Ski Touring News Roundup — G3, Scarpa, Everest, More

Post by blogger | November 9, 2018      

We are in Denver, Colorado at the moment, attending Outdoor Retailer trade show. The weirdness of the trade show scene continues to manifest. Instead of one monster show, as ISPO Munich provides*, “across the river” here in the U.S. we get a fractured scene that’s got everyone hopping. I’ll not waste space on a detailed B-to-B commentary, main point is this might be the death convulsions of the trade show concept.

G3 Minimist Speed is 100 percent mohair plush.  Glide and Universal models are nylon, and a 70/30 mo-ny mix. Numerous lengths and widths.

G3 Minimist Speed is 100 percent mohair plush. Glide and Universal models are nylon, and a 70/30 mo-ny mix. Numerous lengths and widths.

Not that trade shows will go away entirely. But my crystal ball says that in terms of media relations and retail order generation the shows might fall to other approaches such as one-on-one meetings and small confabs.

For example: last evening. Neither Scarpa nor G3 paid the ridiculous cash-per-square-foot the show producers rob for a show booth. Instead, G3 and Scarpa rented a wonderful venue a few blocks away, invited a mob of journalists and a pod of dealers, then had fun with their captive audience. All enhanced by a nice catered meal, open bar and the sort of junket stuff that you guys know we WildSnow elite employees seek out like we’re shoveling gold on the Klondike.

Not that the concept of such events is new. What’s different is two major players giving up on booths and instead expending energy on throwing an event.

As well organized press events often are, this G3/Scarpa gig was a success. Focused presentations and then one-on-ones for extended convos made it perfect. We spoke at length with Scarpa designer-athlete Chris Davenport, and Scarpa ski category manager Massimo Pellizzer. Spark of the talk was their re-work of the now venerable Maestrale.

Maestrale XT looking bueno.

Maestrale XT looking bueno.

Let me tell you, the Maestrale XT, due to retail fall of 2019, is one thoroughbred of a freeride ski touring boot. Said to be a bit lighter than the current RS (XT catalog 1490 grams size 27), slightly stiffer. Overall stunning. Joke was them calling it a “130 PLUS.” Attendee’s ensuing joke: “Is that a 132.8, or a 132.9?” I don’t know about you guys, but I’m so tired of the flex number wars I look for a wall to punch every time I hear the numerals mentioned. But we’re stuck with them apparently, so the PLUS jokes were appreciated.

Then there was G3… As most of you know, the ZED (yeah, like SCARPA it’s supposed to be all caps, but it’s our blog so we keyboard what feels ok) is retailing, now. But what floated my boat and I expect will float me up the hill is a new climbing skin subcategory for the Canadian gear gurus (G3 means “three gurus?”). What you’ll see coming on is their “Minimist” skins: thin super-light carpets with G3’s new glue (way better than the old stuff, which we gave up on, actually). Have you experienced snow packing in under the tip area of your lightweight skins, beginning at the edges, and insidiously creeping inward to instigate total failure after a few laps? The G3 solution is fascinating. They added a carbon fiber insert to the tip area that laterally stiffens the skin, so it resists curling and subsequent snow creep.

I left the best for last. For fall 2019 they’ll retail a re-worked Findr ski (I’m not going with the weird capitalization, sorry). While this should be renamed as a different ski than the current Findr, sigh, we’ll move on from that complaint to our usual positivism. Indeed, the Findr 2 appears to be a winner. (Content deleted at the request of G3, they want the Findr infos to go public in January. Lou)

We’ll have more about all the sweet new product coming along from G3 and Scarpa. Takeaway for now: as a continued growth segment in the otherwise somewhat static ski industry, ski touring is in a delightful place. You will continue to see a slew of incrementally improved and new products that’ll tempt your wallet and in the end, improve your backcountry experience.

Ski town jobs: Fun cartoons from down under.

European ski related luxury continues its ascent to the stratosphere. (Vail doesn’t hold a candle). I’m trying to get tickets for the Glacier Express train between St Moritz and Zermatt. I’ll accept nothing less than the “Excellence Class,” which has just 20 commodious seats per car, all at windows. Afternoon tea and multi-course meals part of the deal of course. Problem is, the eight hours it takes to go 180-miles, dubbed “the world’s slowest train express,” might also be the most precious “express” per mile at $713.00 for the ride. The tea must be quite special, they have time to brew it perfectly.

Ideas for your Japan trip this winter. Or how about Iceland once the sun comes up again?

Congratulations to Hilaree Nelson and Jim Morrison for their nailing the first ever descent of an enormous couloir on Lhotse, Everest’s little brother. Surprising the line had never been skied, but then, Everest is right there, so that’s where the throngs head (on skis or mostly not). Sounds like the Lohtse descent was continuous, from the summit, and the climbers did much of the work (it’s common for Everest climbers to pay others to set fixed lines and such, in what’s become to resemble a construction project with sub-contractors).

News on the home front (edited press release follows).

