Saturday, January 03, 2009

NNN Doing What NNN Does

Yet another broken plate on an NNN binding. Note also the annoying flared wings on the plate, added in recent years to increase lateral control by compensating for several design elements that decrease it. Those wings also keep the skis from fitting securely on many backshop fixtures used to support the ski during such routine processes as cleaning and waxing.

Several kilometers from the shop the other day I met a man and a woman making their way along the trail toward the touring center. The woman slid along as best she could while carrying one of her husband's skis in her hand. The man scooted himself down the track as best he could with a ski on one foot and a bare boot on the other.

Thinking this was just a typical iced-up NNN binding that wouldn't let him re-enter after he'd stepped off his skis for some errand or other, I stopped to see if I could help him get back on two planks. They showed me that it wasn't so simple.

The sole of his new Alpina boot had pulled completely off. It was still engaged in the binding. I gave them some cord I had, so they could try lashing the boot together enough to make slithering a little easier. On my way back to base about 20 minutes later, I passed them. Because of the configuration of the failed Alpina boot, they had been unable to secure a lashing that would hold his foot for even the most rudimentary shuffle.

NNN sole separation is a legendary problem. If it isn't, it should be. Since NNN-BC was the first back-country system binding, the many sole failures I saw with that helped convince me that system bindings have no place on a real back-country excursion. I know Vegard Ulvang used the first version of Salomon's BC system to ski across Greenland, but that was really just a long but straightforward tour.

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