Dawson To Author ‘Mellow’ Colorado Ski Touring Guidebook

By TheEditors OfWildsnow | September 20, 2017  
New book in Ski Atlas series.

New book in Off Piste Ski Atlas series.

The sport of alpine ski touring has exploded in Colorado. If you’re an experienced practitioner, the state has an amazing amount of options for you — covered by numerous guidebooks. Lou Dawson, publisher and prolific writer here at Wildsnow.com, was an early pioneer in both exploring the alpine touring of colorado, as well as writing the first guidebooks that covered “modern” aspects of the sport, such as detailing steeper alpine terrain (see books option in nav menu above).

All well and good, but a best kept secret of ski touring is that a vast number of individuals seeking to enjoy the sport would rather not deal with avalanche danger and difficult snow — not to mention super steep terrain. A new ski touring guidebook by Lou, due out late fall of 2017, seeks to help.

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G3 Scala Hybrid Climbing Skins — Handy Or Hoopla?

By Julia Dubinina | September 19, 2017  
G3 Scala skins taking me to pow on Rogers Pass, Canada.

G3 Scala skins taking me to pow on Rogers Pass, Canada.

What better thing to do at the end of summer then begin fantasizing about winter? Face shots, skin tracks and shiny gear are on my mind — no 90F degree heat can take away those dreams. This past season I’ve had the opportunity to try out G3 Scala Climbing Skins. We’ve shared a few trips together with some big highlights: two wonderful weeks in BC, Canada for Christmas; a 20 mile trek through the Enchantments Basin back in May; and a grueling one day Glacier Peak attempt in late June.

When I first saw the Scala skins, I wasn’t sure what to think. Reflecting back to the well known, fully “hairy”, carpet-like skins that I’m used to or the fish scale Fisher skins I’ve tried in the past — I was skeptical about combining both.

G3 Scala tip is red urethane featuring  a scale pattern that is designed to maximize grip on the skintrack.

G3 Scala tip is red urethane featuring a scale pattern that is designed to maximize grip on the skintrack.

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7 Deadly Sins of Tech Binding Mounting

By Lou Dawson | September 18, 2017  

Oh boy, mistakes were made? Hopefully you don’t hear that at the ski shop when you’re picking up your shiny new planks. More, let’s hope you are not shouting something stronger when you discover your binding mount is messed up and you’re standing on the summit of Denali — ready to launch — now you get to walk. Most shops (for example our publishing partner and sponsor of this post, Cripple Creek Backcountry) do a pretty good job of quality control. But human error happens. A few of the more common errors below. Some easy to check for, some presented as a warning as to why you should indeed trust your skis only to a top shop.

Boot off center at the heel, classic tech binding (exaggerated). Click images to enlarge.

Boot off center at the heel, classic tech binding (exaggerated). Click images to enlarge.

1. Boot heel off center

Why is this deadly: Too much misalignment preloads the binding heel lateral release, might cause an imbalance in how much retention the binding provides, thus possibly causing accidental release. Less dire, can also make it difficult to step-clip into the binding heel.
How to evaluate: Easy to check when you pick up your skis from the shop. Place boot in binding, in touring mode. Drop boot heel down so it rests on the heel pins (or other, in the case of hybrid binding). Check centering of the heel. It’ll usually be quite close, usually appearing near perfect. That’s best. But being off by a small amount is ok; a millimeter or so.
How to fix on the bench: Assuming the ski touring binding screw holes are not entirely messed up, remove front unit screws, reglue, reinsert screws but leave loose, lock boot in binding, push heel of boot to side until aligned, gradually tighten screws while continuing to apply “English” to the boot.
How to fix in the middle of the Messner Couloir: Not gonna happen.

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Avalanche Cord — String of Life or Placebo of Sad Demise?