WildSnow publishing partner Cripple Creek Backcountry (CCBC) announces that it will open an Aspen Location in collaboration with 8KPeak at the Hub of Aspen this winter. The Hub is a community centered bike shop located at 616 Hyman street in downtown Aspen. Although Cripple Creek Backcountry has been serving the entire Roaring Fork Valley’s ski touring community for the past six years from the village of Carbondale, the Aspen location will have a strong focus on bringing demo gear and service work closer to the snow and a vibrant uphill community “upvalley.”

CCBC will be hosting an Aspen location open house and slide show on November 10th to celebrate the upcoming season. Details regarding their opening event can be found on the CCBC website.

*Note: Though Europe ISPO is one massive show, they do have a number of shows over there as well. But ISPO truly does bring most everything under one venue.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


21 Responses to “Ski Touring News Roundup — G3, Scarpa, Everest, More”

  1. Tom Gos November 9th, 2018 12:48 pm

    Lou, can you tell us if this Maestrale XT is a new mold/design or a hopped up version of the current boot (different plastic, liner, buckles, strap, etc.)?

  2. Ken A November 9th, 2018 1:23 pm

    There is a new G3 skin on their website called the Alpinist+ Speed… is that similar to the new skin you refer to here? It looks different than your picture in the tip and tail connections but could be the same construction. Looks like a good option for this year!

  3. Lou2 November 9th, 2018 3:22 pm

    Looks like pretty much the same mold, backbone and cuff might be changed a bit. We can get details soon. Lou

  4. Lou2 November 9th, 2018 3:27 pm

    Alpinist Speed is the same 100% mohair but on the thicker normal backing. Lou

  5. Lou Dawson 2 November 9th, 2018 4:52 pm

    Added photo of the enigmatic Maestrale XT…

  6. Nick Thomas November 9th, 2018 6:32 pm

    Seems like Scarpa have ditched one of the best features of the Maestrale – will that raised middle buckle give as good heel hold? Will also need to undo two buckles on each boot for skinning.

  7. Bob November 9th, 2018 8:35 pm

    Interesting. Look at the tech inserts. They went back to the old Dynafit inserts. Makes it officially conpatibable with the Shift binding?

  8. Cody November 9th, 2018 11:00 pm

    Weird that G3 asked you to take stuff down since Blister posted a video of one of their employee’s showing the how the new FindRs have magnets that hold the skis together. Could be pretty rad. I could see that idea making it’s way into skimo race stuff.

    Also, did you hit some bad traffic on i70. This post seems especially grumpy.

  9. XXX_er November 10th, 2018 10:57 am

    Comparing pictures it looks like they changed to a beefier cuff with more plastic extending lower in front

    So they had to move the middle buckle a little higher, they went to metal buckles and they added a “Booster strap”

    The new cuff should stiffen the boot for the down and it might impede touring on the up ?

    But the lower shell looks the same and probably saves Scarpa some money ?

  10. ryan November 10th, 2018 2:12 pm

    I’m not attending the show so this is speculation based on photos but I think the XT is replacing the Freedom? It uses the same walk mode lever and I saw a photo on Trailspace’s facebook showing next year’s Maestrale, Maestrale RS, with the XT as a separate, presumably beefier boot to slot above the RS.

    Link to photo is here:

  11. Lou2 November 10th, 2018 2:44 pm

    Cody, when you’re the highest visibility ski touring site, a weird syndrome happens in that you tend to be the one held to NDAs and various other content restrictions and takedown requests that other sites either ignore or never know about in the first place. It’s frustrating. I’m glad we’re not really a “gear” website because whomever of the 300 gear websites out there competing for readers, the one that gets on top will draw attention, the same syndrome will kick in, and their hopes and dreams might be shattered. The syndrome has been happening to us for 15 years, nothing new. Used to piss me off, now I just present a knowing smile (smile). I’m glad there are other publishers out there who go for it, more power to them.

    I’d add that it never occurred to me that any of the info at the described press event was embargoed. Perhaps I wasn’t listening. In any case, now that the big secret is out, the magnets are cool.


  12. swissiphic November 10th, 2018 3:22 pm

    Interesting anti snow buildup at tips area of skin idea by G3. Came up with my own mitigation measure idea that germinated over the summer. Use cheap crazy carpet plastic (5 bucks at canadian tire) to cut a section that slips under tip/shovel rocker area of skins and use hot air gun to hand shape a curl of material up the sidewalls and slightly over the topsheet edge of skis. Should mechanically prevent the snow buildup. Not too worried about lack of metal edge exposure in the rockered section of skis. Might have to devise a better bonding of crazy carpet plastic to skin at the edges to make it bomber but perhaps a good blast of the glue with a heat gun and some good clamping pressure will produce the desired result. All just a concept at this point so it will be interesting to see what unknown unknowns will emerge.

