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My Fattening Quiver

Most of the quiver todayAnyone who’s read this blog for a while knows that I favor light gear and little skis for most of my outings. This stuff works best for the long tours and vertical gain I prefer. I’ve pushed the use of thinner, shorter skis and light race bindings onto steep, technical terrain with generally satisfying outcomes.  With like-minded partners encouraging this behavior, my ski quiver has stayed skinny…. until now.

Moving to Alaska changed the character of my ski partners and a light and fast approach to ski days has become mostly unnecessary. I firmly believe that skimo racing drives the speed touring aspect of the sport and AK simply has no races and no Lycra clad scene. Ski days got longer with less vertical. Its more relaxed going up and transitions, once again, become an event, of sorts, with painful changing of clothes, consumption of solid food and other “rituals” common to most ski tourers. I’m not saying there’s anything inherently wrong with this approach. It’s just that I abandoned that stuff more that 6 years ago. I’ve started to revisit some of this now that I’m in AK.

Although you may see me in baggier pants once in awhile, the main alteration in my style has been my acceptance of wider skis. Now I’m the first to admit that skiing nearly anything is easier and more fun on wider skis. With all my partners up here already on board with this, it makes sense for me to follow suit. I’ve accepted the idea that going up will be slower and a bit harder but I’ll get the reward on the way down. Fair enough.

My first foray in this direction actually took place just before my move North. I got a pair of Dynafit Manaslus. What joy on a powder day. I was no TGR star but suddenly I was hauling ass and throwing turns at will. The light went on and I could feel the tug fat-ward. Of course, I mounted those skis with race bindings so I was still damn light. I was using Dynafit TLT 5 Performance boots so I was courting only half of the bigger equation.

With my move to AK I decided to up the game further and purchase a pair of what many consider a deep snow game changer, the DPS Pure Carbon Wailer 112. I paired these with some heavier Dynafit bindings and Vulcan boots. No one would argue that it is a formidable powder slaying set up that would satisfy all but the most decadent skiers who turn their noses up to anything under 130 mm underfoot.

And what a mind-blowing experience skiing that set up is. I really had no idea. I’m fond of saying that skiing these fat, rockered, early rise beasts is a completely different sport, more akin to snow boarding than skiing in the traditional sense. And it’s fun as shit, too. I lament the slog up the skin track but find myself laughing my ass off and scaring myself silly with speed that’s typical on these set-ups. Honestly, I only skied that rig 3 times last winter and I’ll save it for machine aided skiing in the future. I’m confident I can have nearly as much fun with something slightly less while still appealing to that “other side” of me.

Thus, I come to the chosen weapons for this season, the Dynafit Grand Teton ski, TLT Speed Radical binding and TLT 6 Performance boot.

First, I need to confess a nostalgic appreciation for the Grand Teton. The obvious one is the name. My skiing will be forever linked to that fine mountain range. But more significantly, the ski is a memorial of sorts to a frequent partner of mine, Steve Romeo, who died in an avalanche a week before my move to Alaska. I will undoubtedly think of him every time I grab the boards from my wall and that’s a good thing. But the ski also fills the niche I feel is where I need to be. It’s 105mm underfoot with an early rise tip and snappy, lightweight construction. I went longer, too, at 182 cm, which weighs in at 1700 grams.

I mounted it with a “real” binding because there’s this sneaking doubt in my head I’ve tried to ignore that I’m tempting fate by skiing “fall you die” terrain on race bindings.  Maybe I’m just getting paranoid in my old age. But breaking that binding last spring has made me scared a bit. I’m not sure when it snapped, actually, but I’m hedging my bets this season.

The other thing I’ve come to realize and I’ve had to accept watching other steep skiers is that wider skis afford an additional level of safety because of their inherent stability. When I look back at the snow conditions I was skiing when I fell last spring, I’m convinced it wouldn’t have happened on skis wider than 75mm. After that near vomit inducing experience, I’ll take the security to the bank.

That doesn’t mean I’ll abandon the anorexic members of my quiver. Far from it, they have their time and place depending upon conditions and objectives. I’m convinced that spending so much time on those skis has made me a better skier. I suspect that skiers weaned on fat skis lack the skills to maneuver a traditional ski and, thus, would be hard pressed to take advantage of them on an objective where their use would facilitate success. I have no plans to dumb down my skiing that far.

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Reader Comments (8)

i love a good quiver contemplation post. as someone who's gear is trending towards the lighter end of the spectrum it is interesting to see someone adding a few ounces. do you have a link to the binding incident referenced in this post?