By Lou Dawson | September 14, 2017  

The history of electronic avalanche locator beacons is somewhat recent, with the first truly functional units coming on board in the late 1960s. Before that, skiers employed various methods of locating a buried avalanche victim; methods that for the most part were largely (and sadly) ineffective. The most popular of these was the “avalanche cord,” simply a lengthy chunk of string, with direction and distance makerers. You’d trail the string out behind you while skiing. If buried, your partners ostensibly found the string and followed it to you.

This was way too time consuming of a rescue process. Moreover handling the spider web a larger group of skiers created was not pretty, not to mention time consuming storage winding-coiling that was worthy of nautical sail rigging. Good to look back, and thank heaven we now have electronic beacons.

I recall a few individuals in the 1960s era writing about the efficacy of avalanche cords, pondering if any live saves had ever occurred by virtue of using a cord. Consensus was a that a few climbers might have been saved when their rope was used in similar fashion, but there might have been only one or two documented saves that were definitely due to the use of an avalanche cord.

Crimped metal markers indicated number of meters to victim.

Avalanche cord, you’d stow it in a string ball or reel it in on some sort of spindle or spool you’d hang from your belt. Crimped metal markers indicated number of meters to victim.

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OLDER POSTS »

  Your Comments

  • Lou Dawson 2: It's usually a small bar shaped jingus molded into the sole. Just get out y...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Howard, you know that saying about your lover, that when you do the deed, y...
  • Nick: Is the boot center on the tlt6 marked on the sole? I see two small hash mar...
  • Greg: I have a new pair of these sitting on my workbench that I'm going to mount ...
  • Bumgaar: Sure glad I don't live in Colorado! The reason we here in "Undisclosed Loca...
  • Howard: I'm not saying anything about secrets and keeping it to yourself. I'm just ...
  • Matus: Wookie: just marketing BS. That is all. The real benefit is close to zero....
  • Lou Dawson 2: Berg, I'd go for the latest, it it fixes some problems with previous Meast...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Chris, I tried to do the Front Range as best I could, it was tough everywhe...
  • Wookie1974: why have anything up front there at all? Even in super-deep, you're not gri...
  • Ian: Ha, well it looks Lou like replied while I was composing my thoughts! Well ...
  • Ian: Sounds like a great and useful book. While maybe not as impressive as skiin...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Howard, the other side of that is if you absolutely love something in this ...
  • chris beh: This is such a great concept. If you cover the Front Range and near adjacen...
  • Dave Smith: Dale: Thanks for the additional information!...
  • Howard: I realize I'm wasting my time writing this as it will fall on deaf ears, bu...
  • James Moss: Awesome Dale. Thank you so much!!!...
  • Jim: Just checking in to see if there is any new info on if the Techton will be ...
  • Jeff: Thanks, Julia! I was wondering about these skins. Looking forward to your t...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Clyde, yeah, pretty amazing. Please stay in touch so I can do some reviews ...
  • Clyde: And that makes 4 new books for Colorado coming in the next few months. The ...
  • Phil Harvey: I recall one of your reviews a few years ago about Doug Sproul's guidebook ...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Brad, I'm not sure. Maps used to be a big thing -- in my "Dawson's Guide" (...
  • Dave J.: Looks great, Lou!...
  • Brad: Lou, Curious as what ski touring guidebook you would consider to have the ...
  • Ben: Pete writes about the "significant weight penalty over basic tech bindings"...
  • Tom Gos: Awesome! I've often felt that there is a gap in the American ski touring cu...
  • Dale Atkins: @Jim... The misconception -- no one died with an avi cord -- was reinforced...
  • Joe John: Just what the kids and I need for our next winter trip to Colorado. If we...
  • XXX_er: It would be earlier models but I thot g3 looked so minimalist and would be ...

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring 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 ski touring news and information here.

All material on this website is copyrighted, the name WildSnow is trademarked, permission required for reproduction (electronic or otherwise) and display on other websites. PLEASE SEE OUR COPYRIGHT and TRADEMARK INFORMATION.

Backcountry skiing is dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. While the authors and editors of the information on this website make every effort to present useful information about ski mountaineering, due to human error and passing time, the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use.

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