Saturday, 26 May 2012

Touring boots - review of Dynafit Titan

A review of my current touring kit has been promised for some time so here is part 1 (finally!):

I have been skiing on Dynafit's Titan boot for nearly 3 seasons now and have used them for everything from cruising off the lifts through single & multi-day ski touring to reasonably full-on ski mountaineering involving 'proper' climbing (Swiss route on North face of Les Courtes and the like).
While not being the lightest boot (nearly 2Kg per foot) what you lose in extra weight to carry you certainly gain in skiing performance - the performance is not far off that of a '120 flex' alpine boot (although there can be big differences between these!).

The Titan is a 4 buckle design with an overlap shell - great for performance, not so great for getting your feet in after a cold night's bivvy... The boot has 2 cuff angles in downhill mode - 15 and 21º for the tech-heads out there and a walk mode. I have been using a 28.0 shell paired with a Palau hard thermo-formed inner boot and this review is based on approximately 250 days use.

Skiing:   As stated above these boots ski really well for a touring boot, I have been driving some pretty beefy skis - Dynafit Mythic Riders (not big but definitely beefy), Volkl Mantras and Volkl Gotamas. With smooth progressive forward flex, and tight lateral response the Titans can handle a big ski comfortably and give good support even in those 'out of shape' moments.

Dave Searle putting his Titans to good use - Cunningham Couloir on the West face of the Aiguille du Midi:

Skinning/Climbing:  OK, you definitely know you have nearly 2 Kg on each foot, but that is part of the performance/weight trade off and easily mitigated by simply getting fitter... The walk mode is OK, but doesn't give a great rearward angle (compared to a dedicated touring boot) so stride length is slightly restricted (though of course this only really matters on gentler skins - I don't know anyone who takes really long strides forward skinning on middle or top risers...). Climbing-wise these boots are fine on ice up to about grade 3, and OK for easy rock scrambling/climbing but for anything more technical they are definitely heavy and unwieldy

Boot soles have held up fine:

(the soles are interchangeable with DIN-compatible 'flat' soles, though I have never bothered with this).

Some minor negatives: as of this winter the cuff has started to 'buckle' on the outside in the region of the top 2 buckles - not a huge problem but definitely noticeable if you really try to crank the boots up tight.
From new I had to grind down the front edge of the cuff where it meets the moulded stop on the clog - this was preventing the boot from going into the 21º lean mode without some pretty fierce shell manipulation.
The ski/walk mode lock also seems to be wearing out on one boot at least - I have had found myself back in walk mode on one side for no apparent reason

In summary a great boot for skiing hard on big & beefy touring set-ups. It may well be superseded by the next generation of boots (Vulcan etc) offering similar skiing performance with a big weight saving - only time will tell!

Review of Dynafit TLT5 P boot to follow shortly...

*Note  -  I am not sponsored by any brand in particular so this review has no commercial bias - all I am looking for is kit that does what I want it to do... *

Wednesday, 16 May 2012


Lofoten appears to be the new 'in' place to go - first the skimountain crew came back with some mouth-watering photos in March, and now this:

2013 anyone?

Monday, 14 May 2012

A frustrating spring

So we are already mid-May and the steep skiing tally (or general touring come to that) so far stands at 2 days :-(
Lots of work, plus poor weather on my weeks off late April/early May have left me frustrated so far. To add to that, last week I was running an IRATA rope access training course in Switzerland and missed a great window with the Mallory, Barbey, Tour Ronde North face, Col des Courtes and more all seeing descents in good conditions. A weird week though, with Will witnessing a fatal accident on the Tour Ronde, and reports coming in of another nasty on the west face of the Peclet in the Vanoise, hence psyche a bit low among the usual team...
That said, it was good to catch up with Fred, Yann & co at Altimum in Palezieux last week - Yann & I managed to cope with a trilingual training group, with trainees from France, Switzerland, Chile, Sweden and Thailand!

Friday, 4 May 2012

Pointe du Bouchet N face

The weird weather continues, yesterday the sun came out (while I was driving to Geneva & back...) and everything up high appears to have sluffed off, leaving questionable snow quality. At a loss for something bigger to do locally today I drove up to Val Thorens with the idea of doing some laps in the St Peres couloirs. Sadly on closer inspection from the lifts these looked less than appealing, so a fall-back option was called for. I have skied underneath the Pointe du Bouchet many times but never actually been to the top. The snow on this north face looked to be reasonably soft so Plan B was launched... La face du jour (apologies for poor quality pics - forgot my camera...):
Birds eye view of the top chairlift in Orelle:
Nice powder!
Lower face, great sluffy powder:
Below the face a hard right traverse yielded great spring snow all the way down to Plan Bouchet - result! Looking to maximise the day I then jumped on the chair for a quick lap but Plan C emerged on the way up - a slope I have looked at lots of times in the past but never got around to skiing. A quick half hours boot-pack got me up onto the high point of the Rochers Renod ridge where after a bit of rock-hoppery a fantastic descent on perfect spring snow followed. Not a steep descent, but nice to finally ski a line I have looked at for a long time! Summit, with Maurienne valley behind:
Pointe Renod:
Great spring snow:
The weaqthe rlooks set to change tomorrow again, then next week I am working in Switzerland for 5 days - here's hoping the second half of May is more productive on the Steeps front...