Tech Bindings with “Alpine” Heels — The Hybrids

Post by blogger | August 31, 2017      

(Another post in our mission to help ski touring newcomers figure out the nuances. See Part One here. Our publishing partner Cripple Creek Backcountry kindly supported our work here, they’re full-service — a good choice if you need TLC for your ski touring shopping dilemmas.)

Good example of "hybrid" tech binding. Marker Kingpin has a "tech" toe but alpine-like heel.

Good example of “hybrid” tech binding. Marker Kingpin has a “tech” toe but alpine-like heel.

They’re the hybrid grays of the alien binding world. Promising mysterious benefits, but at the same time emptying your pockets and perhaps asking more questions than they answer. (And yes, sometimes it even feels like you’re being experimented on, especially with first-season products).

We’re talking about ski touring bindings that build on the “classic” tech binding platform. That of connecting binding toe and heel by using the boot shell as a “frame,” but in this case such bindings having heel units that often appear at first glance as a ski resort binding than something for the backcountry.

First, a few terms:
— “Elastic travel” refers to mechanical parts that move with the resistance of a spring, with ski bindings more travel distance is often better.
— “Accidental release” refers to coming out of a ski binding while on the downhill, unnecessary and unplanned. Often dangerous.
— “Tech Binding” is defined above.
— “RV” stands for “release-retention value,” simply “safety release” numbers printed on most bindings. This is also known as “DIN.”

Your choices, in alpha order:

The full picture. I really like the way these look.

Dynafit Beast 14. Click images to enlarge.

Dynafit Beast 14 uses rear pins, but with a mechanically mysterious way of adding more vertical elastic travel. Releases to the side at the heel, with a rotating toe that likely helps prevent accidental release. All versions of this binding are discontinued, but many are still available. A version with RV value 16 was made for a while, it’s quite heavy at 966 grams per binding, probably due to a complex and bulky toe unit, as compared to the model 14.

Tecton in touring mode, heel lift deployed.

Tecton in touring mode, heel lift deployed.

Fritschi Tecton is new this season. This guy could be the technological equivalent of a NASA Mars Rover, it’s just that cool. Releases to the side at the toe — with radical elastic travel. Plenty of vertical travel at the heel, as well as a tricky hidden system that uses the boot’s rear tech fitting to resist the boot slipping sideways out of the rear binding cup. Uses same toe as Fritschi Vipec “Black.” This will be the Tecton first-season in the wild, unless you’re keen on early adoption it can often be wise to avoid any tech binding in its first consumer season, due to the voluminous history of tech binding defects.

Marker Kingpin boasts more heel upward travel, toe unit is virtually the same as most other tech bindings.

Marker Kingpin boasts more heel upward travel, toe unit is virtually the same as most other tech bindings.

Marker Kingpin has vertical elastic travel at the heel, but is similar to other tech bindings in that it releases to the side at the heel. While most ski tourers have no problem with this mode of release, fact is that in aggressive skiing the “heel thrust” power applied to any binding that releases sideways at the heel can overcome the ability of the heel to hold you in — unless you dial up your release-retention RV values. Sold in several versions: 10 DIN, 13 DIN, brakeless, demo, etc. 10 and 13 are nearly identical other than stronger springs; 10 version is entirely functional for nearly anyone. Also note that boots with shortened rear “shelf” may require what Marker calls their “DIN Adapter.” (Example of such boot would be Dynafit TLT 6 — boots in that category are an odd choice for pairing with a full-on free touring binding such as Kingpin.)

This is where we mention that some of these bindings have what’s known as “TUV Certification” to international standards for ski touring bindings. While such standards are clearly well intentioned (and we make a point of covering them here at WildSnow), in our opinion they’re overly restrictive, incomplete in terms of what they test for, and have odd requirements that can stifle binding design. Our advice at this juncture (2017) is to either entirely ignore or at least mitigate any influence “TUV Certification” has on your shopping decisions. Instead, follow the basics: Don’t buy first-season products; get advice from friends and reputable ski shops; work backwards from your skiing goals to the proper gear; and so on. More about TUV here. Also please see our glossary.

For the record, Trab TR2 ski binding.

