How Many Holes can you Drill in a Ski?


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | December 3, 2015      

We got the following as an email, figure a response was in order. Steve, sure, we re-mount skis all the time. Our comments below yours…

Lou- Sure have enjoyed your blog for the past year or so, in fact, it’s the only blog I make a point of reading nearly every day. You motivated me to take up randonee skiing humping up & down A-basin every weekend while my wife was learning how to snowboard at an enthusiastic 54; get up to Jackson for closing week, (yes I was there in the award tent scamming free beer after the race thinking, “man with this kind of swag, I’m definitely entering next year”), and regret tossing that lime green pair of 175cm TUA skis with the old Ramer bindings I bought new back in ’85 or so. Which leads me to the point of this email. I picked up a pair of Havocs at the end of the season that were mounted with tele bindings. I love the ski but want to take off the tele bindings and put on a pair of Dynafits. Have you done this type of retrofit before? My guess is lots & lots. I have some basic questions like what should I fill the old holes with and what if the new layout partially overlaps the old holes? Fill then drill? I thought this might be a good subject for a blog, what with the current ski sales frenzy, other folks might be in the same situation. Any advice would be appreciated and thanks. Saw new snow high up in the Mosquito range this weekend. It won’t be long now! Still as crazy about skiing as 30 years ago– Steve

Steve, thanks for throwing away those lime green Tuas with Ramers — I found them in the dumpster and they’re now for sale on Ebay as valuable antiques.

As for re-drilling skis, there is a traditional view in ski culture that drilling extra binding holes devalues a ski and weakens it to the point where one should be cautious about using it hard. This might still be true for large aggressive skiers using non-release telemark bindings or DIN 16 touring binders set to max. Otherwise, read on — you can drill a bunch of holes in most skis (though some ski models are known to be weak and indeed should only have one set of holes).

Thanks to the needs of telemarkers, many if not most of today’s backcountry touring skis have an incredibly beefy reinforcement in the binding mount area. (Though a recent trend has been to back off from this to save weight, so be sure to research what you’ve got). More, nearly all modern skis are overall super strong. I’ve skied for years on planks Swiss-cheesed with up to four sets of binding holes and never broken a ski under the foot or had a binding rip out in normal use. (Bear in mind I’m not an aggressive skier, don’t fall that much, use release bindings set to release, and mount bindings using the methods detailed below.)

So, how to do the deed? Lay out your new binding holes on your backcountry skis. If using a mechanical jig you can look down through the drill bushings and check how close to the old holes you are. Once you decide on a position, drill at will if you’re far enough from existing holes. If you’ve got an overlap situation, read on. If using a paper template, punch out the screw locations with a paper punch so you can slide the paper around and see how your new holes relate to existing.

If the new bores don’t overlap the old holes, re-mark with your centerpunch and drill away. If you overlap by only a few millimeters, simply move your binding location accordingly, usually rearward for recreational and backcountry skiing. Most touring bindings have enough heel unit adjustment to tweak so they’ll always miss existing holes, it’s the binding toe you might have to move back a hair. A small change in boot fore/aft location is totally within spec for ski performance, and as long as the edges of your new holes are a few millimeters from the old, you’ll be fine drilling and using the new ones. (You’ll still want to fill the old holes, but a quick job with plastic plugs or 5-minute hardware store epoxy will suffice.)

If your new holes must overlap the old, then you need some careful fill work. I usually fill the old holes with something like JB Weld or epoxy steel, and poke steel wool in the hole as well. It’s important to fill the holes completely with some sort of hard filler, do so by poking the epoxy and wool in with a small probe such as a tiny drill bit. Use the slower curing epoxy as it’s stronger than the 5-minute versions and makes less heat. Wait 48 hours at room temperature for a full cure before the next step.

After the epoxy hardens in the holes (48 hours at room temperature), I smooth it off with a sanding disk in a grinder. Whatever works for smoothing is fine, just avoid anything but cosmetic damage. If the holes don’t overlap but are super close to your new ones, still fill the old holes with epoxy steel and steel wool, otherwise fill the holes with regular 5-minute epoxy, or even use the plastic plugs available from ski shops.

Drilling overlapping holes is the tricky part. If the ski doesn’t have a metal layer, start the drilling with a small bit, then step up through successively larger bits to your final size. The idea is to prevent the edge of the existing hole from forcing the bit to the side and only drilling the epoxy out of the old hole.

Dealing with a metal layer is tougher. If your drilling begins in the metal, stepping the bit sizes will usually work. If you start in the epoxy fill, do the step-up routine till your bit encounters the metal edge. Then, instead of going to the next size bit, pull the drill most of the way out then hold the spinning bit against the metal edge so it eats sideways a small amount in the direction the hole needs to grow, thus “egging out” the hole. We’re talking a millimeter or less of this, so no big deal. If you’re a craftsman and have a rotary grinder (e.g., Dremel), you can “egg” out the holes using a small rotary cutting bit, which works much better. Take care not to “egg” too far. Keep it tight.

Finish the hole with the correct size bit. Don’t fret if one or two of your holes end up slightly off layout, as rando bindings have a small amount of tolerance for this (place screws in on-layout holes first, then place others.)

If you mess up and end up drilling the epoxy out of an old hole, just re-fill and try again with a little side pressure while drilling. Tap the holes if you’ve got a ski mounting tap, place all binding screws with the same long-cure epoxy you used to fill the existing holes, don’t over torque, let cure for 48 hours, and you’re good to go backcountry skiing!

(Note, it’s possible that the epoxy you use for your final screw placement can soften the epoxy fill in the original holes. I recommend saving a blotter with the cured fill epoxy on it, and smearing some of the screw placement epoxy on the original. You can thus observe any problems. One reason for using slow cure epoxy is the lack of heat which can soften existing epoxy or ski resin layers.)

Another method of filling old holes for re-drilling is to epoxy hardwood plugs. This method has its advantages as the plugs can be more structural than the epoxy and steel wool method. Problem is the wood is super sensitive to moisture, so personally I always use the all-epoxy method. If you use hardwood plugs, cover them with epoxy when you do the final binding mount, for 100% defense against water. Yet another technique is to carefully bore holes for inserts such as Quiver Killer. Whatever the case, if you have access to a milling machine or high quality drill press, drilling overlapping holes can be done much more easily by clamping the ski to the machine and boring holes that are forced into perfect position by the rigidity of the machinery.

