La Sportiva Spectre Backcountry Skiing Boot — Shipping


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

La Sportiva Spectre just might be the coolest ski boot ever made in the more beefy persuasion. They call it the “lightest 4 buckle.” This unboxed retail pair of 2013/14 version weighs 1,439 grams (50.7 ounces) per size 27 boot — 6 grams less than the catalog weight! Amazing considering that one of the top 3-buckle boots on the market weighs in at 1,300 grams, and another brand’s top 4-buckle offering comes in at more than 1,500 grams. Check out some photos. We’ll be testing these boots and filing a true review after we’ve had them on snow for awhile.

The object at hand. Lots of Grilamid plastic, carbon reinforced, super stiff.

The object at hand. Lots of Grilamid plastic, carbon reinforced, super stiff. Beef aside, we particularly like the elegant buckles. They're light and fold in a way that'll prevent catching on terrain features or your other boot.

Tongue is Grilamid but has a flex zone.

Tongue is Grilamid but has a flex zone for serious walking action. Beef boot fanatics could replace this with a stiffer tongue and thus create an amazingly light but stiff boot.

No buckles to catch on things.

No buckles to catch on things. Interior ramp angle claimed to be low, boot board appears fairly flat.

It appears La Sportiva has attempted to build a 'real' alpine boot, only one that not only tours well but addresses the weight issue.

It appears La Sportiva has attempted to build a 'real' alpine boot, only one that not only tours well but addresses the weight issue. For example, Spectre has cuff alignment 'canting,' a flat boot board, reduced ramp angle, and of course a DIN compatible sole that works in any frame type backcountry skiing binding -- as well as tech bindings but of course. The liner also looks skiable, reinforced in the right places but still with a nod to weight savings.

Lean lock is the conventional 'steel rod' type, but with a few improvements we'll detail once we field test.

Lean lock is the conventional 'steel rod' type, but with a few improvements we'll detail once we field test. Big thing to know is that forward lean is configurable to three positions, 10,14,18 degrees.

Good view of the exoskel cuff, plenty of walking motion range.

Good view of the exoskel cuff, plenty of walking motion range.

I’m excited about the Spectre. Along with the sea change in ski weights, a shoe such as this shows that the lightweight revolution we’ve emphasized in our ski reviews is soon coming to a ski boot near you.

Thanks Cripple Creek Backcountry for help with detailing these boots.

(Last year, we opined that these boots were not up to the stiffness standard most people would expect with a 4-buckle. This version appears to be much improved, mainly with a stiffer scaffo that battles the bulge.)

Comments

53 Responses to “La Sportiva Spectre Backcountry Skiing Boot — Shipping”

  1. Drew Tabke October 7th, 2013 9:30 am

    It looks like you may possibly end up with lots of snow between the shell and liner. Or not?

  2. Buck October 7th, 2013 9:42 am

    I’m very interested in this boot, but a little confused – if the boot is 1439 grams and “another brand’s top 4-buckle offering comes in at more than 1,500 grams”, is 60-something grams really an “Amazing” leap forward in terms of weight? 4% ?

  3. Lou Dawson October 7th, 2013 10:00 am

    (Grin), perhaps I’m vying for a change in careers, to a PR job? Or perhaps I’ve been around those guys too much?

    Seriously though, I do think 60 grams is “amazing” if Spectre proves to ski as beefy as this latest iteration looks and feels. The earlier version was of course skied last winter by various folks. We opted not to field evaluate as they did not carpet test with the beef we expected from a “4-buckle” boot. THE BOOT SUBSEQUENTLY received a number of changes, most importantly more beef so it feels more like what we expect from a “4-buckle.” Hence, it could indeed be amazing.

    But yeah, take our shouting with a grain of salt. We’ll do an honest field-use review just as soon as we can get it on snow for a few days.

    Lou

  4. Lou Dawson October 7th, 2013 10:01 am

    Drew, good point, it would seem that adding some mesh inside those openings could be a good thing…

  5. Joe John October 7th, 2013 10:15 am

    Just what I need for Christmas,.

