Despite being a smaller mountain than Cho Oyu or Nanga Parbat, Denali won the naming rights to the biggest ski in Dynafit’s family of ultralight mountaineering skis. If you consider that prominence is often a better measuring stick than pure elevation, then the naming could be spot on. Denali’s 20,073 feet of height above its surroundings easily surpasses the others (7,677 and 15,118 if you’re keeping score).
The new Dynafit Denali ski builds on the design success of its relatives with carbon stringers, micro sidewalls, and a scoop rocker. All this in a 98mm wide  platform that raises the bar for ratios of surface area to weight. It also features niceties such as the popular pintail, which make it easy to slip the ski into its holster.
Now to answer the $900 question on everyone’s mind: “does it ski”? We think so, since the triple radius sidecut that made the Cho popular is also found on the Denali, albeit larger in magnitude. The increased radius makes the ski more amenable to longer turns, adding to the versatility of the design. But don’t take our word for it, as the ski has earned the stamp of approval from the IFMGA (International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations), who field tested the Denali on its namesake mountain. It remains to be seen whether the ski can exceed the mountain in figurative prominence.
- Flex Tip design replaces some wood with carbon to reduce weight and improve dampening.
- Scoop Rocker is a gentle rise that helps keep your tips above powder or crud.
- Micro Sidewalls are shorter than average while penetrating deeper into the core, making them stronger.
- Triple Radius shape goes long-short-medium across tip-underfoot-tail which is kind-of-cool.
- Carbon Speed Stringers run the length of the ski to reduce vibration and increase rebound.
- Pintail shape makes it easier to slide the skis into the carry system on your pack for booting.
- Optional precut skins work great in the tip notches.
|Lengths (cm)||168, 176, 184, 193|
|Weight (pair)||2350g 
||Tip notch, flat pintails|
||430mm tip rocker, camber, 200mm tail rocker|
||Triple radius, pintail|
||Micro sidewall, carbon stringers, 3D carbon tip|
|Skimo Co Says|
|Usage||Long distance deep powder|
|Notes||Built on successful Cho Oyu / Nanga Parbat platform|
|Bottom Line||The new standard in lightweight girth|
|Compare to other High-fat Skis|
Questions & Reviews
Background on product familiarity: So far I have skied on the 2014-15 version in a 168cm for a little over 24,000 earned vertical of backcountry powder plus about half a day of lift-served in various conditions. Mounted with ISMF-prohibited combination of Dynafit Speed Superlite toes and Plum Race 165 heels (mainly for reasons of random expediency, as I have nothing against SSL heels or Plum Race toes). So far for boots I’ve used Dynafit EVO for backcountry and Dynafit TLT5 Performance (stock Velcro strap replaced with elastic version for extra responsiveness) for resort and sidecountry. Closest ski I have previously used is probably the original-generation Dynafit Manaslu (169cm, 92mm with rockered tip but traditional tail).
First, the first impressions out of the box: With its notched tip, shovel width extension, radically slimmed-down final ~3cm of tail, and thinner cross sections in the tip and tail, the Denali makes quite the first impression. Then again, it’s pretty much just a wider version of the Cho Oyu and Nanga Parbat that debuted last season, and that have been joined this season by price point redesigns of the Manaslu and Seven Summits.
Mounting will have you worrying about dulling your drill bit and depleting your drill battery, but you certainly won’t have to worry about stripped screw holes or bindings pull-outs: the wider 4.1mm drill bit rec is serious, just as serious as the massive metal binding retention plate lurking somewhere in the ski innards. (And unlike some other light skis, the profile is of normal thickness, so no need to compromise retention by filing down screw lengths.)
In my 168cm length, the 97mm waist works with a 100mm Dynafit ski crampon.
Second impressions, in use: I hesitate to latch onto a marketing campaign theme, but the IFMGA endorsement makes sense for this ski. Unlike many skis with waist widths around the century mark, the Denali copes well with all sorts of firm surfaces often encountered in a true ski mountaineering context, as opposed to the pleasantly soft snow that is the typical goal of backcountry skiing. Even skiing resort groomers was so much fun that I sometimes delayed skiing steep ungroomed terrain and venturing into the untracked backcountry powder – my only “complaint” is that at true GS speeds (i.e., what non-racers call SuperG speed) if I then encountered some uneven snow, I noticed lots of tip flapping.
And unlike many competing wide skis, the Denanli rocker seems to be optimized to enhance float through unconsolidated nastiness while still allowing a normal length selection and without any strange complications for rocker versus sidecut placement. All this for a weight penalty of, well, actually, the Denali is probably lighter than the overwhelmingly vast majority of skis marketed for and used in the backcountry, regardless of width.
Third impressions, for long-term durability: I can’t pass judgment on that yet given my usage, but I haven’t heard of any durability issues with the identically constructed Cho Oyu or Nanga Parbat. Plus the tips and tails don’t skimp on metal reinforcement.
Oh, and review update: this past summer I brought the Denali with me on a business trip to Chile. I was way too early in the season, but still got in two days of a skiing, for a mix of resort frozen groomers, resort powder, sidecountry spring conditions, and backcountry volcanic pretty-much-everything. The Denali was the perfect quiver-of-one for that trip!
Planning to use them for long(er) days in all sorts of average snow, with the occasional fresh cm´s on top. Stability and confidence in 3D snow and steeper spots is a benefit. The Cho-oyu fell off the list due to its short radius, and I could hold on to my 2kg 105mm sticks for resort travel or pow days.
me: 85kg, 190cm, currently on a scarpa maestrale RS but may go for something lighter next year.
By contrast, I feel that the Denali does everything well. Even on those Chilean groomers (Corralco definitely needs to spend the extra pesos on diesel and staff time for a second groomer pass after a vicious thaw-refreeze cycle), although the optimal setup would have been a FIS-stock GS race skis, I could still have fun on the Denali. And the float was then excellent when we found the windblown overnight pow on the lee side of ridgelines. Plus perfect of course for the spring snow during some sidecountry skinning. (If this sounds like a bizarrely strange yet enjoyable ski day, it was! By contrast, the backcountry volcano the next day was just the typical combination of going through fall>winter>spring at the different elevations.)
Would you still consider the response-x a worse performer then the denali when considering mountaineering / frozen/firm bc use?
I used the Response-X on some nasty frozen junk on Mt Washington (one of that mountain's specialties!) and on Mt Hood (Crater Rock on a spring day that never quite warmed up at that elevation, with many skiers even walking down from there) -- I survived, but the Denali would definitely have performed better in those conditions.
This trip also highlighted the Denali's versatility: excellent in the untracked backcountry powder near Boise (Mores Creek Summit), yet also excellent the prior two days on the resort's cut-up "cake"-like powder and even the firm groomers.
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