(Note about taping holes and bit sizes: Ski shops use special drill bits for drilling skis, usually 4.1 mm for skis with metal layers, and 3.9 mm for skis without metal. If you mount a lot of backcountry skis, it’s a good idea to buy some special drill bits from an outfit such as Slidewright, along with such bits, buy a threading tool (tap) to thread the holes. In my experience, it can be okay to use a slightly larger 5/32 inch drill bit for the final size hole, without a tap. But when you don’t use a tap you run the risk of the binding screw augering the JBWeld out of the hole and reversing all your hard work. If you do choose to not use a tap, especially with non-metal skis, use plenty of pressure as twist the screws in so they start to thread right away, don’t over-tighten and strip the holes, and indeed use epoxy in the holes when you place the screws (to remove epoxied screws, lightly heat with soldering iron before twisting out.)

Comments

105 Responses to “How Many Holes can you Drill in a Ski?”

  1. Robin September 7th, 2006 11:01 pm

    Hey – this is great info. I’ve asked myself (without looking for the answer) this same question because the bindings on my (used) teles have been re-drilled once, and I’d like to get a pair of women-specific bindings (because my feet are small).

    Thanks for the info! Have a great day… Ski season is on its way!

  2. Piotr September 8th, 2006 1:04 am

    Lou,

    My personal belief is that it’s a good idea to fill the old holes even you are not going to drill next to them. This way you can
    ‘seal’ them and prevent any moisture from getting in the core of the ski and freezing there, which could do some harm.

    As for the bit sizes, I use standard 4mm bit and it works fine.
    Sometimes manufacturers tell you which bit to use -Hagan has nice labels on their skis with ski dimensions which also has the preferred drill size on it, which can be as small as 3.5mm for some light (and soft) skis.

    Also, when you speak of non-metal skis drilling, I think it should be ‘hole edge’, not ‘ski edge’ (‘The idea is to…’), unless I am missing something.

    regards,

  3. Lou September 8th, 2006 5:06 am

    Thanks Piotr, I clarified the writing.

  4. Dane December 3rd, 2006 6:50 am

    hi,

    Im buying a pair of Salomon 1080 Foils (2006) and i have been looking everywhere forf some info on drilling, i want to drill some freestyle bindings on them but should i drill them in the center? i do all freestyle and nothing else, but i have been told if they are centered i t will be impossible to carve and do anything else besides freestyle. I don’t want that. So what should i do??

  5. Lou December 3rd, 2006 11:35 am

    Hi Dane, I know nothing about that. Perhaps someone else here can chime in.

  6. Will January 23rd, 2007 10:20 am

    Hi Lou,
    Would you forsee any issues with redrilling a pair of Dynafit Carbon FR 10.0 skis? I would be filling the old holes left from a pair of Dynafit bindings and drilling for a new pair of Naxo’s.
    Thanks,
    Will

  7. Lou January 23rd, 2007 11:00 am

    Shouldn’t be a problem, fill old holes with epoxy.

  8. Ted February 23rd, 2007 9:17 pm

    Hi Lou
    I am glad that I found your site. I just had a pair of Naxo’s mounted and the shop mounted the toes off center. So happy to hear that I can shift the toes over just a faction. I will not be going back to Coast Mountain Sports (Alberta) again.

    Thanks, Ted

  9. Eric March 7th, 2007 10:14 pm

    Lou:
    I would like to mount a pair of Dynafit bindings on a pair of tele skis. I was wondering if there was any diiference in the construction of the ski that would prevent the tele boards from being able to handle the heel piece. Is there any concern about mounting AT bindings on tele skis in general?
    Thanks,
    Eric

  10. Lou March 8th, 2007 8:29 am

    Hi Eric, no general concern and tele skis usually have a massive binding mounting plate that sometimes extends under the heel area. If you’re not skiing with heel at DIN 10 I wouldn’t be concerned, but always mount with epoxy and take care not to strip screw holes. One advantage of release bindings is they usually release before they pull out of the ski… ‘best, Lou

  11. Brian December 13th, 2008 2:12 pm

    Hey,

    Im thinking about drilling my Rossignol bandits , so they could be tied to a shovel as an emergency sled if need be, Probably never get used in anger, but hey since since the shovel is designed for sled construction I might as well. I have a pillar drill etc for accurate drilling etc, but are there any issues with sealing the insides of the holes to stop wwater getting between the layers then freezing & causing de-lamination? All the best, Brian

  12. Lou December 13th, 2008 4:20 pm
  13. Milos January 16th, 2009 2:45 pm

    Lou,
    couldn’t find this info elsewhere on your site…
    any advice on using the same set of holes twice? Do you recommend fatter screws or epoxy?
    Thanks!

  14. Lou January 17th, 2009 8:50 am

    Twice shouldn’t be a problem unless previous screws were over tightened. Use a bit of epoxy.

  15. brad July 1st, 2009 5:06 pm

    Awesome information. I’m mounting my sons freestyle skis. Any info on proper placement. Most of what I hear is to center them.

  16. kody December 22nd, 2009 4:58 pm

    I am currently in the market for som pow skis and I found some I want but they have three mounts already. Is the 4th too much? I’m a heavy agressive skier.

    Thank Kody

  17. Lou December 22nd, 2009 5:11 pm

    Kody, probably.

  18. Mike D December 24th, 2009 1:05 am

    I have a set of Solomon skis that I got from a friend. It looks like they have been mounted three to four times. I was considering mounting my bindings on them. I heard rumors that mounting more than three times is dangerous. I’m not a crazy aggresive skier. Should I be concerned about drilling into them one more time? If so what should I take into consideration? Thanks for you assistance and help.

  19. Lou December 24th, 2009 7:32 am

    Milos, just use epoxy and don’t over tighten. Mike D, sounds like that might be enough holes!

  20. Mike D December 24th, 2009 10:31 am

    Would it be wise to reuse holes that are already there? Merry Christmas.

  21. Thomas December 26th, 2009 7:25 pm

    My old Rossi Scratch can take another round with drilling.

    Using the as an early/late session ski.

    Rear binding. 16 holes no problem……..!

