SCARPA Maestrale RS Backcountry Ski Boot — Long Term Review


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | December 10, 2015      
Using Tech Crampon 250 while booting a couloir in the Torres Del Paine area in southern Chile.

Booting a couloir in the Torres Del Paine area in southern Chile. Click to enlarge.

SCARPA has been making the Maestrale line of boots for six years, and the Maestrale RS for three. Reportedly they are the highest selling backcountry ski touring boot of all time. There’s a reason they haven’t changed much; they are incredible boots.

I skied the original Maestrales when they came out, and still do occasionally. I’ve had the RS boots for almost two years and have put quite a bit of use on them. I’ve skied them for almost every day of two seasons, from deep powder resort days to spring touring. I don’t really keep track of ski days, but they easily have over 100 days on them, more closer to 200.

Although we’ve done a few reviews of Maestrale boots on Wildsnow, we haven’t had a report on long term use. How durable are they? How do they work in a large variety of conditions? One nice thing about a product that has remained largely unchanged for several years, such as the Maestrale, is that it’s possible to buy new boots and have an idea of how they are going to last.

Maestrale RS boots aren’t the lightest or the stiffest boots out there, but they are an excellent blend of both attributes. I find myself using them for everything. They are stiff enough to drive big skis, and light enough for big days. They also fit my feet well (the most important aspect of any boot). Last but not least, they are a good value, and can often be found for a reasonable price.

I like stiff boots. Maestrales, while fairly stiff, are still a bit soft for me. I upgraded the stock Intuition Pro Tour liner with a stiffer Intuition liner stolen from SCARPA Freedoms. They now ski better. I can’t feel any difference in the walk mode flexibility, although they are slightly heavier.

SCARPA are some of the highest volume AT boots out there, and they fit me out of the box, although a bit too roomy. I heat-molded the liners, added a 3mm riser under the heel, and taped a 4mm piece of foam over the toe. They now fit well. The foam has the added benefit of making the boots slightly warmer. The advantage of a high-volume fit like SCARPAs have is that they rarely require shell work to make them fit; usually molding or modifying the liner is sufficient.

My modified Scarpa Freedom liners. They aren't pretty, but they are comfy.

My modified SCARPA Freedom liners. They aren’t pretty, but they are comfy.

As far as durability, they’ve got normal wear and tear, but are still fully functional. Overall, they’ve held up well after hard use. I haven’t done any repairs, and I expect to keep using them for a while.

The biggest issue, common to all boots in the Maestrale series (Maestrale, Maestrale RS, Gea, and Gea RS), is the tongue hinges. The Maestrale boots have a tongue that hinges to the side, which facilitates getting in and out of the boot. The pivots are riveted to the boot, which means they don’t loosen, however they aren’t user-replaceable. On both of my boots, one out of the two pivots on each boots has snapped. I’ve noticed this has happened on several other Maestrale boots I have seen. As far as I can tell, this doesn’t affect the function of the boots much. It merely means that the tongue doesn’t fold out as nicely when you are putting the boot on. For now, it’s only a slight inconvenience, however I might experiment with fixing them at some point. With only one functioning hinge, when the other one breaks, it would be a major problem.

Showing the broken tongue hinges. The lower one is still attached, but the upper is broken.

Showing the broken tongue hinges. The lower one is still attached, but the upper is broken.

On the first version of the Maestrale RS, the lean lock had issues with becoming iced up in cold temperatures, and wouldn’t lock into ski mode. SCARPA completely changed the design of the lean lock, and now it works much better. I’ve used them in all conditions, including lots of cold temperatures, and never once had them ice up. The new lean lock is robust, simple, and always works. It also is easier to flip wearing gloves. As an added benefit, it seems to have less play than the previous version. Often after lots of use, the lean lock on a boot will loosen up, and not provide as solid of a lock. I’m happy to report that I haven’t had that happen on the Maestrale RS.

Overall, the boots have held up well. The Gore-tex membrane laminated to the cuff (silver fabric visible here), hasn't been worn through.

Overall, the boots have held up well. The Gore-tex membrane laminated to the cuff (silver fabric visible here), hasn’t been worn through.

Since the Maestrales don’t have interchangeable soles, the rubber sole durability can be a limiting factor for how long the boot will last. I’ve worn the Maestrales through dirt, rocks, and even on a few snowmobile running boards (notorious boot shredders). While they are showing some age, the soles haven’t delaminated or shown any undue wear. Compared to other boots I’ve had, the sole wear is completely acceptable.

We’re big fans of the Maestrale boots here at Wildsnow, and that remains unchanged. There are other, more specialized boots out there that do various things better. However, there are few that are as versatile and good at all-around backcountry skiing as the Scarpa Maestrale RS.