  6. Brian October 7th, 2013 10:44 am

    Any chance for a K2 Pinnacle or a Roxa review this year? I’m curious how these types of boots perform in a tech binding.

  7. Michael Finger October 7th, 2013 11:58 am

    Any idea on what the shell weight is for this bad boy?

  8. Charlie October 7th, 2013 12:08 pm

    The lower buckles look quite nice; almost nothing there to catch on rock.

  9. Tom Gos October 7th, 2013 12:30 pm

    This looks like a competitor for the Maestrale and Mercury rather than overlap 4 buckles like Freedom/Factor/Titan. Perhaps one of the more compelling aspects of this boot is the price – Cripple Creek Backcountry lists the retail as $599 which is a very low price for an AT boot with these features and tech. Will be interesting to hear how it performs on snow compared with similar category boots.

  10. Leszek October 7th, 2013 3:46 pm

    Lou, in your opinion and feeling the Spectre are wider than Sideral or Tlt 6? I mean if there is more space inside for wide foot that usually fit in Scarpa Maestrale?
    Thanks

  11. Will October 7th, 2013 7:51 pm

    Do you know the flex?

  12. Doug CCBC October 7th, 2013 9:21 pm

    Tom
    I think it is definitely on competitor for the Maestrale and other light weight boots and the $599 makes it really competitive. I tested it after coming out of a season on the Spitfire’s and I begrudgingly admit I felt the added control of a 4 buckle boot (a lot of this could have come from the more supportive liner.

    Leszek, I do feel that it is about the same width as the Sideral although the mold is far different.

  13. Oscar October 8th, 2013 2:17 am

    Having some kind of width comment on this boot would be wonderful!

    I’m cursed with wide feet and have a hard time using la sportivas climbing shoes. On the other hand I have friends and acquaintances with similarly wide feet that use their trail running/hiking shoes with a delight. Would be nice to know how their rando boots are in comparison!

  14. Leszek October 8th, 2013 2:50 am

    I also wonder if they will be fit on my feet. When I measure Sideral I’ve only have little bit discomfort in wide part of foot ( behind toes). For example in TLT 5 I’ve feel lot of pressure on this wide part of foot, on instep and calf. So I’m curious how it compare to Spectre or TLT 6. Maestrale fits great on my feet.

  15. Lou Dawson October 8th, 2013 7:46 am

    Some of this could be PR fluff, but here is what the Sportiva catalog says:

    “102.5 mm last…Similar to…last found in Spitfire, Sideral, Starlet but wider in forefoot and at base of fifth metatarsal for a more comfortable performance fit.”

    Using the words “comfortable” and “performance fit” in the same sentence is typical catalog spreach. Also, specifying the last to the 1/2 millimeter seems a bit much.

    I’ll have a pair here shortly and will try to to real-world eval of fit for you guys. Perhaps I’ll even measure to the 1/2 millimeter tolerance (grin).

    Lou

  16. Leszek October 8th, 2013 8:37 am

    Thanks Lou. Also whem I mailed Lasportiva, they answerd me that they are little bit wide than Sideral. But until they will show in Polish marked , or until I moved to France in december, I have no opportunity to fit them so any informations for me are precious :)

  17. Jason D October 8th, 2013 10:13 am

    Brian, I’ve played with the K2 pinnacle 110, and, while I can’t speak for this website, the pinnacle is simply far too heavy in it’s current form to be classified as a touring boot. I’d definitely call it a downhill boot with a walk mode. It’s made of polyurethane and is more in line with traditional downhill boot weights. Too bad, because otherwise the boot is very well made and has a ton of nice details. The walk mode, liner and cuff pivots are especially well done. Hopefully in future iterations they will use lighter materials and it will make more sense to do a review here.

    Lou, when you get a chance, I’d love to get some insight into two things about the Spectre:
    1. Flex&fit relative to the other boots in this class (Vulcan/Mercury/tlt6p, Maestrale RS, etc.)
    2. How easy would it be to create a swappable tongue? I like everything I see about this boot except for the flex zone on the tongue.

  18. Jim October 8th, 2013 2:26 pm

    +1 on the width issue,especially metatarsal area. Best info you could give us is inside measurement of the shell at metatarsal. I can’t even put my foot in the Dynafit tlt shell. The measurement would help decide if I should even try to find the boot to try on.