Trab TR2 ski binding.

Trab TR2 is ingeniously simple. Toe wings release to the sides, boot heel is held down by two spring loaded bars that rest on top of the sole “shelf.” Downside is you have to hold the heel open to enter downhill mode. You can get somewhat used to this, but the procedure can remain awkward in tight spots or super deep powder. Most importantly, TR2 requires your boot to have special toe and heel fittings. Latest version is the S4 fitting, sold with some La Sportiva boots, works with both standard tech bindings and TR2.

So, the million snowflake question: Why would you choose a hybrid? Indeed, a confusing world out there and the hybrids in our midst make it worse. Self-evaluate your goals. You want a binding that as closely as possible mixes an alpine ski binding and tech touring binding? Hybrid could be a good choice. Or, have you spent 300 hours studying how ski bindings work, and you’ve determined you’d prefer side release at the toe, instead of heel? Perhaps rock a hybrid that does so. Want a binding that’s designed with bias to aggressive downhill skiing? Perhaps a hybrid, though the intense competition to make these things compete in the weight wars can result in bindings less durable than you’d expect.

Then, the two million snowflake question: Why would you NOT choose a hybrid? In weight, some of the heavier classic tech bindings are somewhat equivalent to the hybrids. Difficult choice in that case, perhaps price? Or preferences in how heel lifters and mode (downhill uphill) changes are executed? But drop down to the minimalist tech bindings, likely without brakes, and you get a clear win in terms of lightening your hoof load. Thus, if you’re going human powered and not auditioning for ski movies, a setup with a proven classic can be pure joy. Also consider that the complex hybrids can be more challenging to manipulate (clicking in, switching modes, etc.) and may also be sensitive to icing issues.

Clearly, weight could be a crucial tradeoff for anyone using these bindings with human power. The facts:

Hybrid Pin Tech Ski Touring Bindings (alpine-like heel, tour with pin system for toe)
Binding Model (100 mm brake) Weight

Diff in grams/ounces
from Dynafit Radical 2
w/ 100 mm brake
642 gr

Diff in grams/ounces
from classic Dynafit
Speed Radical
392 gr
Dif in grams/ounces
from Atomic-Salomon
classic Backland-MTN
280 gr
Dynafit Beast 14 852 gr + 200/7 + 460/16 + 572/20
Fritschi Tecton 678 gr + 36/1.3 + 286/10 + 398/14
Marker Kingpin 730 gr + 88/3 + 338/12 + 450/16
Trab TR 2 583 gr – 59/2 + 191/7 + 303/10.7

There you go. After all that, if the alien hybrid bindings are still strange to you, leave a question-comment. You’ll get a response.

Below, more photos of the hybrids.

Kingpin toe detail, arrow points to "pin" system used by all tech bindings.

Kingpin toe detail, arrow points to “pin” system used by all tech bindings.

Kingpin heel has vertical travel  similar to alpine binding, but it is SIGNIFICANTLY DIFFERENT as it releases to the side at the heel.

Kingpin heel has vertical travel similar to alpine binding, but it is SIGNIFICANTLY DIFFERENT as it releases to the side at the heel.

Marker Kingpin hybrid tech binding in uphill mode, with heel lift.

Marker Kingpin hybrid tech binding in uphill mode, with heel lift.

View of how the Trab TR2 ski touring binding toe opens to the side for release.

View of how the Trab TR2 ski touring binding toe opens to the side for release.

Trab TR2 has super firm heel hold-down due to wider width of jaws as well as no need for binding rotation left-right.

Trab TR2 has super firm heel hold-down due to wider width of jaws as well as no need for binding rotation left-right.

Fritschi Vipec Black to left, has better left-right travel at toe, significant.

Fritschi Vipec Black to left, has better left-right travel at toe, significant.

Fritschi PR image, Tecton, our notes.

Fritschi PR image, Tecton, our notes.

Dynafit Beast 14 appears to have simplified the somewhat complex toe unit of the first version.

Dynafit Beast 14 appears to have simplified the somewhat complex toe unit of the first version.

