Silvretta 500 In the Museum — And Still Available

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This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

All, I’ve been working on our binding museum pages. Someone was asking about backcountry skiing bindings for climbing boots, so I’ll bump this post up with some editing, as well as re-working the Silvretta 500 museum display.

Silvretta backcountry skiing.
Silvretta 500 Easy Go

Venerable (been around for a decade) and still popular Silvretta 500 — the only production backcountry skiing randonnee binding you can use with nearly any crampon-compatible or welted boot. According to Salewa/Dynafit USA, “Even after all these years, amazingly popular.”

As always, we file a brief blog post as a forum for your comments, and link to the main Silvretta 500 Easy Go museum display.

Let us know if you use the 500, and how it works for you. Also, anyone know of an etailer selling these things for North America? Comments on!

Comments

42 Responses to “Silvretta 500 In the Museum — And Still Available”

  1. g July 8th, 2008 9:22 am

    Truly classic and no frills binding. For us knee droppers, it is also nice, as it is also compatible with a scarpa terminator boot, i.e. you can use your telemark boot and lock your heel down. [not really set up for touring, as your square toe box will protrude, causing a problem were you to fall all of the way forward while in tour mode], however, if you are simply booting in the spring and summer, and want to be able to lock your heel on a scarier descent, it works great.

    I keep an AT set up, my multiple telemark set ups, and a 500 set up, [as it is also a great set up to have on hand for guests that are visiting, since it is so easily compatible with so many forms of boots, and is easily adjustable.]

  2. EZE July 8th, 2008 10:23 am

    Lou-

    EZE over in Lawson (Central), CO. You may remember me as the guy who was pro-Silvretta back when you did some Pure reviews. I’ve got an old pair of K2 AK Launchers with the 500s. They are a bit beat up, but have seen many, many days on area, backcountry, hut trips, 14er trips, and snowmo assist. For the money, and considering their lighter weight, one can easily overlook the non-step in factor. I would buy another pair for sure.

    We also run the 555s on a pair of Fischer Big-Stix 86, and a couple pairs of the Pures on Atomic Tele skis. All-in-all we’ve been Silvretta fans for many years, although we did go with the Naxos on the Big Stix 106-my wife loves that rig!

    So, we do take some bashing from time to time for not going with the Fritschi models-especially from those folks in “east” Lawson (most people call that Downieville). :)

    Thanks for all the hard work keeping us up to date year round!

    Later, EZE

  3. CDillon July 8th, 2008 11:51 am

    Hi Lou,

    A bit off topic here but I was wondering if you have heard of anything still skiable around Buena Vista? Do you think any of the 14ers over there are still in?
    Thanks!

  4. Simon Isbister July 8th, 2008 12:50 pm

    While most of my skiing is done on Dynafits, I still have an old yellow pair of Hagens, mounted with 404s, never mind the 500s! I use them mostly for ice-climbing approaches, wearing either Scarpa Vega plastics, or my leather La Sportiva Makalus. Not the most responsive set-up, that’s for sure! But they have held up very well, and it means I don’t need to change boots when we get to the ice!

    Thanks,

    -simon-

  5. Lou July 8th, 2008 8:21 pm

    Simon, yeah, for climbing approach bindings the toe wire Silvrettas can’t be beat.

  6. Piotr July 10th, 2008 1:17 am

    Lou,

    As for Silvrettas being the only binding one can use with auto crampon compatible boots – there is also a relatively new binding made by Nic Impex called ‘Evolution Light’. Not the most popular by any means, but it’s there. The funny thing is it seems to use blocking mechanism similiar to the one found in the Duke (or maybe the other way round?), i.e. sliding the frame back and forth.

  7. michael October 22nd, 2008 12:37 pm

    Couple questions on the 500 and on getting skis.

    I am an ice climber and looking for a rig for long approaches and moderate decents. This seems like the best option. I read somewhere that they only go upto a size 12+ boot. I am a sasquatch with size 13 La Sportiva K4′s. Will these boots fit the bindings?