  19. Frame October 9th, 2013 6:15 am

    Seems that you are getting a good price on this boot. In the UK I can find it for £500. If you convert Cripple Creeks price of USD599 to GBP at todays rate it is £375.
    I know lots of pre-ordering of stock months in advance, political/market volatility will be playing into exchange rates, but the boot seems a lot more expensive in Britain (can only find it for sale on one shops website).
    Doesn’t really add anything of interest to you in the States, but just something I picked up.

  20. Cri October 27th, 2013 7:09 pm

    These boots are not actually DIN compatible. The sole camber is too great and thus when locked down there is too much downward force on the slider on the binding for the binding to release properly. I was totally sold on these boots. I have very narrow, low volume feet and these fit perfectly. I wasn’t in love with the buckle system, but it’s light, seems durable and I think I’d adjust to it pretty quickly. I went back to buy the boot today and in the week since I last stopped by the store the salesperson learned that the boots were not actually DIN compatible. I tried them in a binding to see if it was something that I could fudge and found that even when the toe piece height adjustment was backed out all the way on a pair of Marker Tour F12′s there was still too much downward pressure on the slider for the toe to release properly. Bummer, the boots are really only compatible with Dynafits.

  21. Alan November 1st, 2013 11:10 am

    The Boots are not only compatible with Dynafit, but they also work just fine in a Fritschi binding.

  22. Colin Lantz November 1st, 2013 11:43 am

    Hi wildsnow folks. Colin Lantz from La Sportiva here. Got a call about this post so thought I should reply immediately. On October 27 Cri wrote: “These boots are not actually DIN compatible.” The Spectre meets the ISO DIN 9523:2008 specifications for Alpine Touring ski boot toe and heel pieces. I cannot speak to individual binding fittings, I can only verify that the Spectre and Sparkle are in compliance with the Alpine Touring DIN standard.

  23. Lou Dawson November 1st, 2013 1:28 pm

    This is where the WildSnow binding and boot collection, supported by our sponsors, does help to a degree. I just grabbed a Marker Tour 2010/2011 iteration off the binding wall. Spectre does indeed fit too tight due to rocker and thickness of sole rubber. I don’t know if this would be true for the 2011/2012 version as those bindings are up at our PNW HQ, but my recollection is they are exactly the same besides some reinforcements of the weak pivot area.

    Colin, the boots might conform to DIN, but they must be at the outside edge of allowed tolerances or something.

    Cri, it appears you could remove perhaps 3 mm of rubber from the sole lugs that sit on the AFD and the boot would fit fine.

    I’ll try it in some Dukes. Oh, and I do have some Fritschis as well.

    Man, you guys make me work for a living!

    Lou

  24. Andy November 1st, 2013 1:36 pm

    Colin,

    I have heard that the degree of sole rocker can also cause issues with crampon compatibility. This may not be a huge issue for many, but for ski-mo it’s a bit of a downer.

    Andy

  25. Lou Dawson November 1st, 2013 2:31 pm

    I just tested in Duke, too tight by a few mm, couldn’t pull copy paper single sheet out even while levering back on the boot, with toe at highest setting (AFD lowered way down on its nice little rampy thingy).

    Tested in Fritschi, no problem, toe raises WAY up on those.

    This isn’t the first time a boot needed a little massaging of the sole rubber to fit a given binding.

    Colin, I’d suggest you might cruise over to Neptunes or somewhere and try the boot in a few Markers and get back to us.

    Lou

  26. Lou Dawson November 1st, 2013 2:32 pm

    And, why anyone would want to run this fine boot in a clunky wriggly frame binding is beyond me (grin).

  27. Colin Lantz November 1st, 2013 3:34 pm

    Hi All, answering a few of the points above: Spectre meets AT DIN specs for rocker also. This is a known issue with Marker bindings. Yes Lou, we are at the outer edge of the ISO DIN spec, but within the norm specifications. I’ve heard that Mobes had this issue (unconfirmed from one of our employees) and perhaps there are others.

