It’s April 2012, and high on an Alaskan glacier in Denali National Park, Chris Davenport and other ski mountaineers are talking gear. How do you make a high-performance freeride ski boot that also works for touring? The ideas fly thick and fast, interrupted by forays to climb and ski the Alaskan steeps.
After leaving the glacier, Davenport catches a flight from Anchorage to Venice, Italy, and travels to the Dolomites to meet with the Parisotto family, owners of SCARPA and makers of mountain footwear since 1938. Davenport talks technical details, breaking out his iPad to show pictures of his ideas for a new freeride boot. The Italian bootmakers listen intently, and the group breaks for coffee. Then the Parisottos take their turn at show and tell. “I’d just met these people, and they brought in prototypes of plastic parts they’d been working on,” Davenport says. “It was exactly what I’d been describing.”
To Davenport, it was clear he and SCARPA should be working together. On September 10, SCARPA announced a new partnership with the Colorado-based ski mountaineer. The first matter of business? Developing that same freeride boot for a January 2013 release. “SCARPA is hitting home runs in touring boots,” Davenport says. “In my talks with SCARPA, I said let’s pretend for a second we’re a big boot manufacturer that only made alpine boots. Let’s make an unbelievably high-performance, lightweight alpine boot and use SCARPA expertise to make it tour and walk well.”
The unnamed product, Davenport says, will be compatible with tech bindings and will answer a skier’s needs for freeskiing at the resort and hiking for sidecountry turns. Meaning no more need for backcountry and resort boots: In an August excursion to Portillo, Chile, Davenport skied only the new SCARPA model at the resort and in the sidecountry. (We’ll review them as soon as we get a test pair in house.) —Olivia Dwyer