Dynafit Superlite 2 — Part 2: Widen the Brake


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | October 29, 2015      
The brake has very little room at the bend where it enters the 'cage,' so I used a skinny cutoff wheel to make the cut. Brake arms are hardened steel.

The brake has very little room at the bend where it enters the ‘cage,’ so I used a skinny cutoff wheel to make the cut. Most brake arms are somewhat hardened steel so an abrasive cut is much better than using a hacksaw. On the other hand, welding such steel weakens it, so the idea here was to “sleeve” it and locate the welds such that they didn’t weaken the arms too much.

It went something like this. I have a MIG welder, a nice new studio/workshop, and the desire to use 80 mm (officially 75 mm) ski brakes on my La Sportiva Svelte 96mm waisted skis. Sometimes you can simply swap the brake arms from a wider brake of another brand or model. The Dynafit Superlite 2 upper bend of the brake is shorter than most, so I couldn’t find an easy swap. Bending can add a few millimeters as can trimming off the sides of the plastic feet, neither an option in this case. (Note: various width brakes will be available for the Superlight 2, this method of brake width is presented as a way of fine tuning, or using what you’ve got, or to show a method of widening brakes with other binding models-brands.)

Best course of action appeared to be an additive process that involved cutting the stopper arms, adding a small chunk of 1/4″ tension pin as a connector, then burning a few tiny welds to hold things together. Clearly, this “5 wrench” rated project isn’t practical, it’s more a proof-of-concept and a message to Dynafit that wider brakes (or brake arms) would be nice. And it’s something fun to blog about. It as easy as brushing your teeth to remove and replace the Superlte 2 brake arms, so perhaps the aftermarket could step in with wider options if Dynafit doesn’t.

The new studio boasts a 1/4 inch steel 'bash and weld' workbench; nice to give it a test.

The new studio boasts a 1/4 inch steel ‘bash and weld’ workbench; nice to give it a test.

The better looking side of a welded sleeve, goal is to locate all welds on or inside the sleeve -- I had mixed success with that since my welder wire and settings are really not fine enough for this type of work.

The better looking side of a welded sleeve, goal is to locate all welds on or inside the sleeve — I had mixed success with that since my welder wire and settings are really not fine enough for this type of work.

Result, deployed.

Result, deployed.

Result, stowed.

Result, stowed.

For sleeving I used 1/4 inch  tension pins, cut to length.

For sleeving I used 1/4 inch tension pins cut to length. They had a nice press-fit over the brake arm wire which held them positioned for welding.

Brake arms with sleeve extenders. Arms that were initially wider would have more material to work with; these were difficult.

Brake arms with sleeve extenders. Arms that were initially wider would have more material to work with; these were difficult. The ragged looking stuff is where I opened up the tension sleeve so my .030 welding wire can get in there without just gluing the surface or blasting the brake arm material where it’s unprotected by the sleeve. Something more precise would work better. In case anyone is wondering, years ago I tried simply cutting and welding brake arms to a chunk of rod material. The arms are too thin and tempered for that kind of work; you have to sleeve them.

Publishing photos of your own welds can be like displaying your unclipped toenails, but sometimes things turn out ok.  This was weld number 7 and 8.  Practice helps.

Publishing photos of your own welds can be like displaying your unclipped toenails, but sometimes things turn out ok. This was weld number 7 and 8. Practice helps. It didn’t help when my normal welding hat’s auto-darkening battery ran out and I had to use my flip-down. The welder is getting a bit beat as well but seems to do ok at lower settings.

Comments

38 Responses to “Dynafit Superlite 2 — Part 2: Widen the Brake”

  1. Mike October 29th, 2015 9:15 am

    Cool project. But beyond my capabilities! How wide do you think the stock brakes will go with just some bending and plastic trimming? Trying to guess if I will be able to stretch them out for a 88mm waisted ski.

  2. Rudi October 29th, 2015 9:34 am

    Do you think that the brake arms themselves could be swapped out for a different dynafit arm or even like some old marker brake arms? Then slapped into the superlight brake “holders”….I guess their 3 bend form looks pretty standard to me.