Beast 14 toe rotates 5mm, similar in function to Beast 16 as well as Radical 2.0. A clever part of the lock lever keeps the binding from rotating while it's open, making it easier to step into.

Beast 14 toe rotates 5mm, similar in function to Beast 16 as well as Radical 2.0. A clever part of the lock lever keeps the binding from rotating while it’s open, making it easier to step into.

Hybrid pin tech ski touring  bindings tend to have heels that appear as alpine bindings.

Hybrid pin tech ski touring bindings tend to have heels that appear as alpine bindings.


34 Responses to “Tech Bindings with “Alpine” Heels — The Hybrids”

  1. Dabe August 31st, 2017 11:28 am

    edit: the TR2 weight diff vs radical should be negative (-1) 59g. That was part of why I bought them.

    Please feel free to delete this comment after you decide to make that edit or not.


  2. Lou Dawson 2 August 31st, 2017 11:46 am

    Thanks Dabe, I thought I might space something out in that chart! I’ll look at it right away. Lou

  3. Lou Dawson 2 August 31st, 2017 12:32 pm

    So, how has the TR2 worked out? What boots are you using?

  4. See August 31st, 2017 8:54 pm

    Seems to me that it would be more helpful to categorize bindings by what type of skiing they are good for than by the mere presence or absence of an alpine heel. I don’t have experience with any of these bindings, but I suspect that lateral release at the toe (Vipec) is as important as an alpine type heel for “freeride” skiing. Likewise for strong tech toe springs and a heel piece with some fore and aft travel. But categorizing bindings by their performance would require actual performance information, which is a lot harder to come by than just checking if the heel has some mechanism for increased vertical elastic travel.

  5. See August 31st, 2017 9:14 pm

    Yeah, I know the Beast heel piece uses pins, so it’s not technically “alpine.” It also has a turntable toe. Would a turntable or stronger toe springs or lateral toe release make a better freeride binding? In my opinion, on snow testing is the only way to really answer this question.

  6. Camilo August 31st, 2017 10:27 pm

    “Voluminous history of tech binding defects.” I think that could be said about ALL first generation touring bindings, not just tech.

  7. SteveR September 1st, 2017 1:46 am

    Tecton v Atomic Backland weight difference on the chart looks off?

  8. Lou Dawson 2 September 1st, 2017 8:30 am

    I’ll double check. Meanwhile, added + and – symbols to clarify.

    I build those tables with my old HTML editor then paste them in, saves/edits got confused. Apologies, looks much better now.

    Reason I broke out bindings this way is we were getting questions about the “bindings with alpine heels.”

    Side release at toe would of course be another way to categorize. Only exception to that in this overview is the Beast, and it’s discontinued. I might remove it from the chart later in the winter when residual stock goes to near zero.


  9. jbo September 1st, 2017 9:14 am

    Cool chart, Lou. Categorizing by side-release at the toe would be more insightful regarding forces on your leg, but it leaves only two bindings, both with boot-compatibility issues. The other two, despite “alpine-like” heels, don’t have much in common with alpine bindings release-wise.

    In our testing there was a pretty clear winner in terms of repeatable “alpine-like” release with compatible boots. Of course, even those could get gummed up by damaged fittings.

  10. See September 1st, 2017 9:55 am

    To be clear, I’m interested in epidemiological type data about binding performance, or at least the sort of extensive anecdotal evidence industry folks might have (but which they may be reluctant to share because, well, they’re in the industry).

  11. Dabe September 1st, 2017 12:10 pm


    I LOVE them, I use the Sideral 2.0 (that i bought from jbo at, cannot say enough good things about that experience) on a 95mm wide Iclantic ski. They release exactly as advertised and ski exactly like an alpine binding save for perhaps marginally less shock absorption. My goal was to get the least irresponsible tech binding (lateral at toe, heel clamped down) for skiing on the piste and they have proven to be a dream in this regard. I had intended to move up the Spectre 2.0 when they were released but have found the Sideral plenty powerful for my speed limit. I have Trab race bindings too and cannot say enough good things about these Italians!


    Which was the clear winner?

