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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The DPS 138 and Dynafit's Carbon Green Machine ZZero4

A perfect day on Snoqualmie Pass for the Lotus 138 if you made the cut off.  Pass is closed going east bound for hours while we burned turns in 30" of new snow which kept falling all day!

The story is longer than it needs to be.  But it is a part of my experience so I'll share it.  Like everything here at Cold Thistle it is my story in the end which may not relate to your story in any way.

After an amazing reintroduction to skiing in Chamonix last winter I skied through the summer.  No cragging and no alpine if I wasn't hauling skis around. My lift assisted ski season ended in July and I kept skiing until August.  Huge fun!

Last year was also my introduction to fat skis, rockered skis, fully rockered skis, early rise tips, super light skimo gear and ski specific racing ski packs.  I was the new kid in gear hog heaven!

By mid summer I decided in for a penny in for a pound.  My new La Sportiva Hi5s were so amazing to ski on.  I was in love. But I also figured if a 115mm waist was fun even bigger might also be even more fun.  Some rocker was good...huge rocker may be even better in the right snow and on the right ski.

The Hi5 has become one of my all time favorite skis and a go to back country ski here.  One I had planned on skiing a lot early season.

By late summer I had scraped together enough coin to jump in deep with DPS.  A pair of  Waller 112s and a pair of Lotus 138s both in Pure Carbon construction showed up in August. I was Sooooooo stoked!  I pictured myself cat skiing or if I won the local lottery heli skiing again.

I had mated the skis with Dynafit TLT Radical bindings (which were a easy choice ) and the most impressive (now that I have finally skied them)  Dynafit ZZero4 Carbon Green machine!

TLT Radical

What is there to say about Dynafit...they are super light, they work and never a pre-release.
Why would you bother to ski on anything but a tech binding?  Which Dynafit invented btw.
Green Machine

Every thing seemed right in my world last August.  Well almost everything.
I got a diagnosis of throat cancer and scheduled for surgery the next day totally out of the blue, the same week the skis arrived.  I was a little FREAKED truth be told!  Damn it!  I had more important things like SKIING on my mind.  Cancer was a little speed bump I hadn't planned on!

Skiing and climbing were on my mind but not on my radar for the near future.  After a radical neck dissection I took a week long road trip to rock climb.  No my best moment.   There is a reason they call them "radical".  I simply ignored the obvious and went climbing.  It all worked out anyway.  By the time I got home I had decided to start selling what ever gear I had that could easily be turned to cash and mailed out.

It was quick cash and all easily replaceable in the long run.  All but the DPS skis.  But then the DPS skis represented the largest amount of cash in just two pieces of gear.  At that point I wasn't really sure what the future held so on the block they went anyway.   I decided to put both pair up for sale and keep what ever pair didn't sell first.  It wasn't like there was a shortage of skis around the house.  The DPS skis were a pure luxury.  And as cancer treatment started it was obvious the road was going to be harder and longer than I expected.  I hate speed bumps.

Chemo was bad but after repeated emails and dicking around, finally shipping the Waller 112s to Germany was pretty painful as well :)  But I knew I still had my Hi5s so I wasn't being overly tortured in the "mid fat" ski category.  The REALLY FAT Lotus 138s just sat in the corner of my office as did the new ZZeros Carbons with a box of bindings just waiting for the right moment.  No way was I going to sell the boots.  Even though they had yet to be molded.  I am a big believer in the theory of "he who dies with the most toys, WINS".    I hate coming in second!  I kept the boots on that premise alone if for no other reason.  

A month or so ago, long before I could actually ski or get out yet I dropped the Lotus off at Pro Mtn Sports in North Bend and had them mounted.  One step closer.  I had a plan...small steps when you can breath.

Cancer and chemo I have learned are the gifts that keep on giving.  One week I am "fine".  The next sick as a dog again.  This week my hands and feet are numb.  From the ankles down on the feet, wrist forward on the hands.  Hard to stay warm when that is happening.  It comes and goes now so not a huge deal just annoying.  But not the symptoms you want to have while ice climbing either.

I've found you can ski at a so- so level, even ice climb at a so-so level.  I've always biked at a so-so level and with snow on the ground no biking going on anyway.  You can't build $5000 custom guns with a shaky hand at a so-so level.  That just won't do.   It will pass I am sure so for the moment I do what I can on that particular day.  And yesterday we had 5" of light and fluffy on my deck.  What else was I suppose, or could I do??! 

