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Aug 26 2010

Memory Lane 1992

Harbinger of things to come (the cell phone) using gear that would all be usurped.

Been going through the old slides, trying to whittle down the amount of celluloid taking up space in our cramped abode. You can’t take it with you, and lugging it around is a major pain in the arse. Besides, if you’re not using all your stuff regularly, it’s just clutter. Who needs more of that?

Serendipitously the mad Josh Madsen, le editor for Telemark Skier Magazine, asked me to be on the lookout for images from when interest in telemarking was first catching fire in America. In Europe it was ski mountaineering A.T. style but stateside we had to come to it our own way. Nordic skiing had just experienced a boom in the 70s so America’s backcountry began courting converts with the telemark dance.

Pictured above is William Wilson, surrounded by the state of the art in backcountry technology in 1992. Cell phones were finally small enough to carry in the backcountry; this beauty only weighed 4 pounds and the battery lasted two, maybe three hours. Coverage wasn’t so good, but being perched over the Los Angeles basin didn’t hurt , nor did a full 5 watts of power (notice the full size antenna). Kazama Outbacks defined the classic shape and width of the day—straight and narrow. Bindings were usually 3-pin, but the Rainey SuperLoop, the original with elastomer tubing for spring tension, had just raised the bar on how much control a tele binding could deliver. Plastic tele boots were only a half-baked dream, but we could feel their presence in the not too distant future.

Ramer self arrest grips gave added confidence where the leather subtracted it. Leather work gloves gave protection from the abrasiveness of fast corn snow, weren’t too hot for use above 8,000′ in Los Angeles or Riverside counties, and had a superior anti-theft veneer that never washed off. White climbing skins were a known aberration and those straps dangling from the SuperLoops were safety straps that wrapped around your lower leg and could be yanked off with a single deft pull, but hold otherwise.

Can you guess where this was shot?

© 2010