Ask Lou – Another Chapter

Post by blogger | March 4, 2008      

We get questions. How about we publish a few with my take. Feel free to comment:


Lou, Colorado avalanche safety pioneer Knox Williams has gone 3 years without getting into Colorado Ski Hall of Fame. I am doing a re-nomination letter. It was suggested I get some more seconding letters. Would you do one for me? I really believe Knox belongs to the ski hall, nice to get more BC representation.

The seconding letter asks for three things:
1) Describe how you know of the nominee (family, friend, or just know of him/her)
2) List nominee’s contributions to the sport and the industry of skiing and snowboarding. Things like the CDOT forecasting work, training/education of industry and backcountry travelers etc.
3) List 3 points as to why they should be inducted into the CO Ski Hall of Fame.

We need the letters soon, 2-3 weeks out max, sent to the Colorado Ski Museum by the 3rd week of March. Sure would appreciate anything you can do to help. So if you know anyone else, please feel free to ask. Please mail the letters to:
Colorado Ski Museum
231 S Frontage Rd E
Vail, CO 81657

Thanks, Scott

Sure Scott, and I’ll post that on the Wildsnow blog in case anyone else is interested in seconding.


Lou, I’m interested in how you had to modify your boot after your ankle was fused. I had a fusion about 18 months ago (both the talar and sub-talar joints) and will be going to a bootfitter in the Denver area to see if he can do something to help me. Over the phone (I live in outside of the US) he thinks a DaleBoot might be able to help me but the more I know about what other people have done the more I may be able to help him help me. I’m an intermediate skier but enjoy the experience of skiing and want to continue if I can find out how to manage with a leg/foot that is fused at a 90 degree angle.

Hi, it always surprises me how many people have fused ankles. I get asked this question at least several times a year. In my opinion the main thing is to post your heel somehow so your “ready” position is the same as your other ankle while wearing your ski boots. After that, with both joints in the ankle being fused, you’ll need to experiment with how much movement of your foot inside the boot you’ll need to compensate for no ankle movement. I’ve got a bit of joint movement (about 1 degree) still because my sub-talar is not fused, but I also depend on my foot rising up a tiny and moving around a bit to give me the extra motion I need for subtle adjustments in body position. If my boot is buckled too tight, I really notice it! That said, I’ve tried to learn a more modern style of skiing that doesn’t require lots of for/aft ankle movement, and that’s helped a ton. Without modern skis I’d be much less happy. The way it is, you’d have to study my skiing pretty hard to know I had a fused ankle. I probably fall a few more times than I used to, and can’t ski as aggressive, but I have fun and get the job done. It probably affects me more on the flats and up than during the down.


Lou, I have a pair of 188 K2 Worlds that I would like to mount for powder/backcountry AT skiing. How do you find the center point for mounting to match to the boot center marking? The only thing I found as a very small K2 on both sides near the center of the ski.

Here’s what you do. On flat workbench tilt ski slightly on its side and mark contact points of edge at tip and tail. In other words mark the front and rear of the running surface. Measure between the two points, then position your boot so the ball of your foot is half way between front and back points. If you want a relaxed ride or backcountry performance, shift mount point back a centimeter or two from that. Otherwise just go with it.


Hey Lou, I just had to write you to thank you for your great website. I’ve been checking out your site pretty much daily for a couple of years. Even though I live in Virginia, and only get out West a couple of times per year, my interest in backcountry skiing has been stoked by your site. I finally got a chance to do some ski mountaineering this past weekend. We skinned up to Betty Bear Hut on Friday, then to Skinner on Saturday and then all of the way down on Sunday. What a tremendous experience! Pretty exhausting for a sea level dweller, but well worth it. Anyway, I can’t wait to get back out there again. A few lessons learned:

– Clothing: You write about this quite a bit, but I was never really able to stabilize — I was either dripping with sweat or shivering (Hagerman Pass was chilly)
– GPS: Need to get a decent one and learn how to use it. One member of our group carried one but basically was unable to operate it correctly.

Anyway, I enjoy the site very much and I look forward to future trips to your neck of the woods. Since I am now an experienced backcountry skier, I feel qualified to ask you for a sticker, if you still have those. It will proudly grace my Silverado 2500HD as it navigates the congested roads of our Nations Capital. Jerry

Jerry, once I get your SASE the sticker will be on its way. Thanks for asking. As for clothing, the key is to use your mind to dictate changes rather than waiting till you’re too sweaty or chilly for a clothing change to have much effect. It’s a learned skill. Just practice and you’ll get it. As for GPS, yep, they work great in the shop, but knowing how to apply GPS to actually navigating a route is a different story. I have to admit it’s taken us a while to get anywhere with GPS use, and I still find it too time consuming and distracting to be useful unless absolutely necessary. Key is to plan at home. Buy mapping software and plan routes in your favorite walk areas, then use your GPS to nav those routes. Planning ahead is the key.