It has been snowing on and off here for two days.  Unusual as I am only at 763 feet in elevation.  Generally just below the snow line.  When 5" of light and fluffy snow had piled up my deck yesterday by 9am I started  thinking seriously about skiing!   Big "if", was just making it to the mountain.  Storms like that around here generally cut the power and shut the roads down for days.

What the hell...not like I was going to accomplish anything at home or in the shop anyway.  So I threw sand and a shovel in the truck with Marley, the wonder dog, and headed east to Alpental!

Amazingly enough it was straight shot out I-90 at mostly 70 mph right up to the turn off at the Summit.  I was on the lift minutes later.  Marley, totally frustrated, was still in the truck wondering why we weren't headed for the back country?  That would have been way more typical.

           Marley collecting some unnecessary good Karma

Everyone seems to wonder just how different a 138mm ski would be to ride.  These are 192cm.  DPS says, "Riding the Lotus 138 in deep snow is like an entirely new sport."  Seriously, I should have bought the 202s!

Sorry, easy to avoid the hype here as the skis don't make it a new sport no matter what size you buy.  I'll admit skating across the flat from where I clipped in to the quad chair was a little weird but then I hadn't been in a stiff pair of boots for a LONG time so that was weird as well.   Four turns off the chair and I was thinking this is pretty FFFFUUUUNNNN!.  By mid chair I had a huge grin on my face and actually cracked out a couple of laughs between the face shots.

In fact way fun, but not "a new sport".  Tight, quick linked short radius turns or huge screaming eagle GS turns were to be had in total control. And damn near zero effort all day long... as the snow continued to pile up. (although I am a little sore writing this so there was some effort going on ;)  Out running my own sluffs was so easy it is hardly worth mentioning.  But I had so seldom done that even in the old days it is worth mentioning.  The snow was deep and it was steep!

Yes, in fact I was feeling like a film star on this set up.  I always say the best gear is gear you never notice. Chopped pow, untracked pow, icy moguls or climbable water ice on the cliff bands, powder in the bumps?  Anything and everything I wanted to ski was simply EASY.  Water ice was a little iffy though!  Thoughtless for the most part and super fun.

So when I got asked...and it happened almost every ride up the lift..."how are they to ski?" my answer was "easy....super easy!"    Think a snow board for each foot here.   So, I shit you not, the video below could have just as easily been me yesterday!  Only I dress better than Steven Drake and must ski a little better I suspect :)   Anyone can ski that well on a pair of 138s in the soft stuff.   They really are that good!  And that easy to ski.  Don't be all that impressed by the video.  It is the skis...that make it look that easy.  And it really is that easy.  Don't be afraid of a rockered fat ski!  You'll love them...well....I do these anyway.   It is not a new sport but no question, with these guys the game has changed.

The boots and bindings?  Like the skis...I never noticed them while doing some of the best skiing I have done in a long time.   But after almost a year in the super light Dynafit Carbon TLT 5s if was really fun to add power steering and rip a bit.  And these do RIP!  I felt like I was cruising around on a rock solid 207cm GS out fit yesterday...unless of course I wanted to rip some tight turns on the tree line or down a powder filled set of steep bumps.  This rig makes all that easy to do as well.  The versatility of this set up on soft snow was simply amazing.  A heli ski trip......would likely be orgasmic.

"The new Green Machine is absolutely stiffer than the Zzero CT-F (last years Green machine). Most of the increase is in lateral stiffness, the kind that matters when driving a big ski at speed. Plus that increase comes with lighter overall weight and better cuff rotation for more comfortable touring."
Sandy Brown, Dynafit Rep

The Green Machine is a simple boot.  4 easy to work buckles, a nice burly power strap and a comfy heat moldable inner boot with a stiff tongue.   The inner boot is made by Palua for Dynafit.  IMO they are the best inner boots available for climbing and ski boots.  Others always want to argue but that is my take on it from having owned most of them.  I've written about Palua several times here.  It is worth checking them out.  They fit me really well with no fuss.  Just that simple.  They ski like a race boot and they are warm.  Strange combo there.  My feet are still talking nicely to me at the end of the day.   They may ski like a race boot but they  aren't a race boot.  This is  a full blown AT boot.  The buckles are easy to adjust for tour mode and easy to adjust for fit.  The latch and ankle/touring hinge easy to use.  And that is comparing them to my TLT5 C's.  Which are likely the easiest to use and best skiing touring boot made to date.

The Green Machine makes the TLT5 seem like a town car compared to a tight Porsche on a mountain road.  These green guys are a GT2 RSR.  There really isn't a comparison past they are both AT ski boots.  Don't read too much into that as I dearly love my TLT5 Performance Carbons!   But for a pair of 138s mid foot I wanted some real power.  The speed at which you can so easily ski the 138s made the decision of a beefy boot a wise choice.  This combo will ski pow at Mach 3 if you have the stones for it.  And cutting a set of skins for them is not yet out of the question.

