Outdoor Retailer tradeshow today is an open air demo held at Brighton resort in Utah. A variety of companies set up booths and lend out their gear for use on the ski area or for taking short hikes into the backcountry. It’s a nice low-key event that had a good buzz this year because of all the excellent new product coming on the scene. The Scarpa, Black Diamond and Dynafit booths were mobbed. Scarpa’s boots are beautiful this year, in my opinion the F1 and Spirit 4 are the line’s leaders, but then, I snub any boots that don’t have Dynafit fittings. (Oh, what bias!) BCA’s demo of the new NTN telemark binding was a scene, and other folks seemed to be doing a brisk business as well. I enjoyed seeing ski writers Andy Dappen and Brian Litz. Those two guys were instrumental in the start of Backcountry Magazine, with Brian as co-publisher and Andy providing quite a bit of excellent content in the early years. Other luminati were the boys from Telemarktips.com of course, covering things in their indomitable style. Let me tell you, when a product manager sees Big Tim and Mitch coming at them with a microphone and video camera, they’d better think fast! And it was nice to see Couloir Magazine publisher Craig Dostie as well. “Hey Lou,” Craig said, “It’s time for me to make my first turns ever on Dynafits.” Well, what a historic occasion!
|Craig Dostie’s first (or was it the third?) turn on Dynafit bindings. He usually telemarks or snowboards, and after snapping into the Dynafits for the first time in his life kept criticising the binding because the telemark mode had limited heel lift and was too neutral. Oh well, he is a pretty decent skier so we’ll just let that go. In all seriousness, I’ve got to hand it to Craig for doing some fixed heel skiing. He’s an excellent telemarker and snowboarder, so I’ve always thought it would be cool if he would add randonnee and thus flow with all three glisse disciplines. Heck, how many other magazine publishers do that? As for me, I’ll master snowboarding first then perhaps try telemarking. By then, they’ll probably have a telemark binding that does the turn for you, judging from recent developments in tele equipment such as NTN in photo below.|
|This is the much ballyhooed NTN telemark binding, as in it’s been talked about and written about for SEVEN years and is just now seeing the light of day. Good things take time? In terms of backcountry skiing we’re wondering just how revolutionary this is. But is seems to be creating quite a bit of excitement, and several telemarkers I respect told me it skied downhill well — really well. Since telemarking is as much a lift served branch of skiing now as it is a backcountry technique, perhaps NTN will easily find a niche at the resort. And it’ll no doubt be in service as a backcountry rig for those who want an ever more radical boot/binding connection for their free heel skiing. As always, interesting to watch.
Check out Dostie’s coverage of NTN (defunct link removed), easily the best review out there so far other than his weird subtitle about the binding having even “more edge control than randonnee bindings.” I mean, is that a non-issue or what? How many times a day are you out on your randonnee bindings thinking, wow, I wish I had more edge control? Are those guys up there skiing the Grand Teton on randonnee gear going to switch to NTN telemarking so they have more “edge control?” Is Chris Davenport going to switch to NTN telemarking so he has more “edge control” while cranking out Colorado fourteeners?” Rediculous.
|Jet Boil is introducing a nice looking hang stove system. Hang stoves are excellent for ski mountaineering, as they don’t require a stove platform and are self leveling. We’ll probably have to give this thing a test.|
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.