Big news for at least some backcountry skiing telemarkers (tele lifties need read no farther) is the introduction of several telemark bindings that have a touring release that allows a free hinging pivot for walking. If you’re not a telemarker you’re probably thinking: “but, I thought free heel bindings already did that.” If so, you’re wrong. As telemark bindings have evolved (or some would say devolved), they’ve gained more and more of a quality that free heelers call “active,” meaning the binding has a degree of resistance to your heel rising. Such “active” bindings may help you ski better, but make walking harder.
Looking back in the distant past, the desire for resistance to heel lift is at least part of what led to fixed heel skiing, but today’s telemarkers are not yet repeating that part of ski history — instead they’re still lifting their heels — albeit with more and more resistance as cable springs get stronger and the rear boot attachment point moves ever closer to the heel. Hence the need for a touring mode on what used to actually be a touring binding… Who would have thought.
Tired of ski lifts, can’t afford a helicopter — but you’re still a motorhead? It’s been happening for a long time, but the media seems to recently be paying more attention to the fact that many backcountry skiers are also snowmobilers. I’ve always been amused by the “conflict” that some backcountry skiing advocates seem to relish portraying between skiers and sledders, when in reality many people combine both activities, or in the case of skiers they simply know how to go places where they won’t see snowmobilers (or if they’re a sledder, not see pedestrians). With more people seeing how useful snowmobiles are for backcountry skiing support, it’ll be interesting to watch the 50-something granola crunchers try to figure out how to deal with 20-something Red Bull quafers. Hint, it’s spelled W-I-L-D-E-R-N-E-S-S.
Department of unintended consequences. In the Tetons they opened up a ski area boundary for backcountry skiers, but they forgot about some bighorn sheep that might not be into skiing. More, one of those pesky wildlife biologists says “The less we know from the public, the more there’s going to be restrictions because we didn’t know.” I thought “knowing” was why our taxes paid for wildlife biologists — but what do I know?
I do know that down the road from here a herd of bighorn winters right next to the highway and enjoys watching people using the hot springs by the river. I guess if people are not skiing they don’t bother bighorn sheep — must be something about skiers that makes them different. Perhaps the wildlife biologist can tell us what the difference is.
Dynafit innovations. The heel unit of the Dynafit binding seems to attract moders. Check this cool item out, a heel lifter that eliminates the need to rotate the heel unit to change heel lift height. This could be a huge improvement, as rotating the heel can be awkward, and may cause extra wear on the thimble bushing inside the binding. I’ll try to review this item as soon as possible.
A warm rain’s a gonna fall: It’s all over the news — Warm rain in the Pacific Northwest may lead to avalanches. Sounds wet and scrappy to me, but hey, perhaps a good Gortex testing system?
News of the weird: A snowboarder got lost in the woods near Keystone ski resort in Colorado. He was found alive after spending three days in a snow fort a few hundred yards from the ski area boundary. After being rescued, he was cited for carrying a concealed weapon. One wonders, did he live on rabbits he shot? Or perhaps he blasted a few endangered lynx and that is why he’s conversing with Johnny Law?
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.