Outdoor Retailer Day 1 – Poaching Solitude

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | January 19, 2012      

Solitude Resort, Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah. Grim. That’s the only word to describe the utter lack of snow that greeted us during our drive up around Provo then into the Wasatch. Truly the least snow I’ve ever seen this time of year in what’s usually the powder paradise of the universe.

Headed up Silver Fork on the BIG SIX snowpack -- six inches and rising.

Headed up Silver Fork on the BIG SIX snowpack -- six inches and rising.

While WildSnow intern Joe Risi braved the icy steeps of Solitude to test the edgehold of selected “backcountry” planks, Lisa and I headed out for a bit of cardio. Skin up the resort? Why not? Especially with Joe making the ultimate sacrifice, we were free.

We got half way up before the men in red kicked us off and skied away after their polite but ridiculous sounding lecture. I proudly stripped skins, knowing that being booted from a ski resort by guys 1/3 your age is probably better for bragging rights than any number of skis in your quiver.

Luckily the snowshoe track up Silver Fork drainage was close, so we scooted over there and stayed on the up for a while. No “real” skiing was had, just too dry, but we got a workout. And yes locals, my sympathy for your plight is real. Perhaps the storm tonight will deliver you back to Wasatch nirvana.

Back at the ranch, I did make rounds and look at some of the new goods. Perhaps most impressive item from today is the new Solomon Guardian (Atomic Tracker) sidecountry binding. Much lower to the ski than other offerings, super solid in rolling deflection (easily at top of chart), much much more. If this thing doesn’t have any defects to be consumer revealed (please, please let there be none, we are SICK of binding defects…) it could be the top choice for a slackcountry touring binding of the frame (plate) type design. Word on these has been floating around, but nice to see in the flesh. Check em:

Salomon Guardian (Atomic Tracker) backcountry slackcountry skiing binding.

Salomon Guardian (Atomic Tracker) backcountry slackcountry skiing binding. Click to enlarge.

Check out the toe base width, 80 mm!! Screw pattern width is correspondingly wide.

Check out the toe base width, 80 mm!! Screw pattern width is correspondingly wide.

Locking into downhill mode entails lightly stomping the binding

Locking into downhill mode entails lightly stomping the binding which in turn engages these substantial spring-loaded hooks. Informal testing of rolling resistance (slop) indicated an almost unnerving rigidity that made one wonder if shaving ice would be as easy as a twitch of the knees.

You know we like bindings. We wait for new grabbers like Elvis fans looking for the third coming of the king. We collect grabbers. We ski on them. We write about them. (And we weep when defects make it to retail). Our hearty welcome to another player. All other frame bindings, practice your bows, you might need them.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


13 Responses to “Outdoor Retailer Day 1 – Poaching Solitude”

  1. OMR January 19th, 2012 11:04 am

    Yeah, the Wasatch winter has been a bust so far. Although, the upper NE bowls have decent coverage, albeit total sugar. Last week in upper Silver Fork I found some good turning, contradictory to the lower sage brush slopes typically used for the skin track. Take what we can get, right?

  2. Brian January 19th, 2012 12:14 pm

    Well, how were the Rocker2’s?

  3. Mark January 19th, 2012 12:33 pm

    Brighton is much friendlier to uphill skiers. The policy is linked somewhere off of the Wasatch Powderkeg website.

  4. Will January 19th, 2012 12:58 pm

    I second Mark. Its completely legal to skin up at Brighton. I was there last Tuesday night and had many-a friendly chat with the patrollers. Just make sure to park by the garage building you first see as you get to Brighton, far away from the paying customers’ cars. And skin on the far edge of the runs, avoid blind rollovers, and wear a headlamp an night–common sense stuff. And be sure to patronize the pub afterward to increase their revenue in exchange for their gracious hospitality.

  5. Will January 19th, 2012 1:00 pm

    Clarification: not right by the garage building, but near it, near the main entrance sign. As stated before, see the website for details before you go.

  6. Bryan January 19th, 2012 2:27 pm

    Are these compatible with AT soles? I haven’t quite seen an answer to that question yet.

  7. Mike January 19th, 2012 2:56 pm

    Lou are they positioning these as a full time frontside. a la duke, or more like a Fritschi/Tour offering?

  8. Brody Leven January 19th, 2012 6:54 pm

    i appreciate your actual sympathy. seriously.

  9. Lou January 19th, 2012 9:20 pm

    Guardian has adjustable height toe wings, a la Duke or Diamir, to fit either alpine or AT boots. The binding is positioned as something like 70 % resort, 30% backcountry, whatever that means. More clear to just look at the weight, about the same as a Duke. For some folks that’s acceptable for touring, while for others it’s too heavy. Lou

  10. Pablo January 20th, 2012 2:26 am

    Yesterday I also have the Guardian/Tracker on my hands.
    OMG this thing seems strong, really strong. Much more than Dukes.

    I like a lot that the toe wings are bigger and longer than duke’s, wich will catch bettter the boot toe.

    I like them, a lot.

  11. Pablo January 20th, 2012 2:34 am

    One important thing about Guardian and Tracker.

    Due to the complex heel locking system with 4 locking hooks, align while mounting is crucial. Even most than whit TLTs

    At Salomon they told me that they will not provide any kind of mounting patern sticker. They only recommend mounting this binding with the specific Salomon/Atomic mounting device.
    So be very carefully if you plan to mount it by yourself.

  12. Bryan January 23rd, 2012 12:40 am

    I skied solitude Thurs / Friday / Saturday…which Solitude were you at? We had incredible conditions. Saturday was EPIC. Never waited in a lift line. Amazing. Complete lack of open terrain didn’t even matter.

  13. stephen January 26th, 2012 2:25 am

    ^ Salomon are extremely unhelpful about providing mounting details, and not just for AT bindings. I use various Salomon nordic bindings and they provide no mounting info for these either, saying something like “see your dealer.” The nearest binding jig to me is 500km away, and the charge to mount bindings is typically as much as the bindings cost(!), plus the last set got mounted back-to-front on twintip skis; I was not amused to have to have new skis redrilled. Salomon need to be more cooperative, especially with Nordic bindings or everyone may just change to Rottefella’s NIS where no drilling is required…

    Perhaps the solution is to kill all the lawyers, as suggested in Shakespeare. 🙂

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