My preferred method for water crossings is to hurl my skis and pack to the opposite bank and find a log or some rocks to shimmy across. The best part about this method is once you throw your skis and pack across you now have an incentive to get across the water. Of course, it also relieves some weight off your back to be able to pull off some ninja moves on those tricky logs.
Sometimes it’s tough to find a good spot and you just gotta make do.
Emily fording a river. Ski gear is made to get wet. Right? If you do it right you can bridge the rocks with your skis, keeping your boots high and dry.
Conditions have been mixed bag to terrible lately. We’ve encountered slush, crusts, mashed potatoes, mank, avy debris, rain, and even some skiable stuff.
Emily climbs into the fog.
We’re finding some great skiing out there even though we’re keeping slope angles low.
Deep snow below treeline
Came across this little natural on a cutbank. the slab was 100cm deep, about 10m wide and propagated another 20m out of frame. It slid on a crust layer near the ground.
Tysen getting the goods
Click Images to Enlarge
It’s been a painfully slow start to the season, but it’s finally starting to resemble winter out there. Tysen and I checked out the No Joke couloir on Craig and found fantastic skiing conditions.
Tysen enjoying coldsmoke on the runout
I’ve been really digging Dynafits Ultra-Lock system on the TLT6. With just a swing of the hand you tighten your cuff as well as lock the boot into ski mode. The cuff rotation range is huge, which is great for skinning, but when you come across a steep downhill section it’s like trying to ski with Chuck Taylors on your feet. Manageable with a daypack, a nightmare with an overnight pack. I don’t need, or want full-on ski mode, just a little ankle support. I came up with this solution with stuff I had laying around the house and it’s been working ok, a little more fiddle factor than I’d like, but it gets the job done.
I used a chunk of 3/8 ID nylon hose as the stop, with a p-cord sheath acting as a tether as well as a pull handle
View of the stop at work. The hose disables the tang from engaging, giving you ankle support without going into ski mode
When not in use I capture the p-cord tether in the power strap so it’s not flopping around
It’s been warm, but we’re still finding some good snow.
Emily happy in the sun with Idaho’s Seven Devils in the background.
Still able to sniff out some deep powder
…and we’ve been loving it.
This is my first time fitting a boot beyond molding the liner. The fitting took some trial and error but I was finally able to get the boots dialed in.
I started with a one finger shell fit, as in with my weighted foot in the boot shell (no liner), with my toes touching the front of the boot, I was able to fit one finger (maybe a touch more) between my heel and the boot heel. Length felt ok initially, but obvious I needed some more room in the toe box. To solve this I put a tennis ball in the foot box, heated the foot box with a heat gun until it was too hot to touch then used a C clamp to blow out the toe box a bit, being careful as to how much area I was taking out above the foot. The idea with the tennis ball is to prevent any collapsing and to keep some sort of natural curvature as opposed to a flat spot.
Heated boot with a C clamp. Block of wood underneath to prevent any warping of the sole.
The C clamp method gave me a little room, but after one tour it was painfully obvious it wasn’t enough and I also realized I could use just a tiny bit of length.
I messed around with the idea of trying to fabricate a punch, but didn’t really want to spend that much time. I ended up making a wood form of my feet since it was quick and easy. The problem area for me is the toe box, so I traced my foot on some cardboard and used that template to carve out my wood form.
Crude, I know, but it did the trick.
I used some threaded rod and a few bolts to push the form forward, towards the toe from the heel.
I put the form in the toe box as far as I could, then used a heat gun to heat the toe box while tightening the nut to inch the form forward. It’s handy to keep the cardboard template close to see approximately where the “toes” of the form are at. After the heating and stretching I put the boot outside to cool down and retain the form.
It worked out real well. I was able to get the extra length and width I needed in one go.
Went out to check on the snow yesterday. Not quite enough base for me yet, so it’s back to the to-do list. In the meantime check out this flick, best ski film I’ve seen yet this fall.
I used to be one of those guys who shunned the lightweight style of backcountry skiing. I wanted superb downhill performance no matter how much sweat it took to get the gear uphill. I rationalized hauling around heavy gear with thoughts like “There’s no such thing as ‘heavy’, just weak legs and small lungs” and ” Why cut weight when you can just get in better shape?”
This thought process worked for awhile, but over the last couple of years I’ve been slowly peeling the weight back. This year I decided to go all in with tech bindings. I still don’t own a gram scale and you won’t catch me in the skintrack wearing spandex, but as the saying goes “Light is right”.
Tech binding setup in the foreground, Tele setup in the background. Weight savings of 2 and a half pounds per foot.
There were many factors involved with going to this system, besides the obvious weight savings. Telemark is going the way of the dinosaur for backcountry use. There, I said it. AT gear keeps getting lighter, stronger and more efficient, while tele gear has been stagnant for a long time. The biggest breakthrough for backcountry tele skiers recently has been the TTS system which is a step in the right direction but I still have my concerns. The biggest limiting factor for tele right now is boots. Give me a tele counterpart to the Dynafit TLT6 and you have my attention. I’m not holding my breath, so tech bindings it is.
We’ll see how it goes. I have had my heel locked down exactly once in 11 years, and Emily swears up and down I’m not going to like it. I’m not giving up on tele and when it comes to powder laps I’ll still be making drop knee turns, unless this AT business is just THAT good.