After working on our Bill Briggs article a few days ago, questions are coming up about the gear he used for his first ski descent of the Grand Teton in 1971. In my archives, I happen to have an original copy of Teton magazine, winter/spring 1972, with an extensive article about the descent, much of it a first person account by Briggs. On page 7, there is an ad for Spademan bindings that used his descent as credibility.
As for the skis he used, Briggs had this to say when I contacted him today: “It was a K2 Elite. Very soft, light, 210cm, fiberglass ski. I added damping strips to both skis to reduce vibration, which worked very well, making it was a very versatile (an all conditions cheater) ski for its day.”
Spademans were an odd binding — and an odd choice for ski mountaineering. To use them you had to bolt a big metal fitting to the sole of your boots, thus reducing their usefulness for climbing. They looked weird as they had no toe unit — your boot toe just floated out there in the air above your ski. In any case, that’s what Briggs used and they got the job done.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.