  3. Lou Dawson 2 October 29th, 2015 9:34 am

    Mike, I’d say it’s more like 80 mm max. Lou

  4. Lou Dawson 2 October 29th, 2015 9:38 am

    Rudi, I think I mentioned in the blog post, these arms have an unusually short length in the upper bend, so I was doubtful about finding some old brake arms that would swap.I looked at some I have laying around and they wouldn’t fit. Perhaps you could get some and re-bend the top bend. I considered that but knew I’d have to heat bend rather than cold bend, then I would have ended up with a brake arm that might have easily bent when pressed down by the boot. Also, the upper bend angles and measurements are critical to the brake working correctly, I was thus not optimistic about re-bending accurately enough without building all sorts of jigs and stuff. All for one set of brakes.

    Even so, I’d considering trying to re-bend some wider brakes. The Superlight 2 brake is super easy to take apart and reassemble. So experimenting with it is helped by that.

    Lou

  5. mike October 29th, 2015 9:39 am

    “Gotta love them ski brakes, skis keep getting wider, they stay the same size”- M.McConaughey

  6. Rudi October 29th, 2015 11:41 am

    woah how’d i miss that? I gotta pay less attention to my actual job…

  7. XXX_er October 29th, 2015 3:25 pm

    “Do you think that the brake arms themselves could be swapped out for a different dynafit arm or even like some old marker brake arms?”

    Yeah somebody did it, I read the link it seemed reasonable SO I gave it a try

    Basiclay its a little work with a drill to put a set of 130mm salomon Guardian arms into the stomp pad of a Vertical and I am pretty sure it would also work on a version 1 Rad, IME the arms fit perfect and the brakes deploy just like dynafits do

    a small problem is that due to messing with leverage ratios and such the return springs are no longer strong enough to hold the ski up off of a hard piste, so they don’t stop super well on piste but I think in pow the ski will definatly stop > dynafit arms which IME … are next to useless

    i am sure there are lots of old dynafit brakes out there that are just not wide enough, this is a cheap fix , I could post the link ?

  8. Lou Dawson 2 October 29th, 2015 3:35 pm

    XXXer, yes, the brake arm swap to the Dynafit Vert or Rad works, as the industry has a fairly standardized dimension range, but the Superlite 2 has short brake arms.

    I remember seeing that blog post somewhere on the web. We had a brake arm swap blog post in edit mode here here for a while but for some reason decided not to publish.

    Here is a good how-to at TGR:

    http://www.tetongravity.com/forums/showthread.php/186025-How-to-use-Salomon-brake-arms-to-make-wide-Dynafit-brakes

    We should probably do one here at WildSnow…

    Lou

  9. XXX_er October 29th, 2015 4:01 pm

    My link was from Andrew Councell which I just checked, the text is there but the pictures are gone so go with the TGR link which is pretty good

    I figured making the metal brake arm ends smaller was a better idea than enlarging the holes in an inherently more fragile plastic stomp pad so I made the ends of the arms smaller with my dremel, they could also be filed smaller by hand

    that small spring in the picture buddy sez you don’t need I would try to incorporate to help overcome the extra leverage of the salomon arms and it is giving me an idea for more spring power

    I don’t remember if I had to make the holes in the dynfit frame bigger but thats easy with a drill bit

    I found guardian brakes really cheap end of season, I went 130mm on a lotus 120, IME its better to go wide and toe the ends inwards with a sharp bend at the plastic paddle, with the dynafit braking system the arms will still deploy properly and don’t catch cuz they are toed in

  10. Lou Dawson 2 October 29th, 2015 4:03 pm

    Thanks Xer, sounds like we need to get more on the case with these mods, eh?

  11. XXX_er October 29th, 2015 4:06 pm

    Yah, it sounds like yer goin full Canadian eh buddy!

  12. JCoates October 29th, 2015 4:07 pm

    Am I missing something? How are the brakes sold there in the US? Don’t you buy the binding without brakes and then buy the appropriate size brakes based in your skis? I think that’s what they are doing on Europe?

    http://www.sport-conrad.com/en/ski-touring/accessories/skistopper-ski-leashes-snow-bands/superlite-2-0-105mm.html?listtype=search&searchparam=Superlight%20dynafit

  13. Lou Dawson 2 October 29th, 2015 4:14 pm

    J., far as I know those are not available in U.S., and I wanted to do a totally impractical blog post the probably no one would do in real life, just for fun. Because I can. And also because I’d been fooling around with this method for a long time, and wanted to get it out there in case anyone might need to widen brakes, on whatever bindings. Took me probably 3 hours so was not a huge deal.

    If they’re available in U.S so much the better. Probably soon, and I’ll make sure we link.

