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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dynafit Nanga Parbat ski review.....

Wow, the winter here is actually shocking to me.  We are getting a temperature inversion up high and a damp cold fog (but not freezing)  down below.  We are lucky to have had a good dump of snow a bit ago to keep us skiing but it is getting bleak again.  Frightening how quickly the little snow we do have will go once the temps warm and an early Spring arrives for good.  Snow level here is more typical of  mid May than mid January.

One high light of that situation is we have miles and miles of corn snow here in the Pacific Northwest right now.  Skis I planned to be on are waxed and hanging in the shop.  Skis I had planned on putting miles on later in the Spring I have pulled out now.  Fun because I am able to give gear a thrashing now that I hadn't intended to for months yet.

The Dynafit Nanga Parbat and the Cho Oyu has two skis that I am really enjoying at the moment.  I like gear that surprises me.  And these skinny, light weight skis are surprising me at almost every turn.  All in a good way to date.

Well groomed terrain at Crystal Mtn that has now been skied into almost perfection and no traffic has allowed me to do high speed laps (did I really write that?)  on the Nanga Parbat.  30K+ down hill vertical in a short amount of time allows one to get a solid impression of what a ski can really do.

Mind you I am skiing a 171cm ski-mo plank.  (more appropriately I suspect viewed as a sliver than a plank)

the 171cm  Nanga Parbat stats are:

171cm x 80mm under foot is 1170g with a Dynafit Low tech Race binding mounted, per ski

I am all about picking the right system.

My system might not work for you however.  I'd suggest you pick your own combination of ski, boots and bindings and make up your ski system for your personal needs and objectives.

In this case I wanted a lwt ski.  The Nanga Parbat fits that easy enough at around 1000g.  Light bindings makes the Low Tech an easy choice there.  The boots?  Dynafit again (see the trend here?) with the PDG boot. 

Some amazing and very technical ski mountaineering lines have been skied in the Dy.N.A. Evo boot.  The PDG is just a slightly heavier and slightly less stiff version of the DyNA boot.  And half the price.  Until today I didn't think difficult technical lines were in me with the PDG and Nanga Parbat.  NW volcano's sure.  But really steep stuff or long technical descents?  I wasn't looking forward to putting the TLT6 or Spectre on for the climb up.  Even if the ski could handle the down.

I have been wanting to get out all last week and just never managed it.  Even got suited up one day and had the car loaded when a business call had me stuck here for a couple of extra hours.  Too much time had gone by  when the dust settled that day.  I stayed and worked.

Today was different.  Good weather again and the big inversion still in place.  Mountain temps have been in the high 40s on top and barely freezing at the lodge.  Yes, dismal snow conditions.  Today was no different.  Almost slush in some places early this morning. And real slush on the south facing slopes.

Fun part of the day is I got to ski everything from frozen corduroy that the groomers laid down just hours earlier to full on spring slush.  Mid day on how ever was industrial level farming...a huge harvest.  And all CORN!

Imagine skiing from the summit of Rainier 3 times in one day..10K vert x 3.

The conditions were not all that extreme but not far off either of a perfect Spring summit day.  I had everything from wonderful corn, some soft  almost isothermic snow a few inches deep to full on hard, water ice.

I was really impressed with the longer 182cm Cho Oyu in similar but even harder snow conditions a few weeks back.  And those I was skiing with a TLT6.   Unknowingly  I credited much of the Cho's performance to the TLT6.  I knew the ski was good.  Just may be not how good.  I have spent the last few years picking out the very best skis the Industry has to offer for my own needs.   No surprise I tell you some great things about them.  But what you read about is not the only skis I am skiing.  They are just the best skis I am skiing.

A tentative review of the PDG coming shortly.  But for this review they really ROCKED!
Amazing day to be on the PDG and a prefect boot choice for the day's efforts. 

No question the boot wasn't adding a lot to the equation today.  The PDG by any comparison isn't much of a alpine down hill boot.  It is not suppose to be!   But trust is enough mated to the right ski to do anything I am capable of on skis.  One ski that does work well with the PDG is the Nanga Parbat.  As a combo the two are really impressive simply because of how well they ski together and what they are capable of as a pair.

Mind you the gear I was on is not suppose to be a GS set up or much for long high speed turns of any fashion on this boot and ski.  But I am here to tell you, long high speed sweepers, or a quick set of swivels  down a steep section of perfect corn or hard frozen Spring snow/ice?  It is a sweet set up!  It is not suppose to be kit one might use for GS turns or work.  But I grabbed the tail end of a toboggan and ran a cat track, as easy peasy.  I'd be all over this rig if I was patrolling and throwing bombs again. 

