January 3, 2015

Bringing in 2015 Touring the Talkeetnas

Touring the Talkeetnas around Hatcher Pass in the winter sunshine combines ghost town-like historical interest, magnificent vistas, and exquisite skiing. Independence Mine is mostly a ghost town, save the single building still maintained for occupancy, and above Independence is Gold Cord, one of my favorite places.
Approaching Gold Cord

Friendship Pass overlooks Gold Cord, Independence and the Hatcher Pass Lodge.
Upper Reaches of Gold Cord Bowl
Skiing to Friendship Pass involves travelling in avalanche terrain. See the Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center for important information.
Approaching Friendship Pass
Friendship Pass vistas of Denali and the Alaska Range stoke the spirit. 
Friendship Pass, Alaska - Looking North

Her nickname is Sunshine.

Sunshine Tracks
Exposed ridges had some small areas of unsupportable crust. But it was easy to avoid, and snow quality was mostly excellent. 

Hillary at High Grade
For the first time in many trips to High Grade, we found people in the cabin built by Gerrit 'Henie' Snider in 1938. A nice lady at the cabin explained that 6 families descended from her grandma share the place now.

We had an adventure skiing home in alpenglow, we found exquisite powder for our last line. Daylight was short, but our experience was full. 

December 4, 2014

(Another) Dynafit Binding Failure

While Dynafit celebrates 30 years of 'tech' style alpine touring binding/boot systems, some users are simmering with frustrating failures of Dynafit products. I have experienced two binding heel piece failures in 17 ski days, and one of my ski buddies suffered an essentially identical failure during this same period.

These failures occurred on the 'Radical'-style heel piece. The top portion of the binding, including the heel pins, separates from the lower portion of the binding. In the most recent failure, it appears that the failure initiated with the two screws connecting the top plate to the lower portion of the heel piece.
Intact Heel Piece on the Right
The two screws forward of the heel elevator mechanism connect the binding top plate to the lower portion of the binding. In my most recent heel piece failure, remnants of these two screws were still present.
I believe the two screws failed, and then the rear portion of the binding plastic failed due to the upward force on the heel pins
Dynafit was one of the most significant skiing innovations in my lifetime. But, the failures described in this post, and other failures not described here, indicate that we need a more robust, yet still lightweight, binding/boot system for alpine touring.

Heel Piece Plastic Fracture Surface in Red Polygon

November 30, 2014


Still thin down low
And thin up high in some places
Above the clouds, in the moment

Photocredits: Kruser & YT