    Shifted bindings, drilled wrong, loose binding, bu this time its working.

    pic http://thomaskm.blogspot.com/2009/12/holes-in-skis.html

    :w00t:

  22. Rick Boebel December 27th, 2009 5:02 am

    My setup (I live in New Zealand and ski around Wanaka but travel to Canada, Revelstoke area for 2 weeks a year) has been Spirit 4s on feet with 174cm K2 Coomba with Marker Dukes. I had decided this is a bit heavy and after reading wildsnow thought I’d try Dynafits.
    So I bought a used pair of 174cm K2 Mt Bakers with Dynafit Comforts with binding brakes that looked relativily unused at the end of my NZ season. At least I think they are Comforts, they have about 2.5cm of adjustment and look just like the ones in the wildsnow binding brake install post. The Spirit 4s fit this set up very well, boot midpoint within 2mm of ski mark.
    I love the Coomba’s as I use them for everything as snow in NZ is highly varible and was thinking of transfering the Comforts to them. Alternate would be just to switch to skiing the MtBakers or buy new pair of Coombacks and put Comforts on them. Or perhaps suck my wallet dry and buy new skis and new Dynafit FT12’s and sell the old setups. I’m 59 (started skiing in late 1960s when I went to Colorado College) and may as well spend money before my kids do. 8^)
    I’d appreciate any comments, advice.

  23. Brandon January 7th, 2011 9:39 am

    Hey Lou, great site you got here, I have a question regarding this post on how close can holes be next to each other. I have a pair of Trab Duo Sint Aero skis that I purchased second hand, which were previously mounted with dyanfit speed heel pieces. I am putting Plum race heels on them and due to a very close boot size to the previous owner the front two holes will be close to touching previous holes. Since these will be for racing and have a non DIN heel do I need to worry about pulling these bindings out and/or weakening the ski, or can I just fill with steel wool and epoxy and no big deal? Also do you always recommend using epoxy? Will this render the screws useless if I were to put these bindings on other skis down the road? Thanks ahead of time if you happen to respond to these questions.

  24. Lou January 7th, 2011 9:49 am

    Brandon, I’d say it’s a question of how aggressively you ski and your size. If you’re of average size and don’t ski crazy, I’d say go for it but do a really good job filling the old holes first. In those situations I use JBweld and a bit of steel wool to fill the old holes, as I figure I want them as strong as possible. Epoxy and glass fibers do pretty much the same thing. After you’ve done a good job filling the old holes, then drill the new ones and use epoxy for the mount. Don’t worry about using epoxy, just briefly heat screws with soldering iron before removal.

  25. Peter Rothermel January 7th, 2011 9:31 pm

    Regarding drill bits:

    Machine bits are V shaped and can wander when the V point hits on the edge of two different densities of materials.

    Twist wood bits in this size diameter, often have a centre point and cutting spurs on the outside diameter of the bit. The centre spur fixes the start point and the cutting spurs make for a clean downward cut without bit wander.

    Wouldn’t these wood bits make for a cleaner, straighter hole?

    Peter

  26. Jim Burns January 19th, 2011 10:53 pm

    Hello, I want to remount FS4 bindings on my daughters Fischer RXJ skis. She has gone up to sizes and am end of adjustment. If I remount bindings do I need to remount front and rear bindings or can I move one or the other forward or backward? Thanks for any help you could be Jim

  27. David Perez January 28th, 2011 3:59 pm

    I have a couple of questions:

    I have a pair of Atomic TM:Xs (the blue ones) that I want to mount with a pair of Dynafits. The skis already have a number (14) of holes in the toe area from moving the previous bindings (Hammerheads) around to play with different mount locations. I can mount the Dynafits pretty close to “center” with about 7mm center to center between the new and old holes. Should I be worried about so many holes in the skis or the proximity of the new holes to the old? I have been told that 1cm is the minimum distance that should be kept between holes, but I know you propound otherwise in your original response. I am ~155lbs and I ski aggressively but, I would say, lightly. I haven’t broken a ski since I was in high school and snapped a Rossi 4S right behind the binding heel. I have never torn a binding out of a ski, tele or alpine.

    Also, I have a pair of Volkl Gotamas that I remounted, from HH to Dynafit, keeping 1cm center to center between holes. This put me 2cm forward of “center” on the ski. In your original response you recommend moving backward for recreational and backcountry skiing. It feels like I am a bit farther forward on the skis than I would like. Do you think it is worth another remount to get back closer to “center”?

    By “center” I mean boot lined up with the boot sole center mark on the skis.

    Any advice is very appreciated.

  28. Lou January 28th, 2011 4:56 pm

    I’d say 14 holes is getting a bit much, but if you can get the other holes away from the old ones and don’t abuse your skis, I’ll bet you’d be fine. I’d fill the old holes with epoxy. As for the mount location, to me it’s always worth changing location if it’ll improve the skiing. After all, it’s just a ski, and you’ve worked hard for the vertical and 5 minutes of turns…

  29. Greg Louie January 28th, 2011 5:22 pm

    Dynafits? Seriously? This David Perez?

    http://www.randosaigai.com/glacierclass06_14.jpg

  30. David Perez January 28th, 2011 5:32 pm

    Yep, that’s me, and those are the skis in question. I am making the switch. I can hardly believe it myself, but my knees are thanking me already.

  31. Lou January 28th, 2011 5:51 pm

    Jeez, I almost feel bad (grin).

  32. TR February 5th, 2011 1:03 pm

    I am looking to buy a pair of Volkl Gotamas from a buddy and current bindings are set for a 9/9.5 boot. I am a 11.5/12 boot. Its a Marker 14.0 binding. Downhill style.

    Will I have to re-mount bindings?

    If so, they have been mounted 2 x’s already…

    Is a 3rd time mount okay ?

    I’m an aggressive skier, but the waist of the ski is 105 if that helps.

  33. Brian Yoder November 11th, 2011 7:03 pm

    Lou- I just picked up a pair of rossignal s7’s (2011).

    They have been drilled twice for alpine bindings.. I want to mount a pair of 22 design Hammerheads- and I use Scarpa T1 boots…

    I weigh about 195 lbs… and am a telemark skier… although I don’t know if I would consider myself aggressive or not… Like to ski backcountry shots…. up to 45 degrees… although I’m not a real fast skier….

    Got a good deal on these skis.. am I setting myself up for a broken ski / miserable day?