Hi Lou. I have a pair of one year old Dynafit Vertical FT. This weekend toured 1 hr up steep thick trees. At top I went to click in downhill mode & heel piece moved. The black plastic plate beneath the heel piece next to the ski broke. Both sides at the back broke & at the hole where the screw adjustment goes in. Contacted Salewa (Ryan) & have one coming. He told me to look at your site for replacement diagram or how to. Do I have to take the whole top off or just unscrew the back plate & adjustment screw? Got a how to for this? I am 6 ft 2 in & 210 lb. Aggressive skier. Is it OK to use these for downhill? I don’t do any jumps & rarely bumps. Thanks a lot for any help you can give me, Chuck

Chuck, just use my brake install for take-apart instructions. Ryan will probably send you a base plate with the aluminum post sticking up, and you’ll just drop your existing heel unit onto that. The Dynafit instructions are here. As for durability, I know lots of people who ski fairly agro on Dynafits and have no problems. Nothing is perfect and sometimes products have defects, that’s when help like Salewa’s is key. But know that with any binding, at your weight and height you may encounter a durability limit in aggressive use. I’ve seen everything from Freerides to Naxos break when heavily torqued and banged around, so keep that in mind when considering durability of Dynafit. If you continue to have problems, you might just be too big and agro for anything but Marker Duke or an alpine setup.

Hi Lou,

Has Dynafit now got a binding that they see as able to survive rugged on-piste skiing (like bumps)? Thanks, Joel

Hi Joel, the way I like to answer that is that Dynafit will survive any form of skiing just as good as any other mid-weight AT binding, such as the Fritschi. But surviving multi days of rugged resort bump skiing is something not even alpine bindings can always do, so one has to be reasonable in their take on this. If we’re talking human powered skiing, then lack of weight is important and we all have to come to terms with the fact that one binding probably can not do everything if we want to keep things light enough to haul around on our feet.

That said, I used to not recommend ANY rando bindings for repeated resort skiing, but now that heavy duty ones are out I’m singing a somewhat different tune. Marker Duke is of course nearly the same thing as an alpine binding. Fritschi Freeride Plus and Naxo come close. Dynafit is stronger than it looks, and many people use them for resort days. But Dynafits are simply not designed for the millions of vertical feet of pounding that heavy resort use would give them, and that’s the reality. Here at Wildsnow we like that. Dynafit designs gear for human powered backcountry skiing. The Dynafit binding is the lightest and most efficient binding you can be on for that purpose, and we’d hate it if they started beefing it up so people could ski bumps on it 100 days a season. That would be like taking a fly rod and making it into a baitcasting rig.



9 Responses to “Ask Lou – Another Chapter”

  1. cory March 4th, 2008 12:24 pm

    Avalanche on Mars!

    *** *** *** **** *** *** *** *** *** ***

  2. Tim March 4th, 2008 11:28 pm


    I was just about to ask for your updated thoughts on this very subject. I ski my AT setup (Dynafit Comfort) at the resort when I am with the family, and slow down, but only a bit. The Dynafit works just fine for high speed carving on smooth surfaces, and I much prefer it to the Fritschi for this.

    What the Comfort does not like, is ruts and choppy surfaces at speed; no anitshock!

    Also, have you heard anything about a 12 DIN Dynafit?

  3. Lou March 5th, 2008 8:26 am

    Tim, yeah, I should have mentioned the now legendary Dynafit boot/ski solid connection. The binding has okay anti-shock in lateral release, but not much in vertical. Therein lies the caveat for use as a full-on bump bashin’ resort binding.

    I’ve also got the scoop on the DIN 12 Dynafit. It was difficult to develop but will be out next season. That said, I just hope people who use it have DIN 12 knees. More, one has to wonder how the Dynafit boot fittings will hold up repeated DIN 12 yanks… testing will tell the tale.

  4. Herf March 8th, 2008 4:11 pm

    I’m sending my “second” for Knox’s nomination in now. He, and the important organizations and work he’s been involved in, deserve recognition in the Hall of Fame.

  5. Lou March 8th, 2008 4:59 pm

    Herf, thanks, I just sent mine off as well.

  6. Halsted March 13th, 2008 7:52 pm

    My letter to nominate Knox for membership in the ski hall of fame is going out today. He has done so much for the Colorado ski industry and should be recognized for it.

  7. Ryan Thompson August 29th, 2013 1:45 pm

    My body has a fused ankle and cant figure out how to get it in a ski boot. Suggestions on where to get one made for him?

  8. Lou Dawson August 29th, 2013 2:45 pm

    He should be able to get into any “tongue” type boot, meaning boot shell has tongue that folds out and forward. If not, go to a boot fitter and start with that type of boot. The fitter might be able to cut away more plastic to allow ingress. Lou

  9. bill h August 29th, 2013 5:36 pm

    @ Ryan….

    Hey Ryan, Lou is right on with the suggestion for tongue boots…when I was still bootfitting I worked on a guy who’s foot had been fused after a motorcycle accident, at the time we put him in a Rossi Soft (if anyone remembers that classy winner of a boot)

    All the new stuff by Full Tilt, Dalbello, etc fits the bill if you are looking at alpine boots, and plenty of AT boots have tongue designs instead of wrap-around… Maestrale, etc, seems like one in almost every brand line.

    As I recall we also had to experiment with various amounts of exaggerated heel lift as well to push his shin into the front of the boot cuff and position his knee forward/centered… wasn’t perfect since its already harder to ski w/ reduced or non-existent ankle flexion, but if it gets ya skiing at all, then all good right?

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