Even the junk snow that was easy to get trapped in  today was manageable enough with these ski and boots.  Much to my surprise.  Not like I wanted to ski a bunch of it.  My RPC or GPO can do that kind of stuff much better with less effort.   The point was, you could ski it no matter how bad the snow was that day.    I pushed both ski and boot as hard as I know how to today for both speed and edge hold.  Stupidly in retrospect as I pushed hard enough to catch an edge.   Scared myself and risked blowing up big on a locked toe in hard surface conditions.  Nothing good would have come from that fiasco if it had occurred.  And it was close.  I was very lucky.   A heavier set of gear there today would have likely made a difference?  I'd not made the recovery and a nasty fall no doubt the end result.

I like gear I don't have to think about.  I like gear that in my mind makes me the "hero".   No question the Nanga Parbat, Low Tech Race bindings and a pair of PDGs are not your typical yo-yo lift skiing big rig.  But being able to use them there and in those conditions tells me  more than a couple of months, may be even a full season of touring would provide me for feed back.  All info, fed from a fire hose by comparison.

I liked the Cho so much after the last hard snow day that I bought a 172 Cho Oyu.   I am now thinking the Nanga Parbat will still suffice for that place in my quiver and still be a few grams lighter.
But I suspect I'll be able to find a good use for all three.

I skied both the Broad Peak and the 7 Summit in similar conditions a lot.  I think the Nanga is torsionally more stiff.  I know it is lighter.  It is easier to turn and equally as stable.  may be more stable.  Which surprises me becasue of the lack of mass/weight on the newere Nanga.   Mind you I didn't ski either previous board with the PDG but always in the TLT P  or Mountain.   The shallow tip rocker works well IMO.  The Nanga and the Cho are extremely easy to ride hard and really enjoy while you are doing it.

Bottom line here?  With the right binding you have a really light set of skis with the Nanga.  More importantly the ski has proven to me without a doubt its full range of potential.  That range is huge  for such a light weight and 80mm ski.   This is one serious, light weight and extremely capable mountaineering ski  that will handle anything but deeper snow with relative ease.  Even deeper snow isn't really a problem if you are capable.    I was caught off guard at just how versatile the Nanga really is.    I knew it was a ski I wanted to carry just never, ever expected it to ski so well.

116mm-80mm-104mm is not a big ski.  Make it 171 and it gets smaller still.  But like my trusty Broad Peak prior, this is one super solid ski any time of the year.  My suggestion is just be sure you can mate it to the right boot and binding system.  This is also a ski that a TLT 5 or 6 would be wasted on IMO.   Most would over drive this ski with a bigger boot.   I would for sure unless I bought long.  Get a longer Cho if that is your boot of choice or any of the excellent new lwt wider skis just now becoming available.  TLT6 will handle virtually anything up to 120+mm.  The Nanga will be one of your bettered choices if you are on DyNAs or Aliens and don't wanta race specific ski.

These little guys sold out fast this year.  If you are in the market for a solid performer @ around 1000g per ski  this one is worth searching out.  If you want to rip some spring groomers....they aint all that bad there either  :)  Better over all ski than the Broad Peak..and better than the 7 Summit and a big drop in weight.  What is not to like?

More on the PDG boot next time around.

Factory info and my suggestions for the Dynafit Nanga Parbat

Skin Recommendation: Dynafit speed skin or a Camp race skin and save some weight and get more glide
Binding Recommendation: Dynafit Speed Superlite or better yet the Low Tech Race or Plum Race bindings
Boot Recommendation: PDG Alien 1.0
Length: 156 cm, 163 cm, 171 cm, 179 cm
Dimensions: Length: 156 cm (114/78/101mm), 163 cm (115/79/102mm)171 cm (116/80/104mm); 179 cm (117/81/104)
Profile: Scoop Rocker, Flex Tip, Micro-Sidewall, Carbon Speed Stringers, Triple Radius, Tail Rocker, Pin Tail
Construction: Paulownia core with carbon stringers. Micro Sidewall construction and a sintered graphite base.
Weight: Length: 156 cm (950g) 163 cm (990g) 171 cm (1000g) 179cm (1140g)
Turn Radius: Triple Turn Radius: Length: 156 cm (13.5/8.5/11.5) 163 cm (15.5/9.5/13.5) 171cm (17.5/11.5/15.5); 179cm (19.5/12.5/17.5)
Manufacturer Warranty: 2 Years

They are very RED which we all know makes them very fast!