    Lou

  14. Lou Dawson 2 October 29th, 2015 4:18 pm

    P.S., this is how you’d make that 105 brake into a 115! And it would be quite a bit easier.

  15. JCoates October 29th, 2015 4:20 pm

    Totally understandable. You had me at “MIG Welder.”

  16. Lou Dawson 2 October 29th, 2015 4:29 pm

    “MIG welder” is just about as good a click bait phrase as “lightest ski ever.” (grin)

  17. Zig October 29th, 2015 8:19 pm

    MEC.CA offers these in three sizes: 75, 90 & 105mm 😉
    Sold separately at $89.00 CAD
    http://www.mec.ca/product/5043-313/dynafit-tlt-speed-superlite-2.0-brakes/?q=dynafit%2Bsuperlight%2Bski%2Bbrakes

  18. mtnrunner2 October 29th, 2015 10:04 pm

    America likes fatties. Nice binding hack, man.

    I face the same problem with Euro shoes: my feet don’t want to spend all day in a ballet slipper. Wider, please.

  19. Lou Dawson 2 October 30th, 2015 6:43 am

    Mtnrunner, yeah, this was more a proof of concept than anything else, I’d been wanting to publish a DIY for this for a while. The fact that the Superlite brakes are different shape than “standard” brakes, and thus you can’t easily do an arm swap, got me going on the full custom mod trail.

    In any case, If you start with a wider brake that has more room/length to work with after it’s cut, doing this mod would be pretty easy. The mod shown on this blog post was about as difficult as it could get. With enough insertion depth in the tension pins it might even be possible to avoid welding and just glue with JBweld. But I’d imagine you’d need at least 5 mm insertion into the pin before you’d have enough surface area for gluing, and you’d have to clean everything really well before the final assembly. Would be fun to try, I always like to take epoxy to the limit.

    Another nice thing about doing it with glue is you could easily do the whole mod with the binding still on the ski and without taking the brake apart! That would be pretty slick, and probably take all of an hour or so to do two brakes, once you’d practiced.

    I guess I’m not yet done with the experiments!

    Lou

  20. Lou Dawson 2 October 30th, 2015 6:53 am

    I’d like to get it said, skiing without binding safety straps is important in avalanche terrain. Not having your skis attached could make the difference between life and death. Likewise, skiing with locked bindings in avalanche terrain. Insane. A pet peeve of mine is how poor the tech binding brake options still are across the industry, considering how IMHO brakes are to personal safety in ski touring. Dynafit coming up with a field removable-install-able brake is in my view HUGE, as the main objection with brakes is when you’ve got light bindings, they add significant weight.

    I’d like to call out the rest of the industry, and say that we need more and better brake options for the lighter weight bindings, shame on you if you dink around with tech binding clones and can’t even innovate enough to come up with good, field removable brakes for at least a few of your ski touring binding options. This is 2015, not 1915.

  21. Paul November 1st, 2015 6:52 am

    To stir up controversy: for skiing in deep snow, I propose that you are a lot safer with retaining leashes, with a big caveat. Picture losing a ski and having to flounder around and dig for it in a prime starting zone or underneath risky terrain knowing that an out-of-sight partner is due in 30 seconds. Or picture not being able to find a ski 4 miles from a trail head at 4pm in late Dec in deep snow and a storm. I have become a big fan of the B&D Ski Gear leash – it is coiled and can extend to 3 or 4 feet long, providing a “soft” connection to the ski, and it can be attached to the binding with a weak link, like a zip tie or thin cord (the caveat – the weak link is important and slightly fiddly). The ski stays with you in a moderate fall, the link will break with a good kick, when your ski is dragging you down, or in a wild yard sale crash.

    Not a perfect solution, for sure, but I propose that this, or something along these lines, is a lot safer that just using brakes in all conditions. This system has worked pretty well for me over probably 300 days, the biggest problems being that I can still get disconnected from my ski when I’d rather not in some conditions, need the right weak link (I prefer cord to a zip tie due to aging) and need to change it regularly as it ages. Curious to hear if anyone else has considered this and come up with a better idea. I’m really excited to see an easily removable brake, as it makes a system that is easier to adapt.

