Ski season starts with desperate attempts. A skin up Highlands before the lifts start spinning and sketching down bullet-proof, ungroomed, man-made snow that is casually quoted as “I scored first tracks today.” Conditions like these marked day number one on the FT12s – the perfect time to experience the subtleties of my first lightweight binding. Out of shape as usual, my hip flexors quivered in fear in anticipation of the day’s punishment. But as I crested the final roll after 1,900 vertical feet of skinning, my legs felt great and my hip flexors where happy! One pound of weight savings per foot is a good thing.
Skip to winter: Friday the 13th. Unlucky day, epic storm cycle. Marble Peak has seen 24″ of windless snowfall. Deep, bottomless, the type of day if you lose a ski, you pick it up in June. DIN on 10, dive the tips too deep, for a moment there is nothing but white. Over the bars and onto my skis, still connected, commence making turns. Ski retention test #1 passed. Test 2 is a roller over a willow bush. Take off, landing, all good. An epic run ends in sunshine and smiles at the Quarry Road, and as I go to step out of my bindings I see the toe locking lever is still in touring mode. DIN 20? Either way they worked.
Now it’s March, working at the resort, no snow, big bumps. AT boots are best to work in, so I’m skiing a bump line on the FT12s. They work just like every pair of good bindings I’ve ever used. Any more questions?
The snow still isn’t falling, but the snowpack is bomber. With a chance at free lodging in Breckenridge, fourteener Quandary Peak is an easy call. The incoming storm and a bit of pea soup keeps us from skiing a more aggressive line off the top, so testing is limited to skiing the ridge back down. The pitch is mellow, but the snow is challenging, about as variable as you can get. Wind crusts, rocks, ice and soft stuff all covered by an additional 2-6 inches that has blown in over the last hour. With lots of weird edging and funky turns, I’m glad to have a super stable and low platform to ski on. 100 yards from the car I ski onto the snow covered road to discover there’s gravel in them thar hills. Skis stop with no release. Ouch, might need to adjust that vertical release setting.
Every day in between was filled with climbs of all sizes, a variety of snow conditions and never a complaint about the bindings. Between the weight and the lowered stack height I was sold.
(Guest blogger profile: Dave Downing is a freelance designer and owner of Ovid Nine Graphics Lab. Dave continues to advance his ski career with the occasional guest blog here at WildSnow.com.)