Posted on April 21 2016
I stumbled upon DPS skis working at OMC in Portland Oregon in 2010. This was at the very beginning of their surge in popularity and the first phase in the resurgence of carbon fibre skis. A year later Randy and I attended our first Snow Sports Industry trade show as Cripple Creek Backcountry and DPS was at the top of my list of accounts to lock down. Before this DPS was in very few skis shops in the country, it was a small ski company and they relied on Brand ambassadors and word of mouth to spread the word. The word of mouth was good and they were already building a reputation as the Cadillac of skis.
I was most excited by their engineering, both in their progressive geometry and of course the black gold of the carbon fibre laminate being used in the construction. When I hefted my first pair onto the mounting bench in Portland, I was immediately blown away by the lightness of the Wailer 112, and I was excited to find out how light these skis could go. I was shocked that at the trade show there were no precise weights for the skis in the line, for this was early in the oncoming wave of weight weenies that would drive innovation in the sport of ski touring. Incredibly the DPS Wailer 112 was under 1800 grams which was incredible for a ski of such girth, but that was merely a side effect of the carbon construction and DPS’s goal of making the best downhill performing ski they knew how to make.
I couldn’t help but wonder, what would happen if DPS made a ski specifically to be light? Well that questions was answered this year with the Tour1 series. The series consisted of the Cassiar 95, the Wailer 99 and the Wailer 112 in a brand new lighter than ever construction. I had already spent many days on the wailer 99 and 112 in their Pure Carbon construction and although the traditional ski mountaineering geometry of the Cassiar 95 intrigued me I found the 99 shape to be the ultimate backcountry powder slaying weapon.
I got my hands on the 178 cm Wailer 99 Tour1 from Wildsnow.com HQ in Carbondale. These skis were a tripple test piece as it was the first time I had skied Dynafit’s new Radical ST 2.0 and my first pair of glue less skins. With added safety features the 2.0 also comes with added weight. The most limiting factor of the glue less was not the lack of adhesion for the interface with the ski base but rather the nylon plush, that offered incredible grip, but inferior glide to all of the Mohair blends and pures that I had been skiing on for several years.
These factors should have worked against inaugural outing on the tour1s, but they still felt light as a feather on the uphill. I put 5000 vertical of touring in steep single track terrain, much of which was braking trail through 10 inches of fresh snow. The wide shovel and big rocker of the 99 shape kept me high on the snow pack and they were very well balanced and weight for the dozens of kick turns required to gain the summit. I was touring in the La Sportiva Spitfires and with the great range of motion of these boots I was able to take large slides with the light 99s even against the sticky plush of the skins.
When it came to the down hill performance in the soft snow it was a complete joke how easy the turning was. I felt like I was cheating as I surfed the fresh powder on the moderately steep slope. I was able to spend a day with this skiing lift access terrain at the resort and noticed very difference from the Pure3 construction that I was used to. There edge to edge quickness is unmatched in tight trees and bumps and I only felt a little chatter at the very upper end of my speed tolerance.
Check out the whole Tour1 line here. There is already word coming down the pipe from DPS of additions to the line, including an ultra light version that will be jockeying for fist place in the race to build the lightest, yet skiable, sticks on the market.