  22. Lou Dawson 2 November 1st, 2015 7:51 am

    Paul, thanks, I’d agree with your point. I think it’s a matter of odds, meaning if you tend to not fall much, perhaps losing a ski once or twice a winter, then brakes make total sense as the possibility of having to dig for a lost ski is minimal. More, in many places you could get down the mountain to your parking with only one ski, and in those cases the use of straps vs brake is also somewhat of a non issue. But yeah, if losing a ski is a serious matter, in remote powder or in crevasse terrain, straps make sense and the B&D helps mitigate some of the problems with leashes.

    I think the main thing is if you choose to take some risks with avalanches that make getting caught more likely than a remote possibility, you should do everything you can in your favor, e.g., don’t use pole straps, don’t use ski leashes, use airbag, don’t gang ski, etc.

    Lou

  23. XXX_er November 1st, 2015 1:33 pm

    I tried B & D leashes last season

    pro- cheaper/work better/lighter than dynafit brakes, the long leash still allows me to eat lunch or instal skins all the time staying attached to my skis which is also nice at the top of a sketchy clip in

    con- the extra steps to clip on my ankle which can be a hassle if I am boot packing with skis on pack, it was a hassle and costly to source them from the USA, probably even more$ now the Canadian peso is so low

    I used the little plastic link B & D supplies which is suposed to break in an aviy with 40-60 lbs of force, I wonder if you could use different sizes of key chain split ring that would straighten out & let go with 40-60lbs of pulling force?

  24. John Baldwin November 1st, 2015 9:11 pm

    Lou, just wondering how thick the Superlite brakes are on top of the ski? ie could they be mounted next to another heel (such as the Superlite 1.0) and would you need a riser plate under the binding to match the brake height? I think it is too bad that Dynafit came up with such an excellent looking brake but in going to Superlite 2.0 they took away the adjustable vertical release. I’m a light skier and have my bindings set at 5. There is no way I’m going to use a binding that is set at 9 and cannot be adjusted. Any way you could put a Superlite 1.0 heel on the post of the Superlite 2.0 so that you could have fully adjustable release and brakes?

  25. Lou Dawson 2 November 2nd, 2015 5:48 am

    Hi John, the Superlite 2.0 brake pad, when retracted-stowed, is 11 mm thick above ski topskin. If the parts were available, you could obtain a Superlite 2 heel base plate, cut it down, mount in front of any other binding and thus create a removable ski brake.

    Bear in mind that last winter as ISPO I saw a Plum ski brake that can be mounted independently of binding, and is field removable. I don’t know if they ever went to retail with that. Any of you Plum acolytes out there know what happened with that?

    John, I’d add that the fixed vertical release of Superlite 2.0 men’s model is indeed quite stiff. I can’t even snap my ski boot down into it on the bench, I have to put it on the floor, put my foot in the boot, and stomp it in. The women’s version is your solution. It is said to have a fixed vertical release value of around 5. Bear in mind that mounting with slightly less tech gap between boot and binding could probably increase that to 6. There is a small bump on the Superlite that makes the tech gap smaller, this could easily be ground off to allow the binding to be slightly closer to the boot. The “U” spring is very easy to swap out, it’s just held in by a press pin. Let us hope that Dynafit simply supplies the women’s and men’s “U” springs as an accessory, or even supplies a third or even fourth spring option to fine tune release. I’d like mine to be more like 7, for example.

    Lou

  26. Lou Dawson 2 November 2nd, 2015 6:12 am

    P.S., I just took the Superlite 2 heel unit apart (takes about 3 minutes, quite elegant design, I wonder who thought that up 30 years ago, some Austrian fellow….

    In any case, I kinda doubt you can swap another binding heel unit onto the Superlite 2 post, but I’ll check. The Speed Superlite is an ingenious binding, I’m not sure why they went to the fixed vertical release on Superlite 2, perhaps to save weight or perhaps the miniaturized mechanicals of the Speed Superlite are just too minimal. At the least, the wider base plate and removable brake of Superlite 2 are very strong features, as many WildSnow readers seem to agree. Key here is that consumer testing commences, we all need to get some days on this thing. Also, for some the lack of a totally flat heel-on-ski is a downside. I’m mixed on that. Most of my tours it’s a non-issue, but with my ankle problems it’s sometimes a huge huge help for me to have a binding with a wide range of heel lifts. Whew, this sure doesn’t get any less complicated!

