October 25, 2009:
With the heavy rain in Seattle on Friday and snow showing on the Visitor Center cam at Paradise Saturday morning, I was thinking in terms of a foot of fresh at Muir yesterday, but somehow I and the four other people who hiked up were tricked (although the treats are evidently right around the corner). High overcast, with light snow coming in and out, I lapped Pebble Creek twice with Jimmy and Nick from Turns-All-Year. Mild temps and lack of foot traffic had flattened the snowfield to the point where it resembled a groomer at Sun Valley in terms of both smoothness and hardness; a quarter inch of fresh didn't do much to increase edgehold and skiing called for subtle "Ice Coast" slalom moves.
All in all, a very mellow day on the mountain with virtually no company. The most interesting thing about the hike was the abundance of vertically-oriented ice crystals in and around the trail, which were holding pebbles and dirt aloft. The crystals looked as if they had risen in place and pushed the debris upward as they grew.
October 24, 2009:
Jonathan Shefftz bombards me every other day or so on the "Dynafit Users Alias" to update me on new rando race offerings, and this week is no exception. He recently guest-blogged on Lou Dawson's Wildsnow.com about the ISMF banning aftermarket modifications of boots and heel/toe binding combinations by more than one manufacturer.
While these regulations probably don't or won't affect casual randonnée racers like me, people who do race in sanctioned races at the elite level should be paying attention. Jonathan (and most of the other US-based readers) were surprised by the number of French and Italian companies now marketing Tech (ie. Dynafit-compatible) heel and toe sets - seems like anyone who likes ski touring and has access to a CNC rig is getting into the act!
Below are a few photos of race binding sets now on the market - by Jonathan's count there are at least nine companies offering such bindings, including the "old" standbys Dynafit, Schia Meccanica and ATK. Top row, from left: Crazy Idea, Merelli R8, and Plum. Bottom row: Colibri toepiece, Colibri heelpiece. The Merelli R8 set reportedly weighs in at an incredible 105 grams! (I assume this is for one toe and one heel). This compares favorably with 160 grams for a Dynafit Lo-Tech Race binding. Most of these bindings also feature an auto-locking toepiece which puts the skier in a "locked" position as soon as they step in - you don't have to pull up on the lever before you start skinning. Montura and Ski Trab also have working versions in the pipeline.
Previous Incoming Pages:
"Incoming" covers developments that have personal interest to me (ie. gear I might consider acquiring, or events I feel may impact the sport of skiing) - it is by no means meant to be a comprehensive enumeration of gear or events in the ski world at large. Feel free to contact me via the randosaigai.com link below with news or images that may be of interest . . .
© 2009 Gregory C. Louie