Breaking Bindings in the Asulkan Valley

I was super excited to get back out to the Asulkan Valley in Rogers Pass this weekend. Super excited to finally get some legitimate skiing done this season - so far it's mostly been slogging around on flat ground in K-Country or in the rain on the coast. But the Asulkan? That always delivers.

Friday night I headed out to the Dreamcatcher in Golden with a great crew of friends including Paul OBK who's birthday we were going to be celebrating up at the Asulkan Hut on Saturday.

The Asulkan Valley in it's gorgeous glory

The next morning, after stopping in at the Rogers Pass Discovery Center, we started the tour up to the Asulkan Hut - 5km or so of flat-ish valley travel ends in with a huge terrain trap called the Mouse Trap. That in turn is followed by a couple of kilometers of steep climbing up to the Hut.  Easy-peasy.

My pack was a little silly heavy as I was carrying the ingredients to make dinner for 8 people, plenty of tasty beverages and all of the usual stuff that goes into a hut based ski touring weekend. Oh, and a shot ski.

Yann charges. Always.

On the steep climb through the tree-triangle which guards the final approach to the hut, my first-generation Dynafit Radical bindings did something weird. One of them rotated back into ski mode. They're not supposed to do that. I resolved to take a look at them when I got to the hut.

Of course once I actually got to the hut, all thought of looking at my binding went out the window as I focused on making dinner, drinking those tasty beverages and putting the shot ski to good use for birthday celebrations.

That's why you carry a 205cm ski strapped to your pack for 8km

The next morning - bleary eyed, we got up, made breakfast and headed out to do some laps. As I grabbed my ski I remembered my binding acting weird and that I should look at it. Turned out the curse of the first generation Radical had struck - the pin that keeps the binding from reverting to ski mode while touring had shattered the surrounding plastic. I couldn't even figure out how the heel tower was staying on given the extent of the damage.


So the others went skiing while I drank tea in the hut. I didn't want to stress the bindings any more than absolutely necessary before skiing out. As much as I wanted to go shred some turns with the others - whom I got to watch from the damn window of the hut - I was also super cognizant of the fact that I still had to ski back to the cars on a binding that looked to be barely holding on.

Watching others skin off into the distance while you sit there with a busted binding is just great

When the others got back, we packed our gear, cleaned up the hut and took off. I was skiing as gingerly as I could, continuously imagining an impending binding-failure-related face-plant. Paul and David had taken the shot ski and some weight out of my pack for the way down to keep the load on my binding to a minimum. Whether that was the make or break I'm not sure, but I do know that everything held together long enough for me to get some turns in while getting photos of some of the others ripping down.

Marie-Eve makes carving beauty turns while carrying a pack larger than yourself look easy

I don't know what it is about this season. Every time I've tried to get out skiing, the weather hasn't cooperated or I've been in the wrong province or I've been tied up with a pre-planned ice-climbing trip.

Whatever it is, I'm still searching for my first real day of charging this season.

Paul makes carving beauty turns while carrying a 205cm shot ski look easy. Almost as impressive as Marie-Eve.

That said, when your consolation prize is a fantastic weekend, with an amazing group of people, in possibly the most gorgeous place on earth, it's tough to get too bent out of shape.

Grumpy, cantankerous, wildly opinionated and so much more! Getting really tired on skis is what makes me happy.