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
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.
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.
There’s been a lot of talk around the household about ditching telemark and going the AT route. Telemark gear manufacturers have been evolving themselves into the ground ever since the plastic boot replaced the leather boot that the telemark turn was built on. A plastic boot overpowers the original three pin binding, so companies come out with a beefier, heavier binding, then boot companies come out with a bigger, stiffer, heavier boot, and the cycle continues.
This is great for the tele skier. More power, more control, and with the introduction of free pivot tele bindings, touring has never been easier. Of course these luxuries come with a price and it’s weight.
While telemark gear was getting more powerful and heavier, AT gear was retaining their power while getting lighter. Emily is the first in the household to break away from the telemark tribe in the pursuit of lighter weight and increased performance. I’ve been raving about the Tychoons lately so she picked up a pair in a 161, paired with Dynafit Speed Radicals for a weight savings of three pounds per foot.
Stay tuned for extensive testing.
Turn Radius: 23.6
Effective Edge: 146.5
Weight: 1814g per ski (4 pounds)
Mounted: Voile Switchback x2 on recommended line
When I took the plastic off these skis I thought I made a mistake. They looked way too short, too small, felt too light, and hand flexed too soft. I was looking for a mountaineering ski, a ski that was going to see more time on my back than on the snow, but I immediately started re-thinking my choice. I mounted them up and they sat for a month. I wasn’t looking forward to taking them out.
I finally decided to take them for a spin and was pleasantly surprised at how well they skied, and extremely happy about how they toured. Despite their size, I found myself reaching for this rig more and more.
There’s a few places where losing a ski could at best ruin a run and at worst present a serious safety concern. I’ve had a few close calls with a rogue ski trying to start the descent without me, now I carry a simple leash all the time.
Two mini carabiners and four or five feet of p-cord does the trick. I keep it tucked into the camelback sleeve on the shoulder strap of my pack and don’t notice it’s there, but it’s handy when I need it. The leash usually gets utilized at the end of a bootpack, knife ridges, top of couloirs, etc. I clip the heel risers so it’s easier to unclip when I’m ready for the descent. Super simple and lightweight piece of equipment for security and peace of mind.
There are numerous articles floating around about strapping your skis to your sled. This is what I ended up going with.
The other day I broke a climbing skin tip loop while tossing the skis over a creek. I’m surprised it made it that long, I had to custom make those loops in a Super 8 parking lot two and a half years ago using nothing but a leatherman and a tire iron. The loops that come with the skins are way too small for Caylors. I haven’t thought of a better option so I used the same design again.
Original loop on the left. I used p-cord on the right to get me through another day of skiing. Worked quite well
Last year I started using binding inserts to utilize one pair of bindings on multiple skis. The system has been working great. Between Emily and I we have switched bindings about 50 times, with one spinner that was easily fixed with a heli-coil and has been great since. Last year I used Quiver Killer inserts, switching to Binding Freedom inserts. I’ve come to prefer Binding Freedom’s offering, plus they’re constantly coming out with new tools to make the job easier and faster.
Quiver Killer insert on the left, Binding Freedom insert on the right. Binding Freedom’s inserts are notched to allow the use of a flat head screwdriver to thread the insert in and out of the hole.
While skiing the other day I kept popping into tour mode on the down. Upon further inspection, a chunk of the plastic base right above the ski/tour lever busted out. I tried a few different field repairs but nothing seemed to work. So after a call to 22Designs, I put it on the bench.
Broken base on the right.