Flashback. March of 2012. Vermont. In an otherwise rough season, February closes out with some dynamite powder skiing and leaves the snowpack at a downright decent level. Enter a week of record high temperatures and then cooler weather without significant precipitation. In three weeks the total pack is shrunk by 2/3 and hard surfaces rule the day.
It was right in the middle of this warmup and snow decay that I was given a pre production pair of a super wide, super light new powder ski being added to the ever-progressing line of true freeride touring products offered by Dynafit. The Huascaran; Lord of the Cordillera Blanca.
Of course, one gets such a great looking ride for the soft stuff and by reason there is no snow to give them the appropriate vetting. Par for the course, especially in these locales. I did my due diligence and gave them an AM of icy, ungroomed garbage only to learn that they do succumb to the laws of gravity. Although, they are less willing to do so with skins on (read; they are pretty light in the skin track). I convinced myself that it would be good to have a svelte (in weight, not surface area) touring powder ski to round out the quiver, and the Huascaran seemed like a worthy solider.
And through this season, I have spent most any touring day with more than 10″ of fresh snow finding lines on these skis. I have not been disappointed.
On the tech side of things, the Huascaran is the first of Dynafit’s skis to add in a significant amount of tip rocker and any tail rocker at all. The tail rocker is very minimal (almost nil), and there is just a touch of camber underfoot. The camber/rocker profile strikes an interesting balance, in that to keep with the heart of Dynafit’s market the ski needs to be stiff enough and have enough edge length to allow for control and confidence in variable high alpine snow. But the ultra low camber and rocker do allow for a loose and surfy feel in powder where the tip and tail are free from hook. The tail rocker is also low enough to provide an adequately flat tail for ski anchoring.
The Huascaran also sports a multiple radius sidecut, incorporating three different radii acting on the ski’s edge. The initial 1/4 of the ski has a long 35m radius, designed for a true track in powder and to avoid powder hook. The middle half of the ski has a much tighter 20m radius for maneuverability in tight spots when the going gets tough. The bottom 1/4 of the ski has a 30m radius, again to enable smooth release in soft snow conditions.
The cold hard stats.
Coming in 4 lengths (167, 177, 186, and 196), the Huascaran has changing dimensions at each length keeping waist width ranging from 110mm to 115mm. The skis come in at under 8lbs/pair for the two shortest sizes, and just a hair over 8lbs/pair on the two longest sizes. Those are some pretty impressive weight numbers considering the surface area of the ski. Much of the weight savings can be attributed to the core and reinforcement composition used in the ski’s construction. Core material using bamboo and beech for strength and stiffness, coupled with the lower weight of paulownia and composite Iso-Core material, equals a strong, stiff, but light core. The reinforcement includes carbon, fiberglass, and thin metal reinforcement plates in the mounting zone.
I have spent time using the Huascarans with both Dynafit TLT 5 Performance boots (mostly) and Dynafit Titans. The Titans allow for much for control of the tip of the ski, especially when dealing with the relatively long 186cm length. You can more easily ski the Huascaran like the long radius/big mountain ski that it aspires to be.
With the lighter, shorter, softer TLT 5s you do a lot more skiing the middle of the ski, the central turn radius, and much more smearing. A little edge leverage is lost by having a shorter cuff on the boot. But the touring of the TLT 5 is so far superior to the Titan that some of the more aggressive skiing attributes are easily forgotten, especially going uphill for lap 4 or 5.
I must say I have been a big fan of the Huascaran. It has filled a hole in the quiver for the deep snow days. Although I think a 177 would be a little easier to snake around the VT area with my light boots, I overall do prefer the 186 for it’s east/west capabilities. Make sure you check this option out if looking for a new pow ski for your tours.
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