It’s snowing here in central Colorado — we’ve got an over-average snowpack, yes, more is always welcome for backcountry skiing!
Randonnee binding collection: I promised a listing of the bindings in the collection (shown to right). The display is in somewhat chronological order, but we messed around with grouping the bindings for look and maker, so it’s not perfect. I’ll be publishing a virtual backcountry skiing binding museum on this website sooner or later, so check back for more details. Many people asked at the OR show how many of the bindings I’d skied on. Answer: in this iteration of the collection I’ve skied on all except the cable Tyrolia, but expect to acquire many more bindings I’ve not skied on.
Please click image
to enlarge (bindings in enlarged photo may be slightly out of
Top row left-to-right: 1- early cable binding (the first randonnee bindings were any cable binding with side hold-down lugs). 2- Cable Silvretta. 3- cable Silvretta with stabilizer plate. 4- Hybrid Tyrolia cable/plate binding with early Salomon safety toe 5-Marker TR with later model toe. 6-Sumatic, a weird contraption that’s tough to explain. 7-Marker TR with earlier toe. 8-First production model Ramer, with aluminum spring bars. 9-Silvretta 400.
Middle row left-to-right: 1-Emery. 2-Ramer MT 2000 (was last production Ramer. 3-Ramer Guide (had a step-in Look heel). 4-Silvretta 404 (still in use worldwide — popular with military ski troops because it works with any welted boot. 5-Fritschi that was in production for years, this white model was made for military. 6-Tyrolia TRB. 7-Early model of the Ramer Universal, and first Ramer binding that had most bugs worked out. I was wearing this exact pair when caught in an avalanche in Highland Bowl in 1982. 8-Silvretta SL was a poor attempt to compete with Dynafit — it had a tendency to explode into small parts. 9-The Miller step-in binding came before most bindings listed above. We have it in the collection to illustrate the transition from cable bindings to no option of heel lift, which thus necessitated some sort of heel latch and plate system instead of cable hold-down lugs.
Bottom row left-to-right: 1- Salewa plate binding was first imported by Black Diamond. It was somewhat effective, but had a tendency to pre-release (among other problems). 2-Petzl was the first semi-effective attempt to combine an alpine toe and heel with a touring system. It probably would have been more popular, except they were somewhat wobbly in alpine mode and the plastic parts broke. 3- Early production Dynafit, one of the first few pairs to be imported into the United States. They worked, but you had to swap a spring out of the heel unit to change vertical release setting. This was the Dynafit model that set the whole randonnee binding market on fire, as it proved AT randonnee bindings could be lighter and more efficient than telemark gear — while still providing a solid ski/boot connection for aggressive downhill skiing. 4- Alpine Trekker touring adapter is the best of various attempts to convert alpine bindings to touring. There were other touring adapters, if you have any we need them for the collection. 5-Dynafit TLT on rental/demo plate. 6-Fritschi Diamir, first iteration, lightweight and effective. Really the first randonnee binding to mimic an alpine rig. 7-Naxo, recent plate binding that includes an ergonomic double pivot at the toe. 8-Dynafit Tri-Step, was fraught with problems and eventually discontinued. 9-Silvretta Pure, recent addition to the modern lightweight category.
We’ll be beefing the collection up with many more bindings, both recent and antique. If anyone would like us to deliver, display, and give a talk about the collection, please contact us via the contact link to left. The collection is portable, amusing, and adds appeal to any ski related event.
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.