Editor’s note: Regarding the rivet issue, SCARPA has a full-service repair division in Boulder, Colorado. It can do virtually any repair to its boots (maybe the only ski boot company in North America to have these kinds of resources dedicated to service). While it is a pain to part with your boots when things break mid-season, SCARPA does repairs (like the tongue rivets) fairly quickly. Whether or not that is a warranty issue depends on wear and tear on the boot, as any product has a life span. But, point is, SCARPA can pretty much fully re-furbish a boot for someone if they want that, whether it’s a warranty issue or long-term service. The address for repairs: SCARPA North America, 3550 Frontier, Unit E, Boulder, CO 80301.

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Comments

43 Responses to “SCARPA Maestrale RS Backcountry Ski Boot — Long Term Review”

  1. Rudi December 10th, 2015 10:55 am

    I also had the tongue hinges break and the fact that they are riveted made fixing them a real pain. Took about 30 minutes of drilling, prying and cursing to get the old ones out. The replacement version is the same pivot but with T-nuts and screws with pre-applied loctite.
    As far as the boot my only gripe is how small the ankle ratchet buckle is.
    For mods I added a third more upright lean position to the ski/walk mechanism. Its fiddly but I think the stock forward lean was too much for modern skiing. Also I added power wraps and booster straps and I think they ski fantastic now, with a stiff progressive flex akin to a proper 3 piece alpine boot. Probably a wash in terms of weight with the lighter liner but heavier booster strap. Hey booster how about an aluminum version of the cam for us gram counters!

  2. TomR December 10th, 2015 11:13 am

    Before you go on a longer trip check your tongues.BOTH of mine cracked and broke in the orange plastic beside the bellows.Not the rivets.
    Scarpa didnt reply to my email, but my local shop is ordering tongues in as there is no warranty in the second year.
    So it is worth checking them.

  3. jay December 10th, 2015 12:06 pm

    Could you comment on the Maestrales vs. the Mobes?

    Are the Maestrales are just a revised version of the Mobe? I’m thinking about retiring the Mobes without breaking the bank here. According to the Scarpa website the Maestrale RS is a half pound lighter than the Mobe (my 28 Mobes weight 1910/1930 grams). Would you say that’s right?

    Also says the ROM is about double that of the Mobe. Any other comments about these 2 boots?

  4. Louie Dawson December 10th, 2015 12:23 pm

    The Mobe is basically a stiffened version of the old Scarpa Spirit 4. The Maestrale series are an entirely different boot, from the ground up. Although I haven’t skied the Mobes, I have tried them on. Also, I skied the Spirit 3 (basically a lighter, less stiff Mobe) for several years.

    The Maestrale RS is definitely lighter than the Mobe, and it has MUCH better walk mode, with major improvements to the range of motion. As far as skiing goes, I can’t say for sure, as I’ve never skied the Mobe, but I’d be willing to guess that the Maestrale RS skies better as well. The certainly ski worlds better than my old Spirit 3. All in all, the Maestrale is a significantly more advanced boot than the Mobe.

    Also, I believe the Maestrale RS has a slightly less roomy fit than the Mobe, (although still quite roomy) making it fit better for many people.

  5. DHX December 10th, 2015 12:52 pm

    Couldn’t agree more with review. It does a lot things pretty well and is probably the best bang for your buck boot out there. Just wish it fit my foot better..

  6. Gdreej December 10th, 2015 2:24 pm

    Hey Louie, some questions:

    Does the revised Mirage walk mode have play in the cuff? I have the 13/14 RS, which has the 2nd gen. walk mode, it’s developed some play. Apparently the Mirage doesn’t remedy this, read here at post #320:

    http://www.tetongravity.com/forums/showthread.php/242682-Scarpa-Maestrale-RS/page13

    You’ve laminated some Gore-Tex to the cuff on the “vents” – WTF Scarpa? Does any ski boot need venting, other than a rando race shoe?

  7. Louie Dawson December 10th, 2015 4:25 pm

    Gdreej, I didn’t laminate the Gore-tex to the cuff, that’s how they come. Initially I was skeptical of the venting, and how well the gore tex would hold up. However, It’s held up well. The venting doesn’t seem to cause any issues, and may be for weight savings more than anything else (especially since liners don’t vent at all).

    As far as the Lean lock, I’ll have to get back to you when I get home and can check out the boots.

