Ski Touring News Roundup September 2016 — Dynafit, Pakistan Search, Parks

Post by blogger | September 1, 2016      
Kyle Dempster (left) and Scott Adamson.

Kyle Dempster (left) and Scott Adamson.

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 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! 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.

Dynafit FT toe wing overhang.

Dynafit FT toe wing overhang, be sure to support with Power Blocks.

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 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.

Skiing The Hardrock 100 Trailer from Schlarb-Wolf Productions on Vimeo.

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?


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


21 Responses to “Ski Touring News Roundup September 2016 — Dynafit, Pakistan Search, Parks”

  1. XXX_er September 1st, 2016 12:39 pm

    “Readers, your thoughts on Dynafit binding offerings? ”

    I am totally underwhelmed by the RAD 1, Initialy I seen my friends break multiple pairs, at some point I thot the heel problem was sorted out so I bought a pair which blew up on me in < 1 season, there have been 5 different problems with that design so I have shuffled the RAD off to skis I don't use as much and I have a couple pair of Verticals I depend on which are working fine.

    the carbon fibre post of the Rad 2 doesn't thrill me so I wouldn't buy them, if I was buying a tech binding now it would probably be the ION

  2. stephen pavone September 1st, 2016 1:11 pm

    I’d like to see Dynafit offer something akin to the Plum 150 race or Kreutz SCTT heels….That is a bare bones binding with a heel flat on ski mode. I think paired up with the radical toe which i have had no issues with through 4 seasons, would be a winner in the ski mountaineering genre. For this style of skiing I just don’t think that adjustable release, flipper levers and boot adjustment is worth the added complexity and weight.

  3. Lou Dawson 2 September 1st, 2016 1:41 pm

    Hey everyone, I just added the trailer for the movie they made about Skiing the Hardrock 100. It looks fantastic, I like the whole concept. It’s near the bottom of the blog post. Check it out! Lou

  4. Lisa Dawson September 1st, 2016 2:27 pm

    Cool film clips!

  5. JCoates September 1st, 2016 9:39 pm

    G3 should make a barebones healed binding like the Dynafit Expedition. I’d buy that.

  6. See September 1st, 2016 9:51 pm

    Aside from approach slogs, why would anyone use a binding like the Expedition which lacks lateral release?

  7. Dan September 2nd, 2016 1:48 am

    I use the Expedition because it is simple, light and doesn’t allow your heel to pop out on steep and icy terrain, where other bindings might experience enough force to turn in unwelcome places.

    It’s not for everyone or for every application, but I like having that tool in the shed.

  8. JCoates September 2nd, 2016 4:34 am

    See, if you are skiing places where you can’t afford to have equipment failure or pre-release (i.e. ski-mountaineering or true, honest-to-God backcountry) why would you ski with anything else? Even Benedikt Böhm says it’s his favorite binding.

    I don’t get the fascination with the constant reengineering of the heel pieces. It’s just added weight and more parts to break. But to each his own…

  9. See September 2nd, 2016 7:16 am

    Thanks, Dan and JCoates. I hope my question didn’t sound critical, that wasn’t my intention. I’ve wondered for a while if people use the Expedition for actual skiing, as opposed to just approaches.

  10. Lou Dawson 2 September 2nd, 2016 8:10 am

    I added more info about Dempster and Adamson search funding, from Phil Powers, director at American Alpine Club.

  11. Lou Dawson 2 September 2nd, 2016 8:23 am

    See, your question is a good one.

    My take is that skiers who pretty much never fall, and for whom a pre-release could often be fatal, are perhaps better off in reality with no release than if they fiddle around with bindings that have “release.”

    On the other hand, I’m also of the opinion that skiers in avalanche terrain are wise to fine tune their tech binding release so it has at least a modicum of function in both lateral and vertical modes, so your skis might come off if you’re caught in a slide. In my opinion, skiing a binding that lacks release (either by virtue of super high settings, or by design) is very unwise if you could get caught in an avalanche.

    This even applies to runaway straps vs brakes. I’m not that into ski brakes in the backcountry just because of the weight and sometimes problematic performance, but it’s clear to me that they are a good thing in an avalanche, as opposed to runaway straps.

    Back to the no-release bindings, it was explained to me some years ago that extreme skiers in the Alps were often using binding setups that had no release, sometimes a basic toe wire with an older style heel clamp. Very light, not for ski touring, totally locked in with no release. Made sense.

