Since being sent photos from Darren Rhalves garage of the new Alpine Touring binding coming from Salomon and Atomic some details could be immediately understood, and a few assumed, but some were missing. When presented with the evidence already made public the Salomon PR folks graciously put me in touch with Cody Townsend, one of the athlete/developers of these new AT bindings.Right off the bat Cody confirmed that the binding does indeed switch from locked to free-heel mode without having to exit the binding. It is true that most times you are switching modes with AT gear you’re stopping to put skins on and need to step out of your bindings anyway. But not always, so it’s nice to have that convenient option.
Next concern was the propensity for the binding to ice up. They all do, so it’s just a matter of how often.
Keeping in mind developers get myopic over the shortcomings of their own inventions, Cody sounded fairly candid when he said he , “experienced less ice up with these bindings than with other comparable AT bindings.”
That was prefaced by admitting , “Out of probably 40 to 50 tours (from 5 minutes to 3 hours) I only had one ice up situation that I had to take the binding off and clear the ice with my pole, and it was easy to clean out because of the low number of corners for ice to be wedged into.”
Cody felt another factor contributed minimal icing. The Guardian/Tracker is designed to not go completely flat when touring which helps prevent snow from packing into ice underfoot.
Regarding other features, his praise fits a script you would expect – that it rocks for downhill control and bombproof durability – but he still sounds genuine. Besides, his comments really confirm what the market demands anyway and let’s hope Salomon knows better than to bring sub-standard products to market prematurely.
So it will be most interesting to see how it fares in the real world being punished by the posse of young backcountry chargers who put a premium on GoPro air time. Cody said he did a number of 60-footers with the beta version so if it’s good enough for him on that I’m sure the Salomon fans will be lining up early to put a pair on next years planks.