Post sponsored by Cripple Creek Backcountry, now with three locations in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.
It’s never too late for playing the seer. How about a few prognostications for 2019 ski touring?
1. Look for super capacitors to appear in anything that requires batteries. I’m expecting a rechargeable headlamp based on this fast-charge temperature-agnostic tech. Downside, supercaps don’t hold a “permanent” charge. Tradeoffs never stop.
2. Corollary to above, another company will make a capacitor based airbag fan pack, to compete with Alpride.
3. Bindings. Yeah, we are so about ski touring bindings. I was talking with an author friend of mine, I mentioned writing a history of ski bindings. He laughed and said “sure Lou, NYT best seller for certain!” I was discouraged for thirty seconds, until I remembered a work-in-progress that I already get paid for. It’s called Wild Snow Dot Com. I digress. What binding vision pops before my third eye as I meditate on the snowy astral realm? Two things: you will see more “basic” tech binding offerings, similar to the retro Marker Alpinist. BUT, someone out there is working on tech 2.0 — you will will see something about that within the next twelve months.
4. Ski Touring Bindings, part B: In my opinion, something needs to change with the unsubstantiated marketing allusions to “safety” as well as nearly every new binding requiring consumer testing to find problems that should have become apparent during product development. I predict the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) will become more involved, as they clearly are with alpine bindings. To be fair, it could be said the alpine ski binding industry suffers from the same plethora of defects, judging from a browse of the CPSC website. Is this the end times? No, my 1968 nordic ski racing bindings broke too. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it fifty years later.
5. Boots. I’m not sure exactly when the Dynafit “speed nose” will disappear from the market, but I predict it will. Within the next 12 months? Perhaps. Instead, a non-DIN toe with a small toe-lip will be the thing. Like the TLT 5 and 6 models. Word to the wise: the sweet spot in that line remains the TLT 6. They’re still available hither and yon (for example, the TLT Speedfit is pretty much a TLT 6). Get a used pair in good shape, swap in some intuition liners, mod with custom cuff pivots. Sweet! Oh, and it’s common knowledge that a new TLT boot version is on tap. Those could be the meow, we may know soon!
6. Avalanches. In part, I attribute the leveling (and perhaps reduction per capita) of avalanche deaths to education. Nonetheless, a recent death during an avalanche safety class in Colorado was not the first such incident. Another was an accident near Aspen some years ago. You might recall that one of the presentations I covered at ISSW was “Are Avalanche Classes the new High Risk Sport?” I predict a tightening of standards for avalanche education, and changes in accepted practices.
7. Music. A revival of “sing along” ski songs, enjoyed around the campfire, at the huts, or anywhere else skiers gather. Don’t just watch. Sing. Perhaps you’ll encounter Der Feinste Sport if you’re in Europe, or hear Bill Briggs doing Two Boards On Cold Powder Snow.
8. Clothing. Will boot gaiters return as a separate clothing piece? Readers, your prediction?
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.