For speed touring, binding options are quickly growing in number. Although the "fat and baggie" thing is all the rage here in the U.S., Europeans have been focused on simply covering ground in the mountains forever. In fact, many established ski companies on the other side of the pond don't make any skis that most free skiers would consider fat enough. Ninety five millimeters underfoot is about as big a ski as you can go with many of them. But for touring and racing in the mountains, the Euros have you covered.
One of the most interesting, fun and innovative aspects of speed touring is the gear. By gear, I'm referring to skis, bindings and boots. As I pointed out in a previous post, many of the technological innovations developed for the highly specialized rando race market have now trickled down to the everymans' ski touring market. This allows even less serious skiers to cleave pounds off their set-up and take tens of minutes off their touring times. For those lapping powder runs at the their favorite shot in the back country, this means more vertical and less effort.
I'm starting to get a tick thinking about the data generated by my new toy, the Suunto T6 wrist computer. Be careful what you wish for, right? Don't get me wrong, seeing the performance data is crazy interesting to a geek like me but crunching the information and generating some direction afterwards is overwhelming. Fortunately, I have solicited advice from Mark Twight at Gym Jones and Matthew Weatherley-White from Restwise to help make some sense of it all.
Two years ago I went into this race looking for a good performance having had some decent results during the season. Granted, the field was not deep then but I managed 9th and walked away very satisfied. As you know from reading here over the past 2 months, I have prepared very methodically and, well, hard for this event. Still, I did not harbor any delusions of this 49 year old whooping ass on the best field North America has to offer. I would have loved to have been surprised. But let's face it, I prepared in a time-tested fashion, using training techniques that have served me well for decades. There is no reason why anything extraordinary should have come of it. And, well, it didn't.
In the second installment of this piece I want to cover my choices for clothing, packs, related softgoods and fueling. Skis, bindings, boots and technique will be saved for the final chapter.