Feb 06 2011

Tahoe conditions & TTS tease

Spring has sprung here in the Sierra. It’s full on corn season and finally, today, the sun came out and the wind died. That combination should obliterate all the unconsolidated manifestations of snow that have troubled backcountry skiers in Tahoe for the last two weeks. Especially this last week.

TTS tracksThe base has been frozen concrete with runnels, coated in wind sculpted fresh snow with plateaus of sastrugi for extra texture. But Saturday the spell began to break as temperatures rose into the 40s and light clouds prevented the sun from completely baking the top. To be sure, it did in a few places, making the snow not only textured, but alternately grippy or fast. Thankfully it was soft and I managed to share the slopes on the south side of Mt. Judah with a couple from UC Davis, Paul and Liz, and their friend Adam, originally from New Hampshire.


I was out giving the new Telemark Tech System binding a test run in and out of bounds at Sugar Bowl. The TTS binding is remarkably simple, and is a compelling alternative to existing NTN bindings. It isn’t truly NTN since it doesn’t hold the boot on Rottefella’s patented second heel, but it does require an AT DIN toe with tech fittings, making it effectively an NTN compatible binding. In a nutshell, it isn’t anything you haven’t seen before, just a rearrangement of the pieces — a Tech toe (ala Dynafit) and a compression spring cable assembly that latches to the heel with a Hammerheel climbing peg.

My first day on it was a rude reminder of the foibles possible when testing gear. Neither my boots or the cable were properly adjusted and the only enjoyable part of the run was the climb. It was nice to finally experience skinning with a Dyanfit pivot.

Today was much different. With soft snow, turns came easier although there was still some adjustments required. I haven’t done a side by side comparison with any other binding yet, but I must concur with Mark Lengel’s statement that it is the most active binding I’ve ever telemarked in. More than NTN, debatably more than Axl, and leagues more than my Switchbacks that are my norm underfoot.

The proof, of course, was in the tracks it defined (see above).

More on the performance characteristics and other minutia in my next post.