  28. Colin Lantz November 1st, 2013 3:40 pm

    Anecdotally (and of course not officially – a lawyer somewhere is probably chewing his nails reading this) I ran my Spectre pre-production test pair all last winter in a pair of Barons (among other test ski/binding combos). A little outsole grind and it was fine. I didn’t even bother to get aggressive with the grind and kept the space between the AFD and sole a intentionally tight, even to the point where it still failed the paper test. Never had a problem with it releasing.

  29. Lou Dawson November 1st, 2013 3:46 pm

    Exactly. A bit of fine tuning should be all it takes to have the boot perform well in the Marker offerings. As stated before, such a thing is common. And not only frame bindings. There have been many boots that even required sole shaping to work correctly in tech bindings. Lou

  30. Drew November 1st, 2013 6:21 pm

    I had to grind a lot of rubber off my RS’s to fit my barons, super common and not a big deal if you know how to fit boots to bindings

  31. Colin Lantz November 1st, 2013 7:53 pm

    Andy, we spent a lot of time checking crampon compatibility. We could not find a crampon, automatic or semi-automatic, that the boot did not work with. We stand by our claim, the Spectre is ISO DIN 9523 compatible and fully compatible to all crampons that we know of.

  32. Ian November 2nd, 2013 4:58 pm

    I have a pair on the way, I’m pumped! LS’s boots fit me amazingly which is kind of a miracle considering how odd my feet are shaped.

  33. Ian November 2nd, 2013 5:10 pm

    By the way, the crampon fit on Spitfire’s are terrible. I was planning on using a soft bail on the Spectre but it would be great if I can use wire bails.

  34. Tom W. November 2nd, 2013 7:38 pm

    Hi all. For those wondering about width; I have wide feet, particularly at my toes, and a relatively high instep. For reference, I am comfortable in extra-wide New Balance running shoes, and currently ski in Megarides. Anyway, the Spectres are probably going to be too narrow. Going to talk to a boot fitter about how much room I can get in the fore foot, but not optimistic. That said, I was also trying to fit into a Maestrale RS (26.5 – will definitely NOT work), and I am certain that the Spectre (27.5) has more volume, especially from the instep to the heel. Very close to the same fit in the toe box, and essentially the same shell length. I will post back if I can make them work because I know a lot of people have the same problem/question.

  35. James H November 3rd, 2013 9:27 am

    I just tried these on yesterday at the black diamond store in SLC. up to this point I have been a Scarpa AT fan: their boots have fit the best. however, I am not a Scarpa fan with any of their other footwear offerings. I have traditionally been a la Sportiva guy when it comes to trekking, trail running, and climbing. last year I was very excited when la Sportiva entered the ski boot market but a try on of the spitfires immediately sent me back to my maestrales. the spitfires were WAY too tight around the widest part of my foot. I went to the bd store yesterday with the intention of buying some freedom sl’s or maestrale rs’s but I completely forgot about this year’s spectre. I tried them on in my usual 27.5, walked around a bit, then refused to take them off. I can only imagine how much more comfortable they’ll become with a proper boot fit. even though these were far and away the most comfortable boots I’ve ever tried on I’m curious to see how the buckle system works. I love the concept of the buckle system: it’s reminiscent of derailleur adjustments on a mountain/road bike with the “reverse” threading of the barrel adjusters. however, I see imminent frustration with cold weather/ice and the use of gloves as the knobs are pretty small and the threaded bolts are begging for ice build-up. despite this observation, I bought the boots anyways; you don’t pass up a fit like this…

  36. Brian C November 5th, 2013 1:34 pm

    Initial impressions after first trial – Ascent and Descent of Mt. Baker.

    Hard to find bad things to say about the Spectre.

    Fit is excellent (i have a med size foot).
    Walk/Tour Mode is top notch.
    Light Weight (my 26.5 weighed in at about 3Lbs 1oz)
    Sleek Profile, easy to climb in.
    Vibram Soles are well thought out.
    Crampons fit almost exactly like my La Sportiva Nepal Mountaineering Boots (No more having to readjust! YAY!)
    Better than expected stiffness and control on the descent – This is in large part due to the firm but very comfortable fit of the liner around the lower leg.
    They look awesome.

