Don’t you hate it when you are breaking trail on the flats and snow
globs up in front of your heelpiece, making you walk like a runway model?
If there is something I hate about backcountry skiing and breaking trail through deep powder, it’s when the snow globs up in front of your heel piece and forms “high heels” that make you walk like Kate Moss strolling down the runway. I don’t know how those modeling divas do it, but walking on the flats with my heels high in the air sure does jam my toes into the front of my boots, tweak my knees, fatigue my quads and hip flexors, which in turn throws my back out of whack and leaves me groaning in agony when I get out of bed in the morning.
It seems like there is a certain recipe that is prime for this kind of thing to happen, be it a certain density of snow or a particular air temperature, but when it’s right, it can be the most annoying thing for any AT skier that has miles of skinning ahead of them. I wonder if other forms of snow travel, be it telemark or splitboard, also fall victim to the dreaded high heels? I’m pretty sure it happens with every type of AT binding on the market, when the conditions are right. It was so bad the other day that it was better if I went into the middle setting on my heel piece, which was lower than the towering stack of frozen snow that had formed in front of my binding.
I’ve never had that problem. Must be a skier thing?
Every so often I spray some silicon all around the binding, especially under the front springs and around the heel. It seems to help avoid that icky snow buildup. It’s too warm and the wet heavy snow is what does it.
Zardoz does the trick.
A couple of tough days for trail breaking in the flats this past week, that’s for sure. But, if your (and my) main complaint is about something that happens because you need to do a lot of trailbreaking through fresh deep snow, life’s pretty good, eh?
One of the more subtle benefits of Dynafit’s sweet TLT5 & DyNA is that the rearward articulation of the cuff is so huge that you can skin the flats on your middle lifter or your fresh snow high heels and barely notice it. You can stand pretty much straight up, no toe jamming, knee tweaking, etc. Same goes for parts of the skin track that turn temporarily flat or down – no need to stop and switch the heel lifter back to flat mode to avoid the tip toe knee tweak. Awesomely efficient.
This “problem” does not occur on telemark binding set ups.
I think it is because the heel plate of the telemark binding (where the heel of the telemark boot lands when touring the flats) is already elevated and designed to shed snow.
Apply Armor All or similar product to the binding surfaces where snow sticks. It’s very effective for preventing snow build up.
haven’t experienced this, but I sure have the problem of snow sticking to the top sheet of my skis, instantly negating the value of a light ski.
Any idea how to prevent this?
Squeeze a bit of that hash brown grease from breakfast onto the zone and spread it around with your fingers 😉
What color are your topsheets? I have found that black or dark blue heat from even imperceptible amounts of solar and ice up terribly.
Off topic but where’d you get the sweet green heel pieces? Is that a custom randosteve-modification?
josh…Dynafit FT circa 2005?
tony…i look forward to seeing what you mean about the tlt5’s. hope mine arrive soon. one thing i have wondered about them though, sometimes…on steeper skin tracks, it is almost nice to have some resistance on the back of the boot…for leverage. wondering if you feel this effect with the tlt5s….or if you even know what i’m talking about.
i will try the armor-all idea. thanks.
i use silicon, and have only nice things to say about the TLT5 so i will shut up.. 😉
Always an issue if the snow is right (wrong). Phantom shifting can also occur especially if you use brakes. DO NOT jab the snow block with your ski pole tip. This will scratch the plastic and make the problem worse. Silicone is OK at best, but is good for the binder.
Had all sorts of fun with this problem doing the Teton Crest from the pass last March.
Snowed hard the first day followed by warm temps.
If you think your toes hurt breaking trail, try having your heels rotate every hundred yards for 40 miles while carrying an overnight pack.
Steve, I know what your talking about. I lean back on the back of my boots on a really steep skin track. It puts all the weight toward the back of the skis and gives a really nice grip without backsliding. Is that what your talking about. I usually ski in scarpa f1’s and I can use this technique without issue. I wonder if the TLT 5’s have more rearward flex than the f1’s. Anyone know?
yeah caleb…sounds like that is what i’m talking about.
Not super impressed with the G3 Onyx binding overall, but they never have the high heel problem if you go with the non-brake heel plate. The boot heel lands on a ridge in the plastic that sheds snow to either side. Pretty slick really.
I’m with Big Chris–my snowboard setup (approach skis with a Dynafit toepiece and G3 tele heel piece) doesn’t build up snow under the heel either.
Spray rain-x onto where you want water to not stick.
someone…i’ve wondered if rain-x would do damage to the plastic.
Hey what binding is this in the pic above? Some limited edition? Couldn’t find it on the dynafit page. Thanks.
eurob…see comment above. 🙂
“or if you even know what i’m talking about” 🙂 I see what you did there.
Yeah, I don’t find myself wailing too much on the back of my boots to maintain skin traction. The rear flex isn’t unlimited (but more than an F1, Caleb) – you hit the limit eventually. Whether it affects your leverage and balance points on super steep tracks, I’m not sure.
Rain-x is just a silicon spray. While i am pretty sure that the silicon shouldn’t do much to the plastic, you can probably test it on one of your broken pieces.
3M also sells hydrophobic coverings and tape. They are a bit more expensive, but the chemistry of how rain-x works is the same here by maintaining a hydrophobic surface, and therefore preventing melted ice from being frozen onto the binding with enough microscopic rough surface to stay on.
If you are not worried about the mess, just about any kind of grease will do the same. Though, anything that lubricates motorized vehicles should not be used, as they can damage the plastic. Bacon fat, anyone?
I wouldn’t recommend using Rain-X, instead go for some Pledge to keep snow off your top sheets and bindings. Rain-X can cause the plastic to become brittle over time. The company even tells you not to use it on plastic.
It’s not snow on the heel that bugs me, but snow under the toe piece and not getting a secure lock on the toe that pisses me off about dynafits.
PAM! http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRL3ty2xdvvJGwNYwIKfnUUIEX1z4MwhP-eYawxiWa8E8XYblZv not http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRLJCNM0v1WVHOkMVj8XKVlNxZ9fe_BUTnDYZA8oFa80OB7vhc_
+1 for hating the snow/ice under the toe piece too… that just gets dangerous, although it’s a pretty easy fix
What do you do to clear it out? I usually jam my pole under to scratch around a bit to clean it out. One time a fit of rage I ended up hitting the toe piece with my pole with a lot of force and broke the plastic caps on the springs. All the springs popped out and I was able to ski out but learned my lesson of not killing my toe piece.
I have found it well worth the time and energy to disassemble the heel piece entirely for long flat bits. Like, remove the big screw that adjusts lateral release tension, jostle it around to recover the springs, and lift the plastic rotating bit of the heel from the metal post. Put the bits in a secure place and kick or skin along on flat feet.
jed…that is impressive. i’m not sure i’m willing to do that all the time.
justin…sometimes i poke at it with my pole, at a low angle and using my boot as a guide. i have found that rotating the heel-piece works well, when the blob hasn’t really iced up yet.
i don’t tend to have many problems with snow/ice and the toe-piece.
so if no rain-x…will armor all wreck my binders too? those sprays are kinda scary.