability. 6’1″ 180lbs (without pack) and ski them fairly aggressively (at times). just a reminder to folks that the denali is still a great ski (and durable thus far for me).

  16. XXX_er March 12th, 2016 9:09 am

    I have Stokes & denalis that were both considered a bit flimsy, both warrantied by the original owner and then bought by yours truly with skins for very cheap, if you want light and then super light you run the risk of blowing up more gear but it’s all worked fine for me

  17. Ray March 12th, 2016 9:41 am

    I have the Stokes with at least 150 days on them and counting. I weight about 180lbs and carry a 20lb pack absolutely no issues with them.

  18. XXX_er March 12th, 2016 9:52 am

    I’m 160
    The stoke killer was 220+ & just crushed them

    The denali killer was 180 possibly a more extreme type, ran into a ditch broke one in half

  19. Drew Tabke March 12th, 2016 10:15 am

    These look beautiful. I love my Denalis — I feel Dynafit conjured some magic with the combination of rocker profile/shape/weight. Pretty incredible versatility in a super light package. Haven’t broken mine in half, though I did crunch and edge with a minor rock impact.

    I really wish they would extend the design foundations of the Denali/Dhaula across to a wider platform. This ski’s design principles could be awesome in a 110 – 118mm waist width. While I hear great things about the Chugach and Hokkaido, its hard for me to place these heavy, full-rocker freeride skis in Dynafit’s brand story. But a Mercury + TLT Rad 2.0 + 116mm-wide Dhaulagiri? Mmmmm…

  20. See March 12th, 2016 10:28 am

    Anyone who knows, please correct me if I’m mistaken, but Dynafit skis seem to be mostly glass with carbon “stringers”— thin strips of carbon running lengthwise for stiffness. To make such light skis without carbon prepreg (or exotic cores) could possibly entail some compromise in durability. I like the Dynafit skis I’ve had a chance to get to know, so no disrespect intended. I’m just intrigued by the different approaches to making a good ski.

  21. See March 12th, 2016 10:55 am

    So Drew, what’s wrong with the Huascaran? (I’m really wondering ‘cause currently the 196 is $140.)

  22. Drew Tabke March 12th, 2016 2:35 pm

    See: not much experience with the Huascaran, though I found the Stoke challenging and it falls in the same design category… The superiority in the design of the Denali in my eyes is the long tip taper and the pin tail (Dynafit calls it “triple radius”). For me it made the ski surprisingly intuitive and versatile. Plus the carbon stringer and super robust underfoot flex.

  23. Lou Dawson 2 March 12th, 2016 3:27 pm

    Thanks Drew, your opinion always appreciated. I like the way it skis as well. Dahla is pretty similar. BTW, did something flit by my vision on FB or something, with you wowing folks at the comps? Lou

  24. Dan March 12th, 2016 4:31 pm

    Thanks for this review Lou. Looks like a superior version of Denali, which besides the durability problem is a great ski. Wildsnow’s reviews have been outstanding for me – if it’s not on one of your Ultimate Quivers, it’s not going to make it into my quiver.

    As an aside, have you had a chance to check out or test the new Voile skis coming out this year?

  25. XXX_er March 12th, 2016 7:12 pm

    I use the sidecut in the tail of the stoke to make the ski turn, if I pretend I’m scuffing doggy doo off the instep of my boot they work, I thot about dumping them but they tour well, seem to hold up … not a bad rock ski

    besides being supa lite the Denali turns like a slalom ski so its actualy great on groomers and I think it will be fine if i don’t run into anything

  26. See March 12th, 2016 9:12 pm

    I have half a dozen days on a pair of Huascarans and like them pretty well. I’m curious about what’s up with long tip taper and pin tails. Reduced surface area at the ends/rocker, but it may be a while before I give it a try.

  27. Tabke March 12th, 2016 11:35 pm

    Whatever skis you’re having a good time skiing on are the right ones. Don’t overthink it.

  28. See March 13th, 2016 7:16 am

    Thanks. Sound advice, no doubt. And it has long been my belief that skis in general are good. Trying out new shapes and designs, and figuring out how they work (or don’t work), is just my idea of a good time.

  29. See March 13th, 2016 8:22 am

    But even more than long tip taper, I’m wondering what’s up with bamboo poles.