Dave Cramer said...

I'm really enjoying the Hagan Cirrus. 163cm is 960g, dimensions are 113/75/98. Also has some rocker. With PDG and Speed Superlights I've skied lift-served New England ice, as well as powder at abandoned downhill areas.

Unknown said...


I've had 9 days on the Cho Oyo with Radical bindings ant the TLT 6 Perfromance this season... here are my thoughts:
1. The Cho Oyo's are great and will only come up short on hard pack with some real preasure on them (but that's not really what they're made for). So much better than my DPS Wailer 99 Pure that I sold them after the 1st day on the Cho Oyos.
2. The TLT 6 are not that stiff; even for being a rando boot. Sure, for being light they do have some stability, but i'm suprised how soft they are, even with the stiffer toung. Not saying that they are in any way bad, but that I should be resonable with my expectations on a 2 buckle 1100g rando boot.

Full rig of Cho Oyo, Radicals and TLT 6 will be perfect for Haute Route!


Dane said...

Thanks Oscar. You can see what I have decided on for gear :)

brian p. harder said...

This review confirms my suspicions that the Nanga will replace the Broad Peak in my quiver. Unfortunately, now that I've decided that, there are few to be found.

Interesting comment about replacing the DPS 99 with the Cho. I have the Cho and like them thus far but have yet to ski them in powder. I'm optimistic and even more so after hearing that.

Interesting to hear that some feel the TLT 6 is soft. Must have some alpine gear background. I've skied the 5P for 3 seasons without tongue or powerstrap in addition to plenty of miles on race gear. Obviously, my perspective is a little warped but skiing the 6P with the strap and no tongue feels wonderfully stiff to me. I even modified some pants to route the strap outside in order to eliminate fiddling at transitions.

Dane said...

Hey Brian, fwiw another data point on the Cho. I had the chance to ski my 182s with Speed Supers LWTs on them and the 6 during & after a 2 foot dump here that was rain 4 hrs later. Cho did everything well with little effort. Surprised how good it was as the snow went from light fluff to chopped up mashed potatoes. Cho held its own through it all. Only 9mm more of ski than the Nanga and just a few grams heavier. Likely the Denali is going to be the pow ski in that bunch at 98mm. But I think you already have the sweet spot of the three.

George S. said...

Hi Dane,
Thank you for the great review.
Where I ski (Crete, Greece) we often get really icy conditions (see
At the moment I'm skiing the Dynafit Guide in 163 (same dimensions as the Seven Summits but supposed to be stiffer, both lengthwise and torsionally) with either Aliens or Spectre and Dynafit TLT Speed Superlight bindings.

Do you think the Nangas would handle such conditions?
And any suggestion regarding lenght? I'm 168cm, weight 64kg.

Dane said...

Hi George,
The Guide is probably a better ski for such harsh and hard conditions. Nanga would ski it for sure but the extra wood and stiffness make the Guide a better ski on the down (having skied the 7 a bunch) when it is that hard. I have been skiing a lot of ice recently in my Nangas and they are good in those conditions but Guide is a little better I think. 163cm again? Certainly be easy to carry ;)

Dane said...

Thanks George...will do and I did enjoy the you tube video!

Aaron said...

Hi Dane,

Thanks for the great reviews as always. It’s nice to read reviews from someone in the same area, skiing the same kinds of snow conditions as I am, as it gives more validity to the information (for me).

I've been touring on the same pair of skis for the past 5 seasons. While they've served me well, it's time to relegate them to rock ski status and move on. While researching, I’ve been continually impressed with how much ski weight has dropped over the last half of a decade, and have become very interested in these “1 kilo” skis. For long winter tours, high vert days, and spring corn harvesting, a ski in this weight class would drop 1200g (in ski weight alone) off of my feet. That’s huge!

I’m forseeing two touring skis in this changing of the guard though; one in the sub 90mm range for the above mentioned missions, and one in the 95+mm for deeper snow tours. Both the Nanga and the Cho are very on the top of my list for filling the slot as the skinnier ski. I’m leaning towards the 171 NP with speed superlights, but that’s based mostly on weight. I think they would fit in a quiver with a 98-104mm light tourer a little better than the wider 88mm Cho. Haven’t been able to find a place to demo them, so I’m still just gathering opinions. Between the two, which would you recommend for my intention if you could only have one?