    Thanks,

    Brian

  34. David January 24th, 2012 1:07 pm

    I have tried to fill the holes in my old Atomic TM:Xs with epoxy, but I keep getting air bubbles in the epoxy. I have read that this can happen with foam core skis. Does anybody have any advice for how to prevent this from happening?

    Also, the holes for my new bindings are going to have to overlap the existing holes. I know that Lou’s original post suggests that this is okay to do, but I have to ask, is it really okay? And would I be better off using something like a Quiver Killer insert to create, in effect, a larger screw with more surface area?

    Thanks,
    David

  35. Philip Maynard January 24th, 2012 2:04 pm

    I put three-pins on my Epochs and ended up overlapping holes. I use plastic boots and get air and crash hard on that setup. No issues so far, and I’m placing way more force on those three screws than any AT binding.

    I filled the holes with JB Weld and matchsticks.

  36. Toby January 24th, 2012 2:10 pm

    Fill the holes with epoxy, and then carefully heat them up with heat gun. Epoxy viscosity is getting lower and the air bubbles are coming out – epoxy is going in. You need to repeat this twice or more. Then apply an aluminum tape above the holes and turn skis upside down over night.

  37. Lou January 24th, 2012 2:17 pm

    Toby, yeah, also, go to feed store and buy small vet syringes with big bore needle, fill with warm 1-hour epoxy, slowly inject in each hole starting from the bottom and moving needle up to top, then apply slight heat as well… If overlapping holes, use something like JBweld with a bit of steel wool, as you need something super dense and strong…

    Regarding overlap, with most skis moving binding forward or back a few millimeters will make virtually no difference in how they ski, so that’s frequently the solution….

  38. aviator January 24th, 2012 8:18 pm

    Heating the epoxy when it’s curing is a really bad idea.
    The temperature the epoxy is meant to cure at is the only temperature you should have, anything else is gonna mess with the epoxy strength.

    The air bubbles is the least of your worries.
    Using epoxy ONLY is WEAK, think window glass kinda weak…
    I cracks really easily…

    What you want is glass fiber.

    Glass fiber weave/twill wet in epoxy is VERY STRONG , this method is easily 10-20 times stronger or more than any combination of epoxy, jb weld, steel wool, matches, tiny strands of glass fiber mixed in the epoxy, any crazy recipe you ever heard…

    What you want to do is:

    -cut tiny pieces of glass fiber twill

    -wet the pieces through completely, but use as much fiber as possible and as little epoxy as possible
    you really want more than 50% fiber weight, 70-80% fiber weight is MUCH stronger, this means you need wipe off ALL excess epoxy from the little pieces, you want them as dry as possible.
    more fiber more strength
    more epoxy A LOT LESS strength

    -then you jam as much epoxy wetted glass fiber you can into the holes

    -let it cure at the recommended temperature, wait an extra day, and then drill new holes

  39. aviator January 24th, 2012 8:19 pm

    oh and before you start
    make sure the holes you are filling is 100% clean and dry
    extremely important!

  40. Toby January 25th, 2012 1:22 am

    Heating epoxy is not always (never) bad idea. Professional Epoxy I use, has a table of different curing temps (I think it was up to 150*C) Higher temp means more strength and better bonding, plus faster curing of course. Disadvantage (for screw holes on the skis) is that it will get harder and can crack more easilly. But I never saw any cracks on my epoxy filled screw holes. So follow manufactures instructions, but I’m sure that some medium temps (50*C or so ) to get the epoxy more fluidy is not harmful. It removes bubbles very well and let the epoxy to penetrate properly. Just do not never ever use fast curing cheap epoxies

    PS. I did a quite spectacular motorbike engine water pump repair with commercially available two component ‘chemical metal’. Water pump was cracked to the hundreds of pieces of magnesium. I glued them together with that ‘glue’ and let is cure in the oven. (according to instructions) after 10 years, this pump is still tight and working. Moral of the strory is that those modern 2-part bonding glues are really good. Just pick the right one.

  41. aviator January 25th, 2012 9:06 am

    using epoxy without fiber is like using concrete without rebar
    concrete only without reinforcement will crack, it wont last

  42. aviator January 25th, 2012 9:27 am

    @toby
    always follow the exact instructions regarding the very product you are using.
    some professional epoxy is meant to be cured at high temps, and when doing that, the temp is meant to be controlled very exactly, and so is everything else, the fiber ratio, the vacuum bagging, etc etc

    but the fast epoxy people will pick up at the hardware store is not meant to be cured at high temps though, and when heating a tiny amount of fast epoxy with a heat gun several times you have no control

    getting the epoxy more fluid by increasing the temp some 10-20 degrees or so while applying it is fine, use a water bath and a thermometer

  43. Ben August 16th, 2012 1:04 pm

    I purchased a pair of skis with mounted with Salomon z10 bindings (318 bsl) but want to replace them with a pair of small marker barons (306 bsl). I want to mount the marker barons 2cm back from the previous salomons. Will this work? Thanks

  44. Lou Dawson August 17th, 2012 7:01 am

    Ben, I don’t see why that would be a problem. If you get some new holes overlapping old, you can just shift things a few millimeters. We don’t have that particular binding combo here, so I can’t give you the definitive answer. Lou

  45. Red September 10th, 2012 1:39 pm

    Thinking of buying some Rossi S7W 178 that have already been mounted twice once with Salomon Z12ti and then with Marker Tour. I plan on mounting them wth BD 01….any thoughts on this set-up? I will not purchase them if it is not going to work.

    Thank you

  46. Lou Dawson September 10th, 2012 2:37 pm

    Red, for a tele mount that doesn’t sound good. Lou

  47. Red September 10th, 2012 6:02 pm

    Thanks for the heads up Lou!

  48. bob November 21st, 2012 6:32 pm

    Lou,

    I used to throw up climbing walls with a few cans of PC-7 epoxy (same stuff they use to put down traffic reflectors and such) but for filling the holes on my new, used, Dynastar 1100’s . . . should I be using the other kind of epoxy––the clear stuff that comes with a syringe––or some sort of wood based epoxy (meanwhile back to reading the replies to your great “how to”

  49. Lou Dawson November 21st, 2012 6:42 pm

    Bob, if the holes are not too close together and not too many, regular old clear epoxy works fine….