  30. wyomingowen March 13th, 2016 9:21 am

    Time to break some skis!
    Let me clarify my point;
    You’re a blog, we all willingly submit to your bias by clicking on your website and thus are justifiably relegated to the comments section. I go to forums when I want rumors from “insiders” and to read everyone’s opinions.
    I like wild snow, as I see many others do, for quantitative analysis/comparisons. Your advertisers/ supporters offer up gear for comparison. An opinion without data from you is an abnormality. Look at the effort you’ve gone (home made bench tests) to produce quantitative analysis. Grab some skis in your “70’s” class and lets see results. In this instance vs. other product deficiencies you’ve blogged about I feel you may be inappropriately affecting sales.

  31. Lou Dawson 2 March 13th, 2016 10:50 am

    Wyoming, points taken but I think my message is essentially the same as that of Dynafit: that Denali is a specialized ski built to be super lightweight and that is not strong enough in some situations. One Dynafit PR person told me something like, it’s for lightweight ski mountaineering, not resort, and not aggressive skiing… I’m not sure they’ve ever released an “official” statement about it, but have said that in so many words several times to me, and others have told me they’ve received the same message. All websites and forums influence sales, if my opinion regarding Denali has caused some folks to buy them and others to not do so, then that influence is nothing but positive and appropriate for Dynafit, as, in my opinion based on numerous inputs, they do not want to be selling Denali to folks who will break them. And now we have essentially the same ski, only clearly more in average to above average strength, and I recommend that over the other one in an overtly positive review? Again, that is a win for Dynafit — and more importantly a win for our readers.

    Which leads me to something most of you guys obviously realize but should be stated. This blog is written for you, the skier and consumer. It is not written for the ski touring equipment companies. If I see something important that I feel I know enough about to write about without undue guesswork or use of rumors, then I try to cover it. The companies do a pretty good job of not attacking the messenger in my case or with other bloggers, but I have to say that sometimes they fall into that trap. It’s human nature. I do it myself when I blame my webhost for problems with my website, when sometimes things like a better backup plan on my part might have solved a problem quickly — and put the responsibility back in my lap. Basically, if a company makes something that breaks, and we cover it, that is not the problem. The breakage is the problem. You guys using gear in the backcountry, and having it break, that’s the problem. If a blog post like this can help even ONE person avoid ending up in the middle of the backcountry wilderness with a broken essential item, than that is an outcome I feel comfortable with. Sales aside.

  32. DavidB March 13th, 2016 4:41 pm

    At first glance I thought it was the DPS Wailer 99 Tour1.

    Very, very similar colour and graphics.

  33. See March 13th, 2016 6:25 pm

    And similar shape in the shovel.

    (Also: Never mind about the bamboo poles. https://www.wildsnow.com/9566/soul-bamboo-ski-poles-review/ I’ve been seeing these around lately, and they look nice. Price seems a little steep but that’s normal for an “artisanal” product. How many of us have spent many thousands of dollars on a bike that doesn’t work a whole lot better than one that costs a fraction of that?)

  34. See March 13th, 2016 7:08 pm

    I’ve recently been skiing some powder boards with a “long taper tip” compared to my previous skis. Initial impression is that they may “plow” a bit less, that is, they maintain speed better in a turn.

  35. wyomingowen March 13th, 2016 10:34 pm

    Thanks Lou,
    If Dynafit knows something and hasn’t stated it than I cast the same shame on them as I do Marker AND what I praise Scarpa for regarding the F1.

    I just hold you to a higher (quantitative) standard. I believe in capitalism, so let the dollars fall where they will. I just feel this is different, than say the kingpin coverage, is all.

    As for the “just skiing along” inbound crowd, well there’s a price for being cool, called a lift ticket which constitutes your liability release.

    I’d really like to see strength numbers, which as of now we must agree are paramount to weight.

    You’ve frankenbinded, how about a DPS Tour 1, Carbon Convert & Denali breakage party? Let the manufacturers challenge your data not your statements.

  36. sunburn March 14th, 2016 2:16 am

    Drew i’m suprised you don’t just tour on whatever Praxis of your choice in their ultralight layup.??

    FWIW i’ve picked up some ultralite Protests this season and have been loving them . . .