  12. Lou Dawson 2 September 1st, 2017 12:38 pm

    See, there is virtually NO meaningful data available. Just personal anecdotes… for example, I spiral fractured my leg on the early Ramer bindings, probably due to multiple factors, but not the least of which the Ramer blocks lateral release exactly the way of any tech binding does that does not release to the side at the toe. There is a leverage point where forces easily exceed the strength of the leg bone. This can be simulated during carpet testing.

    (Of course, bindings that do NOT release to the side at the heel have an opposite detrimental affect on knee connective tissue. Something to keep in mind. In other words, just because you can test an tech binding and it looks like an alpine binding, that doesn’t mean it’s overall superior.)

    I think the main thing here is to look at your style of ski touring, match that up with friends and acquaintances, observe what gear those guys are using, and if it seems to be working then good.


  13. Lou Dawson 2 September 1st, 2017 12:41 pm

    The binding testing article JBO ( contributed, among other interesting reading, can be found under this site search URL:

  14. jbo September 1st, 2017 2:10 pm

    See – That would be amazing data to have on these bindings. It exists in the alpine world but it took many years of collecting data at a ski resort.

    Dabe – It sounds like you already know!

    Lou – Thank you for reminding folks that “alpine-like” doesn’t imply better or safer in all respects. Skiers are still surprised to learn that most alpine bindings aren’t designed to prevent knee injury.

  15. Lou Dawson 2 September 1st, 2017 4:10 pm

    A primary mission here at WildSnow, as is clear to many of you, education…

    I’m sure someone will do an epidemiology on ski touring injuries, in fact, I’ll bet someone at some place like the U of Innsbruck is already doing it. It actually would be that tough, just time consuming, interviewing thousands of ski tourers.

    The results could cause some radical changes in things like ISO standards, and product liability.

    The old telemark injuries study was always interesting. It’s archived at Pubmed


  16. See September 1st, 2017 8:21 pm

    The “take a survey of what equipment your buddies are using” method of binding selection leaves a lot to be desired. For example, I’m the major gear weenie/guinea pig in my social circle. Most of my buddies are on teles, Verticals or Ions (nothing wrong with that). And the super hard cores I see out there are often locking out light tech bindings. So I’m not getting a lot of useful information about the latest and greatest from my buds.

    I appreciate and rely on the information provided here on Wildsnow (the only other source I know of that is even remotely comparable is the Skialper binding review). I just think there is room for improvement. Truth be told, I sometimes wonder if there would be more good binding performance information if it didn’t potentially interfere with the manufacturer’s marketing messages.

  17. See September 1st, 2017 8:26 pm

    I’m not suggesting that Lou is just towing the manufacturer’s marketing line. One of the many things I admire about Wildsnow is that Lou seems to call them as he sees them.

  18. Andy Carey September 2nd, 2017 7:35 pm

    Interesting. I got rid of my vertical STs, Radical STs, and down to my last 2 pairs of Speed Radicals (which I have come to loath), on my Voile Vector bc and Cho Oyus (I have a pair of ultrlghts with brake for them already). My wife is happy with her Verticals (I was too, but I sold the skis). Now I have Speed Ultralights (Movement Vertx X, bc), Plum guides (Movement Shifts, bc), Yaks (Voile V8, deepest snows), and Kingpins (Fischer Ranger 98ti, sidecountry). From this post, my experience, and the video/review provided from ProGuide in North Bend, Wa, any future choice will boil down to the Ultralights or Techtons. I know people with more exotic super light weight bindings that have had some major problems, but I won’t comment on them because I haven’t used them.

  19. Lou Dawson 2 September 3rd, 2017 9:48 am

    Thanks See, I do strive to treat everyone fairly… one way to generate quick blog traffic is to excessively slag on people or products, but no future in that for us. Lou

  20. See September 3rd, 2017 7:05 pm

    I certainly mean no disrespect to you, Lou, or anyone else. My fixation on binding data (aside from general curiosity) probably can be attributed to my impression that the most popular bindings don’t all look like the best designs to me, but do seem to reflect the marketing and distribution clout of their respective manufacturers. But again, I haven’t ridden most of them.

  21. Mark W September 5th, 2017 9:23 am

    Andy, you loathe Speed Radicals? Care to explain why? I’ve had good experience with mine.

