Emery Medium Ski Touring Binding – 1980s?

In the ongoing attempt to make lighter weight AT ski touring bindings, an occasional ploy has been to eliminate safety release altogether, or more commonly, eliminate vertical release at the heel. These are sometimes called “approach bindings” due to their use with mountain climbing boots instead of ski boots as a tool for accessing climbing areas. When such bindings are used with shorter skis and softer boots, they probably resulted in less injury than one would at first suspect. Nonetheless, in certain situations this sort of binding could result in serious hurt, so they’re a specialized tool.

One such binding is the Emery Medium, a minimalist plate binding that does have non-adjustable side release, but no vertical release.

Emery Medium, all of it. Boot was held into the rear of the binding with a buckle and strap. The toe wire was compatible with DIN shaped AT boot soles. To use climbing boots, one had to hand-make different shaped toe wires.

Emery Medium, all of it. Boot was held into the rear of the binding with a buckle and strap. The toe wire was compatible with DIN shaped AT boot soles. To use climbing boots, one had to hand-make different shaped toe wires.

Boot in binding (modern boot, sorry). Rather than messing around with an over-center pivot latch or full-on release mechanism, the Medium holds the boot heel with a simple strap system. Not particularly stable and of course no release, but simple.

Boot in binding (modern boot, sorry). Rather than messing around with an over-center pivot latch or full-on release mechanism, the Medium holds the boot heel with a simple strap system. Not particularly stable and of course no release, but simple.

Plate system with pivot plate lifted to left. When removed due to release or other, Yellow anchor plate snaps in via tabs and ramps indicated by right arrow.

Plate system with pivot plate lifted to left. When removed due to release or other, Yellow anchor plate snaps in via tabs and ramps indicated by right arrow.

 Release plate at top of photo, removed from ski, arrows indicate where plate joins binding fittings that are screwed to the ski.

Release plate at top of photo, removed from ski, arrows indicate where plate joins binding fittings that are screwed to the ski.

Rotational release at both plates coming completely off the ski. To prevent ski loss a retention cord could be added using the slot visible at extreme left.

Rotational release at both plates coming completely off the ski. To prevent ski loss a retention cord could be added using the slot visible at extreme left.

Loop of metal (left) slides in and out under spring tension, controlled by lever on heel fitting. The loop engages the slots visible to right, thus latching the plate down for skiing, and releasing it for touring.

Loop of metal (left) slides in and out under spring tension, controlled by lever on heel fitting. The loop engages the slots visible to right, thus latching the plate down for skiing, and releasing it for touring.

Weight: 18.4 ounces, 522 grams (one binding, with screws)

These bindings were donated to our collection by Pete Swenson.

Emery Medium thumbnail.

Emery Medium thumbnail.

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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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