  27. Toby November 2nd, 2015 10:05 am

    Hi John and Lou,
    Superlite 2 looks indeed attractive, especially knowing how Dynafit are bench testing their bindings. Thanks to WS. If I ever will buy new tech binding with light alloy toe jaws, Dynafit will be high on my list.

    John, Kreuzspitze GT could be good alternative. It has vertical and later release adjustments and flat on ski position. Kreuzspitze also offers removable ski brakes.Interest concept, (not for heavy skis) I have been using them two seasons without any issues.

    And what comes to alternatives in terms of U spring vertical release; Atomic delivers their bindings with 3 different U springs in the box. Source; Telemark Pyrenees: “Backland Tour comes supplied with three different sets of « U » springs”. Very nice idea to offer U spring heels for larger user group.

  28. John Baldwin November 2nd, 2015 10:19 am

    Thanks Lou and Toby.
    I’ve bought a pair of Kreuzspitze brakes and was hoping to use them with a Speed Superlite 1.0. But the gap between the ski top sheet and the sole of your boot varies depending on the rocker of your boot. When I put my TLT6 boots in the Speed Superlite, there is only a gap of 3-4mm, not enough for the brake which needs 10mm. (Note that a flatter soled Scarpa F1 has a bigger gap and works fine). As you say, the Kreuzspitze GT also looks like a nice binding but has similar geometry to the Speed Superlite 1.0. It might be possible to shim the binding to get enough room for the brake? I was hoping the Superlite 2.0 would solve all this :), close but not yet!

  29. Lou Dawson 2 November 2nd, 2015 10:24 am

    John, oh, ok. Yes, shimming both heel and toe a few mm would be no big deal. The hassle is getting the correct length screws in play. Also, remember that the aftermarket brake doesn’t necessarily have to be under the heel of the boot. It can be located anywhere it has room to fit so long as the boot holds it closed when you step in. During some of my experiments I’ve located brakes under the boot instep and it’s worked fine. Lou

  30. Randy November 2nd, 2015 11:52 am

    Last word from Dynafit was that there will be no Women’s versions available in the US and that includes the Women’s U springs sold separately. Currently the brakes are offered in a 75, 90 & 105 (sold separately). We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of 2.0 brakes. On the Vertical and Radicals it’s really easy to swap brake arms. Once we have the Superlite 2.0 brakes in the shop I’ll definitely be tinkering with them to see about swapping brake sizes.

  31. Lou Dawson 2 November 2nd, 2015 1:12 pm

    Good Randy, appreciate the help with info. Too much stuff for one human to keep track of!

  32. Sarin November 3rd, 2015 12:07 am

    Great, but I think the much easier way is to buy a rod of appropriate caliber and bend it to the shape that is needed. I have done it without any problems.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4NxtmA8tebA

  33. Fra November 3rd, 2015 7:03 am

    Hi Lou. If I’d need to trim the side of plastic feet just to gain a mm or two, How can I manage to do it?

  34. Lou Dawson 2 November 3rd, 2015 8:37 am

    Lots of ways. I usually just figure out a way to hold the brake steady, then use a disk grinder with a sanding disk. A few touches and the plastic is gone. You can also file it away with a course file. There is a safety aspect to this as the blunt ends of the plastic feet are less likely to cause injury, or snag on your clothing for that matter, so take care when doing these types of mods. Lou

  35. Kristian November 3rd, 2015 9:59 am

    Serious question:

    Ski Brakes versus Straps. Can you write a post soon about the pros and cons of each? Seems like a simple enough question, but now I am not so sure. And most of us now have a quiver of 1 – 4 pairs that we use both piste and off piste.

    For years, breakaway straps were seen as the lightweight way to go for backcountry and ski mountaineering.

  36. Kristian November 5th, 2015 9:40 pm

    Saw the world premier of Lou’s starring role in the film Connections at Neptune’s tonight.

    Dynafit confirms that the leash (theirs is breakaway 50 kg) popularity is waining and they are recommending the superlite with a brake.

  37. John Baldwin November 6th, 2015 10:18 am

    I found the womens model is available online and can be shipped to North America. See http://www.telemark-pyrenees.com/en/

  38. Lou Dawson 2 November 6th, 2015 10:22 am

    Yeah John, TP is doing a brisk North American business from what I hear, due to vagaries of what’s imported and what is not. 40 years ago we bummed about having to get friends to shop for us in Europe, now we can just do it over the internet! Next, perhaps the importers will bring in the whole product lines? I can dream, can’t I? Lou

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