  22. XXX_er September 5th, 2017 11:18 am

    From what I have observed its pretty obvious any scribe can only observe/report in a more or less non-partisan way and let the reader form his own conclusians OR risk burning bridges in the industry with the end result nobody wants to talk to you … in which case we all lose out

    which does not prevent the reader from calling a spade a shovel

  23. Andy Carey September 5th, 2017 11:56 am

    Mark W, I live in western WA, a maritime climate. At near-freezing temps snow buildup turning into ice under the heel is a problem with all bindings, but especially with Speed Radicals. On near level approaches and traverses at times I can not take 3 strides without having to clear the snow. Jabbing at the snow just makes things work because it roughens the heel piece, the base plate, and the topsheet. I’ve used everything from rub-on flouride ski wax, melt on glide wax, Armorall, Easy Glide, etc. etc.

    The big problem seems to be the adjustment screw and the longitudinal opening in the baseplate. I think some of the problem could be avoided if the binding was mounted such that the heel piece was in the most forward position–so, then, why have an adjustable binding. [on the Vertical and Radical STs the brake seems to alleviate the problem]

    So I have come up with 3 solutions: (1) put a stomp pad forward of the base/adjustment plate such that the boot heel can not compress the snow into ice, keeping the heel from coming all the way down to the plate; works well on my Voile Vector BCs that I used on XC-BC ski patrol; (2) At the end of this season on my Cho Oyus, I filled in the adjustment track and covered the baseplate screw holes with a Permatek sealant, making the sealant layer as smooth and slick as possible. I put a silicone or teflon lube on that before going skiing and it seem to work well this summer; but the worst conditions are in the fall and spring; I’ll see what happens this fall. (3) replace the binding–my Plum guides with the OEM stomp pad on my Movement Shifts collect less snow than my other bindings. I recently added a pair of Speed Superlite 2.0 Whites (on a B&D plate) on Movement Vertex-Xs and they worked absolutely fine this spring–only had to clear snow 2X. I’ll try them this fall, of course. If the Speed Radicals continue to ice up and the Ultralights don’t, I’ll replace the Radicals on my Cho Oyus with ultralights.

  24. AAG September 5th, 2017 1:05 pm


    Thank you for the follow-up article. As one of those interested in the alpine vs. tech heel trade-offs this offers some more insight.

    My my takeaway, as a new to backcountry skier coming from the resort, is that something along a side release toe / alpine heel is going to be my solution. I am currently skiing DPS Wailer 99’s w/ Tour12 frame bindings as my everywhere but home (east coast) ski. I am guessing I get enough improvement in the uphill experience by moving to the Tecton to be worth it, but given more than 50% of all days will be on-piste / side country still an appropriate tool for this purpose. (I telemark most of my true resort / on piste days.)

  25. John September 5th, 2017 7:37 pm

    I have been using the Dynafit FT-12 almost exclusively (Plum Guide as well) since it’s introduction, until the Fall of 2014 when I was able obtain numerous Kingpin 13s. (Marker was my first sponsor in a different sport they were trying to get into). I gave Dav 2 pair in December of ’14. We both decided it was the best binding for crushing it. Never have had a bad releases since, and it increased the torsional rigidity of touring skis making it possible to push them harder then with a conventional touring binding. I remarked, after skiing boots unbuckled, that I had more power to drive the skis then with normal touring bindings, and I can ski a much lighter boot. Dav commented, imagine how much harder he could drive a ski with stiffer boots. He is skiing the KP13 w/ orange Freedom RSs, and I am skiing KP13s with a 2 buckle boot.
    Bottom line is I have more drive with a 2 buckle boot and KP13 , then a 4 buckle boot with FT-12s on the same ski. Plus a lighter overall setup.
    KP13s are my daily driver except for my alpine race skis.

  26. See September 5th, 2017 8:36 pm

    How is the 6 pack better than a 4 pack?

  27. John September 5th, 2017 8:58 pm

    It’s not about the toe piece. The Alpine style heel in conjunction with the pin style toe makes the ski much more torsionally rigid.
    I have been told by binding designers, the pin style toe is already stiffer then an Alpine toe.