  8. jasper December 10th, 2015 6:30 pm

    I am still running my first generation Maestrales. I guess that means 6 years! Unfortunately ski days per year aren’t as high as they should be, but I’d say the boots have around 400 days. The tongue hinges fell apart the first season, but in the earlier generations they were user replaceable, and Scarpa give me a bag full of replacement hinges that are much stronger then originals. I haven’t replaced them since. I did not like how the lower buckles worked with missing hinges because they pulled the tongue at an angle exposing the liner. Nonetheless the lower buckles are not nearly as useful as the ‘ankle’ buckle, and I often just ski with them open. The ankle buckle does an excellent job holding the foot in place as well as the over lap of the boot together. I wish more companies would put a buckle in this location. The soles have held up great and there has been no delimitation. This year the rubber has worn through at the toe and some plastic has worn away. The tech fittings are just beginning to be, but I’m not worried yet. I often put them on at home and drive to the mountains with them (great for shuttling and snowy parking lot arrivals). Consequently they have traveled over lots of paved surfaces, grocery stores, and a few bars. Most other travel has been with skins, but occasional ridge walking and scrambling. The rivets have become lose allowing the cuff to wobble, but when the boot is buckled the wobble goes away. Some rivets have been replaced with Spirit 4 parts. I have had some trouble with the lean lock not engaging, but only happening this year and last. I can’t say for sure but I think it occurs when there is a large temperature change between elevations and fresh snow. I replaced the liners last year with some intuition wrap arounds. I think they ski better with the wrap, but walking is easier with the stock ‘tour’ intuition liner. I have been very happy with the boots. I’m 6′ 2″ and 200 lbs. I ski lift served (and all that entails), as well as BC. Powder is preferred and airtime is nil. They drive megawatts well. They have a smooth and continuos flex. They are comfortable and warm. They work for dancing. I would love to see this boot evolve. I think it could be a three or maybe even two buckle boot without any loss of skiability. It would be cool to see it become a tech only boot and drop some grams and boot sole length. I want a lighter boot, like TLT6 or Backland, but don’t like the flex they come with. I think they are to rigid and have to much deformation. I think I will get a new pair of Maestrales (orange) this year, and put my old ones on the operating table to see how much weight can be dropped.

  9. MIke December 10th, 2015 8:39 pm

    I’ll add that they could easily remove the lower buckle and power strap without compromising performance. But then they couldn’t call it a four buckle boot.

  10. Patrick December 10th, 2015 8:53 pm

    Jasper, good to hear those boots can dance, with enough coffee and the right dude in the boots, I’m thinking those boots could evolve from Jitterbug to Hip-hop.
    Me thinks me saw that happen once in the bar at the base of Grande Targhee. I tell ya, the dude and the boots were in the zone.

  11. Louie Dawson December 11th, 2015 12:02 am

    Just checked with Scarpa. There are only two generations of lean-lock. The old one, which had a single pin that went into a flat bar, and the new one, which has a large, steel flip lever, that engages a square profile bar (the lean-lock on the boots above). The newer generation does have less play that the old, is easier to engage, and doesn’t ice up. However, it still does have a tiny bit of play, although in my experience virtually all lean-locks have a bit of play.

  12. Louie Dawson December 11th, 2015 12:02 am

    Just checked with Scarpa. There are only two generations of lean-lock. The old one, which had a single pin that went into a flat bar, and the new one, which has a large, steel flip lever, that engages a square profile bar (the lean-lock on the boots above). The newer generation does have less play that the old, is easier to engage, and doesn’t ice up. However, it still does have a tiny bit of play, although in my experience virtually all lean-locks have a bit of play.

  13. Sebastian December 11th, 2015 12:04 am

    Hi,

    what brand are these tiny spikes on the first picture from? Did you try them on ice?

    Thanks for the nice review!

  14. JB December 11th, 2015 12:54 am

    Those are the “Tech Crampons” – Reviewed by WS here: https://www.wildsnow.com/14513/tech-crampon-250-techpon-skiing/

    Link at the bottom of that page to buy as well

  15. Lou Dawson 2 December 11th, 2015 12:59 am

    Thanks JB! Lou

  16. Jernej December 11th, 2015 2:30 am

    I have the regular mastreale and apart from being a bit too soft for my taste (at least compared to my alpine Dalbellos) they’re a decent boot.

  17. Lisa Dawson December 11th, 2015 8:43 am

    SCARPA can repair rivets at their customer service center in Boulder. I added the address to the end of Louie’s post.

  18. GS December 12th, 2015 8:25 am

    I got these this summer and the tongue hinges have what seems like allen key bolts. Are they just rivets disguised as bolts? At least buckle rivets look like rivets.

