Earn Your Käseschnitte With The Fritschi Vipec

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | January 14, 2014      
Fluid touring pivot with the Diamir Vipec.

Fluid touring pivot with the Diamir Vipec.

Frameless “pintech” tech system bindings — try them and you’ll fall in love with how much easier it is to ski tour with less weight. But the bindings can be tricky to operate, intimidating technically challenged backcountry skiers into sticking with simpler alternatives. Diamir Fritschi seeks to win them over with the Vipec. We field tested during a lovely tour in the Bernese Oberland. Ease of use and solid feel “made it a perfect day” — bringing the Diamir Fritschi motto to life.

Vipec bindings are cleverly designed to switch between downhill skiing and touring (and back) without removing the boot from the toe piece of the binding. This is a wonderful feature since it is famously fiddley to get into a tech binding, and then after you’ve succeeded, it can be painful (or even dangerous due to icing) to step out of your binding into knee or thigh deep snow when needing to switch modes. (Granted, you’ll usually remove your skis to apply skins when switching to touring mode from alpine — but not always, and that’s where these features come into play.)

Switching the Vipec between touring and skiing mode is done by moving a lever on the heel piece up or down. I was able to change modes by using my ski pole. Push down on the back piece to set it back for touring. In walk mode, your boot heel is flat on the ski. Flip the medium and high spacers with a flick of your ski pole basket. After a few tries, I got the hang of it and it was convenient to select the appropriate spacer when the angle of the slope changed.

Switching back to downhill mode was not easy to do with the flexible powder baskets on my poles. But, it was simple to twirl my pole around to use the handle. I have Black Diamond grips on my poles which have a nice lip — perfect to grab the heel piece and bring it to lock mode for skiing down.

Finetuning binding fit and DIN is easily done in the parking lot.

Finetuning the fore aft adjustment for the heel piece for binding fit and DIN is easily done in the parking lot.

We pass snow covered barns as we head towards Niederhorn.

We pass snow covered barns which we wish were open for kaffee and kase. Our tour takes lower altitude terrain due to avalanche danger in the highlands that had recently taken the life of a guide and several clients! Not something we want to play around with in the high Alps.

Sunny skies make playful shadows.

Sunny skies make playful shadows.

On the way to Neiderhorn.

On the way to Neiderhorn.

On top Niederhorn, 2077 m.

On top Niederhorn, 2077 m.

Tasty lunch of bread and cheese on the porch of a high alpine farm hut.

Tasty lunch of bread and cheese on the porch of a high alpine farm hut.

Lovely views of the Bernese Oberland.

Lovely views of the Bernese Oberland.

Earned his zzzz's.

Some choose to ski, some choose to snooze. Not a bad place for a nap in the sun.

After lunch we skin up another ridge to find Diamir owner, Andreas Fritschi, on the top of the peak, field testing his company's gear.

After lunch we skin up another ridge to find Diamir owner, Andreas Fritschi, already there with the Vipec.

The ski brakes are designed to snap the skis securely together, making them easy to carry for times when you have to sling them in a pack or over your shoulder while booting up steep sections.

The ski brakes are designed to snap the skis securely together, making them easy to carry for times when you have to sling them in a pack or over your shoulder while booting up steep sections.

A note about Vipec toe “lock” modes for touring: Yes, the toe “lock” lever essentially has two positions you can use while in tour mode. In the down position there is no “locking” action whatsoever and the toe of the binding has full elasticity. When striding in this mode, you can see your boot heel move side-to-side due to the binding elasticity. Even so, neither Lou or I ever came out of the binding during kick turns and such while leaving the lever totally unlocked. The other mode occurs when you pull the lever up to a “walk” position that jams out most of the elasticity, but DOES still allow the toe to safety release. Again, neither Lou nor I (or the Fritschi guys) had any problem staying in the binding in this mode. Thus, two points. One, Vipec has full safety release in tour mode. Two, it has NO true release lockout as many other pintech binding do have.

Gourmet grilled cheese -- Käseschnitte -- bread soaked in wine and topped with melted cheese.

Gourmet grilled cheese -- Käseschnitte -- melted cheese over bread soaked in wine.

The bindings felt solid and the stable hold was indeed welcome since conditions were variable Swiss chowder. Near the end of the day, the snow deteriorated to windcrust and chop — the most challenging type of snow for me to ski. Having my boot securely in contact with the ski allowed me to struggle less and maneuver through the glop without falling once — always a victory in my book, worthy of celebration at the nearest gasthaus. The Fritschi boys did not disappoint. We dined on a local specialty — Käseschnitte — perhaps one of the tastiest après-ski meals ever. So good, the recipe has to follow.