    Regarding the buckles, the micro-adjustment knobs do tend to freeze up when icy, and they are hard to adjust with gloves on. On the other hand, after my initial setting I felt no need to micro-adjust in the field anyway. The buckles are otherwise awesome, light weight, easy to use, sleek, they don’t clank around when touring or doing technical climbing…

    La Sportiva may have created one of the best light weight Ski Mountaineering boots ever with the Spectre.

    Stats:
    5’8″ 150Lbs, Male, Volkl Nanuq 177, Dynafit Radical ST, Moderate-Advanced Skill, Mondo Size 26.5

  37. Lou Dawson November 5th, 2013 1:37 pm

    Thanks Brian! More coming!

  38. Thierry M. November 6th, 2013 7:52 am

    Hi there
    Colin, there is no resaler link on LS website… where can I find them in Switzerland?
    Lou, looking forward for the field test. You site is awesome: thanks.

  39. Abe November 8th, 2013 1:46 pm

    I might be blind, this may have already been answered, but flex wise, are we talking Maestrale, or Maestrale RS, or softer, or stiffer?

  40. Colin Lantz November 8th, 2013 2:00 pm

    Thierry – contact the Swiss distributor: • ACE alpine & climbing equipment AG – Dorfstrasse 23 Postfach 62 – CH 8873 Amden – Switzerland
    Tel.41 55 611 6161 – Fax 41 55 611 6162
    e-mail: info@acesport.ch

  41. Brian C November 8th, 2013 5:38 pm

    Regarding Flex:
    The US website http://www.sportiva.com advertises a 110 flex.
    The international site http://www.lasportiva.com however advertises a 120 flex.
    Not sure why there is a discrepancy

    My experience was that the stiffness felt more like the Maestrale RS than the Maestrale; additionally due to the Spectre’s stiffer insert around the calf, I felt I had more control than with the Maestrale RS’s. That’s my 2 cents anyway.

  42. Tom W November 10th, 2013 10:24 am

    Following up on previous post re: fit comparison with Maestrale RS.
    RS was too narrow, in both the instep area and metatarsus. Bought Spectres yesterday, and they fit very good after footbeds and molding. Not as wide as Quadrants, but more volume than Dynafit ONE and Maestrale. Interesting note compared to my old Megarides; the boot is stiff enough that I don’t feel compelled to crank the buckles. I was constantly trying for a little more stiffness out of my Garmonts by over tightening. So, even though I have more room in the Megas, I feel more comfortable in the Spectres. All I can add is that if, like me, you haven’t upgraded your boots in 10 years, go for it, because the new designs are amazing; literally do everything better.

  43. artix November 13th, 2013 1:16 pm

    I am interested in what exactly the difference between Spectre and Sparkle? is Sparkle just marketed as women’s model? Being a man I pretty like the color design from Sparkle :)

  44. Lou Dawson November 13th, 2013 1:22 pm

    Art, mostly the same boot, women’s is probably shaped a bit differently in the upper cuff. Lou

  45. artix November 13th, 2013 2:15 pm

    Thanks Lou,
    I found the FAQ from La Sportiva,

    What is the difference between Men’s and Women’s shoes?

    La Sportiva utilizes a range of fits specifically developed for the unique shape of a woman foot in order to offer maximum comfort. Our women’s models have a wider forefoot to heel ratio compared to our men’s shoes and are narrower, straighter and lower cut heel and have less volume overall.

    btw, in a shop I just saw Sparkle in size 28.5 and didn’t notice that is a women’s model :p

  46. Brad Lewis November 14th, 2013 5:01 am

    I was so stoked to buy the Spectre for this ski season. I tried on a pair at the SLC BD store, and have never had a more uncomfortable boot on my feet, which was a huge disappointment, as I thought this was the boot for me. Great price, love the look, light… but after years of compromising comfort for performance, I just can’t do the pain thing anymore, or deal with a boot that I have to struggle with to take off.

