LUPO AX 125C can it do spring alpine backcountry?
Last week we tested the new LUPO AX 125C 2017-2018 on four sessions from the lifts and on short approaches. It was ok for the first impressions but there are some things that can only be really tested after a few days on the big mountains.
As it was about time to take them to the backcountry and alpine ground, we headed to the Saboredo refuge in Aigüestortes national park, chose a few summits, freeride areas, ridges, alpine ground, loads of sunscreen and rock n’ roll.
HOW DID THEY DID?
Both days: eight hours of activity, spring conditions, strong sun. They work; They get the job donne. Once you remove the tongue the hike mode is comfortable and there is more than enough angle for taking full steps. However for 8h of activity in spring conditions they are very warm. It’s a solid boot with a thick inner liner. It’s true that the membrane is surprisingly achieved and I did not ended up so sweaty, but still they are warm.
Regarding weight, the LUPO, just as any other freeride boot on the 1600g category it’s quite a sacrifice in spring. If you have a powerful demanding ride in mind or the day will allow for charging on good snow, then go all in, but otherwise for a more randonée or pure alpine plan you may consider something lighter and fresher.
PROLONGED TECHNICAL SKINNING
On prolonged steep slopes that requires continuous kick-turns, of course a 1500g boot is heavier and clumsier than the classic 1200g spring boot. However there is one thing that I like on the LUPO for this activity. I felt constantly having a solid platform on my upper edge and that really makes technical skinning more comfortable and less stressful, especially in spring.
When the snow gets slushy and it’s easy to slide down, I still lose grip on my lower ski every now and then, but on my upper ski I generally feel solid. When snow is icy I can hold quite long before having to put the ski crampons on.
TIP: better performance with the two lower boucles tied.
I’ve used the LUPO AX 125C on two ridges and a mix terrain slope; all pretty straightforward terrain. I have used them with a Black Diamond Snaggletooth automatic crampon. They get a close to perfect fit. The heel blocker of the crampon locks perfectly and does not interfere with the walk mode-ski mode lever of the boot. The automatic locker of the crampons sits tight against the toe bar of the boot, actually to the point that it does a really tiny little bite at the bottom of the upper sides of the toe bar. It does not affect the performance but the first time you use them, it gets slightly hard to remove the front part of the crampon. From the second time on, the fit is smooth and accurate.
On straightforward alpine ground they move solid. On walk mode the boucles sits against the boot and the lower one is on top of the middle of the boot. Moreover the walk mode lever sits as well against the boot, so your pant or gaiter will as well sit straight around the cuff, hence nothing sticks out. Any part of the boot should interfere in your crampon game making the dalbello LUPO AX 125C safe and crampon friendly.
I really appreciate that they fit properly on automatic crampons, you actually get a better feeling than with semiautomatic and they are slightly less bulky on the backpack.
I have not taken it to complicated technical terrain. Been such a rigid 1460 boot on hike mode, with quite a lot of volume on the feet area, does not make it my first option for technical alpine ground. Don’t forget that it is a freeride boot and not a ski alpinism boot. However, as we are reviewing, it goes solid through straightforward alpine terrain.
One of the days we climbed a ridge and then we had to drop from the ridge to ski down. For such situations, I found that a clever solution for avoiding a transition on sketchy terrain is to insert the tongue on the boot on comfortable ground before getting in the ridge. While bootpacking on crampons it’s not uncomfortable to walk with the tongue already fixed down and then the transition is faster and safer when you may be exposed to wind and you may not have a lot of space on top of the ridge.
This is the kingdom of the LUPO AX 125C. On the narrows, rocky and couloirs you get excellent drive and control. On open powdery slopes it’s a crusher. You can charge full blast on your turns and make them exactly where you are looking at.
On not so good snow conditions such as windy, icy and transformed snow, we still feel solid on the edges and the drive is direct and responsive. If we fail on such conditions it won’t be because of the boot.
Landing drops: I took three drops during the weekend of around one meter and a half high and three meters forward, the landings were over a thin layer of fresh snow over hardened snow and I was having a 9kg backpack.
the transition from air to landing is smooth. On the one side the case absorbs a great deal of the energy on the landing; obviously with because of the sturdy case, but as well there is a lot of internal absorption due to the thick cushion foam of the inner boot.
No doubt the LUPO AX 125C is a badass freeride boot. It seems we’re about to get some solid snowfalls, so we will be looking for powder the following days,
keep tuned for the next update!