    In terms of a ski, i dont want to lay out much money so will buy used. What’s the shortest i should go (i’m 6’3″ 180lbs) so its not so bulky on my back but doesn’t noodle on the decent. I switched to snowboarding before the shaped ski revolution so i don’t know sizes.

    thanks

    Michael

  8. Lou October 22nd, 2008 12:51 pm

    Don’t know how big the binding will go, perhaps someone will chime in. As for skis, if you go with something in the 177cm range you should be fine.

  9. Sam Reese November 4th, 2008 1:06 am

    > I read somewhere that they only go upto a size 12+ boot. I am a sasquatch with
    >size 13 La Sportiva K4’s. Will these boots fit the bindings?

    I set a friend up with a set of 404′s. He’s got sasquach feet. I’ve got a set of old skis and 404′s that I use for “snow hiking” and approaches. I’ve used them a whole bunch with my La Sportiva Makalu size 46.5 (around 11.5). My friend has Scarpa black leathers, size 13 and change american, I think it’s 49 or something monstrous. Normal 404′s fit this at the last ring, and the release didn’t seem compromised, but I did have to fiddle some with the rotational release spring (but they were used bindings).

  10. elan January 20th, 2010 5:57 pm

    I just bought a used pair of skis with Silvretta 500 Easy Go bindings and have a question regarding adjusting these to my boots (Scarpa Tambo size 9 (approx Mondo 28, given Scarpa’s running 1-1.5 sizes bigger than labled). At the smallest setting, I am not getting the metal tab to “pop” into the black adjustment lever–seems like my boots are too small (I measure them at 313 mm front to back, 300mm from toe to heel above (above the front and rear lips that fit into the bindings).

    The front lip on these boots is pretty narrow, and it looks like the toe bar on the bindings rotates forward and down to fit, so that even on the minimum setting I am not getting the metal tab to pop into the plastic adjuster. To experiment, I stuffed about 1/8inch of paper under the toe, so that the toe bar sits higher and farther back, and the metal tab then pops in to the plastic adjustment lever.

    I’m guessing that I bought Large bindings, but need medium for these boots? Is there another adjustment that I am missing, such as something that would raise the height of the toe piece enough to make this work? I assume that I should not add a 1/8 filler piece under my toe to make this setup work as is–I don’t want to break a knee if the bindings don’t release!

    Any advice appreciated! thanks…

  11. alyn August 23rd, 2010 5:39 pm

    A great binding for what they are. I was looking at putting together a set up like this for spring quite a few years ago, but with the new, light AT boots, there is no need to go that route.

    I work at a backcountry shop up here in the interior of BC, and we still bring in a few pair each year. Mostly for the climbers. Put together a nice package for one climber this spring with these bindings and mounted them on a pair or Dynafit seven summits and matching skins. He also planned on using these at the local ski hill as well…. “My climbing boots will be perfect at the resort… ” He must have talent.

    Micheal, You should be just fine with the Large bindings. I don’t have the manual here, but just make sure you get the large size. The BSL are generally shorter on climbing boots compared to alpine. I’ll check on that.
    Elan, It looks like you can cut the carbon bars with the right tools and knoledge. A customer needed a small and we had a medium and he was able to do the modification…. Good luck.

  12. Lou August 23rd, 2010 6:21 pm

    Thanks for chiming in Alyn! Amazing community we have here, truly appreciated.

    Hey, regarding shortening, this article about shortening Silvretta Pure gives an idea of the process.

    http://www.wildsnow.com/969/how-to-shorten-the-silvretta-pure/

    Elan, spacers are probably the key. Watch the heel height as well, see the museum page for the heel height the binding is designed for.

    Lou

  13. Paul August 23rd, 2010 9:49 pm

    Along with my TLT’s and tele binders, I like having the ol’ pink 404′s around. They work well for mountaineering boots and also are nicely adjustable to function as loaners.

  14. Lou August 24th, 2010 6:15 am

    For those wondering, here is the link to the museum display for the pink 404s. Classic!

    http://www.wildsnow.com/backcountry-ski-museum/silvretta-404-backcountry-skiing/silvretta-404-backcountry.html

  15. Eric Steig August 25th, 2010 6:34 pm

    Lou,

    I’ve got a pair of these I picked up for $99 including skis (not bad skis, either).
    I use them for my summer glacier research work — mostly on flat terrain.