A caveat though on the boots.  (Just realized this today..two day later)  I ended up skiing the first two days while in the Green Machine with the hinge latch in walk mode.  Never really noticed it actually as the boots are pretty stiff and even flexed while locked up or in walk mode.   I generally ski my TLT5s without a tongue and my previous BD Primes unlatched as well.  So I like a soft flexing boot generally.   Nice to have the option of latching them down and having a stiffer boot if you require it.)

My body is totally worn out of course because these boots and the ski/binding combo let me rip it up all day with ZERO complaints about gear.  They did what was asked and more with nearly a bobble.  And I seldom noticed them past unlatching a over tight buckle or two mid day.  Even more fun, it was my first day of skiing on them.  I have no doubt the boots as well as the entire package will only get better with use.

Hardest thing I did yesterday was getting a shot of the "DPS" logo in 3' of new snow :)

And having to leave Marley in the truck :(

From an up coming full review and comparison at

"2011-2012 DPS Lotus 138, Pure, 192cm

Not so long ago, DPS was the new kid on the block, and the Lotus 138 was one of the freshest innovations in the world of powder skiing.

Now, the Lotus 138 is more like the grandfather of modern design. It’s been around for a while, and while DPS has continued to tweak the construction materials, sidecut profiles, and amount of splay, the ski maintains its unmistakable, iconic look.

For their 2012-2013 model, however, DPS completely rethought the Lotus 138 from the ground up, regarded nothing as sacred about its design, and after major deliberation…decided just to throw a snowflake on the top sheet.

So what’s the takeaway here? DPS believes that the Lotus 138 is dialed."

As do I.  Nice work DPS!

Post script:

                                         A happy DPS customer
                          photo courtesy of Sting @

I was able to ski another 3 foot of fresh snow today (three days after the original post) as the temps were  warming up.  So much of what I got was true Cascade Cement.  Short of pure hard pack the 138's are still a tool to be played with.  Even the hard pack was interesting but I wouldn't want to do a lot of it.  I keep hearing how hard these fat rockered skis are to manage.  I haven't found that to be the case.  I was even able to make some good turns in deep untracked heavy snow on a side hill.  Yes a side hill off camber slope.  I would have never tried that on a lesser ski.  Unheard of previous at my skill level.  Any little pocket or hidden stash of fluff I could find got shredded.

Not the best conditions for the 138s later in the day.  But where they were good they were exceptional.   Given a choice I would have switch out to a skinnier ski late in the day today.  The Hi5 would have been my preferred weapon for what was left of the mank.   Sting from Snowtroopers was on a pair of Hi5s today btw.   But don't let that scare you away from the 138s if you are lucky enough to live in an area that gets the big dumps like we do. 

I have a good sized quiver to pick from and the Lotus 138s are my all time favorite skis for big loads of fresh.

My Lotus 138 track.


Bruno Schull said...

Hey Dane,

Great post. Skiing just generally leads to smiles, no?

Marley looks like a cool dog.

Have fun,


Mr. Beattie said...

Keep on rocking in the free world Dane. Your blog is an inspiration and one of the few I always check on my feed reader to see if its been updated. All my best wishes in your recovery and keep getting out there! Truly, thank you.

Kerwin. said...


Loving your blog, good stuff all around. Had to comment on this post, because I have a similar setup. Pure 138's with Plum Guide and a TLT5P. They go uphill like a dream and come down even better. I have skied/owned a lot of the reverse shaped skis (praxis, volant spatulas, etc. etc.), the Lotus 138 takes the cake no question.

Dane said...

I appreciate the commenstts guys! Glad you enjoy it and thanks!

Kerwin, really fun to know someone is doing the TLT5s on the 138s. I haven't yet but will when I get the chance. Love that boot but wondered if they would really take advantage of the 138s. Sounds like they do indeed, which is very cool!

Eric Dacus said...

Are you still skiing your TLT5 Mountain's? And a year later and another boot, what do you feel is a good use for the TLT5M, TLT5P and a traditional 4-buckle like the Green Machine? Thanks, Eric

Dane said...

Hi Eric,
I am no longer skiing the TLT Mtns. I am however TLTPs and the Greens. Mtns are a good boot but i had to make some decisions on just what I could realistically keep financially. The TLTPs are my "normal" boots. The Greens my resort and the 138's boot.

I'm spoiled obviously as one could get along fine with any of them for everything and every ski.

Hope that helps.