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Ski Touring News Roundup — Mid August 2017

By Lou Dawson | August 17, 2017  

On the climate front, it’s good to keep in mind that glaciers are as much about snow accumulation as they are about temperatures (so long as it gets cold enough to snow). Witness how summer skiing has held up in the PNW. The snowpack on Mount Hood, for example, got thick this winter. Around 600 inches of the white stuff built up Palmer Glacier and it’s held up all summer. More here.

Unfortunately, what they’re calling the “Lucifer Heatwave” compromised summer glacier skiing in Italy. Clearly, that’s got as much to do with heat as the fact that the Alps had a light winter, leaving glaciers without their normal surface padding. More here.

Interesting. Eddie Bauer says they’ve come up with a way of using down insulation without baffles or stitched-through seams. “Thindown” is included in the clothing build as a continuous sheet, said to be super warm without the usual bulk of down. No word on resistance to moisture collapse, or how the laws of physics are bent resulting in an inch-thick jacket that insulates like 3 inches. But I’m willing to be awed. More here.

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Skeats — Simplified Ski Crampons — First Look

By Lou Dawson | August 16, 2017  
Simplified ski crampon. Skeats strap to your planks, make short work of icy approaches.

Simplified ski crampon. Skeats strap to your planks, make short work of icy approaches.

Is that a crampon in your pocket, or you’re just glad to see me? Bulky ski crampons = storage dilemma. Kind of like those tire chains you hardly ever use… but there’s way more storage in your Subaru than your rucksack.

Enter the Skeat, a ski crampon that indeed fits in your pocket. Clearly, these little guys won’t do what a “blade” crampon does on a softer skin track, but it’s obvious they’ll act as ice cleats. I could have used these about a thousand times in Europe over the past decade, and on occasion in the “powder” mountains of Colorado. Apparently inventor Patrick Gasparro came up with the idea during icy approaches in the Tetons. He and friends have been using various versions for a few years, now going mainstream.

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Your First Ski Touring Bindings — 10 (extended) Tips

By Lou Dawson | August 14, 2017  

(We list a variety of bindings here, by intention we limited our selection to what we feel is best considered by newcomers to the sport; considering factors such as availability, standardization, not a first year product, and more. Suggestions welcome. This is a sponsored post with affiliate links, please see bottom of post for details.)

I was over at Cripple Creek Backcountry the other day (our local shop and publishing partner), got into a conversation about the huge number of never-ever ski tourers taking up the sport. Seems a lack of basic knowledge plagues the newcomers — despite Google.

My theory: Ski touring is simply too complicated, with too many opinions, to be cut and dried. (Perhaps that’s why we blog?) No different from a lot of other things. Bicycle shopping? Figuring out your daily supplements and vitamins? Take your pick. We have quite a bit of “foundation” content here, but considering how rapidly we see the gear changing, getting a new basic how-to up every season or so seems worthwhile.

Salomon Guardian frame binding latched down for skiing downhill.

Salomon Guardian frame binding latched down for skiing downhill. Note how the toe and heel units are mounted on a “frame” or “plate.” Click to enlarge.

1. Know the difference between a “frame” binding and “tech” binding. The frame binding carries the binding’s toe and heel units on a frame (a.k.a., plate), the frame in turn has a front pivot that provides walking action. You unlatch the frame for walking, latch it down for making ski turns.

Tech bindings, often called “Dynafit” or “Low Tech” (after foundational brands of the industry,) substitute the boot for the binding frame. This little engineering tweak (eliminating binding frame) revolutionized ski touring by not only making bindings significantly lighter in weight, but by making it unnecessary to lift the weight of the binding heel unit during each stride.

Further, tech bindings generally have a toe pivot point closer to your foot than that of frame bindings, this helps with walking stride ergonomics. While frame bindings may appear “safer” or “stronger” than tech bindings, in my view there is no functional difference in safety or durability in either overall category. (Assuming all bindings are properly adjusted and used.)

Complete 1993 Dynafit Tourlite Tech backcountry skiing binding shown above. The pink and purple color scheme is typical of late 1980s and early 1990s style.

Complete 1993 Dynafit Tourlite Tech backcountry skiing binding shown above. The pink and purple color scheme is typical of late 1980s and early 1990s style. Note how the boot is suspended between the toe and heel units. This design philosophy is the foundation of all modern tech bindings.

See our ski touring glossary for lots of terminology — might as well start developing your ski touring language skills.

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  Your Comments

  • HansDampf: Yes - I have three other pair of back country skis with ATK mounted and no ...
  • See: http://www.thindown.it/ Mostly technical sounding marketing hype with some...
  • Lou Dawson 2: The ATK did do well in my evaluations. Lots of people like them. Lou...
  • HansDampf: In 2014 I contacted Völkl and asked for the required distance of drilling h...
  • Wookie1974: really nice idea. Put them in a little pack with a blob of skin wax and an ...
  • See: I too am ready to be amazed, but the graphic on the Bauer website comparing...
  • Andrei: So if you make one size that's about 65mm by 100mm with staggered spikes an...
  • SteveR: Need to be available in a range of widths (like harscheisen). 65/80/90/100 ...
  • Patrick Gasparro: Yes See. I think that most of us chargers like to push things to far. Ski...
  • Patrick Gasparro: Good point about the alignment of the spikes Andrei! The only reason they ...
  • See: Yeah, wtofd, I'm speaking from experience on this one....
  • wtofd: See, I am guilty of this. I keep the skins on even though I know it's getti...
  • Frank Kvietok: Very interested to learn more about and try 'Thindown'. Should allow for s...
  • See: (except maybe the south pole, etc.)...
  • See: Understood about breakable crust, and I’m not trying to suggest that Skeats...
  • Andrei: Utah is the same. Totally stoked to try these things out this season. I ...
  • Lou Dawson 2: We get a similar snowpack in Colorado, when you can go on hard crust with s...
  • Patrick Gasparro: Hi See, I appreciate your thought process. However certain situations d...
  • Patrick Gasparro: Thanks., Wtofd. The Skeats™ really are compatible with the Voile™ ski st...
  • Lou Dawson 2: It's so attractive, the goal of having a quiver of one that'll work on or o...
  • wtofd: Patrick, congrats, this is great. I imagine you'll eventually need to hand...
  • See: Just a general comment about technique: if the terrain is approaching the l...
  • David Dodge: Hi Lou, I'm aware of the Vipec. I think it solves the fundamental proble...
  • Patrick Gasparro: Dan, your point about a narrower plate is dead on., and maybe more urgent ...
  • Dan: 1C makes sense. Thanks FOR explaining that. Also a narrower option (6) woul...
  • Patrick Gasparro: I'll try to answer the previous few questions: 1. Glide: a. We really onl...
  • Dan: So you basically trade off glide for a few grams? Why?...
  • See: If the 100mm plate is good for 100mm-135mm wide skis, are the skis shown in...
  • Jusku: Seems great when youre having your skis flat on the ice. But how would the...
  • Louie Dawson 3: Thanks for answering all these questions Patrick, this is great! One though...

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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.

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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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