Ski Touring News– ISPO Marker and Our Local Shop Opens Another

Post by blogger | November 2, 2016      
Draft beer and new skis on tap, new  shop opens in Vail, Colorado. Details below.

Draft beer and new skis on tap, new Cripple Creek Backcountry muscle powered ski shop opens in Vail, Colorado. Details below.

The ISPO website is a mouthpiece for industry PR that while clearly one-sided, educates us about design philosophy and goals. I liked this interview with Michael Mangold of Marker. He’s a friendly and dedicated guy whom I’ve gotten to know personally since our closer coverage of Marker — due to the innovative Kingpin tech pin binding.

Since many of you are shopping for bindings and perhaps considering Kingpin, I can state the binding does deliver, yet per our experience it is mandatory to bench test your release and retention functions. Yeah, that’s somewhat the case with any ski binding, but Kingpin’s rotating heel unit rides on your boot heel using dual rollers that can appear properly adjusted yet bind or otherwise malfunction due to improper adjustment or an incompatible boot. In other words, unlike a classic tech binding with an obvious heel gap, you have to put a bit of extra attention into some bindings. See our million word Kingpin coverage.

Ski touring airbag rucksack watch. We’ve got quite a few new backpacks here at HQ, am working on various related writing projects. Tidbits: The new Arva argon gas cylinder does save some weight, if you’re in Europe the Mammut Snowpulse carbon cylinder is a winner (can’t be shipped to U.S.), and Black Diamond Jetforce II just might compete in terms of weight. The latter is important, as the lighter gas operated balloon packs are clocking around 2,000 grams (for those with reasonable volume) while current Jetforce Halo 28 is upwards of 3,100 grams. Jetforce weight seemed somewhat ok in 2014 (for a cool electronic pack, anyway) — my how fast things are changing. What’s weird is the Jetforce battery is noticeably lighter than Arcteryx Voltair, so something else must be going on, perhaps a backpack that’s over-built and the Jetforce ducted fan assembly being kludgy? Stay tuned.

WildSnow Outer Local
Some years ago in Austria, I was introduced to the concept of the ski touring “niche” shop. You know, those smaller stores that specialized in human powered skiing, often with a heavy involvement in racing and fitness uphilling. I loved it — just stepping through the door felt like coming home. It seems like yesterday that Cripple Creek did the same thing here in our old mining town; as far as I know, they were the first guys in the U.S. to open such a shop. Forgive me if I’m wrong, so to make sure I’m right, let’s just say they were the first to open such a shop — with draft beer and an Italian espresso machine. That was back in 2012. Now owners Doug and Randy have gone and done it again, placing their business plan on the line by opening another niche shop down the road from us in Vail, Colorado.

Grand Opening for Cripple Creek Backcountry — Vail is this coming Friday, Nov 4, at 5pm. Address 500 E Lionshead Circle LP 21, Vail, Colorado. Lisa and I are most certainly headed over there for the shindig, CU there.

Uphill skiing is indeed the buzz this season. Pretty hilarious watching every blogger and journalist from here to Antarctica trying to say the same thing in different words. Myself included. Here is the latest, regarding Whistler. My unbridled cynicism aside, part of the reason Cripple Creek (see above) is taking the risk of expanding is Vail being quite open to uphilling on their slopes, and the new store is just a few feet from the piste. We predict this will not be an unusual thing. As we keep repeating, resorts and retailers are in business to cater to the desires of recreators. If people want to ski uphill, barriers to doing so will fall.

La Grave, France continues to an uncertain future — but we suspect it’ll all work out. Perhaps Ptor will give us the insider scoop. Meanwhile, this extensive article gives a good overview. I’ve never skied at La Grave, as the attraction of the place falls more in the purview of my past rather than present style of skiing. Yet I’ve been made aware that the surrounding area is fun for laid back ski touring as well as the hyped freeride it’s known for. So perhaps a visit is in order.

Boutique ski makers. It amazes me, how many skis can the world consume? Seems every few months I hear something about another “alt” ski maker appearing, expanding, or otherwise getting on with it. Back to Vail. Liberty skis is located there, and just received a capital injection to the tune of 2.2 million dollars. Clearly, Cripple Creek Vail will need to carry something from the Liberty lineup.

WildSnow Warm Watch (our new term for semi-weekly reports on the quest to stop global warming, the abject enemy of ski touring as we know it). I was amused by recent mouth-breathing journalism about making ethanol from atmospheric carbon dioxide. Ostensibly, this would somehow reduce CO2 enough to stop or reverse GW. What utter BS. The ethanol process requires electricity that’s equivalent in power to around double that of the ethanol produced, and (in my understanding) if the fuel is subsequently burned for power it releases the sequestered CO2 right back to the sky! This Forbes article does a good job of debunking.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


17 Responses to “Ski Touring News– ISPO Marker and Our Local Shop Opens Another”

  1. Chet Roe November 2nd, 2016 11:03 am

    as you may know there already two other specific/exclusive backcountry/uphill ski shops in the Vail Valley……the Haute Route in Avon, the Dynafit Test center/Paragon Guides in Edwards (and Alpine Quest in Edwards which does AT/tele/Dynafit uphill but not only/exclusively)….good luck in a crowded market!!

