Score: Marmots 2, Jeep 0

Post by blogger | June 21, 2007      

As morning sun illuminated Castle Peak like a military laser firing a warning shot, the unholy stench of coyote piss rose from my Jeep like a parody of macho cologne. Just moments ago I’d dribbled the stuff liberally, figuring it might work as marmot repellent. But since ancient days when middle age plagues were spread by rats, rodents have never been controlled by man, only endured. Today would be no different.

We shouldered our packs and started up the trail towards Montezuma Basin and what looked like decent summer backcountry skiing. Twenty steps from the Jeep I turned and watched as two marmots casually approached the vehicle, stepped over the miasmatic musk barrier like it wasn’t even there, then did pullups on my axles and disappeared into the undercarriage looking for snacks such as water lines, radiator caps, seat upholstery$$$, and other “cuisine de marmoo.” DANG!

To avoid expensive damage we cancelled our climb and stayed on marmot guard duty close to the truck. We used a nearby snow patch for testing the Marker Dukes again, then headed home. Nice to get out, but having our day controlled by rodents was not ideal. At least I didn’t catch bubonic plague (no symptoms yet, anyway).

Next trip I’ll try moth balls and some kind of fencing. A small game license and .22 rifle might help as well. Problem is, I’ve heard marmots taste yucky.

(Notes: Vehicles with enclosed cabins are less worry than our open Jeep — at least a marmot attack isn’t going to trash your interior features. But one hears frequent stories of marmots trashing hoses and wires to the point of stranding a truck at parking. We’ve noticed the marmots of Montezuma tend to spend time under every vehicle parked up there — if you’ve been there you might want to inspect your vehicle for rodent damage. As for repellent, the stuff we used was “Coyote Trapping Lure,” which is supposed to be coyote urine scent and thus repel coyote prey animals such as marmots. Perhaps we need another version.)

Marker Duke bindings test
Main mission today was more testing of Marker Duke binding in climbing mode for backcountry skiing (shown above with climbing lift engaged), with comparo to Fritschi and Naxo. I was concerned that with the Duke binding positioned rearward for free-heel climbing and touring, the ski might be tip heavy which makes uphill kick turns difficult. The ski still dropped at the tail, but just barely. A bit of snow weight on the ski tip shovel would cause it to drop more at the tip — perhaps too much. Something to keep in mind when comparing bindings. With heel lift deployed in either high or low position the Duke can be toured in the forward locked position, thus changing the balance point and causing your ski tails to drop more easily during a kick turn. This doesn’t work with heel-flat-on-ski (no lifter) mode, but one doesn’t use that mode for climbing anyway. Conclusion, for climbing with Duke consider favoring use of the heel lift and locking the binding plate in the forward position (as if locked for downhill, only heel latch is not engaged).

Other Duke notes: Heel lift can be moved with ski pole while you’re in the bindings, though doing so is hit-and-miss. If you’re flexible you can reach down with your hand and deploy the lift. While traversing in touring mode the binding is torsionally solid compared to Naxo, and we like that.

Montezuma Mine
As our ski options were limited, we took a short walk from the road up to the old Montezuma Mine portal. You can look into the caved-in part of the portal, and still smell the flinty odor of hard rock and mine water. Above is what it looks like to the camera held into the tiny opening at arms length.

Driving Jeep
Scott took the controls as the marmots chased us down the road. Look out you brown pests, we’ll be back.



13 Responses to “Score: Marmots 2, Jeep 0”

  1. Halsted June 21st, 2007 1:50 pm

    Its been my experience that Marmots are getting more aggresive in trashing cars, over the last couple of years. They seem to be losing their fear of man, more and more.

    Thanks for your reviews of the Duke binding. I’m very interested in them.


  2. Lou June 21st, 2007 3:23 pm

    Halsted, yeah, I think what’s going on is that people are feeding marmots in popular areas and the marmots have lost most of their fear, so they associate cars with food and are very agressive in some places.

    Duke really looks good. It’s pretty heavy and not being able to switch modes on the fly is a drag for serious touring, but as a cross-over or heavy duty binding it appears incredible. Consumer testing will tell the rest of the tale. Will you be one of the guinea pigs?

