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.