Scarpa North America Blog

Tips on Backcountry Skiing From Chris Davenport

Sep. 25th 2014

The name Chris Davenport brings to mind the images that usually exist in only dreams—shredding mountains in Alaska, skiing faces on Mount Everest, traveling the world for endless powder faceshots, and more. But over the past few years, Dav has changed his skiing to focus on uphill challenges, including a mission to ski the Centennial Peaks—the 100 tallest peaks in Colorado.

Although we usually ask Dav to talk about the SCARPA Freedom SL, we asked him about his fondness for another boot—the F1 Evo. The newest boot to the SCARPA family, the F1 Evo has a hands-free ski/walk mechanism that switches modes automatically based on whether the heel is locked into the binding.

SCARPA: Tell us about how you got involved in the SCARPA family.

CHRIS DAVENPORT: I joined the SCARPA family in 2012 with the goal of helping the brand develop a new freeride touring boot that could compete more successfully in the mainstream/traditional big boot market. Although I didn’t yet know the Parisotto family in Italy (SCARPA’s owners), I did know the U.S. team and had worked with some of them previously. That common experience and mutual respect led to our current relationship.

SCARPA: How has your skiing changed over the last 10 years?

CD: I look at skiing as the ultimate dynamic sport—it’s always changing within us, or at least has the capacity to and should! In my life and career I’ve been blessed to experience many of skiing’s different niches at high levels—including alpine racing, freeskiing competition, skiercross, ski alpinism, teaching, coaching, guiding, and of course lots of backcountry touring. I’m even a half-decent Nordic skier. It’s important to me to be well-rounded mountain person.

In the last ten years I have shifted my focus from filming for feature ski movies and competing on the Freeride World Tour to special projects in the mountains that are personally challenging and rewarding—like skiing the Colorado 14ers, the Centennial Peaks (the 100 highest peaks in Colorado) and the Pacific Northwest volcanoes.

SCARPA: Tell us about the coolest place you’ve toured in the last year.

CD: I had quite a special year with a film project in partnership with Red Bull. It’s an original series titled The Faces of Dav and it took us all over the world. We camped for a week on a high couloir in the Coast Range of British Columbia and ski mountaineered some really incredible couloirs and lines there—ones that I had first skied with Doug Coombs during the filming of “Steep” back in 2006. I also spent a week on a sailboat 500 miles from the North Pole on the island of Svalbard touring with a bunch of friends under the midnight sun. We would literally wake up at noon, have breakfast and ski until way past midnight. And finally, I spent a week in the Dolomites of Northern Italy—where they had an epic snow season—and got a chance to film the ski boot-build process at the SCARPA factory for the Red Bull series.

SCARPA: What tips can you offer SCARPA fans that are just getting into ski touring?

CD: I think one of the most important elements of ski touring is comfort—if you’re not comfortable on your setup, in your clothing, or with your pack, it can make for a bad day. And boots are the hardest part of that comfort equation. Boot making, and boot fitting, is an art form in my mind. The SCARPA family has three generations of artists in this field, so one of SCARPA’s strongest attributes is fit. Whether it’s the Freedom SL four-buckle freeride boot or the F1 Evo touring machine, SCARPA just fits really well. My advice is to try on a pair. Chances are they will feel great.

SCARPA: When do you use the F1 Evo?

CD: The F1 Evo is now my go-to ski mountaineering and touring boot. I love the ease of use of this boot with the auto-lock cuff, which locks into ski mode as soon as you step into your tech-binding heel, and the Boa system on the tongue that gives me a nice, wrap-around tightening of the tongue. In ski mountaineering there are a lot of times where skis are on your back and you’re walking or climbing terrain. The F1 feels like you have light hiking boots on. The ankle articulation is amazing and the boot is crazy light. I wore them for five days in a row on a big ski traverse through the Weminuche Wilderness in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado last spring and would get to camp and not even think about pulling them off after 10 hours in them. They’re just so darn comfy!

SCARPA: When you were in Italy, did you get to see the F1 Evo being developed?

CD: I was able to see a bit of it and although I didn’t have direct input on this boot, I loved the direction the designers were going with it. Power-to-weight ratio is a big factor for me and this boot totally nails that. Plus, this is just the first generation of the F1 Evo. There is much more to come in the future for this category at SCARPA!

Thanks, Dav!

All photos courtesy of Ted Mahon.

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