    The good price was in part because the pole-actuated plastic tab at the top back of one binding was broken off.

    They work fine for my use, but… since that broken part is riveted on, hard to see how to fix it. Without it, it’s not that easy to get out of the binding.

    The release mechanism is well, sketchy. It may be that it needs some oil and other TLC, but I’m a bit skeptical. These things are overly complicated in my view.

    The boot-size adjustment system is amazingly fine — that is, it takes a lot of turns of the screw to make it move a cm. Kind of overkill if you ask me.

    In contrast with these, I also have original Ramers. They are far more robust — I’ve been using them for 20+ years, had them sitting in rain/sun/salt, no problems. The release works great, even if it is a little bit unsophisticated

    Modern binding designers could learn a few things from Ramer. Well, I guess they did–>Dynafit!

  16. Lou August 25th, 2010 8:18 pm

    Eric, good to hear from you about those bindings! Not sure how you could fix them, perhaps Salewa has parts?

    I hear you about the Ramer, it was actually pretty good if you learned how to use it, but it was pretty fiddly. I skied a lot of 14ers on some, but I locked out the release.

  17. Eric Steig August 25th, 2010 10:34 pm

    Lou,

    You’ll be amused that in 1986 I was telemarking on a glacier in Alaska on Ramers, in leather Asolo mountaineering boots. One released — from the boot, not the ski (since that day I used straps on the heels!) — and the ski rocketed off a cliff, about 200 m I would say. The tip of the ski was split from a direct hit to a rock (I guess), but all else was fine when I recovered it. Bindings unscathed.

  18. Jon Liam October 18th, 2010 3:16 am

    Lou,

    Does the 500s have the same mounting pattern with the Easy-Go?

  19. Lou October 18th, 2010 6:17 am

    Jon, yes, and both bindings share almost all the same parts.

  20. Sam October 29th, 2010 5:19 pm

    I just picked up a pair of these I’ll be mounting to some old K2 Escape 3500′s as an approach setup for climbing this winter. Does anyone have suggestions on what I could use for spacers or shims to lift the heel/toe of my boots (Nepal Evo’s) to match the bail system? How would I go about attaching them to the existing plastic plate? Thanks!

  21. Lou October 29th, 2010 6:20 pm

    For the toe, I used to shim the toe by wrapping tape around the toe wire, but you can’t get much that way. How much space do you need to take up?

    For the heel, industrial grade double sided sticky tape under aluminum plate cut to size?

  22. Liron Gokovski December 3rd, 2010 11:50 pm

    I am considering a set up for ski mountaineering that includes silvretta 500 lsv with Rossignol BC 125 positrack. My thoughts are that I could use these ski without skins on lower grade approaches. However, I’m wondering wether climbing skins will adhere to the fish scale portion of the ski for steep uphills
    . Also, I’m concerned with how well will these skis will handle steep, all-mountain terrain.
    I intend to use mountaineering boots if the skiing conditions are such that I can handle the descent comfortably, and using my downhill boots if the descent is towards the edge of my comfort zone. I would appreciate an expert opinion on wether this set up is a reasonable one, or will I be better off with an all mountain touring ski such as BD aspect or Dynafit seven summits and the likes.

    Thanks,
    Leo

  23. Lou December 5th, 2010 4:17 pm

    Liron, I’ve been asked this question a number of times. My opinion is that a regular ski mountaineering ski of moderate width and shorter length, combined with a mohair skin, is the way .

  24. Jeremy December 8th, 2010 8:21 pm

    http://www.alpenglowgear.com has these on sale for 20% off as an FYI/answer to Lou’s question.