  37. Lou Dawson 2 March 14th, 2016 7:59 am

    Wyoming, no need for shaming, Let’s all realize that product defects and shortcomings happen in any industry. Yes, I wish the Dynafit Radical 1.0 had been better tested and engineered before it went to retail, but each defect has been dealt with, and Radical 2.0 appears to be holding up. As for the Denali ski, Dynafit, when I first spoke to them about this, some time ago, just communicated the situation in their prefered way, which is to communicate a take to journalists, bloggers, etc and let us optionally restate in our own words. I recently got a more official statement from a marketing guy, but he basically just stated that the skis were not appropriate for resort use. I thought that was a bit unclear compared to what I’ve been privy to, so I chose to keep stating the situation in my own words based on direct sources who have broken the ski.

    Another issue that’s been going on here is I essentially deal with two different Dynafits. Since around 20% of our readers are in Europe, and Salewa/Dynafit in Italy and Germany are the true source, I deal with them, attend their press events, and spend time with them at ISPO in Munich. But for day-to-day PR questions and gear review, I mostly deal with Dynafit North America. Both myself and Dynafit could probably do a better job with this, but it’s an imperfect science subject to things like language barriers and the sometimes jaw dropping (also known as WTF!) resistance of the ski industry to realize that the market is now global (e.g., situations like product being released in Europe and not in North America, thus forcing North American shoppers to hang with Sport Conrad or Telemark Pyrenees.)

    So, in any case, I’m doing the best I can with the resources I have. I’m not the New York Times with a cast of thousands vetting every word, that’s for sure! But try as hard as I can do do the right thing with the help of you guys, our family and guest bloggers, and the mostly excellent PR and marketing folks in the industry.


  38. Lou Dawson 2 March 14th, 2016 8:08 am

    As for breaking skis to test them, main problem is that how a binding is mounted can have a huge influence on ski strength. More, different lengths behave differently in terms of needed strength. Thus, I don’t think Wildsnow Labs is going to be test breaking skis any time soon, other than informal testing like I did with my Denalis.

    I do recall there is an ISO/DIN standard for ski strength, or am I imagining things? I don’t recall there being any sort of European Union “directives and regulations” that would be used for a CE mark based on ski strength, as with personal protective equipment such as climbing ropes or airbag backpacks.

    There are at least 48 ISO standards directly related to snowsports equipment. Many of them are “how to test” standards that are used to support manufacturing standards (in other words, to test the performance of a ski binding for a standard, you first have to define the test in a standardized way.)


    Perhaps someone out there knows if there is an actual ISO or European Union standard that says how strong a ski should be in terms of breaking strength?


  39. Lou Dawson 2 March 14th, 2016 8:16 am

    ISO 6265 appears to be the standard for testing breaking strength of skis.


    Not sure I want to spend the money on it as I’m doubtful we could replicate their methods without better instrumentation. But perhaps a summer project?

  40. See March 14th, 2016 9:46 am

    I doubt that reporting potential problems with products endears Lou to some of the companies that buy advertising on Wildsnow and host junkets. Their support given Lou’s determination to call ‘em as he sees ‘em is to those companies credit. And I’m grateful to Lou and Widsnow for sharing this information, even if he isn’t running a lab with access to enough product for destructive testing to make statistically unquestionable claims. If Wildsnow doesn’t do it, the alternative sources for such information are going to be much less reliable (forum rumors and vendor product reviews) or (more likely) nonexistent.

  41. Lou Dawson 2 March 14th, 2016 10:13 am

    What ski touring needs is an independent testing lab funded through anonymous donations and perhaps third-party advertising networks on a website. I think that could eventually happen, but the sport probably has to grow even larger before it does.

    Meanwhile, I’d indeed give many kudos to the companies that help us out here at WildSnow. They, to their credit, usually know when they’ve got a product problem and avoid “kill the messenger” syndrome, though I have experienced it once in a while. Often, people within the company are active backcountry skiers, they are not desk campers for the most part, that’s one of the cool things about our industry. These people are for the most part realists who use their products and have many friends and loved ones who do so as well.

