Couloir Magazine — New Issue — March 2007


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | March 27, 2007      

Department of print media worth more than a glance:

Randonnee boot sole dimensions for backcountry skiing.

The March 2007 graced our mailbox a few days ago. Along with the mag’s articles and enjoyable display of full page “Chute Corps Gallery” photos, I enjoyed publisher Dostie’s opening editorial about the desirability of effective binding release for avalanche safety during backcountry skiing.

Many (if not most) skiers and snowboarders with an avalanche in their past will tell you that having said toys attached to their feet during their ride for life made it more like a plunge to death. My own experiences prove that out, and intuition eliminates the one tenth of one percent of doubt I might retain.

Thus, I’ve always found it unfortunate that people ski avalanche slopes with randonee bindings dialed up with DIN numbers worthy of King Kong — or use non-release cable bindings (otherwise known as telemark bindings).

But is safety release (even properly adjusted) enough to help you reliably “throw a shoe” in an avalanche? In the case of rando bindings, forces from an avalanche may not mimic the release pressure a binding is designed for, so any DIN you pick may be too much. As for tele bindings, statistics seem to show safety release may not be that important for day-to-day skiing — so tele backcountry skiers will probably continue using non-release bindings.

All this leads to the conclusion that the next level in avalanche safety will be some sort of deployment trigger that sheds your skis or board, inflates an airbag, and perhaps invokes a passive Avalung-like device.

Lashing this up is a bit beyond my welder and disk grinder — I guess I’ll leave it to trained professionals.



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Comments

6 Responses to “Couloir Magazine — New Issue — March 2007”

  1. Bryan Wickenhauser March 27th, 2007 12:18 pm

    Lou – Sully & I are drilling out the F1’s for the upcoming Elk Mtn Grand Traverse! We’ll try our best to get the nordic racers/folks converted to AT-ism for next yrs. race. Its a pretty thin snow pack on the CB side, with lots of open water crossings. BTW- you can make the F1’s pretty water tight especially when compared to a nor-dork boot (which to your dismay has been the boot of choice for this race in years past.) See ya in Aspen Saturday AM!!!

  2. brian harder March 27th, 2007 8:06 pm

    Hey Lou,
    Bryan and Eric are going to do something that occured to me when I first stepped into rally gear this season. I did the GT back in 2001 and thought it was one of the best events I had ever done. Although I had a great time with my last minute partner, I hated the Combi set up I was on and longed for less precarious feeling gear. Although I’m out this year I will be watching the results with great interest. Even if they don’t smoke everyone (which they might anyway), they are sure to have more fun when the tips point down. Kick some ass, boyz!

    On a separate note, my thumb tendon is back with its better half and now it’s a three month wait for biology. Skied the Pass one poled anyway while everyone was suffering at the Life Link finals. Getting creative with the work outs. Don’t tell my surgeon. See you next year.

  3. Lou March 27th, 2007 9:21 pm

    Yeah, we are cheering for the rando racers! As the years progress, I’ll bet people will figure out better gear, but what I’d really like to see is the organizers add a leg or two to the race that had more steep downhills and a few boot climbs up steep gnarl. Why they won’t do that and instead have made it into a nordic race is beyond me. Perhaps some entity makes a ton of money off it or something, and they want it to remain easy so they get lots of participants? Curious minds want to know. Ultimately, it just makes me sad — a nordic skate race that’s tries to come across as a ski mountaineering comp — I weep.

    Brian, I’ll bet your thumb will be better soon, all that alpinist blood heals things fast!

  4. gene March 27th, 2007 9:40 pm

    I echo Lou’s sentiments about the GT, wishing for more challenging terrain that would neutralize the Nordic beasts. Maybe someday the stars will align and absolutely foul weather with safe snow conditions will do the trick? As to remaining easy? Haven’t had that happen yet. Good luck to all.

  5. Lou March 28th, 2007 4:40 am

    I admire the athleticism it takes to ski 40 miles in one push, but plenty of nordic “ski marathon” races do that.

    They actually had challenging weather a few years ago, and most people were so ill prepared that the race turned into a retreat from Moscow with 40% attrition. Check out report:

    http://www.aspentimes.com/article/20030331/SPORTS/303300008

    Amazingly, the race only has about 6,000 vertical feet of gain yet covers approx. 40 miles of ground, much of which is either nordic trails, groomed snowcat roads or resort ski runs. Throw in 2,000 more vertical feet of steep terrain, with a few boot climbs, and we’d perhaps have a mountaineering race that would take the winners longer than eight hours to cover and require backcountry boots and skis instead of nordic race gear.

    I suppose it is what it is, but I’d sure like to see it be more of the “backcountry” ski race it’s promoted as and the media pants about.

  6. el lechero April 3rd, 2007 5:21 pm

    The CB boys killed it.

    Hey Lou,

    Back to the releasable bindings and avalanche question:

    Almost nobody agrees with me but I would way rather know that my G3 “non relaese cable bindings” are not going to come off in avalanche terrain.

    I aim to ski out of slides rather than kick a shoe in them.

    What is your opinion on that?

    Thanks for all the inspiration.

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