  25. Frame December 28th, 2010 2:10 pm

    Lou & readers, my good lady uses the yellow/black Silvretta’s, perhaps an older version of the above (have same toe wire, but different shaped heel piece). Anyway we noticed today that she could lift the heel of the binding very easily when in downhill, mode, so popped into a shop to get them checked/adjusted. Whilst the guy did as requested by tightened up the din setting to fix the issue, he also advised that this binding heel piece was not really appropriate for the Dynafit TLT 4 boot (orange tongue/sole, two shades of grey shell) as the shelf on the boot heel was not large enough and should only be used with dynafit bindings. I have no reason to not believe the guy, just thought I would check for a second opinion, being as people use these with mountaineering boots.
    As background my wife is a conservative skier, 50kg and whilst we are only one/two week warriors has used the binding/boot for a number of years with no issue with a good deal of time on piste.
    PS snow is firm in Austria, pastries are great. Trust there is more new snow for your trip.

  26. Lou December 28th, 2010 2:48 pm

    Frame, I’ll be in Austria in a few days… will be trying to find some new mystery pastries but I’ve about tapped that one out, hopefully the snow will help me earn the calories.

    Regarding the bindings. If the boots stay in, you’re good. It’s that simple.

  27. Frame December 29th, 2010 3:15 am

    Thanks Lou,
    10 cm of new snow overnight in the Tirol.

    Bon voyage

  28. Pete Vance January 14th, 2011 12:32 pm

    I may be able to pick up a silvretta easy go 500 fairly cheaply and I’m trying to determine what boots will work in them. I’d like to mount them up to some downhill skis for my son and wonder if his alpine downhill boots will work. I think I saw a post in your blog stating that the individual used his Skarpa telemark boots in them as well. That’s my boot and I’d like to know if it would as well. Does the binding only work with a welted sole or can you use a downhill boot, as well? Thanks again for your wisdom, Lou. I haven’t talked to you in years. I’m still over here in Minturn. Still trying to find the approach to that small little scimitar of a couloir up on Battle Mountain. You can see it easily as you look south down the main drag in Minturn. I’d like to see you ski that! With me of course! I’m glad to hear that you’re still out tooling around the mountains. Let me know about the bindings.

    Sincerely,
    Pete Vance

  29. Lou January 15th, 2011 5:40 am

    Pete, good to hear from you, sure, an alpine boot will work in those just fine as will a telemark boot.

  30. BenK January 24th, 2011 9:37 pm

    I just found a great set of barely used Silvretta 500s on eBay, and found a set of Madshsus Epoch skis (the old 10th Mountain skis) on sale at EMS. I hope to build a set of approach skis, allowing me to ski cross-country-style in my Kayland ice climbing boots. If all works out as planned, this setup will replace my heavier AT setup of BD Method boots, Diamir bindings, BD stigma skis, and skins, and eliminate having to switch boots at the ice climb.

    A question on mounting the bindings: the Epoch skis are marked for pin line (tele/xc skis, not AT), so I’m not sure where to position the Silvrettas. Do I still position the Silvretta pivot point at the pin line? This position puts the center line of the boot about 3-1/2 inches behind the cord line (the cord line is within a few mm of the balance point). Does this sound right for a setup that is primarily used for climbing hills in New England, and relaxed downhills? (remember, I still have my AT setup for hardcore skiing!)

    Thanks, Ben K

  31. Phil January 28th, 2011 12:22 pm

    The Mountaineer mounted mine and they put the front screws of the binding in line with the marks on the ski. I have followed suit and done this with a pair of 500s and 10th Mountains for a buddy and both of us find they they ski great that way.

    HOWEVER, I just found this, and it’s probably the best way to go. I’ll be sure to measure mine to see how far off they are, although I can’t imagine I’ll bother re-mounting them if they are off.

    http://www.newtelemarkguide.com/w/images/8/8f/Karhu_techbulletin_0910.pdf

  32. BenK January 29th, 2011 6:50 pm

    Thanks Phil. I found the same tech bulletin yesterday, and mounted the bindings today. It turns out that aligning the binding pivot point at the marked pin line puts the boot center mark (size 29.5 boots) at exactly the right spot as specified by Karhu. The pivot point is about 10mm behind the front screws. So, I simply aligned the binding pivot point with the marking line, and attached.

    My back yard currently has 12″ of powder, so I did a few laps around, and everything felt good. I’ll do a few miles tomorrow on properly varied terrain, and get a better idea.

