In the coming year of 2018 we’ll see..
1. …A rechargeable electric airbag backpack that’s as light in weight as compressed gas versions.
2. …The market saturated by “freeride touring” bindings such as Fritschi Tecton and Salomon-Atomic SHIFT, and we’ll also come to realize that these bindings are not changing the laws of physics.
3. …A plethora of new or improved lightweight simplistic touring bindings based on the original Barthel engineering as well as the laws of physics — e.g., what goes down has to go up first. For example, you’ll see journalist embargoes lifted soon on new offerings by G3 and Marker, and a U.S. sourced offering is rumored to be in the works as well. By fall of 2018 you’ll probably be choosing from more than a hundred ski touring binding models based on the classic design!
4. …More solutions for the “tongue shell dilemma.” That being the problem with touring boots constructed using a tongue type shell that tours freely without excessive forward resistance, but locks up the tongue to provide extra beef in downhill mode. La Sportiva Synchro is an example of effort to make this work with elegance.
5. …North American available carbon refillable cylinders for main brand backpacks such as Arva and BCA. I’m amazed how challenging this has proved to be, but the will is there on the part of the pack makers and we have the electric packs to put a fire under their behinds, so expect it to happen.
6. …A continued trend to narrower skis for most touring (as if jumbo planks ever did take over the sport), though fatties in the 110 to 116 range will continue as being wonderful when various types of snow make them appropriate.
7. …Resorts continuing to embrace uphilling, allowing their more intelligent employees to figure out obvious ways to monetize. Sell beer and burgers to cardio fanatics? Incredible concept, why didn’t I think of that? Make a fortune publishing a guidebook to on-piste touring and retire to Florida? Just watch.
8. …Bicycles with electrical power assist (pedelec e-bikes) continue their rapid march to world domination, skiers will press into use as access vehicles for dry gated roads and other such heinous exhibitions of bureaucratic excess. E-bike, dry land equivalent of the snowmobile for ski touring access?
9. Greatest challenge in ski touring gear improvement remains the climbing skin. Look for innovations in glide vs grip, weight, and better glues.
10. Our overall North American trend in reduced avalanche deaths vs number of backcountry skiers will continue. Yet know that in terms of statistics “random” events such as avalanche accidents do not occur at an even pace, so be mentally prepared for accident “clusters” that may appear alarming, but have relativly little meaning — other than reinforcing lessons we may have already learned. Speaking of which, look for a continued “back to basics” approach in practical avalanche education. Conventional wisdom in public education may be that rote memorization is passé, but in the avalanche world remembering 10 basic rules will likely keep you alive.
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.