Background: I’m 5’9” 185#, grew up skiing on the ice coast and have some race background from those days. No qualms about using “skinny” skis. These would only be used for touring; I’ve still got my GS racers for tearing up the cord, and some fat powder boards for those kinds of days.

Sorry for the book. Thanks again for your help and for the great website!

Dane said...

Hi Aaron, That is a really tough choice I think between Cho and Nanga.

I like the skis so much (huge weight weenie at heart and more so every day) I bought 171 Nanga and 2 pair of Chos. 174 and 182. I really like all three. My take is for longer tours where the skiing down isn't that important I'd take the Nanga. Circ of Chair peak for example. But I have used the Broad Peaks there previous and only wanted a little more ski in two short sections in deep snow. Cho or Nanga would be good there. More snow? More ski of course. For Rainier I take the Nanga because the majority of skiing is so easy and the UP bigger.

I have been skiing the longer Cho every where recently and am more impressed every day with a TLT6 and the Spectre. I would decide on ski by which boot I was using (and have) PDG? I take the Nanga...TLT6 or Spectre? I take the Chos.

Aaron said...

Thanks for the reply Dane, it is certainly a tough choice.

Interesting you say that boots should be involved in the decision of the ski. I've never thought of that before, although I've only been ski touring since I moved here 5 years ago and most of my experience has been driven from east coast ice fests.
I've been using a pair of TLT5M since they were released, and just picked up a pair of TLT6Ps from Marmot at a screaming deal to replace the 5s as a ski boot (keeping the 5 for climbing...they're great).
So even with no tongue in the 6, it's too much boot for the Nangas? Maybe I'm just hung up on the red, as silly as that is.

Dane said...

Ya, kinda funny how we allow ski color to influence us. On occasion I have been teaching ski school in my Nangas and the PDG. Makes life a lot easier getting around during the day. My 6 and 7 year olds love the red Nanga, as do I. If the Cho was the same bright red I'd likely own one pair of the current Dynafit super lights.

5 isn't the ski boot the 6 is. Even without the tongue the 5 will push the 171 Nanga around. 6P is a lot of ski boot. Difference in weight is 40g per ski or 3 oz for the pair. Might as well choose by color as by weight. The extra 3cm in length and 9mm of float? Worth a lot more than the 3oz most days IMO. But then, I DO really like red :) Let me know what you end up on. Marmot had a few pairs of the 174cm Cho early on but no Nangas. The Chos went quick around here. 89mm under foot is a decent number for lwt ski and skins.

Aaron said...

Hey Dane,

I ended up getting a better deal on 171 Nangas, so that's what I went with! They will fit better in a quiver with something in the realm of the Denali than the Cho will imo. Ideally I'd have them all, but money...
Some really good offerings by K2 and G3 in that weight/width class that will be coming next year too.

Probably going to slap some Speed Superlights on the Nangas. Would it be totally crazy to add an adjustment plate on the toe to get a 0 binding+boot delta (using TLT5/6) and add some adjustability? Would the toes then be "swapable" to another ski with plates?

Thanks again for the responses and articles. Hope to see you out there sometime!

Dane said...

I have Speed Supers with a heel adjustment plate on one pair of ski. Debating if I want to shim the toe. Toe might be a better place to add the plate for Delta. I can use Supers or low techs on the same ski with the heel plate. Haven't measured the Super's delta yet but been using the plate with the Low-tech and they are fine. Super & plate are likely closer to my Speed good enough at the momnet...or until I can source another pair of Dynafit shims.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dane, interested if you (or anyone) has tried out the Scott series. Good deal on Clymb right now on the Cruis'Airs. Maybe not quite as light, but right now I'm on a budget. Seems like some mixed reviews, although sparse online. Thanks!

Dane said...

I have not. But friends in the Alps that ski a lot better/harder than me have. They didn't have any complaints. If I was bargin hunting and the price was right I'd jump on them.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dane, a great review, as always!
the PDGs are definitely my favourite. Really love that shoe. Would be interesting how the PDG and the new Dynafit Broad Peak 2.0 fit together. Have you ever tried that combo?

Greets from Austria

Dane said...

Have not skied the new Broad Peak. But really enjoy the PDG and Nanga Parbat combo. I would expect the Broad Peak to be every bit as good.