    There is an element of humor in all this. More than once, I’ve had a company, (“competitor A”) tell me I’m biased to “competitor B” then spoken with “competitor B” and had them complain about my bias to “competitor A.” Just as killing the messenger is a product of cognitive dissonance, sometimes seeing a “bias” can be as well. But not always. No claim on perfection here, but I do try to keep it real.

  42. wyomingowen March 15th, 2016 7:52 pm

    Thanks again Lou,
    I wrote this during the kingpin knurl kerfuffle,”Consumers should not be guinea pigs” if you’re a pro or bro, that’s different. When members of our community are injured or killed from their choices that’s tragic.

    If/when a gear failure causes harm, well totally different, scenario. And if a company knew about a potential failure without disclosure, some in America would say criminal. Yes I know Europe is different.

    I place the burden on the manufacturer not Wild Snow. Seems like gear get’s more expensive no matter what, and I can’t see how retail sales don’t support pros & bros discounts, experticity and 3.5 are killing shops. And these shops are where consumers should be able to go to get clear manufacturer info.

    20 years ago I had a BD pitiful (pitbull) failure and just took the bark off the tree with my shoulder.

    My “clicks” on Wild Snow I hope are empowering you to get it right. Look at the amount of comments on hard goods vs TR’s or soft good reviews.

    Over and out on this one, thanks again for indulging.

  43. Lou Dawson 2 March 15th, 2016 8:29 pm

    I’m not stopping anytime soon, and am always striving to improve. I do wish the binding issues would slow down a bit, it’s getting annoying on the journalism side for sure.This winter is looking much much better in terms of the latest stuff that seems to have lack of defects, e.g., I have not heard any consistent/major problem reports on the major brand stuff like Radical 2, ION, Kingpin and recommend any of those depend on your taste, as well as ATK and Plum. Of course, some of these things don’t get to critical mass until much after a product is released. Much more fun to write about cool stuff that works. Easier to test as well (grin). Lou

  44. JC December 1st, 2016 12:26 am

    Wondering your thoughts on the length of these. I’m 5’11 and 145 lbs and waffling between the 177 vs. the 183. Do they ski pretty short with the tip rocker?

  45. Lou Dawson 2 December 1st, 2016 7:02 am

    I’m having trouble doing a psychic reading on your style of skiing, how much at resort, speed, age, goals. Something is blocking my mental powers. I’ll have to fall back on the written word. Sorry about that, but could you write a comment with a few things about how you plan on using the skis? Thanks, Lou

  46. JC December 1st, 2016 8:39 am

    Haha fair enough. I’m looking to use these as my main touring ski for skiing in the PNW (Cascades/Coast Mountains). No resort days at all. Looking to mostly ski them with Scarpa F1 Evo’s and put Ion LT’s on them. I’m 25, and somewhere in the moderate to advanced skiing spectrum, and would not by any means be jumping off anything in these or skiing them very hard. Most of my past touring skis have been in the 180-185 length, but as I’m looking for something a bit lighter and a bit more maneuverable with this ski I’m wondering about going shorter than that. Mostly curious if you felt that they skiied a bit short for their length.

    I appreciate the help!

  47. Lou Dawson 2 December 1st, 2016 8:59 am

    Hi JC, thanks, you saved me from excessive mentation.

    Sure, they feel shorter than a classic profile ski. They’re a ski that could indeed be too short, but I think for 100% ski touring, using a ski touring boot, my take would be try the 177 if you want to go lighter and more maneuverable. The 188 would work as well, where it would excell is when you want to make bigger faster turns in situations such as mank or breakable crust. Personally, even when I was 25 I would have probably used the shorter one, as I’ve always been a vertical craving ski tourer at heart and willing to sacrifice a bit of high speed power. Lou

  48. Truax December 8th, 2016 10:35 pm

    “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”

    This, coming from a man that raved about the Cho Oyu… “Overall I like the ski — it is a top choice for touring”.


    Top choice for touring? I’m calling BS on this. The Cho was one of the worst BC skis that I’ve skied on in variable conditions, let alone good conditions – largely due to an excessive sidecut. SO much more than the Denali or Dhaulagiri. What gives?

    I just want good, honest feedback on the ‘Dahla’… Let’s have it! This ski is largely similar to the venerable DPS Wailer 99 Tour 1 and yet, it doesn’t have much info out there regarding apples-to-apples comparison. Bring on the showdown.