  19. trollanski December 14th, 2015 6:56 am

    Yes, the tongue hinge rivets are rivets disguised as allen-head bolts. They are easy to replace with a hand rivet tool after being drilled out. I have found the hinges last much longer if one takes the time to pull the upper cuff all the way to the rear in walk mode before trying to flip the tongue out. This avoids stressing the hinges.

  20. Mat Coffey December 14th, 2015 8:39 am

    Seeking wise counsel,
    I’ve been on a pair of Dfit Zeuss’ since they launched — much punching and shimming later, with a pair of “red” Intuitions, they ski fine. But, I have a very low volume foot with almost zero arch, along with a “birkenstock” forefoot. I love the Scarpa boot in terms of function, but assume the fit would be too high volume…If I were to upgrade my Zeuss boots, do you have a recommendation? Much appreciated, as I need to honor my new Wailer 112 Pure3’s1!!

  21. Lou Dawson 2 December 14th, 2015 8:54 am

    Exact problem I have, though my heel vs forefoot width isn’t as extreme as yours. Frankly, I’ve found that using a boot with correct heel width and punching the toe area is the only truly viable solution — though out-of-box the Scarpas and Scott are perhaps my best fit. A thicker aftermarket liner as well as added foam layers being key with anything. Again, key here is the thicker liner that fills volume in shell where necessary. Not rocket science, but those types of liners don’t sell boots when people walk into a ski shop and do carpet testing, as they’re too tight. Bad situation overall, perhaps some day in the distant future, when stars collide and the universe has expanded to triple it’s current size, the big brands will make a boot liner that actually truly works for most people. Lou

  22. Mark L December 16th, 2015 11:15 pm

    Looking to move from tele (SynerG, many moons old) to AT. How does the Maestrale RS feel (fit/flex/walk/warmth) vs A couple of the newer boots (Salomon MTN Lab/Explore, DFit Winter Guide)?

  23. Martin August 18th, 2016 11:47 am

    My GF owns the Gear RD – women’s version of the Maestrale RS.
    This has now cracks in the shell around the pivot that also holds the ankle buckle.
    There is a piece of sealing sticker on that area that is now broken on both boots!
    Has anyone experienced similar failure?

  24. Martin August 18th, 2016 11:48 am

    Gea RS it is…

  25. Laurent November 25th, 2016 3:05 pm

    Hi,
    Just coming back from a nice tour, and for the second time now, when I get back to the car and try to take my boots off, one boot walk/ski switch is stuck on ski position.
    A huge pain in the rear. The previous time, it was stuck and became unstuck when I dropped the boot. This time, no way to go back to walk mode.

    I saw this part on the Scarpa site:
    MAESTRALE FAMILY MIRAGE PRO SKI/WALK REPLACEMENT KIT
    but nowhere to buy it, or to get it online.

    Any help or recomendations please where I can buy this? My boots are 2 years old.

    Thanks much

  26. Lou Dawson 2 November 25th, 2016 3:48 pm

    Laurent, you need to contact Scarpa!

    Lou

  27. Shawn December 13th, 2016 8:13 am

    Hi Lou. Do you know if the Cayman sole is ISO9523 compliant? I’ve looked everywhere but cannot find out. Reason being…I just got the Marker Tour F12 installed on my on hill work ski and after adjusting the AFD plate all the way back (lowest position) it is still too tight to pull out the “red/green tester sheet” provided by Marker. It seems to fit well but wondering how much release will be affected if the down pressure is too much. Marker indicates it is compatible with ISO9523 soles. Thanks. Cheers.

  28. Tom Gos January 19th, 2017 9:38 am

    Anybody know if you can successfully replace/mod the new Mirage style ski/walk mechanism on to the earlier versions of the Maestrale RS boot? (i.e. replace the old mechanism with the new style one) Thanks!

  29. Paul February 2nd, 2017 6:13 pm

    Tom
    Yes, easy as. Just did that to mine. Order the new kit. The install is basically the same as replacing with the old style, which the Scarpa vids cover well.

  30. Paul February 2nd, 2017 6:24 pm

    One other thing re the replacement. Definitely use a T handle Allen key. Also, use the same hammer to set the Allen key into the screws. A light tap helps it set in to the screw heads.

  31. Wade February 4th, 2017 10:37 am

    Anyone ever engaged in softening the flex of the RS? Little stiff for me and was thinking about cutting a “flex channel” in the tongue by removing one of the stiffening ribs under the instep buckle with a dremel. Any feedback or comments would be appreciated, other than “God go with you and let us know how it turns out”?