  2. Lou 2 November 2nd, 2016 11:31 am

    Thanks Chet, it’ll be interesting to watch. I’d think the competition would be good and with the explosion in our sport I doubt things are that crowded, or arre they truly? Cripple Creek’s formula is pretty compelling. Lou

  3. etto November 2nd, 2016 11:38 am

    The lightest Mammut compressed gas cylinder airbag is 1510g, way under 2kg 🙂 It only offers 20L of space though.

    ( )

  4. harpo November 2nd, 2016 11:52 am

    Hi Lou, why don’t you comment in Warm Watch about some efforts to fight global warming that you support? My impression is that there have been a number of developments at a variety of levels that suggest progress is being made.

  5. ptor November 2nd, 2016 1:27 pm
  6. ptor November 2nd, 2016 1:44 pm

    Here in La Grave, the Commune has undemocratically decided upon a framework of very debatable infrastructure criteria which favors big money to come in… which is not in accordance with the community’s ideas nor the values of skiers worldwide that are attracted to this unique place. There are only 6 proposals now in their hands as many had withdrawn before last weeks entry deadline. There is still hope as one group called ‘Signal de La Grave’ has stuck to it’s roots and environmental style solution submission and on Monday will be initiating a crowdfunding campaign to move this forward and initiate a ‘global’ and local response to send a message to the 4 people that are attempting to decide the fate of La Grave. There are of course a few in the community that are presently unaware of the terrible fate that we would endure if a large corporation would have it’s way with the place and we end up with ‘Les Deux Graves’. I’ll post a link when it goes online which will sum up the situation and proper solution.

  7. Me November 3rd, 2016 10:34 am

    FWIW, I skied a pair of Kingpins last season. After about three days on them there were fairly large chunks of the rollers missing from the ski edges hitting them. The missing chunks were probably due to the width of the ski (Praxis Protests) and the way I ski. I asked Marker if this was a safety concern but got no reply.

  8. Lou Dawson 2 November 3rd, 2016 11:34 am

    Etto, I should have phrased it “the reasonably sized and lighter airbag packs are coming in roughly around 2,000 grams…” I’ll edit. Lou

  9. Lou Dawson 2 November 3rd, 2016 12:11 pm

    Me, sounds like the wrong binding for your style of skiing. Lou

  10. Kirt Brown November 3rd, 2016 8:27 pm

    Coincidentally, David Marchi also opened Crow’s Feet Commons in Bend Oregon November of 2012, specializing in backcountry ski equipment in winter and mountain bikes in the summer, supplementing the store with Tap Beer and coffees. Interesting, he did it the same Month as Cripple Creek. He also does entertainment. See here:
    and here:

  11. Joe Szasz November 4th, 2016 1:07 pm

    So sorry I’m going to miss your visit to Vail. I’ve wanted to meet you for years. I hope it isn’t your only trip to Vail this winter. Either way I plan on spending large portions on my salary at CCB over the years! Pray for snow!!

  12. Lou Dawson 2 November 4th, 2016 1:35 pm

    Joe, I’ll probably be over for an event at the Ski Museum, if so I’ll be sure to let everyone here know. Sorry to miss you. Doug and Randy say “I hope he has a large salary!” (grin). Lou

  13. ptor November 7th, 2016 4:19 am

    Please help save LA Grave from getting destroyed by big money!!!

  14. Wookie November 8th, 2016 4:48 am

    Hey Ptor – thanks for that link – I donated a bit….not cause I know anything about La Grave, but because I guess that anytime there is a group of people trying to keep things simple – its probably a good thing.
    Tyrolia has pushed through some really ugly and short-sighted projects over the years, and there is little sign its going to stop.

    I’d like to hear more about the issues surrounding the lease change in La Grave and how they relate to other iternational projects. Its a timely issue all over.
    Specifically – I want to know more about how the local effort plans to make La Grave at least cost-neutral. From what I’ve heard, that area is a dog in terms of profitability, and while I am all for “keeping it wild” sustainability has to include the idea of “sustainment”….ie: if this is supposed to keep running – what is this group planning to do to make it profitable?

    Places without lifts can still be skied – and they don’t have to be profitable. Is that one way to go?

  15. Wookie November 8th, 2016 4:49 am

    forgot to subscribe

  16. ptor November 8th, 2016 10:05 am

    Hey Wookie – Not only is the plan of Signal de La Grave to implement maximum green technologies (the regular solar,micro-hydro wind combo untill we can get access to an over-unity generator) to run as much of the operation as possible, use as much local food production as possible( which there is plenty of and growing), reintegrate the ‘skiable domain’ into the local economy through sustainable forest management (and thus skiing improvement) but also to streamline/downsize the whole operation. Right now it’s a myth that the ski-area is totally natural because there is 2 plus months of diesel burning excavator work to fill in the crevasses to make the piste on the glacier and then it gets groomed regularly. This does not fit in with a natural nor adventure skiing marketing image. So the plan would be to take out the surface lift (which also runs on diesel) and keep the glacier pristine again (The guides will actually have more work) AND help keep out the dodos that cross over from Les Deux Alpes, follow tracks get stuck and rescued or die. This is something that we hope would become a global trend by making international liasons…taking out lifts instead of putting in more).
    I’m probably one of a handfull of people around that could foresee a bright future with happy tourism WITHOUT a lift but that’s next level 😉

  17. Geewilligers November 22nd, 2016 2:56 pm

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