(Updated due to comment feedback and new information.)
I got an email a few days ago from a guy who described how his friend had been injured from a fall the email writer said was instigated by his friend’s tech fittings pulling out of or being displaced from the toe of Salomon Quest ski boots. From the brief description and photo the emailer shared (no permission to share here), I was unsure of exactly what had occurred despite what was stated. But plenty of people are chiming in to the fact that the fall was indeed caused by the tech fittings being pulled out or displaced from the boot sole. In fact, I’ve even heard from the guy who took the fall and was injured, and he adamantly declares that the failure of his boot’s tech fittings caused his fall, so with all that in mind we’ll take the point of view that this is indeed what happened.
Judging from several photos of the boots I’ve now seen, the tech fittings in the boot toe were indeed deformed and pulled from the Salomon Quest boot sole. How and why would that happen? If you view photos of the Salomon Quest sole, as shown below, the tech fitting appears to be molded into the boot toe in such a way as to have little or no plastic below it, just sole rubber. This could be a very weak configuration that could cause the fitting to pull out during a fall or even while skiing normally.
In view of this incident, it’s important to note that tech fittings should NOT pull out of a boot during normal or in my opinion even extreme use. The binding should release first, even if locked in tour mode (though in the latter case you might also get body tissue to “release”). Normal and correctly installed tech fittings are that strong. Millions of skier days and lots of bench testing verify that.
It is unknown for certain (see comments) if the Quest tech fittings are made by Dynafit or are aftermarket. Dynafit boot toe fittings are connected by a solid steel bar designed to be strongly molded into the sole of the boot, with plenty of plastic both above and below. From the looks of the accident photo I saw, the tech fittings are deformed but still in the Quest boot, indicated they are indeed connected, but that’s the extent of what observing the photos allows me to infer. Again, more importantly, it’s pretty obvious that however the fittings were sourced they may not have been molded into the boot sole strongly enough.
Readers here might recall a blog I did a while back that pointed out the lack of any ISO or otherwise standard for how tech fittings are located or installed in ski boots. In so many words, I implied that this was a recipe for problems, and of course ‘buyer beware.’ Now, all I can do is sigh — and hope that folks in the industry will now push harder for a tech fitting boot standard.
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.