  32. Lou Dawson 2 February 4th, 2017 10:49 am

    Wade, the method I’ve always used to ease forward flex of tongue boots is to cut a vertical slit in the tongue, starting from the top. You can begin with just a few centimeters then extend if you want it to have more effect. Once you get it where you want it, terminate with a round drilled “stress relief” hole so you don’t get a crack radiating from the end of the slit. Cutting out the ribs will allow snow and water into the boot, won’t it? Lou

  33. Wade February 4th, 2017 10:55 am

    Good point….though heat shrink from end to end underground wiring connections could be used to get it fairly drum tight I would think. Like the concept of vertical slit though……guess there might be some way to get new tongues from Scarpa if I really screw the pooch in the process??

  34. See February 4th, 2017 11:34 am

    What about loosening the top buckle and the booster strap? I don’t have Maestrales, but if it has an elastic booster strap you could try a softer strap.

  35. Lou Dawson 2 February 4th, 2017 1:10 pm

    See, an elastic booster is indeed an option, but just loosening things really doesn’t work all that well to “soften” a boot since you end up with the boot not conforming correctly to your foot and leg. Lou

  36. See February 4th, 2017 8:28 pm

    I take your point of course, Lou, but I bet a stretchy booster strap and a slightly loose cuff buckle would soften them up a bit without overly degrading performance. Again, I’m not in RS’s and Lou is the master.

  37. zippy the pinhead February 5th, 2017 2:25 am

    See,
    The setup you describe (loose top buckle with booster strap) would indeed allow increased _ankle_ flexion, but that would result from stretching the booster strap and would contribute nothing towards flexing the boot shell itself.

    When one flexes the boot shell, leverage is applied to the ski, thus pressuring it to the snow. Stretching the booster strap does not achieve this leverage and therefore would not contribute towards pressuring the ski….

    The idea behind the booster strap is to eliminate space between the lower leg and the boot cuff so that when one does flex the ankle, energy will be transmitted more directly to the boot shell, and thus to the ski. Loosening the top buckle would only serve to introduce slop into the system.

    Happy trails….

    -Zippy.

  38. Wade February 5th, 2017 7:31 am

    After further review, and flex testing, the tongue really has minimal impact on the flex in the end. You can buckle things up on the upper cuff w/o the tongue and things are not all that different. I think I am going to trim off some of the excess cuff material that extends inward from the buckle attachment points. This material is mouth more stout than the tongue, and by eliminating some of the “wraparound” over the tongue, I believe there will be more direct force on the tongue itself which should impact flex to a degree. What could go wrong….? 🙂

  39. See February 5th, 2017 8:12 am

    Well, I guess I don’t question the points above. All I would add is that softer boots reduce available leverage in any case, and work better with technique that depends less on said leverage.

  40. Paul February 9th, 2017 2:11 pm

    Some more info for folks updating their “old style” Maestrale Ski/Walk mechanisms.
    The updated version has backing plates that are a touch thinner than the old ones. They are identical in shape however.
    Keep the old backing plates, head to your local hardware store any buys some stainless M4x7 machine screws with Phillips heads on them and re-use the old backing plates. The new ones are thin enough that the threads can strip out rather easily. The new screws you picked up with Phillips heads are easier to deal with down the road than the really shallow Allen key style the kit comes with.

  41. Chris March 5th, 2017 5:22 am

    So did you use the same size of liner or size up or down?

  42. Tom Gos April 22nd, 2017 5:08 pm

    So, I purchased the new Mirage walk mode kit to replace the older style one on my Maestrale boots. Watched the Scarpa replacement video, seemed pretty straight forward so I went to it. For the life of me I cannot hammer out the pins that hold the bottom of the walk mode bar to the shell. The video made this look pretty easy but I’m wailing away on it and have only gotten it to move a few millimeters. I think that the metal strap that wraps around the pin is so tight that the pin can’t slide through it. Removed the rivet from the strap and tried to spread it open but this didn’t seem to help. Also tried heating everything up before hammering the pin out but no luck. I’m starting to cause some damage to the shell with all my pounding. Anybody have any advice on getting the pin to hammer out easily?

  43. Glenn Pace June 3rd, 2018 11:14 pm

    Great and accurate review!
    I’ve been on my Mastrale RS for 3 years. They have been flawless until about a month ago when I broke one of the tongue hinges.
    I managed to get some replacement hinges from my retailer (MEC in Canada), and they also supplied t-nuts to replace the rivets. I watched the Scarpa instructional video on-line and followed the steps. It took me about 7 minutes to do the repair.
    One small difference…the video advises using an 11/64th drill to take out the existing rivet…which works well. But the hole diameter for the t-nut provided required a slightly larger drill bit. Not a big deal.





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