  13. b.fredlund November 10th, 2018 7:58 pm

    Scarpa, that’s cool you are improving the Maestrale, but what we really want is a refined Alien RS! (read: slightly more durable with a better water proof gaiter) I think that boot is phenomenal,!! but after only having about 60 days on it, and seeing it slowly come apart, question if I should be investing in it’s heavier sibling the F1. And obviously, it’s hard to want to go heavier! once you’ve experienced the spring in your step with the Alien RS!

  14. Scott November 11th, 2018 7:38 am

    Beau, I’m with you on a “refined” Alien RS, but I’m not sure if that sort of refinement would focus to the RS — I think that Scarpa would do best to redesign the F1 with some of the same features of their race/race-plus boots. If the F1 kept most of its flex characteristics but had an improved walk mode and was ~200g lighter, it would be the only boot I toured in. Basically, an Alien RS with a full tongue and a buckle closure system could be a true “touring” boot and not a “race-plus” model that crosses over into touring. For laying down turns on wind affected snow and unsoftened corn, there’s no replicating a touring boot with a tongue (Sportiva Spitfire is my current pick in this category, TLT5 still my all time favorite).

    I have fewer days on the Alien RS than you do, but I’m not seeing any major quality issues with well over 200k vert on them (and a lot of time driving 100mm skis). That said, if the boots did start to break down sooner than later, it would be true to form — just like race boots and skis, “race-plus” boots and sub-1kg skis have a finite lifetime and significant durability concerns compared with traditional touring equipment. Are you having issues with the sharp lower edge of the cuff rubbing against the fabric of the gaiter and abrading it? I was expecting this to happen, but no sign yet. I put a message out to Scarpa NA about whether to re-treat the gaiter with a waterproofing agent each season but didn’t get a reply yet.

    As for G3, I dig their binding/skin entry into the world of lightweight touring, clearly an improvement over the days of the Ion (and the old Alpinist skins, which were the cause of many ruined first touring experiences for friends and enemies alike). I was a G3 devotee in my tele days and felt that their classically-shaped, mid-width skis performed better than just about any others on the market for my style of skiing. Now that I’ve sold my soul for a pair of Dynafits, though, I’ll stick with the binding/skin manufacturers who have lightweight heritage and a full product line to back it up.

  15. Eric November 11th, 2018 9:16 am

    Lou, Did you hear if there will be any changes to the 2019/2020 (Blue/white) Maestrale RS? If they were able to build the XT to be slightly lighter then the current RS I would assume they could bring the weight down on the RS also.

  16. powbanger November 11th, 2018 10:17 am

    I believe your perspective on the industry show model is on point Lou. I can only speculate, but to host 1, 2, or 3 night introduction event for retailers and press must be much more efficient in cost and impact than having a large (I’m guessing from SCARPA’s direction) very expensive booth footprint.
    Timing is the real challenge for early shows like OR as well. I am certain you are very respective of NDAs and requests to delay information about products from the different brands you review (your blog would not get the early word if you were not) some retailers are not very happy with the timing of the show. Their local ski area just opened, the BC skiing is good and getting better, it’s only Nov 11th and before they have sold 15% of their 18/19 inventory, here comes 19/20 gear news, which try as brands might, is impossible to keep behind the curtain with the combo of early shows, early snow stoke, cell phone cameras.
    Skiing good, get out there

  17. Lou Dawson 2 November 11th, 2018 2:57 pm

    Pow, indeed, it was silly. We used up two days with travel, paid for the hotel, and so forth… then I find out I can’t blog about stuff. Oh well, if it was easy everybody would be doing. Wait, they are… (smile)

  18. Davis November 12th, 2018 12:43 pm

    As to the trade show comments… Hardgoods and softgoods fall into separate categories as it pertains to release schedules. Waiting longer to release new hardgoods ensures that companies will still sell this seasons offerings and that consumers won’t just wait until next season to get the newest offering. Sales strategies for sure. I agree that the future is in one-on-one meetings and regional shows, where I get most of my work done anyways. OR and SIA have historically been a waste of time, and I can get more done at a smaller show. The industry is definitely going through changes, but doesn’t seem to be in a positive direction, especially for smaller shops.

  19. Powbanger November 13th, 2018 7:07 am

    While OR has split the show, they did want to host the Hardgoods show the first week in Jan.until vendors and retailers told them they would not come to the show.
    Even with the split you now have 19.20 softgoods pictues and information out there but, the retail sales calendar is the same. It’s only November 13th, enjoy the present,
    It’s too early for retailers and too early for media (as they cannot release information)
    It’s only speculation, but my guess is vendor booth space and attendance will be lower this year, especially with the insane hotel rates OR has “negotiated” which are often times now higher then want you can fins on travel sites.

  20. Bobby November 13th, 2018 6:20 pm

    Lou, any word from Scarpa on new telemark boots?

  21. stephen November 28th, 2018 2:21 am

    ^ You’ll be struck off for using the t-word here! IMHO, the answer to the question is going to be, “None in the foreseeable future, from anybody,” which means t******* is effectively a decaying corpse, given the rate of progress with AT gear.

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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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