  50. bob November 21st, 2012 11:39 pm

    Lou,

    Thanks for the reply. I really love what you’ve got going on here.

  51. Revenire November 22nd, 2012 5:39 am

    Hi!

    After 6 years, I’m replacing my terrible Naxo NX22. Worst ski-related purchase ever! I’ll buy new skis with dynafits 🙂

    But for these old skis I will be mounting some alpine bindings, since the skis are of the “freerando” type and still usable. The mounting pattern of the new alpine bindings is 5-6 mm exactly behind the naxo ones in the toe piece. Is 5 mm enough space for mounting new bindings without issues? Usually people say that thing of “at least 1 cm” but I don’t really know.

    I was thinking of filling the old holes either with plastic plugs or with a combo of steel wool-epoxy.

    Any help would be much appreciated.

  52. Lou Dawson November 22nd, 2012 8:11 am

    Revenire, you should be ok, just fill the old holes with epoxy and a bit of steel wool and be sure to tap the new holes so you don’t get excessive force acting on the ski when you insert the new screws. Lou

  53. Rick December 8th, 2012 7:30 pm

    Hey folks,

    I think I know the answer based on what I’ve read here so far, but any comments you have would be appreciated. I’m looking at a pair of 2008/09 BD verdicts that have been mounted twice already with tele bindings (BD 01s and NTN). Provided I follow the advice with respect to filling and avoiding overlap, would it be a safe bet to mount fritschi AT bindings next? I’m 5’10”, 175 and an aspiring intermediate skier that won’t ever get super aggressive.

    Thanks,
    R

  54. Greg January 5th, 2013 10:21 am

    Thanks so much for the information! I don’t think this has been covered yet so I will ask — what if I am putting the exact same binding back on the exact same ski for the exact same skier and boot size?

    I stripped bindings off a pair of skis last year, skied the new pair of skis to their death, and now want to put the bindings right back on the skis I took them off of to begin with.

    Do I: (1) fill and drill in the same spots? (2) fill and try to slightly alter where the building lays on the ski? (3) simply screw back into the existing holes?

    Thanks!
    Greg

  55. Lou Dawson January 5th, 2013 10:57 am

    Greg, the screws do tend to cut a bit each time they’re inserted, meaning the second or third time in the same holes they’ll be fine but progressively less so, using some epoxy is important as is being super careful not to over tighten and strip the threads, which gets easier and easier to do. Another consideration is what type of ski construction, as some skis have a stronger and thicker mounting reinforcement plate. That’s easy to ‘feel’ when inserting the screws. Yet another consideration is how big you are and what RV value you run your bindings at. More of either = more concern about just how strong the screw to ski bond is. Lou

  56. Michael West February 27th, 2013 10:00 pm

    Hey Lou,
    I’m wondering what your thoughts are on a specific technique to fill holes. I saw someone the other day who would fill the holes partway with regular old 5 minute epoxy (not the steel variety), and then place a golf tee inside the hole. Once it hardened, the top of the tee would be cut off and then ground flat with a dremel tool. It seems to me that this would be much stronger than regular old plastic plugs, but i’m wondering how you think it would compare to your recommended steel epoxy/ steel wool?
    Cheers,
    Michael

  57. Lou Dawson February 28th, 2013 6:34 am

    Hi Michael, that would work, it essentially just fills the hole with wood. The advantage is is fills the hole without any voids. Doing it just with epoxy, it’s sometimes difficult to push epoxy into the hole without any air pockets. You can do it with match sticks as well, though the golf tee is harder wood (?). Either way, the top of the wood needs to be sealed from water damage after it’s smoothed off, that is unless it’s re-drilled for to be used again for mounting bindings.

    I’m still doing this stuff quite a bit. One problem I’ve found with epoxy is that unless it’s mixed correctly and allowed to really harden, it works fine for filling holes but is less than ideal if it needs to be re-drilled and inserted with another screw as softer epoxy may not be strong enough.

    In terms of “stronger,” are you concerned about the strength of the skis from breaking, or strength for re-inserting screws? Most skis these days are super strong.

    Lou

  58. Erik Erikson April 24th, 2013 12:25 pm

    I hope someone can answer that following questions for me:
    – How often can you screw bindingscrews in the same allready existing holes? For some reason I had to take the screws out from my tlt vertical backpiece. Than screwed them in again, but forgot the glew. screwed them out and in again with glue. Do I have to worry?
    – In one of my k2 waybacks a shop had to screw new holes for a binding. the old ones were filled by just hammering in plastic pegs (no epoxy). Is this sealed enough?
    Thanks!

  59. Lou Dawson April 24th, 2013 12:37 pm

    Erik, you can use the same holes quite a few times but they do deteriorate a bit each time. If you use epoxy each time, and heat the screws when removing, you can do it dozens of times. Key it to not over-tighten but to still tighten enough. Requires a “feel” for appropriate tightness.

    As for the plastic plugs, they seal the holes just fine, but are not liked here at WildSnow HQ because when drilled out the remaining plastic in the hole may not bond to epoxy. We usually fill our holes with epoxy or urethane glue if there is a chance we’ll be drilling them out again. For temporary sealing, I just put duct tape over them. Once in a while we use the plugs.

    Lou

  60. Erik Erikson April 24th, 2013 12:45 pm

    Thank you for your advice and the very quick answer. Not the first time you or some poster here helped me out.. great!!

  61. Drew September 27th, 2014 9:38 am

    Hi Lou, Not sure if I’m over thinking this or not, but on my skis (moment exit world, no metal top sheet) it says to use 3.9mm x 9mm holes. My problem – I can’t find 3.9mm drill bits on any of the sources I would expect (Tognar, slidewright, svst). Everyone does a 3.5 and a 4.1. Am I looking in the wrong places or does it really matter? What would you suggest? Thanks a lot.

  62. Lou Dawson 2 September 27th, 2014 7:36 pm

    Drew, sorry, for some unknown reason you comment got spam moderated. Am trying to fine tune that.

    And yes, just use 3.5 with a few turns of the tap, with epoxy and care with torque, you’ll be fine.Or use the 4.1 without the tap and be careful tightening. I suspect they spec 3.9 to prevent too much stress on the topskin, or perhaps it’s a typo.

