Here in Colorado, spring doesn’t so much “spring” as it does incrementally loosen the white-knuckled death grip of winter. That being said, the pow keeps coming. With the flick of a little lever at the BMF-R’s toe, I’m setting yet another skintrack into pristine wilderness.
I’m not gonna say it’s effortless. Even the best touring telemark binding in the world (which the BMF-R is) is still not a Ski-Doo or snowcat, let alone a helicopter. But compared to doing it on tele touring rigs of the past, it’s certainly a joy on the BMF-R. I can lift my heel nearly perpendicular to the ski without even a whisper of mechanical resistance.
When the going finally gets steep, I’ll have two different heel riser choices: one a perfect height for cruising, the other for stomping a skintrack into the sort of vertical escarpments the Dyna-fiddlers will all have to put their ski crampons on for. There’s simply no substitute for lateral rigidity; the underfoot plate that lets the BMF easily destroy spring crud and not-quite-yet-corn on the descents makes me feel like Superman on the uptrack.
I quickly get my rhythm and start covering ground. When I check over my shoulder after the first quarter mile, my lovely wife is still back at the trailhead, struggling to get those orange bindings from Idaho to stay clamped onto her boots.
Conventional wisdom holds that you shouldn't judge a man — or stuff he writes about skiing on the internet — until you've walked a mile in his boots. So step into my TX Comps while I fast forward our narrative through many miles of BMF-empowered skinning.
We arrive at the summit. I peel skins and step with unbelievable ease into my BMF-Rs. Of course we scoped this line on the way up. We've been looking at it for months, years in fact, thinking, "Man, if it keeps on snowing like this, that thing is finally gonna come in this year." And it kept on snowing. So now we have to ski it.
The narrow little chute at the top is the easy part. It's just wide enough that we're not gonna have to hop turn and can instead ski it fast. After ten turns, the chute opens onto to a big, steep, Euro-style face. We're planning to Bode Miller that face, to make the widest tele-arcs imaginable down to the giant, frozen waterfall below. I’m hoping to land a 40 foot cliff and not to tele-tumble once my skis are back on the snow. That tele-tumble could easily go on for a 1,000 vertical feet, so I’m doing my best to not think about it. I’m thinking about skiing fast and stomping it.
I smile at the beautiful woman standing next to me, take a huge breath, and count down from three. Then, “Wait. Hold on. I have to blow my nose.” We stare down the chute. Can’t even see the waterfall from here. Darn if this thing isn’t steeper than it looked from the truck.
What I'm trying to say is: commitment is scary. You can get out of my boots now.
Big mountain skiing, and telemark skiing especially, is so much like being in love that it is easy to enumerate the parallels. Both are terrifying, liberating, dangerous, humbling, silly, empowering, sometimes injurious, difficult to master, and wondrous to behold when done right. And all that hinges almost entirely on commitment. You just have to go for it; say "Yes!"; ignore the scary stuff and drop in. Maybe even drop a knee.
And in both pursuits, for better or worse, there's going to be quite a lot of trekking uphill. It undeniably helps to have a good partner. Spend enough time climbing mountains, skiing down, then climbing up again, and that partner inevitably becomes an essential part of you. They applaud your commitment to setting boot pack up the summit ridge. They watch in awe as you shred the heck out of a big, steep face. Occasionally, they sacrifice the line they climbed five hours for in order to retrieve the skis, poles, goggles, hat, and two front teeth you lost after tomahawking 1,000 vertical feet to a frozen waterfall.
Like having your true love with you, the right gear is key. Bishop’s BMF-R telemark binding is quite possibly the most life-altering piece of outdoor equipment you’ll ever have the opportunity to brag about on social media or your blog. So go ahead — fall in love; treat yourself to the BMF-R or BMF-3 now because the pre-sale bonus of a free Switch Kit won’t last long.
Here's how to tele in Whistler Blackcomb, plus where to eat, sleep, and après.
Between the recent Friends of CAIC Benefit Bash and this new snowfall finally kicking off the season, we are stoked to get back on our BMF/Rs and into the side- and backcountry. But... safety and education first!
Scott Schell first dabbled in backcountry skiing back in high school; now he's the program director of the Northwest Avalanche Center. He provided some insight into safe sidecountry skiing tactics.
Caffeinate thyself and check out our 5 best tips for getting a good start!