Sunday, August 21, accomplished U.S. alpinists Kyle Dempster and Scott Adamson began a climb of the Ogre in Pakistan. The pair planned around 5 days for the ascent and subsequent descent. They’ve not returned to their basecamp and a SAR effort is underway. Apparently, getting helicopter time in Pakistan costs a bundle so the search is being crowd sourced. Please contribute here. As of this writing, more than 2,000 contributors have raised over $100,000!
The situation in Pakistan relates back to our post a few days ago about rescue and travel insurance. At least one commenter on Gofundme mentioned this issue. We don’t know what kind of rescue “insurance” Dempster and Adamson have, but please note that the funding drive is for an aircraft supported search. Some if not most travel and rescue “insurance” is actually not “insurance” but is a “service” that does not cover search operations and only triggers as a “rescue” when clients are in a known location with known issues. Clearly, privately funded search operations could switch in an instant to a rescue. In that case the financial obligations could get complicated. Let the lawyers sort that out if it happens. Meanwhile, good to see the community come together and help with the search funding. I’ve been editing the article linked above to clarify these issues.
I did contact the American Alpine Club for clarification, with whom Dempster and Adamson ostensibly have the search coverage that comes with membership. According to AAC executive director Phil Powers: “Services provided by Global Rescue, are for rescue. Climbing rescues for AAC members average about $6,200 per event worldwide. The AAC covers the first $7,500 of the cost when a member of the Club is rescued [editor: with additional coverage available if members so choose]. Search is a different matter… When we are guessing about both the situation and the location resources can be expended rather quickly. That is the situation we face with Kyle and Scott. Global Rescue is willing to operate a search, but it is not in our contract so the costs of the search portion of the mission must be paid for directly.”
The industry is kindly supporting WildSnow.com again this year through banner advertising. In turn, I’m working hard to bring you a “polite” advertising experience. No animations, no pop-ups or screen takeovers. Along those lines, Backcountry Access has generously created a contest specifically for WildSnow.com! It’s a fat deal, win fully two BCA Link radio systems. Just click on their contest (Cheers!) banners in our right sidebar or leaderboard. If you don’t see a banner, refresh once or twice. Let us know if you have any trouble with that.
It was recently pointed out to me that Dynafit is “officially” discontinuing their pre-Radical FT and ST bindings. In particular, the FT version with stronger toe springs (supplied in wider brake versions) is still our all-time favorite Dynafit. We like setting these up with no brake and the “power block” under the overhanging portion of the toe plate. Only consistent problem is the low height heel support and brake retractor plate breaking off the heel unit, usually for larger skiers. Not a deal breaker.
These discontinued bindings will be a valuable find on the used market. If you purchase used, beware of toe pins that are heavily worn and may compromise how your boot is held in the binding, and examine toe plate to find incipient cracks that can lead to catastrophic and dangerous failure. Use a magnifying glass for your exams. Excessive wear is indicated by distortion of the otherwise uniform conical shape of the pins.
We’re calling this discontinuation “official” as we see no FT/ST on the Dynafit website, nor at Backcountry.com. If you’re a loyal Dynafit brand fan and prefer the FT/ST, what’s the alternative? Radical 1.0 is there, Radical 2.0 has vastly improved heel unit but includes the rotating toe that some folks don’t prefer. Speed Radical with all improvements and changes is quite nice. Readers, your thoughts on Dynafit binding offerings?
Dynafit told me that a “few” pre-Radical FT and ST bindings are still warehoused in Europe. I suspect those will dry up fast once they push them out, presumably at good prices.
Continuing ski binding news, G3 will keep pumping out their full line of ION grabbers. Last winter’s launch of this relatively new kid on the block went well, few problems. Indeed, ION so far might be one of the more bug-free tech bindings released in recent memory (an easy accomplishment, actually, considering how glitchy the market has been overall).
Consumer testing did reveal a few problems: The “friction” detent that holds the ION heel lifters in position tended to fail, and a wobble developed in some of the demo binding heels. Both things are said to be fixed for this season and we expect to see the Ionization of ski touring continue on pace. We have tons of ION content, with more coming.
National Parks are wonderful, beautiful and amazing places to ski. National parks are crowded smoggy places you have to pay to use and be paranoid about where you park your Sprinter lest a law enforcement ranger bangs on your window at 2:00 am. Take your pick.
Meanwhile, a new film called “Monumental” takes the positive view. Let us know what you think. Contrived or right on?
It’s still not quite winter here, so bicycles intrude on our mental processes. E-bikes, in particular. Check out this Forbes article on a cool e-bike startup. Look out world.
Wildsnow Outer Local: Up at Field HQ we deal with a couple miles of sometimes muddy dirt road that’s in heavy use by the Yule Marble Quarry. About a year ago, the quarry boss told me they’d be “paving” the road with crushed marble. I’ll admit to a bit of wonder at that. Perhaps paving with marble is an Italian thing? The quarry boss is a friendly Italian guy, perhaps that explains it. But just for fun I like to think of Michelangelo as the dump truck driver. Loading as artistry. In any case, now the “White Brick Road” is becoming a reality. More here.
One of the more fun projects we worked on over past months was publishing the story of Noah Howell and his friends skiing the Hardrock 100. A wacky endeavor that was, well, perfect. What do I mean by that? The movie will explain, and the trailer hints. It’s due out September 7, trailer below.
Lastly, ski touring is such a buzz that ski resorts are now comparing their downhill trails to “ski touring” routes. Check it out. Perhaps they’ll have uphilling as well?