  28. See September 5th, 2017 9:18 pm

    I don’t have a problem with the torsional rigidity of my bindings as long as my skis and boots aren’t too soft. I’m more interested in release/retention for bindings. But I’m old.

  29. jbo September 5th, 2017 9:43 pm

    John – I suspect what you’re feeling is related to the heel riding on a spring which stiffens the ski flex. This is true of any binding without a heel gap (including Radical 2, G3 ION, etc). Without the toe and heel connected in a rigid platform, the binding can’t do much torsional stiffening. The boot is still the primary connection, which is why Fischer added fiber stiffeners to the Travers Carbon soles.

  30. rols September 6th, 2017 12:15 am

    It seems you have to make a choice as to whether you want to reduce the likelihood of torsional loading injuries in the lower leg (as provided by those bindings that release laterally at the toe) or reduce likelihood of knee ligament injury (as provided by bindings that release laterally at the heel).
    To make a logical choice as to what type of binding to ski on, one would need to know the likelihood of each injury type. Recent statistical injury data seems to be biased by the fact that most alpine bindings release laterally at the toe, so tibia spiral fractures etc appear low.
    Is there any older injury data from when there were rear lateral release alpine bindings in use that might shed some light on this?. Anyone have links to such data or an educated guess.

  31. AAG September 13th, 2017 9:28 am

    Question for the group:

    As and aspiring ski tourist stuck in the east coast, I have a one ski quiver for my travel. This setup is supposed to cover me for 2 – 3 trips a year to Colorado, the Alps, and hopefully a bonus BC / Wasatch, etc. I am currently on a set of DPS Wailer 99 Pure3 (not touring) paired to Marker Tour F12 EPS bindings. The original decision to go with the frame bindings was made easier by the fact that I was on Cochise boots with alpine soles, but as I am at the point where I am almost exclusively telemark (NTN, another discussion) on piste, I have now moved onto Tecnica Zero G boots which have tech soles.

    For skis that will really split time 60 / 40 on the resort, bowls, side country, itinerary slopes, and actual skin up ski down ski touring would one be better served by a Vipec or Tecton binding? I am convinced that the tech bindings have gotten to the point where the frame binding just does not make sense.

    Thoughts? Debate?

    Also, I am about 200lbs, and have skied my entire life but am not overly aggressive. These days most of my time is spent leaning to telemark while I chase a 5 and 6 year old down the slopes.

  32. Lou Dawson 2 September 13th, 2017 9:54 am

    Hi AAG, main thing is Vipec is vetted now by consumer testing, Tecton is not. That would lead me to advise a Vipec if you force me to choose (smile). I do like the Tecton, however, and if it proves out in terms of durability, lack of defects, etc. then it’ll be amazing. Lou

  33. AAG September 13th, 2017 10:35 am

    Lou, would someone like me really notice the difference in the heal when skiing. Most aggressive stuff I do is Highlands Bowl and the like.

    I think what I am really supposed to do is be patient and hang with the F12’s for another season until people have put time on the Tecton.

  34. Lou Dawson 2 September 13th, 2017 3:11 pm

    AAG, if you do a careful test you can feel a difference between classic rotating tech heel, and heels that are more stable in a downhill turn. But does that cause you to ski better? Doubtful. The operative point is that the rotating heel is responding to normal skiing forces in the same way it responds to the need for a safety release. This can lead to a conflict, in that the binding set to be safe can perhaps accidentally release to the side a the heel. This is why virtually all alpine bindings gave up many years ago on bindings that released to the side at the heel. It was just too hard to decouple the need for retention from that of release.

    So, the main theory here is that it’s possible bindings such as Tecton and TR2 might, just might, be safer in terms of being able to use “chart” release value settings and not have much chance of accidental release. On top of that, it’s proven that alpine bindings that release at the toe can be better at preventing spiral leg fractures, though they don’t appear very good at protecting knees.

    What a mess? Happy shopping (smile).

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  Your Comments

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

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Backcountry skiing is dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. While the authors and editors of the information on this website make every effort to present useful information about ski mountaineering, due to human error and passing time, the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use.

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