  49. Lou Dawson 2 December 9th, 2016 6:21 am

    Truax, my feelings and opinions change over time, along with changes in technology and my own evolution or devolution as a skier. But I’d stand by my assertion that the Cho is still a good _touring_ ski, as it seems to make good turns for a lot of people along with being light in weight. I toured it myself quite a bit, knew its limits and strengths for my own skills as a skier, and it worked well. But my pair of Cho are gone and I’ve moved on to other more current planks. I’d also guess that if I tried to ski breakable crust on Cho I’d do better on something like a Wailer.

    Cho is not in the same width class as Denali or Dhaulagiri, so I’d posit that worrying the issue of my comparing Cho to wider skis is not productive. Instead, as you suggest, indeed one could compare Dahala and Wailer 99.

    I’ve skied them both, and would say that the Wailer skis, well, like a Wailer. It has that North American rockered sweet feel that we’ve all come to know and love. Dhaulagiri doesn’t ski like that. It has significantly more sidecut, and skis more like what I’d call a “European” ski in that it has more snap and is less forgiving.

    In my opinion, comparing Wailer 99 and Dahla is not even close to apples/apples. The only thing they have in common is a 99 mm waist and steel edges.

    If you’re trying to choose between the two, the first thing I’d ask is why did you narrow it down to two skis that are clearly so different? Next, I’d ask what kind of skier you are, and we could probably figure out from that which ski you’d like better. But I’ll bet you already know the answer.

    Dahla 132/99/116
    Wailer 125/99/111


  50. Truax December 9th, 2016 9:45 am

    Lou, thanks for the response. You are correct on the apples front. I just was going off of looks! Kidding, of course. Was thinking same class skis based on weight and waist – I just got carried away with those apples when it came to sidecut. What throws me off is the turn radius in relation to sidecut.

    Maybe you can help me sort the dilemma of Wailer having less sidecut but smaller turn radius v the Dahla (Wailer 16-19M, Dahla 21-22). This seems counterintuitive to my basic understanding of “more sidecut = more turn-y”. Is it the flex and rocker, then, that is influencing the radius in this case? Cause I do enjoy a larger turn radius.

    I’ve owned Wailer Pures and Tour1s. They’re both awesome. I’ve owned 7Summits and older Manaslus. Also great skis. My current two ski quiver is zeroG 85 and zeroG 108. The 108 is $$, although a bit on the porky side.

    I’m an average skier that solely tours in the N Rockies. Often ~7K on 10-15 mile tours. I skis all conditions, but based on locale, powder is the game. I like to turn, but obviously not as much as the Cho does 😉 I also like to make bigger turns when conditions and terrain allows. I’m into the all-terrain thing, yaknow?

    Thinking that the Dahla may be a good all-terrain vehicle…longer days w/ peaks, variable conditions and hopefully some pow. Likely more all-terrain than the powder friendly Wailer. Just thinking out loud here at this point. Thanks as always for entertaining such trivialities.

  51. Preserved December 11th, 2016 8:39 am

    I need to replace my current touring ski and I’ve got two different skis in consideration. The Dhaulagiri and the Salomon QST99. The Dhal looks like a safe choice shape wise, but just how much stronger can a ski be with just 200 extra grams over the Denali? I’m wondering if a 1400g ski will be enough for a 180 skier? I’m not super aggressive, but I’m not careful either. Here in the White Mountains of NH we see all kinds of snow and often not powder.

    I’m currently skiing the K2 Hardsides and find it a pretty good all around ski for New England, though not a light ski at a published 1900g.

    Also, could you comment on your ideas of “sidecutty”? The 1825g Salomon QST 99 has 39mm of sidecut! I see how lots of sidecut would make a ski nervous at speed, but is that ever really an issue in the backcountry? Thanks!

  52. Lou Dawson 2 December 11th, 2016 5:10 pm

    My take would be for you to get the beefier ski.

    As for sidecut, IMHO the most important thing is what you’re used to, related to your style of skiing. Calling a ski “sidecutty” is not derogatory, only descriptive.