  47. Colin Lantz November 14th, 2013 9:45 am

    Hi Art, You must be seeing the Sparkle in size 28.5 in a shop in Europe. That boot in that size is exactly identical to the Spectre. In Europe many dealers liked the Sparkle colors and requested to have it also in men’s sizes (you are not the only one that had this idea). The “men’s Sparkle is available only in Europe in sizes 27-31.5, not in the US or Canada. No comments about color preferences and masculinity (-;

    The true women’s specific model of the Sparkle, with fit differences from the Spectre, is produced only in sizes 23-26.5 (worldwide). The Sparkle, in sizes 23-26.5, has a women’s specific liner. This women’s specific liner is pre-shaped on a different last with the following differences compared to the men’s version: 1) more room for women’s calves which tend to be wider closer to the ankle due to shorter legs in general, 2) a little wider in the forefoot, and 3) narrower in the heel. These differences are built into the liner only, not into the plastic shell. The only other difference is that the cuff is proportionally graded a little shorter due to the shorter leg lengths in women.

  48. Colin Lantz November 14th, 2013 9:59 am

    Hi Brad, Sorry you had a bad fit experience with the Spectre. Check out Lou’s new post “Fitting & Skiing La Sportiva Spectre – Part One” and the comments there on fit. Another tip – when trying on in the shop we’ve found that putting your foot into the liner first, and using the included laces, and then inserting your foot with liner into the boot helps to get the tongue distributed evenly so as not to cause a pressure point on the top of the instep. This only necessary in the shop on an un-thermoformed liner. Due to the tongue type construction of the liner (as opposed to overlap) and the lacing ghillies it has a tendency to create a little bulge out of the box on some foot shapes which some people notice when trying on the boot. After dozens of fitting and thermoforming sessions we’ve seen that the thermoforming process really helps to get the fit and consequently the comfort, dialed in perfectly.

  49. Lou Dawson November 14th, 2013 10:12 am

    Yep, as I’ve always said, if in doubt don’t discount a fit till you thermoform. On the other hand, evaluate shell first with a professional’s help!

    Eventually, all boots will be on the shelf or in the box with no liners in them, and liner only provided by store help with a molding. That’s the only solution to the tyranny of the boot wall.

    Lou

  50. merlinm November 14th, 2013 11:22 am

    hello, try the spectre several time on shop
    very nice work from la sportiva but please change the tongue:
    - way better flex with the dynafit optional tongue (vulcan and mercury) under
    - sometimes the cable of the third bucckle goes on the black rubber when open and the second bucckle rubb on the yellow plastic.

  51. Dane November 15th, 2013 7:10 pm

    From my limited experience to date.

    Two caveats..one the buckles. Don’t try this boot on if you are in a hurry. Buckles are very cool and effective iMO. But they take a minute or two to figure out. The second, Fit? I have narrow heels, long feet, medium forfoot. First try the boot pinched the chit out of the top of my instep. It was painfull. Once in the boot, tongue adjusted correctly they fit reasonably well. Big, thick liner that I have no doubt will mold up exceptionally well. A liner I like btw (and had a good deal of experience with previous) much better than Intuitions.

    Have yet to mold them. My off the cuff impression:) Same as Lou, “Spectre just might be the coolest ski boot ever made in the more beefy (and lwt) persuasion.”

    Check out the actual weights and the retail prices of my 28s:
    Spectre 1480g $600
    Maestrale RS 1590g $700
    TLT6 1354g $1000
    ONE 1580g $650
    Vulcan 1730g $1000

    Only thing even remotely comparable for stiffness is the Vulcan. Nothing on price and only the TLT6 for weight. Walk mode….right in there as well. Some of the design even more user friendly tha nthe rest. I suspect this boot will turn some heads (and skis) this winter ;-)

  52. Dane November 16th, 2013 4:55 am

    Sorry missed this..”it would seem that adding some mesh inside those openings (on the boot cuff) could be a good thing…”

    For snow? Certainly not water. Only two holes that are open on the back either side of the boot, four total. Can’t see how snow would get in there or how mesh might help.

  53. Dave November 17th, 2013 7:13 am

    Currently in Tlt5′s, which I LOVE for the range of motion in the walk mode. Considering moving to these or mercury’s, but this range of motion is a concern for me. How do these compare?

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