An issue that has becoming increasingly apparent in the last few years is that skiing with bindings that have not been manufactured for over two decades is asking a bit much. The metal components seem to be fine, but the plastic seems to be getting beyond its design lifetime and is becoming brittle. I have enough spares to keep my trusty Eméry touring bindings going for many years yet, but had already had enough minor breakages to be sure I would want to invest in new and modern kit before going on anything like a serious tour. So after two hours skiing in Val d’Isère today the inevitable happened – a fairly minor impact broke the plastic part of the toe piece of the bindings, and a skistrap broke. This left me with kit that still worked (I had no difficulty and no falls skiing back from Tignes to La Daille) but that was marginal on safety, both for myself and other slope users. Time to bite the bullet !
The broken toepiece
So a quick bit of internet to tell my bank that I was in France and about to use my card and off for some major retail therapy (as in, adding 150% to the cost of the holiday!). Chamonix is the favourite Christmas shopping venue, but Val d’Isère certainly proved up to the challenge, and the shop associated with the bureau des guides had both the equipment to sell and the advice to go with it. So I will be skiing the rest of the week in modern pin bindings and for almost the first time in boots which are not Dynafit. We’ll see how it goes… Well, one answer was “very well” – the Scarpa boots whilst no heavier than the Dynafit, do seem to be stiffer and with more of the feel of a downhill boot. However, sizing seems to be an issue – and even with thin silk socks, and a bit of padding to allow for the shorter left leg (from breaking my heel in 1981) the boots seem to be very narrow fit round the heel and were cutting off blood flow over the course of a few hours skiing, so that I would really not want to use these on a long tour. Pity, really. I don’t think a size bigger would help – it really is the tightness of fit round the heel, and not length for my toes which seems to be the problem. So now I’m in the market for some newer Dynafit Tourlites – ones which will fit the pin bindings. A pair off ebay for £8.99 (would you believe) are a perfect fit and in no worse nick that my old ones, but tragically didn’t actually have the fittings shown in the photo to work with pin bindings. But since I was also able to repair the Eméry bindings in about fifteen minutes at home, I’ll certainly be using these if any touring opportunities pop up in Scotland (although it’s been T-shirt and shorts weather as I write this in North Wales in February, so ski touring seems a little unlikely this season).