  53. Truax December 12th, 2016 10:00 pm


    Anyone have feedback on the sidecut/turning radius of the Dahla?
    I’ll summarize/repeat myself for those not reading the thread:

    Dilemma…Wailer 99 has less sidecut but smaller turn radius v the Dahla 99

    -Wailer 125/99/111 / Dahla 132/99/116
    -Wailer 19M / Dahla 22M

    This seems against my basic understanding of “more sidecut = smaller radius”. Is it the flex and rocker, then, that is influencing the radius in this case? Or am I missing something obvious? TIA

  54. matsad February 20th, 2017 9:15 pm

    Hi Lou, I love your reviews here! Have you guys hit any rocks with the Dahlas yet? I ask because I had a pair of Cho Oyus that I thought were the cat’s meow for everything: hard snow, steep boiler plate, groomers, bumps, and of course powder. And the weight was great. The only problem was that even minor rock hits compressed the sidewalls and cracked the edges, so of course the next time they suffered a hit there, the edge was gone. I love the Dynafit shape and stiffness profile, but I hate to shell out for new skis if they’re only going to last a season or two. Any recommendations on a light-ish ski that can stand the occasional rock any better? Thanks! -Matt

  55. Tomas February 23rd, 2017 8:48 am

    Destruction topsheet – only 2 days during normal telemark skiing. I’m waiting for complaint Salewa Czech & Slovakia s.r.o. importer Raimund Mair. Defective Ski series 61413854.

  56. Lou Dawson 2 February 23rd, 2017 9:31 am

    I’ll say it. Many Dynafit ski models are built to be lightweight and not particularly strong in some cases, in our opinion they are highly NOT recommended for telemarking… there are so many other ski choices out there, why not use them? On the other hand, if the ski actually is defective, then shut my mouth (smile). Lou

  57. josh February 22nd, 2018 4:16 am

    Hey Lou, what in the current or upcoming Dynafit lineup is the best evolution or update of this? I picked up a pair second hand and LOVE them, but with the amount I’m skiing (and in often bony conditions) I’m going to need to replace them by sometime next season.

  58. Lou Dawson 2 February 22nd, 2018 9:35 am

    Hi Nick, I looked at the Dynafit 2017-2018 ski lineup just now and don’t see anything I’d say matches up perfectly, though the Tour 96 has a similar turn radius and might be called an “evolution” and could perhaps be pretty much the same ski only with different graphics. If you like the width and sidecut of the Dahla I’d suggest just looking at various brands and see what they have that closely matches. It would be worth trying to get a demo of the Tour 96. Lou

  59. Amst April 3rd, 2018 12:44 pm

    Just demolished my Cho Oyu 191cm at the 6th day of use. Was skiiing off piste bumps in soft snow (spring conditions). One ski just snapped like a twig while skiing. I was very fond on them cause they performed great on almost anything but the hardest underground and super light for touring. Now looking for a new pair of 190cm+ ski’s but holding back on Dynafit, guess they are not designed for aggressive skiiing by larger persons. I’m 6’5′, 180 lb.

  60. Curt Pollock May 16th, 2018 2:11 am

    Hi Lou, I am putting an approach ski set-up together and was wondering if the Slivretta 500 Easy Go binding, size large, will fit on this ski in a 170 cm length. The mounting area looks a little small given the length of the Silvretta binding. Thanks for weighing in. Curt Pollock, Anchorage, AK

  61. Lou Dawson 2 May 16th, 2018 8:01 am

    Hi Curt, I don’t have any of those skis at hand to physically check dimensions, but they do look a bit limited in terms of fitting a long Silvretta frame binding. Sounds like you have the binding, can you just mail order the skis then return if the binding doesn’t fit? Lou

  62. Curt Pollock May 18th, 2018 11:38 pm

    Hi Lou, Thanks for your response. I don’t yet have the bindings as a size large is proving hard to find. No luck on Ebay though I am continuing to look on a daily basis should one finally become available.

    I have two more questions. The approach ski set up I am currently putting together is for approaching ice climbs and mountaineering routes in winter (with Spantiks and Olympus Mons) in interior Alaska so I am anticipating a cold, dry snow pack. I have another set up (with Silvretta 500 Easy Go bindings) for warmer approaches (May-July) with my Nepal Cubes. and a Dynastar Cham Alti ski (170/114-80-102, tip rocker, flat tail with notch, wood core, cap construction) .