    I know of several steep skiing deaths that are said to be the result of accidental binding release.

    ‘best, Lou

  12. SteveR September 2nd, 2016 2:17 pm

    The Speed Turn heel with a Radical 1.0 toe and the toe shim from a Radical 1.0 ST would be a great binding. Dynafit should sell that.

  13. Michael September 2nd, 2016 6:45 pm

    YES SteveR. Light, simple, bomber, low ramp. Please Dynafit…

  14. Toby September 3rd, 2016 9:08 am

    It would be cool to have a ‘ Binding Configurator’ – free choice of toe, heel, shims, brakes and color.

  15. Lou Dawson 2 September 3rd, 2016 10:30 am

    TLT Speed Radical is also easily toe shimmed with existing Dynafit parts or aftermarket, IMHO they’ve worked the bugs out of the heel unit and it’s pretty nice, Speed Turn 2.0 is nearly the same thing, just a different top on the heel and the toe having steel wings and no power towers.

    Getting the ramp angle you want shouldn’t really be an issue with any tech binding, due to aftermarket shims from B&D or custom made shims. Just watch that screw length! And remember that less ramp = less climbing angle.


  16. Lou Dawson 2 September 3rd, 2016 10:33 am
  17. SteveR September 3rd, 2016 11:30 am

    The Speed Turn 2.0 is a nice binding, but I don’t understand why Dynafit developed a new toe for the binding. Why not just use the Speed Radical Toe which has power towers? Maybe there’s some advantage to the Speed Turn 2.0 toe being made from steel that I don’t understand?

    Aftermarket shims – Yeah, that’s what I’ve done with my bindings, but why should I have to do the work myself? Surely nobody actually likes the ‘out the box’ ramp angle of the Speed Turn / Speed Radical?

  18. See September 3rd, 2016 11:58 am

    Re. the Expedition: seems to me that if you really want to prevent prerelease then you have to lock the toes anyway, even if the heel doesn’t rotate (unless the the “power towers” are totally effective). And the heel vertical spring tension is also going to have to be very high, but none of the product descriptions I’ve seen give a release value equivalent for the non-adjustable U spring.

  19. Lou Dawson 2 September 3rd, 2016 12:05 pm

    Steve, that’s a super good point, I think the steel probably costs less to make, so they can either charge less, or have a better margin, or both. Or, there are tens of thousands of traditionalists in Europe who basically grew up on classic Dynafits with steel wings and no power towers. Perhaps they’re a market. It’s indeed all quite mysterious, I enjoy pondering and discussing, so thanks for the comments. Lou

  20. See September 3rd, 2016 6:58 pm

    I don’t know about the stiffness of the Speed Turn toe springs, but it looks like an improved version of the Vertical toe. My complaint about the Vertical toes is that (imo) the stamped steel and plastic base made for inconsistent tour lever engagement— I have some Verticals that don’t really lock the toes until the lever is pulled back to almost the last click, and some that tighten up much earlier in the lever’s travel. The all metal base looks like it probably has much closer tolerances.

  21. Paul Simon September 7th, 2016 3:34 am

    Sadly the search for Kyle and Scott has been called off. Here is an excerpt from an official report by Jonathan Thesenga of BlackDiamond Equipment:

    “Early on Saturday, September 3rd, two Pakistani military helicopters left Skardu in clear weather. They landed at basecamp on the Choktoi Glacier and picked up climber Thomas Huber (Austria) who would assist as an observer/spotter. An exhaustive and close-proximity initial search of the north face of the Ogre 2 (where Kyle and Scott were last seen on August 22), the northeast ridge (their planned descent route), and the glacial basin between the Ogre 2 and Ogre 1, yielded no sign of the pair. After refueling, the two helicopters made a second sweep of all sides of the mountain, from an even higher altitude, and again found no sign of Kyle and Scott. In light of those extensive yet unsuccessful efforts, the search team and knowledgeable observers in Pakistan, the US, and Europe, assessed that there remained a very slim chance that any evidence of their passage would be revealed in subsequent sweeps of the mountain.”

    “Given the time that has elapsed and the nearly continuous stormy weather since they were last seen, and the substantial risks that such high-altitude missions entail, Kyle and Scott’s families have made the extremely difficult decision to end the search efforts.”

    My sincere condolences go to their families and close friends. May the two find even bigger and steeper mountains where they are now.


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