    Lou

  63. Anthony O January 6th, 2015 8:11 pm

    Lou,

    i picked up a pair of ski trab stevio xl lights 185cm (125, 90, 112). The bases have been skied once and are essentially mint. They are mounted with some dynafit st-10s. I am a noob skier and never intend on skiing aggressively. I’m 6’1 180. I didnt realize why they were so cheap until i saw all the holes, there are 6 holes (3 per side) to the rear of the binding. The owner said they were on the 4th mount. Besides the holes, they appear to be fine, they appeared to be plugged with wood and some sort of epoxy. Should I be safe? Seems like people have done alot more. I just want to ask someone who I know knows their stuff. Thanks for the blog and your time!

  64. Lou Dawson 2 January 7th, 2015 1:15 am

    Anthony, if the extra holes are spaced apart and filled I wouldn’t worry about them. What I’d be concerned about is hidden holes under the bindings, and how strong the screws are on the “4th mount.” I’d definitely remove the bindings and re-install so you can check the torque and behavior of each screw. Due to how wood screws tend to cut new threads each time they go in, you might also need to build up the inside of the screw holes before your final mount. Epoxy would be mandatory when you insert the screws, but don’t depend on it to make up for semi-stripped holes. At your size and weight, with a pack, I’d definitely think care is in order here. Lou

  65. XXX_er December 3rd, 2015 11:09 am

    Hey this might be a fun project to geek out on
    : do some kind of quantitative analysis to figure out how many holes can be drilled in a ski before it breaks

    take a junk ski, drill holes & apply a given amount of pressure bending downwards until it breaks

  66. Paddy December 3rd, 2015 11:52 am

    The good folks over at Black Diamond have actually done some analysis on this –
    http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en/qc-lab-remounting-previously-drilled-skis.html

  67. Lou Dawson 2 December 3rd, 2015 1:10 pm

    Paddy, thanks. Let’s just keep in mind that most people do not need 100% pullout strength from their binding screws, and my experience with remounting hundreds of skis within a few mm of existing holes bears that out. But sure, if you’re a burly skier wanting a burly mount, go with the 5 mm rule of thumb, as it does sound good. Lou

  68. XXX_er December 3rd, 2015 2:26 pm

    So are we concerned about a ski breaking or just screws pulling out?

    I find a good thing to do when reusing a hole is gently rotate the screw backwards to see if I can feel the threads and often I can

  69. Lou Dawson 2 December 3rd, 2015 2:33 pm

    Pretty much both, but I’d say in most cases the issue is screws pulling out due to overlapping holes or close together holes. Lou

  70. Lou Dawson 2 December 3rd, 2015 4:21 pm

    Just for fun: Latest WildSnow metrics: 3,737 posts/pages and 64,341 curated comments (no spam). Lou

  71. XXX_er December 3rd, 2015 5:15 pm

    I have back to back tested moving the bootcenter with rental bindings on pow boards, maybe someone else can tell the difference moving the boot 1 cm makes but I can’t so if there is conflict … just move the binding

  72. Paddy December 3rd, 2015 5:38 pm

    For sure Lou. For the record, I’ve re-mounted a few skis with holes only 2 or 3mm apart with no problem. The BD test is a “best case” thing, not a real-world scenario. But judging by their results having significantly lower strength with “close” holes, I’d probably use more epoxy with holes 2 mm apart than I would with them 7mm spread.

  73. hairymountainbeast December 3rd, 2015 6:00 pm

    Something I’ve done in the past when drilling a hole that partially encroaches on an existing hole is to drill a hole of the desired final size in a1/4 steel plate, center it over the spot where the new hole is going to be and clamping in place. Basically it just keeps the bit from wandering into the old hole as you drill.
    (FYI, the hole in the plate does tend to egg after repeated use, so monitor this and drill a fresh hole when necessary.)

  74. Lou Dawson 2 December 3rd, 2015 6:07 pm

    Excellent you guys, thanks!

  75. RDE December 3rd, 2015 7:03 pm

    Everybody who messes around fixing things should have a small kit of REAL epoxy, not the five minute stuff you get at the hardware store. Buy a mini-pump kit with it and it will still be usable for years. WEST system or MAS brand both are excellent. Any marine supply store— Fisheries Supply in Seattle, West Marine etc carries it.

    You can do all kind of repairs and fabrication with it, up to building a new rudder bearing for a 35′ sailboat.

    For filling binding holes you’ll need a quart of Cabo-sil silica as a filler and a few throwaway syringes. Mix the silica and catalyzed epoxy to achieve a viscosity about like maple syrup and inject it into the very bottom of the hole. Wait a few minutes, pop any air bubbles, and slightly overfill. At least as strong a filler as any attempt to use glass fibers or rust prone steel wool. I like to use the same procedure on a new mount as well. By filling the hole with liquid epoxy the epoxy is squeezed out into the surrounding wood core as you tighten the screw, substantially increasing the holding power of the installation. Never had a problem with removal, but if you do, heat the screw with a soldering iron and it will release.

  76. See December 3rd, 2015 7:10 pm

    The problem with mini pumps is you will waste a lot of epoxy if all you’re doing is filling a few tiny holes. Better to use a scale for this sort of job, in my opinion.

  77. RDE December 4th, 2015 8:22 am

    Right you are, See
    For small jobs its a trade off between getting the proper mix ratio vs saving a bit of epoxy. I prefer to err on the side of having the strongest bond strength.. If you must hand measure, choose a brand with a 2/1 ratio.

  78. See December 4th, 2015 9:23 am

    … or use an accurate small batch scale, like a West System 320.

  79. Michael December 4th, 2015 10:40 am

    So I recently pulled some bindings off some used skis (Blizzard Kabookies – only a few years old). I would like to re-use the holes. They have a metal topsheet and the threads in the metal topsheet look good. I can thread a screw in without issues. But the wood core below the metal topsheet doesn’t have great threads. The threads in the wood are thin at best, pretty non-existant.

    OK to re-use as long as the threads in the metal topsheet are OK? Of course I’d fill the holes with slow set epoxy when mounting.

    I am mounting Dynafits. Competent skier, but not hucking. I ski fast in good snow but dial it back in variable conditions.