Käseschnitte for Two

2 thick slices of bread
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup grated cheese such as Emmentaler or Raclette
2 thin slices of ham
Optional ingredients: onions, mushrooms, chives, tomatoes

Melt butter in fry pan and toast bread lightly. Place each piece in individual baking dishes (like the photo above) if you have them, or if you don’t, place both in a casserole pan. Sprinkle with wine and 1/3 of the grated cheese. Add sliced ham, onions, mushrooms, etc. Top with remainder of cheese and bake until golden brown and bubbling. 350° F for about 15 minutes.


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20 Responses to “Earn Your Käseschnitte With The Fritschi Vipec”

  1. Jernej January 14th, 2014 4:21 am

    Any plans to visit Elan (or Slovenia in general) during one of these alpine roadtrips?

  2. Lou Dawson January 14th, 2014 5:25 am

    Slovenian alpinisim is too hardcore, we’ll stick with Austrian gasthaus lunches (grin). Seriously though, anything interesting going on with Elan?

  3. Jernej January 14th, 2014 6:50 am

    Keeping in mind I have no insider knowledge or connection with them, there’s always something going on at Elan and you might be interested in the new spectrum line (amphibio rocker). But since you’re after gasthaus experience – the guy who was the first to ski from Everest is one of Elan ambassadors and operates a gasthaus/mountaineering center in the middle of nowhere, just across the border from Austria (46.38611, 14.5383). I’m sure he’d be able to arrange factory and skiing tours for you guys.

    Or then you could go and take a look at where 10th Mountain Division had their post war ski race in June ’45 🙂

  4. Gordon January 14th, 2014 7:01 am

    Does the Fritschi product plan call for a Vipec with a reduced RV range? I’m thinking of an RV range similar to the “ST” versions of the Dynafit products. Important for us fly weight skiers….

  5. Bruno January 14th, 2014 7:42 am

    Ski crampon?

  6. louis dawson January 14th, 2014 7:49 am

    Gordon, all the marketing guys seem to care about is that it goes to 11. Sometimes I am not understanding.

  7. Richard January 14th, 2014 7:51 am

    Did you forget to mention the fried egg (sunny side up with a little paprika) on top of the Kaseschnitte? Hello nap time!

  8. Lisa January 14th, 2014 10:05 am

    Richard, Lou ordered the version with the fried egg on top and was very happy. Yum, yum.

  9. Phil January 14th, 2014 10:12 am

    Can the brake be easily removed (and reinstalled)? Or only when mounting the bindings?

    Re. The crampon question. They have ski crampons available. See the video from fritschi. Or Lou’s earlier post. They look good…

  10. Lou Dawson January 14th, 2014 10:18 am

    Phil, the brake is easy, and widths are changed simply by swapping in various width brake arms.

    As for the cramps, yeah, I did put some stuff in the earlier post. The cramps have variable spacer so they work with any heel lift, and they snap on and off easily. Super nice.


  11. Joe John January 14th, 2014 10:35 am

    For another essen favorite, I would recommend the Swiss Raclette .. melted cheese eaten with boiled (or roasted) potatoes with small gherkins and pickled onions.

  12. Tom Gos January 14th, 2014 1:36 pm

    Thanks for the recipe and memories, I know this as croute au fromage from the French speaking areas in the Alps. Truly the best post-ski meal ever invented, especially with a glass of local wine.

    The more I learn about the Vipec the more impressed I am. Starting to develop a bad case of binding envy/lust. Likely to be bad for my bank account.

  13. Mike January 14th, 2014 1:46 pm

    What do you think, could 100 mm wide brakes be stretched to fit with K2 Coomback (waist 102 mm)? Next option are115 mm wide brakes but these are getting bit too wide to such a narrow ski.

  14. Scott January 14th, 2014 3:45 pm

    Mike –
    I found you can easily stretch (bend) a brake by + or – 5mm with no issues. I would go with the 100mm brake.

  15. Supra January 14th, 2014 6:47 pm

    Can the brakes be eliminated to shave weight?

  16. mountainlover January 14th, 2014 11:27 pm

    @ Supra

    Your answer is written in the article and you will find it also five posts above. You just have to read it 😉

  17. Geoff January 15th, 2014 9:10 am

    Ha! That little, dinky side valley in the pictures is the one where I taught my wife how to backcountry ski many years ago! (And after that weekend, it’s a miracle we’re still together).
    And although there aren’t any Gasthäuser in that area which are open in the winter, one of the huts in the first picture is a self-service SAC hut which is open to the public (if you know where to get the key) and has lots of big fondue pots for cooking up a quick hearty meal.

  18. Lou Dawson January 15th, 2014 9:19 am

    That’s awesome Geoff!

  19. Sue January 15th, 2014 9:33 am

    Never realized that this delicious dish would be so easy to prepare. If the Vipec is anywhere as good as Kaseschnitte, I’ll give it a try.

  20. Wintersmith March 21st, 2014 5:17 am

    You say the “walk” position jams out most of the elasticity. I read somewhere that it actually doubles the DIN value. Is this correct?

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