1987 was an interesting year in backcountry skiing for North America. Internet didn’t exist, and our only dedicated magazine (Couloir) began the next year as a couple of photocopied pages stapled together. The lack of information was a marketing dream, as everyone got much of their information from catalogs.
To that end, Chouinard Equipment (eventually to become Black Diamond) was making a mission of publishing informative and well written catalogs that sometimes devoted a whole printed page to one product — use of ink and paper that was excessive and appreciated. On page 47 of the 1987 Great Pacific (Chouinard) book was the Salewa Tour Binding, said to be “…cleaner, easier to use, and lighter than any other full-function randonnee binding we have used…” (While the Ramer binding also existed at the time, and was lighter at 26 oz per binding, it’s assumed the catalog authors had not used the Ramer so hence their copy writing was honest.)
As far as we can tell, this binding was first released for sale in 1985/1986, and the version shown here is a slightly improved one released for 1986/1987.
As with most bindings starting in this era, climbing lift was available. You implement this by flipping down the part as indicated above, and shown activated in our intro photo. Changing modes from alpine to touring and back is accomplished by pulling up and pressing down the mode change lever, which in turn moves a bar (not visible above, see underside photo below) in and out of a slot just behind the release stub area as shown above.
Both vertical and lateral release worked off the same machinery. In a twisting fall, the binding plate rotates around the stub/pivot which is fixed to the ski. In vertical mode, the plate pulls up and off the pivot, which has a couple of small inverted ramps that the binding rides on as it moves upward during the tension of a fall. In our experience testing this binding, it was prone to pre-release unless set to high DIN numbers, and we thus were not impressed by the binding’s ability to protect from injury.
Skiers of the mid 1980s liked the look of this binding, as it sat close to the ski (in fashion back than) and had a no nonsense vibe. More, it also worked with welted or crampon compatible climbing boots, and was thus favored by climbers as an approach or glacier binding. The Salewa Tour’s function didn’t live up to its looks, however, so it never achieved great popularity nor persisted as a model line.
Nonetheless, at least one well known Colorado 14er skier used this binding till the early millenium — something that always amazed and amused us.
Weight (one binding with screws, no brake): 33 oz, 936 gr
Aplogies to whomever donated this binding to the collection as I’ve misplaced your information. If you’ll drop us an email, we’d appreciate it.
Everyone, please enjoy the page excerpt below from the 1987 Great Pacific (Chouinard) Catalog.