  80. XXX_er December 4th, 2015 12:02 pm

    I would mix up some 24 hr epoxy with 1/2 “chopped up pieces of fibreglass strands, wet the strands out but not too resin rich, screw the bindings in …let cure

  81. See December 4th, 2015 1:32 pm

    Note to all Wildsnow readers building space ships in their garages: epoxies can have slightly different mix ratios depending on whether you’re measuring by volume or by weight, so make sure you are using the right ratio for whatever method you’re using (or just do as RDE advises and use a properly functioning, primed and calibrated pump system). But you rocket scientists already knew that.

    Seriously, though, RDE is correct that care should be taken to get the resin/hardener ratio right, and be sure to mix thoroughly.

  82. See December 4th, 2015 6:12 pm

    (Incidentally, that “rocket scientist” crack was an attempt at humor, not sarcasm. I have the utmost respect for the technical sophistication of the Wildsnow community. Hey, I read the whole binding test megathread.)

  83. Chris December 4th, 2015 10:24 pm

    Minor detail, but pretty much every non-metal ski calls for 3.5mm or 3.6mm diameter bits, I’ve never seen a 3.9mm. Typo in the original write-up Lou? And Armada calls for their special tapered 3.5/4.1mm step bit, should anyone be mounting Armada skis. Seems to help with reducing the topsheet hemorrhaging/volcano’ing. Just some added info for anyone attempting drilling for their first time.

  84. Charlie Hagedorn December 5th, 2015 12:41 am

    A tapered bit, for metal skis with a softer core, is really smart; why hasn’t that become a standard?

    In the soft part of the core, essentially every ski wants a small-diameter drill bit.

  85. Phil December 5th, 2015 7:40 pm

    I have a pair of Mt. Bakers that saw:

    1) Tele bindings of some sort
    2) Speed Radicals
    3) 3-pin cables
    4) Dukes
    5) Speed Turns

    No re-use of holes, and the Radicals were mounted with inserts so the holes are huge. I’ll see how my brother-in law makes out with the Speed Turns this winter.

    Small holes were plugged with epoxy and plastic inserts; large insert holes just coated with epoxy to seal them.

  86. Steve December 5th, 2015 9:49 pm

    Lou-

    Hard to believe it’s now 9 years since that post. I still wish I had those Tua’s! Glad this post has proved useful and helpful to Wildsnow readers. I’m still resuing skis and filling holes. Have a good winter and keep up the great work!

  87. Bruno Schull December 7th, 2015 5:29 am

    Hi Lou. I’m posting to this thread because a have a do it yourself question. I want to remove the lower buckle from some old Scarpa boots. The buckles are pressed/riveted into the shells. There is no way to remove them with screws or threads, as far as I can see. I thought about drilling them out, starting with a small bit, and working up in size, and then finishing the hole with a step drill, but I am afraid that the whole press/rivet will start to rotate in the shell–I have no way to hold it in place. I also thought of using a hacksaw to remove the buckle, but I will almost certainly tear up the shell somewhat. What’s the best way to do this? Somehow…I think you have removed some ski buckles in your time. Thanks.

  88. Michael December 7th, 2015 12:07 pm

    I saw your blog post about shortening Silvretta Pure bindings. I have a pair of size N Silvretta 404 bindings that I would like to shorten to fit my girlfriend’s smaller foot. I’ve been scouring the web, ebay, etc. for the smaller size K’s or XS’s and there just aren’t any around.

    I am considering trying to grind two additional slots in each of the bindings’ tubular frames to allow the rear foot plate to slide further forward. But I’m wondering if the front of the binding can be disassembled to reveal ends of the frame which can be trimmed in length; or if what’s under the front is actually a continuous “u-shaped” frame which comprises the front axle, and which then cannot be cut–?

    Thought I would ask here if you may know before going ahead and unscrewing the screws and watching it all fall apart 🙁

    Any help, including perhaps another method of shortening these things would be greatly appreciated. Or maybe someone knows of some size K’s that are available?

    Thank you,

    Michael
    Boulder, Colorado

  89. viktor h December 15th, 2015 4:03 pm

    hello lou, i would to ask: “super shop-servis man”
    was mounting ATK raider to my new dynastar alti 85/178, mistake was made- he has put 4holes right in the midle of ski, now between toe and heel of ATK.( maby his mind was busy) , holes were fixed with glue- epoxid,….. i decided to use the skiis,( guy have to give me some sale prizes for some next equipment, maby crampons?, he was so sory, and christmas are coming,)
    Question: are the drilled holes in the middle big problem, ? how much is the ski weakened, i have 85kg, moderate skier thanks for answer, + thanks for your work, wildsnow is my favourite ski site.

  90. Matus December 16th, 2015 3:45 am

    @viktor, you did not mention what kind of skis you have. In any case, I think Lou would confirm that 4 additional holes have nearly zero effect on the ski stiffness. Just place some cool sticker over them and forget about it 🙂

    If the ski is going to break somewhere, I doubt it would be the stiffest part – the middle.

  91. Lou Dawson 2 December 16th, 2015 6:48 am

    Viktor, Matus is pretty much correct, though some fragile skis do tend to break at the binding mount area. Regarding your Dynastar ski Matus is exactly right, no worries, you don’t even need to fill the holes so long as you cover them with waterproof tape or a sticker, though filling them would probably be a good idea.

    BTW, a mistake like that on a new pair of customer owned skis should in my opinion mean a new pair of skis for you, and the shop takes the pair with the mistake and sells them. Because the shop can get skis for wholesale, and they can sell the miss-drilled skis for price near wholesale or use them in their demo fleet, they don’t actually lose much if any money and make a much happier customer who will return. Sending you out on the mistake skis is pretty lame IMHO though you were very kind to let them do that, Christmas Spirit and all.

    Lou

  92. viktor h December 16th, 2015 9:45 am

    Thanks for answer boys, the ski is not damaged, just my hapyness about new ski set is damaged (ski dynastar alti 85 waist, 178cm/ 2600grams pair, holes were drilled in square shape in the middle), the problem is that the ski was bought in another shop, iam from Slovakia, and the culture of some outdoor and sport equipment sellers isnt good at all, its big difference. cau

  93. corye March 14th, 2016 12:06 am

    Lou,
    I recently bought a pair of Voile V8’s that had been miss drilled (Dynafit TLT pattern) by a shop. I have a set of G3 ions I want to mount but the first two screws in the toe piece have at least 50% or more overlap with the old holes. All other screws have a good amount of clearance and were filled with plastic plugs. Do you think I will be able to successfully remount these skis with the epoxy/steel wool method?