  33. Forest April 1st, 2011 7:26 am

    Bought 2 new pairs of the 500′s about 3 months ago, 1 “small” for my girlfriend and 1 “large” for myself. We originally mounted them on some ~25 yr. old Rossi downhill (not shaped!) skis and climbed with BD kicker skins. We are using our climbing boots, Koflachs and Scarpa Invernos, and are extremely happy with the setup. Last week I remounted the Silvrettas on 2 new pairs of Alpina X-Terrains and we are thrilled with the new setup! Still use the kicker skins when the going gets steep but the Alpinas climb the lower level stuff great on their own. Obviously the climbing boots are the weak link here but the bindings seem very tough and work flawlessly. (I am 6′, 220 lbs). We may pick up some lighter AT boots at some point for the days when we will be mostly skiing. Does anyone know of any weak point in the Silvrettas that would be a problem for someone of my weight skiing a stiffer boot?

  34. Forest April 8th, 2011 6:17 am

    Also, @ Liron – the setup you are considering is very similar to mine and the skins will stick to the fishscales just fine as long as you catch at least a couple inches of smooth ptex in front of and behind them. The skin will actually form a smoothed out version of the scales. I was considering the BC 125′s as well but since I ski Maine/NH we don’t usually have enough real powder to need the extra width under foot. VERY happy with the Alpina X-Terrains.

    Picked up a pair of lightly used Lowa Struktura GTX boots yesterday and hope to test them out with my setup tomorrow or Sunday; will let you know how they work.

  35. Peter January 7th, 2012 10:27 pm

    I have a pair of the 500s with brakes and crampons. They have some play in one of the toes, so I swapped then out because I ski them fairly hard. I’m not sure of the risk using them with the losseness around the front swivel shaft, but the rest of the bindings are OK, and the brakes and crampons are good to have. Not sure how you would contact me?

  36. Chris K November 1st, 2012 9:38 am

    I’ve recently acquired a set of something like this – the bindings are yellow and black, and say 555. Do these take the same accessories as the 500 and EZ Go? Maybe the Pure?

    I’d love to find crampons and possibly brakes for them. My main intention is to use them for ice climbing approaches and possibly search & rescue missions; it’s possibly that I’ll never use them without skins on the skis :-)

    Thanks for the adjustment instructions – no one else seemed able to supply this critical info.

  37. Lou Dawson November 1st, 2012 10:19 am

    Hi Chris, yeah, accessories for the Easy Go series are generally interchangeable. But I doubt the Pure accessories would fit, though modding them might be possible.

  38. Peter November 1st, 2012 11:17 am

    Hi Chris,
    I still have the 500 setup I posted on Jan 7, Great bindings combined with the brakes and crampons. Too much play in one toe piece for the wilderness areas I get into, but I would be willing to sell the whole setup, bindings, crampons, and brakes for $50. It might be possible to repair the toe, but I moved on and bought another set of bindings. Leave a post about how to make contact; it’s not clear to me if the email address I supplied is availalbe to you.

  39. Trish November 24th, 2013 7:32 am

    Hi Peter! Do you still have the Silvretta 500s and what size? Been looking for a size Medium for quite some time now.

  40. Peter November 24th, 2013 11:17 am

    I still have them. There is an “M” following the “Carbon” printed on the bar, so I believe they are Mediums. Post your email address (if that is allowed) and I will set up a conversation by email, or perhaps Lou can send you my email address (not sure how this is supposed to be handled)

  41. Lou Dawson November 24th, 2013 7:37 pm

    Peter and Trish, you can share email here by just writing it as something like myemail at gmail

    Whatever you do, don’t write out the complete email address as the spambot harvesters will grab it in 5 seconds (as with any website) and you’ll be tweaking your spam filters for hours.

    I can also put you in touch with each other if necessary.

    But best solution continues to be Facebook.

    Lou

  42. Peter December 16th, 2013 2:39 pm

    Trish, if you are still interested in the 500s go to sunburstdatabase on the web and click on Contact and you will find my email address.

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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