Wildsnow readers have requested information about what skis we’re using up there. First, please know there is no ideal setup for this sort of thing. You don’t know if you’ll be on ice or powder (probably some of both), you spend a lot of time walking (on foot and skis), but you might ski some fairly difficult steep stuff. More, we don’t pretend to be experts on what would work best on Denali (there are dozens if not hundreds of guides and other experts who know it better than us), and while we’ve gotten some help from Black Diamond and K2, it’s not like we can pick any ski in the world. So, with that caveat, following are the setups we’re on.
Jordan: Black Diamond Kilowatt 185, BD mohair skins, Scarpa Skookum boots punched out for custom fit, upsized one shell size to size 31. Intuition Power Wrap liner with custom orthotics by Larry the Bootfitter in Boulder. Dynafit FT 12 bindings.
Caleb: Black Diamond Kilowatt 185, BD mohair skins, Scarpa Spirit 4 boots, stock Intuition liner, red Superfeet Insoles. Boots upsized one size. Dynafit FT12 bindings with brakes and custom safety strap
Joe: Black Diamond Kilowatt 175, BD mohair skins, Dynafit ST bindings. Scarpa Spirit 4 boots, upsized on size. Intuition Liner.
Lou: K2 Wayback 168 with either BD mohair or K2 nylon skins (haven’t decided), Dynafit ST Vertical bindings with brakes, Scarpa Spirit 3 or Dynafit ZZero CF Thermo boots (probably former because I’ve spent literally weeks trying to fit the ZZero large enough in the toe while still having some sort of ski fit in the heel area, and have not been highly successful). Compared to the Spirit, the ZZero is lower volume in the toe area. That can be great when fitting for normal use, but makes it tough to set up for super cold temperatures. So we’ll see, but at this point I’m edging towards the Spirit 3. In either boot, Intuition Pro Tour liner because it’s the best for slogging.
Louie: K2 Wayback 175, G3 Alpinist skins (good glide for Kahiltna Highway and likes the tip attachment). Scarpa Spirit 3 boots upsized one shell size, Toasty Feet aerogel insoles. Dynafit FT12 with brakes as well as custom safety straps.
Colby and Tyler: K2 Backlash 181, Scarpa Spirit 3 boots, G3 Alpinist skins. Upsized boots (which is not saying much, since upsizing to these former ski racers probably means going to the size most people would normally ski in).
Everyone has Forty Below Purple Haze overboots, and I’ve got some Boot Gloves as well. The Purple Haze don’t work 100% with Dynafit bindings, so our strategy with them is to wear them on the up and/or while in crampons, then strip for the down.
That’s about it.
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.