    Thanks!

  94. Lou Dawson 2 March 14th, 2016 7:34 am

    Hello Cor, much of this depends on your style of skiing, weight, length of ski, etc. Myself, with my subdued style, I’d just use the epoxy method and go with the overlap, but I’d agree that is risky. I’d recommend that larger skiers or those who are aggressive would either move the binding forward or back, or use a different binding that set the screw holes farther away from the originals. Also, are the existing holes enlarged by previous screw placement, or are they just the pin holes left by a drill bit?

    If you choose to use the epoxy and steel wool method, use the same epoxy to do you final screw placement as you do for the fill, and test the final choice in epoxy by saving a blotter with the fill epoxy and hardening some of the additional epoxy on top of it. I had a situation where my final screw placement epoxy softened the original. I’d recommend regular JBweld for both stages, and let the hole fill epoxy cure for 48 hours before the new screws are drilled and placed.

    BEST, use inserts such as Quiver Killer for at least the overlapping holes.

    I trust you got a good deal on the skis!

  95. Corye March 14th, 2016 7:04 pm

    The holes look like they have threads cut already. I bought them from an rei garage sale for super cheap. I did manage to speak with the tech that worked on the skis. He said their jig slipped out of alignment while drilling. The skis were never used and hole not glued. If I mount boot center on the recommended line, the front two screws overlap quite a bit while the back two are plenty far from any holes. If I mount the toe piece back .5-.75cm back I wind up with about 2mm clearance on all four screws. I’m unsure which scenario will get the best results. Do you know What effect moving the mount back that far will have on performance? Also, I’m 190lbs and ski pretty aggressively.

  96. Lou Dawson 2 March 14th, 2016 7:11 pm

    moving back .5 cm will make no difference in performance. That much happens when you mold your liners or change boot sizes. Go for it and have fun. Carpe skium. Don’t make a god out of that little mark on the skis. Lou

  97. Corye March 14th, 2016 9:35 pm

    Awesome thanks!

  98. Dan April 6th, 2016 3:26 am

    Greetings all,

    Anyone ever done a helicoil on an insert (Binding Freedom in this case)?

    I drilled and mounted, only to find that the template was off with two holes. Be wary of using this Beast 14 template: http://www.powderguide.com/community/forum/post/zubehoer/montageanleitung-bindung-schnell-und-praezise-montieren.html?tx_mmforum_pi1

    Both the two rear-most holes are 1mm too wide – the template had them at 38mm, where they should be at 36mm. Bindings won’t fit on as a result.

    What’s my best bet? All the other inserts are spot on. Do I fill with epoxy and go again (which sounds dubious), or do I go with a helicoil – where do you even get one of those for Binding Freedom!?

    Any advice appreciated!

  99. Lou Dawson 2 April 6th, 2016 6:13 am

    Hi Dan and everyone, first, a few reminders about important procedures that could have prevented Dan’s or other’s trouble.

    First, when using paper template always compare to actual binding by setting binding on the template as well as doing some measuring. By the same token, most paper templates have a print scale verification, be sure to check that as well.

    Next, once you are certain you’ve got the hole layout correct, always mount the binding first before installing inserts. Then remove binding, and do the inserts.

    If Dan had mounted the binding before doing the inserts he would have discovered his rearmost holes were 2 mm off (1 mm each), which is easy to correct with a normal binding mount situation, especially with the rear holes in the rear binding unit as they don’t undergo near as much stress as the front ones.

    As for correcting this with helicoils combined with inserts, no way, as that would require boring huge holes in your skis. Instead, I would simply relocate the heel unit forward or back a couple of centimeters so you have room for an entirely new set of holes with inserts. Locate the binding in such a that it of course will still fit your boot length after adjustment, as well as perhaps accommodating another boot you might use.

    And this time, actually mount the binding heel on the new holes with normal binding screws, verify, remove, and after that install your inserts.

    Lou

  100. XXX_er April 6th, 2016 3:59 pm

    I always wonder why folks don’t just use the binding for the template ?

    So far using the binding has been very accurate, I have never had a binding shrunk by a downloading process, the binding has always been exactly the same size as the binding 😉

  101. Lou Dawson 2 April 6th, 2016 5:42 pm

    Xer, I’ve certainly done that. Have found that the paper is quicker once one is used to it, due to how easy it is to center, print multiple copies etc. Some bindings are also hard to use for marking due to parts over the holes, for example the brake pedal pad. Lou

  102. See April 6th, 2016 6:12 pm

    I use both. Seems like bindings are often a little bit out of whack geometrically. I use a drill bit the same size as the screw hole in the binding to make centered marks on the top sheet.

  103. See April 6th, 2016 6:18 pm

    Then use correct size bit to drill holes on drill press.

  104. Dan April 6th, 2016 8:06 pm

    Thanks Lou,

    Yeah, definitely a lesson learned there! Got a bit over-confident, but won’t make that mistake again. It was due to the heel piece not allowing a clear view of two holes, otherwise I would have detected it much earlier. Drilling with normal screws would have done the same.

    Just for context, the ski is a 180cm Voile Vector. Mounted with Beast 14 toe and heel, Hagan adjustment plate at rear (for race heels). I was going to use the Beast toe with a race heel only if I needed to go light – only a 100g penalty compared to old radical toes. I’d probably be locking the toe too…

    I’ve heard a helicoil is possible – I even know the right size to get. However, I do agree with you about size of holes – it will get a bit ridiculous with such massive holes with an insert holding an insert holding a screw – seems to be asking for trouble. I could only mount at +3 to avoid other holes, and I don’t see that working. I’ve even tried to see if a Radical 2.0 heel could fit on – again, existing holes make that tricky.

    So my options seem to be:

    1. Go with the helicoil…and potentially compromise the integrity of a perfectly good ski.

    2. Use this ski only with race bindings (and probably throwing an old radical toe piece on – no need for rotating toe).

    Given option 2 is the most likely, should I just leave in all the other inserts I’ll never use, or can I take them out and dow/expoxy the other holes?

    Thanks for all your advice thus far!

  105. See April 6th, 2016 8:25 pm

    You sound like you’re doing serious skiing, so I’m reluctant to touch this, but, if you can find someone who knows what they’re doing, I’d say fill and drill.

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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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