November 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjay

I agree, Jay. It's always fun to read about someone's relationship with gear. These sorts of posts are not industry generated by some guys taking a run or two at the resort. At least for me, this gear gets used. The blather on here is still my subjective opinions but I think the information is more helpful than the other. At least readers know where I'm coming from.

I think most skiers will benefit far more from reading my light is right stuff. Way too much heft out there when you don't need it, IMO. But this, "oh, it's so much fun to ski powder on fat skis" drivel is preaching to the choir, right?

As for the binding incident, check it at... http://getstrongergolonger.squarespace.com/journal/2013/4/6/steep-skiing-fail.html

November 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

I am not sure how you mounted the heel piece of that race binding on the Manaslus with the inserts in the way. I am glad they finally got rid of the inserts. I still think it is worth exploring a better way to connect bindings to skis, but those inserts seemed problematic. Looks like a fun combination of skis. I have found this middle ground between ultra light race skis and heavier downhill focused skis to be frustrating. There are few options and many times the longest length is in the low 180s. I think that is going to begin to change in the next couple of years. I am still not sure what is different between the Grand Teton and the Stoke.

December 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike


The inserts were easily avoided. No problems with the mount. I agree that they were best abandoned.

I think the biggest difference between the GT and the Stoke is that Greg Hill is from Canada and Steve was from Jackson. That's a joke, of course. Honestly, I've not put the two together to really compare. I have my first impressions of the GT coming soon so hold out for that. I will say here that it's no "powder only" ski. Looking forward to getting it on some hard pack to confirm my suspicions.

December 10, 2013 | Registered CommenterBrian

Great review of the Dynafit GT ski. I am looking at this ski now but torn on sizing between 182 and 191. This will be my primary touring ski and will be using it mostly in Vermont and New Hampshire backcountry. At 6' tall and 185 lbs not sure which would be best for me. Any thougts?

October 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

Honestly, John, it really wasn't much of a review. More of an introduction, I suppose. I took the GTs to Europe last year and skied them some over those two months. However, I don't think I ever skied anything "serious" on them...that is, steep and scary. For those days and all of the longer touring days I went with the Cho Oyu with race bindings. I guess old habits are hard to break.

That said, I'm selling those skis this year, I think. The short review is that I think they have an identity crisis. Not really a powder ski and not a steep ski either. They're okay at moderate speed in soft snow but have surprised me when things got a little tricky and I ended up pitched over the tips. I could never really relax in anything but total ego powder. The DPS 112 Pure is way more fun for that. On firmer snow, they're predictable but not that lively and, hence, not that fun. The added weight just made them sluggish to me. Maybe I should have gotten them in a shorter length. Mine are 182 cm. I certainly would not get them longer unless you really haul ass all the time. You still have to drag them uphill and kick turn with them.

The turned up tail would likely not be "Rando Steve approved" as it makes them harder to plunge at transitions on steep slopes. For skimo, the less tail flip, the better, IMO.

My partner says they are nearly identical in shape to the Stoke, for what that's worth.

For what it's worth, I still think a bit more heft on the down is good. I'm playing with that some this year, at least in critical terrain. I'm just not convinced the GT is the answer for me. I have a pair of Black Crows Camox Freebirds coming as the next experiment. Stay tuned for that.

October 28, 2014 | Registered CommenterBrian

its an old post but I have a quiver question. I have a pair light-ish all around skis (hagan y king 107), with ATK raiders isa good daily driver. What category do you think is the next addition starting to build a quiver for the chugach?

October 14, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterdan

Hey Dan. I think it depends upon the kind of terrain you like and your skiing style/ability. For the hard core free riders that favor Turnagain Pass, a ski between 110 and 120mm underfoot and longer than 180cm would be right in the wheelhouse. The commitment required to drop into those longer lines demands hauling ass when necessary. More ski and boot makes this much more attractive. Of course, you also have to lug that shit around and so you may find your self sticking closer to the road and reducing vertical accumulation as a result.

For me, I love going far and seek out more technical lines where rock walls can limit some of the overhead exposure and also provide some options for "safe zones" and even belayed skiing when stability needs some investigation. My speed tends to be lower and my gear lighter. That said, I still like to open it up some when conditions permit and for that I like the DPS Wailer Tour 1 and the fatter offerings from Movement. Both brands make light skis that still have some girth without heft. I put race style tech bindings on all of them, with the addition of an adjustable heel piece. My DPS are 184cm, BTW and I'm 6 foot and 172 pounds.

October 17, 2018 | Registered CommenterBrian

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