May 08 2013

Review: Dynafit’s fat boy – Huascaran

Anyone who knows my quiver knows I am not fond of oversized skis, especially those whose waist has ballooned beyond 100mm. When forced I’ll accept another 10mm of blubber but only with a locked heel. That bias runs deep, so beware this review is an attempt to give enough information based on my experience and in spite of my perceptual handicap. Those who want fuller figured skis based need be careful how you interpret my experience with the Huascaran to see if it warrants a place in your quiver.

Dynafit delivers the fattest ski they dare – Huascaran, 115mm wide at the waist.

As a fat by width but skinny by weight type ski the Huascaran is a study in limits. On the uphill the weight is barely discernible from many skinnier skis because the requisite skins are wider too. Even so, that’s the major appeal of the Husacaran. Widebody float with moderate weight. Though it weighs by itself like it’s skin and bones it has some sinewy muscles to deliver a nice flex with a rebounding snap to launch you from turn to turn. This is particularly nice in all manner of soft snow, from mush to fluff, even crud as long as it isn’t riddled with frozen crust.

Fortunately I was able to experience how the Huascaran handled a variety of conditions on a tour between Big and Little Rottenwood Canyons, then back again. Most of the conditions were the kind I’d rather forget, but as with any backcountry tour, there were some occasional moments of really sweet snow when the Huascaran’s would start knocking out turns like they were dancing to a Mariachi band.

Hoji hikes a ridge enroute to Alta from Solitude wearing Vulcans hitched to the Beast atop fatties.

Unfortunately as soon as I could feel them responding to the rhythm, a frozen chicken head, or some crocodile crust would grab the tip of the ski and send it skittering to the side like a needle that skipped out of the groove and was headed off the turntable. Needless to say at moments like those I wished I were riding a heavyweight chop monster like a Kabookie that has more meat to punch back with. This is not to say the Huascaran can’t handle heavy snow, but it’s a whole lot easier to manage when it is consistent, which it wasn’t on that first tour in the Rottenwood Canyons. It took a few months before I had the chance to give the Huascaran’s a better opportunity to shine in the land of Sierra Cement. When it did, they picked up that Mariachi rhythm right where they had left off in the Wasatch, with smooth rebounding arcs down the mountainside.

Unlike many other powder planks, the Huascaran relies predominantly on the flex of the ski for its response, not funky, punky rocker. At 115mm at the waist, and a little rocker at either end, this ski rides long, and expects you to know how to flex and drive turns from the tip through the tail, not merely swivel your hips to bleed speed. In open terrain the Huascaran is big fun. In the trees you need to be on your game all the time. It may seem odd that I’m saying it isn’t much of a rockered ski and Dynafit promotes that it is. Forgive them their marketing indulgence. Dynafit’s definition of rocker is modest by alpine standards, but does help to make the ski more nimble in the trees and the early rise tip, even though subltle, breaks trail well.

Where the Huascaran fails to impress is where every super-fat ski fails – especially for tele, but even with training heels – on ice. There are precious few super fat skis that can compare to a mere fat or mid-fat ski for biting into icy snow. It just isn’t physically possible. Sure, you can hoooold an edge, and I did with the Huascaran on far too many occasions this past season. For an oversized, underweight fat boy the Huascaran did an admirable job of holding on, so if you’re on it and you run into those conditions, you’ll survive. However, that isn’t what it is made for.

As with all skis by Dynafit, it comes with a notch in the tip for Dynafit brand skins with the rubber rope at the tip and a notch in the tail for the tooth at the bottom of the skin. This makes it easy to rip the hide from tip to tail while you’re still in touring mode.

If you’re looking for a light weight, oversized fat ski to farm powder tracks mid winter, and like round, energetic turns you’ll want a pair of these in your quiver. Pick something skinnier for mornings on frozen corn.

MSRP: $800

Length: 167 cm 177 cm 186 cm 196 cm
Weight: 1690 g 1780 g 1850 g 1940 g
Sidecut:   133-110-122 mm     134-112-123 mm     135-114-124 mm     136-115-125 mm  

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Backcountry ski review: Dynafit Stoke

© 2013

  • http://jasonflaherty.com/ Jason Flaherty

    What a deal. Now I can spend $1000 on boots, $1000 on bindings and only $800 on skis. Well, I could probably find the skis for less. LOL (Dyanfit is spendy rant there… I love my FT12s btw…)

  • Chris

    Can you share what binding you used on your demo? Thanks.

  • Dostie

    The Beast 16, a full four pound Dynafit binding which still felt light thanks to the inherent touring efficiency of the 2-pin system.

  • Stagecoach

    Hi C- Your review of the Huascaran was right on target. I’ve been skiing on my 167s for two years and will retire them in favor of a much narrower under foot ski. At 5’9” 135 pounds, the ski was not easy to maneuver through the trees in the backcountry firmer snow, and chattered like crazy skiing down ski hills. Yes they’re super light for the uphill sprint and floaty fun in the fresh powder, but I’m looking for a more versatile ski that can turn sharper through the trees and all snow conditions. Do you have any suggestions on an affordable all around light backcountry ski? Steep and Cheap has the Dynafit Carbonio 88 priced at $500. Any thoughts?
    BTW- hope you’re doing well since Gold Lake hike with me and sore-foot Piper!

  • Dostie

    Depends on how wide you like ‘em. In the 90ish range I say look a Voile’s UltraVector or the Fischer Hannibal. In the 105ish range I’d recommend Scott Superguide 105, or Salomon QST 106, or Black Crows Navis Freebird.

    Haha. Lost two toenails from that hike. They’re back, but another is destined to fall off thanks to a premature ski tour this season. But, with luck, it begins with real turns tomorrow. Hope the ‘boat gets pounded this season for you.