This is what gear testing is all about. Put together a dream setup, then crank on it. But it’s not me doing the cranking. In this case, our tester was my son Louie, who’s a strong aggressive skier and had grown out of his previous randonnee setup. This was the full experience. The boy mounted his own bindings, tuned the planks, then ripped for three days straight at Aspen Highlands, including grabbing three bowl runs on a closing day said to be the best one in years — perhaps ever. But that’s not all. On day three he hooked up with brothers Mike and Steve Marolt. The twins were on a mission to find the worst snow on the mountain (they’re practising for skiing big peaks). So after a few epic powder runs, Louie and the Marolts were up there on south facing icy mank, seeing what their legs and skis could do. Yes, the kid was wearing a helmet — and I’m glad. Louie’s report is down below the following photos.
|The adventure begins. Drilling a new pair of expensive skis is always exciting. It turns out that Dynafit FT 10 is exactly the same ski as the FR 10, only with different cosmetics. As Life-Link was out of the FR10, we opted to use the FT for testing. The 06/07 model of the FR/FT10 differs from last year in that it’s got a wood core instead of foam. It still has a layer of carbon, but should be more durable and perhaps ski better with the tried and true ingredient of wood. It’s slightly heavier, how much so I don’t know.|
|We mounted a pair of 06/07 Dynafit Comfort bindings. Big news with this iteration is that the crampon slot in the front binding plate is heavily reinforced. This should solve breakage problems reported last winter, but does add weight. If you’re not planning on using crampons, the reinforcement can be removed.|
|The new crampon slot as viewed from above. The reinforced plate will be available from Life-Link as a retrofit for Comfort Bindings. Recommended if you use the Dynafit crampons.|
|Ski and boot review by Louie Dawson: The combo of the Dynafit FT 10.0 and the Scarpa Spirit 3 is a great setup. I have been waiting for it to come in the mail for some time. It finally did arrive when I was away in Mexico with my school, so I was able to try them for the first time for three days over the weekend. I tested them at Aspen Highlands so I could get lots of vertical in different types of snow. I can tell you that on the downhill this ski rips. I skied them as hard as I ski my alpine setup and they felt great. Four inches of snow fell the night before my first day of testing, so there were windblown pockets of powder interspersed with big icy bumps — bad conditions are the best for seeing what a ski can really do. I spent the whole day doing laps on double blacks and I didnâ€™t prerelease once, but when I did fall they came off my feet nicely. The FT 10.0 are great skis while still keeping the weight down, I hope Dynafit continues what they started last year with this line of downhill oriented skis.
The Scarpa Spirit 3 boots are also great. They’re only a couple of ounces heavier than my dad’s Garmont Mega Rides, but they’re taller, have adjustable forward lean, and seem slightly stiffer in downhill mode. I’ve chosen these as my performance AT boots to use this spring and next winter (I’ll keep using my Scarpa F1s for lightweight trips, and I’d like to get some Scarpa Matrix to try as something a bit lighter than the Spirit, but that still skis okay).
[Editor’s note: Louie returned from his escapades and described his legs as being more tired than normal. We figured this was simply because he was using randonnee gear for multiple ski resort laps. But when I picked up a Spirit 3 to weigh it, I noticed the cuff was locked in an extreme forward lean position. Turns out the cuff lock has two lean positions, and Louie had inadvertently locked into the more forward position. Combined with the Dynafit binding’s positive ramp angle, he was in a torturous stance and didn’t know it. This is the exact reason I’m not a big fan of lean locks with two settings. Simple solution is to mark the boot in some way so you can check which position you’re in, as it’s not always obvious when you’re in the heat of preparing for a descent. With my boots, I usually modify such lean locks so they only have one position. Doing so is beyond the desires and skills of most skiers, so marking the boot is usually best. Lou]
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.