  3. Andrew June 21st, 2007 3:45 pm

    Lou, you’d get quadruple bonus backcountry gizmo points if you could trap a marmot with the Duke binding. It would be the MarmotDuker, or the Marmanuke.

  4. Lou June 21st, 2007 4:28 pm

    And PETA would be marching with signs outside my door.

  5. Terry June 21st, 2007 5:40 pm

    The marmot stories remind me of the Bugaboos parking lot up in B.C., Lou. The park service has rolls of chicken wire available to wrap around your vehicle to protect brake lines, etc. from porcupines. Sounds like this might be a solution for Colorado 🙂

    see the photo here of the Bugs lot full of wrapped cars with sticks holding the wire in place:

  6. Jerry Shustrin June 21st, 2007 6:52 pm

    Lou, it’s really tough that your coyote urine/scent version didn’t work.

    The rodents up in Montezuma Basin must be immune to all forms of stealth.

    Perhaps they’ve munched on way too many salt laden morsels.

    I’ve got a bottle of Moccasin Joe Ambush CU and it’s done it’s job.

    Keep trying and good luck next time.

  7. Lou June 21st, 2007 8:11 pm

    Jerry, I’ll try your brand.

  8. Phil Riche June 22nd, 2007 7:03 am

    Lou, I met you coming down the road. I had the small white dog. By the time I realized who you were it was too late to yell. I was doing a scouting trip since I have never been to Montezuma before. However, being by myself I decided not to do the creek crossing. I hiked up to the the sign for Pearl Pass. How far was I from skiing and do I go right or left. I have a 97 Tahoe 4 door. Would it make it all the way to where the skiing is? Too bad my dog and I weren’t there with you. She loves to chase marmots.

  9. Pete Sowar June 22nd, 2007 6:31 am

    It’s a good idea to check and make sure they aren’t still in your car when you leave. I brought one home from Castle once. It ended up living under a garage at the end of the block for a couple years.

    The dogs loved it.

  10. Halsted June 22nd, 2007 10:21 am

    Sure Lou,
    I wouldn’t mind being a GP for testing the Duke binding. I’m looking at it for “side country,” touring and some heli assisted stuff.

    If you have a conection for a pair let me know.


  11. Lou June 22nd, 2007 10:40 am

    Halsted, you’ve got to include hucking 100 footers in that list, then you get to “test” them. As a resume, just send your past medical bills to Marker, USA, 146 Huckster Avenue, Scar City, 84293

  12. Halsted June 22nd, 2007 11:31 am


  13. Jeff Prillwitz June 25th, 2007 6:23 am


    Several years ago, Patrick Smith, the founder of Mountain Smith packs and Kifaru hunting gear was featured in an article on marmot hunting. If I remember right he seemed to enjoy eating them so maybe the .22 would work out. After my last trip to Montezuma Basin I had a pika living in my Dodge Dakota for over a month. I ended up replacing the spark plug wires twice in that time before I was able to chase him out.

  Your Comments

  Recent Posts

Facebook Twitter Email Instagram Youtube

WildSnow Twitter Feed


  • Blogroll & Links

  • 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.

    All material on this website is copyrighted, the name WildSnow is trademarked, permission required for reproduction (electronic or otherwise) and display on other websites. PLEASE SEE OUR COPYRIGHT and TRADEMARK INFORMATION.

    We include "affiliate sales" links with most of our blog posts. This means we receive a percentage of a sale if you click over from our site (at no cost to you). None of our affiliate commission links are direct relationships with specific gear companies or shopping carts, instead we remain removed by using a third party who manages all our affiliate sales and relationships. We also sell display "banner" advertising, in this case our relationships are closer to the companies who advertise, but our display advertising income is carefully separated financially and editorially from our blog content, over which we always maintain 100% editorial control -- we make this clear during every advertising deal we work out. Please also notice we do the occasional "sponsored" post, these are under similar financial arrangements as our banner advertising, only the banner or other type of reference to a company are included in the blog post, simply to show they provided financial support to and provide them with advertising in return. Unlike most other "sponsored content" you find on the internet, our sponsored posts are entirely under our editorial control and created by WildSnow specific writers.See our full disclosures here.

    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. 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.

    Switch To Mobile Version