    First, I assume that the only Silvretta bindings that will work with Spantiks and Olympus Mons will be the older and heavier 404 or the newer and lighter 500 Easy Go/LSV. My understanding is that the 505’s might be tough to fit as the heel piece is step in and may be the wrong height. The 550 has the same potential problem as the 505 (step in heel that may be wrong height) and the additional problem of a toe wire bail that is surrounded in plastic; presenting a potential fit problem with the climbing boot’s front welt. Am I correct that I need to stick with the 404 or 500?

    Second, for the cold weather approach ski, I read your post on Silvretta bindings carefully and came away with this idea of preferred ski characteristics:
    170 cm long with 95 to 100 mm underfoot, tip rocker, camber underfoot, and as flat a tail as possible . I am aiming to keep the ski at 1500 grams (per ski sans binding) or less. Does this sound about right? I am finding it hard to score a “deal” on a ski like this. Not much around for less than 400 bucks.

    As always, I find your blog to be extremely helpful and I am grateful for what you do. Thanks for helping those of us in the skimo/climbing community get it right the first time!


    Curt Pollock
    Anchorage, AK

  63. Lou Dawson 2 May 19th, 2018 8:29 am

    Hi Curt, ongoing challenge for sure. Why some of these companies don’t just put tech fittings in their alpine climbing boots is an eternal mystery. Doing so is not as easy as it appears, but it could be done. The plastic on the Silvretta toe bail could probably be removed, but you are correct in that the step-in heels are sensitive to heel height, and it would be hard to add a shim. The hand latched heels are of course tricky as well, but could be modified, some of the early ones actually had a heel height adjustment.

    The 95/100 width is indeed a good target, that’s what I’d probably use for a winter approach ski, indeed in a fairly short length. I’d look for used skis, or shops selling their demos.

    Let us know what you end up with.

    I heard there is a large pile of skis with Silvrettas as the base of the Cassin, is that true?


  64. Lou Dawson 2 May 19th, 2018 8:34 am

    I just looked at Ebay, it always cracks me up how much money people want for antique “alpine touring” bindings that would probably break the first time they were used, such as the Silvretta Pure. I do see some earlier “approach appropriate) Silvrettas on there such as the 404, but I suppose none are size large?

    A steel railed Silvretta could probably be lengthened, but doing so in a strong enough way would probably add too much weight.


  65. Lou Dawson 2 May 19th, 2018 9:19 am

    I’m more tooled up here than ever, as I’m working on a variety of hardware development projects, would you like me to try and figure out a way to lengthen the 500? I’ve got half a pair here I could experiment on. Lou

  66. Curt Pollock May 19th, 2018 5:32 pm

    Hi Lou, Not sure about the Silvretta boneyard at the base of the Cassin, but I wouldn’t doubt it. As you likely know, the Northeast fork of the Kahiltna Glacier (a.k.a. the Valley of Death) got its moniker for good reason. Avalanches sweep across the glacier floor and up the other side on a frequent enough basis to scare the @#$% out of all sane climbers approaching the West Rib and Cassin. Hauling approach skis up and over is crazy, but then so is going back to fetch your rig once you have bagged the peak and descended to your party cache at base camp. The West Rib and Cassin are on my long-term bucket list so will let you know what I find.

    As far as experimenting goes, sure, as I would be curious to know if you can do it. As you discovered, there are lots of smalls and mediums but large Silvretta 500s are rare. I missed one two weeks ago and I am kicking myself now. Denali season will be ending in July and I am hopeful I can snag a pair from a disillusioned climber who thought Denali’s trade route would be “easy”.

    As always, thanks for your help.

    Curt Pollock
    Anchorage, AK

  67. Tomek December 30th, 2018 1:19 pm

    After 2 seasons (45 days) of moderate use some cracks have developed on topsheet of my Dhaulagiris in front binding’s area. Presumably it their end of life, as these cracks are caused by the structural damage. The same thing has happened to another person I know. photos of both cases here – https://photos.app.goo.gl/h1uUEuNi2Fzk1WhM9

    I also heard about 3rd case of the same failure, but do not have a photos to document it. Definitely something is wrong with that model. Producing a skis which only last for one season of intensive use is a bummer.

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  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring 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 ski touring news and information here.

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