The mountain demands respect, and once in a while it decides to give you a gentle reminder.


Rippin’ some high angle GS turns in The Chute. Life is great…


Any place but here…


It was a long ride down…

What went wrong?  Hard to say.  Did I have a close enough look at my bindings to see if there was any snow in the toe piece before I started down?  Maybe not.  Should I have been charging as if I were on Dukes in the resort?  Probably not.  It’s a big mountain with real consequences and I think I got off easy…this time.  I think a solid goal for next season is going to be the avoidance of any ‘next times’.

33 thoughts on “Dynafiddle

  1. neufox47

    Damn, I really want to see the GoPro footage. Do you think if you’d of had a whippet you could have spun yourself around and had a controlled slide down the chute? I don’t think there is anyway to self arrest when you start falling at a speed of 15mph + but could it have prevented you from tumbling?

    1. Brian Sweeney Post author

      I’m gonna throw together an edit, but not until I’ve put together a few more uplifting posts. I have a lot of good material that didnt end in disaster that i want get out there first.

      I was thinking about using a whippet too. Once I fell I was extremely disoriented. I honestly had no idea which way was up until I was nearly at rest at the bottom. I’ve arrested myself with a normal ski pole in the past, but in this case I had all I could to hang onto it as I was crashing around, and I was unable to adjust my grip on it once I really got tumbling just because I was afraid id drop it. Also, it snapped after 3 or 4 solid plants into the snow, and the Contour pole is definitely way burlier than the whippet. The other thing is that the snow was so soft that it really may not have had much purchase, even I could have managed to get it planted in the right spot. Honestly the best protoection might have been an avy bag in case i hit something, but that would also have offered much less friction thus keeping me at a way higher speed. Hard to say… Dynafit Beast or CAST is probably gonna be my first line of defense.

      1. Brian Sweeney Post author

        And then I tomahawked and lost track of the pole altogether… Honestly I don’t think all whippets in the world would have made a difference that time.

  2. Jon Miller

    Brian…i found your blog after you commented on my Marker Jester review on backcountry.com. I was reading this post and noticed your CAST comments. I’m about to get my setup from the guys in Idaho and in the end I returned the Jester and went with the brand new Lord’s because I went Dynafit Titan for my boot choice. Putting together all of the components around my CAST system has been a fun tetris puzzle and I am anxious to try out the whole setup once the snow starts falling. I’m curious if you ended up going with the CAST system, it would be fun to compare notes because at this point I know exactly nobody else that has it yet. Winter is coming, nice blog, stay safe. Regards. Jon

    1. Brian Sweeney Post author

      I haven’t purchased anything yet. I actually just emailed the CAST guys and they recommended the Lords specifically for my purposes because of the high DIN and adjustable AFD. They said the website will have an order form some time in the upcoming weeks.

      I plan to get an all mountain ski (maybe DPS Wailer 99 or similar) and use my BD Factors for out of bounds and my race boots for in bounds. Furthermore, if you are using a boot with a Vibram (or other rubber) sole you really need to either have real Dynafit bindings, use a binding with the AFD that pivots from side to side. One of my friends recently informed me that WildSnow ran a test to see how rubber soled boots performed in toe releases and it’s all over the place. The AFD that rely solely on a frictionless boot-binding interface turn out not to be frictionless with rubber soles. So if you want to use the tech fittings that come with your Titans then the Lord is probably the best choice. I was leaning toward getting the steel Solly race binding (it’s like half off right now) until I heard about the toe release situation.

      I too know nobody who has tried this system yet. I guess if you haven’t already considered this, the Dynafit Beast is another option that could consider. Still i think CAST is the best and most versatile option available right now.

      1. Jon Miller

        Thanks Brian for your comments…sounds like we are thinking along the same lines here. I’ll be putting the CAST system on my brand new DPS Wailer 112 carbons which should make for a sweet all-around setup. And one of the reasons I went with CAST is I really liked the idea of being able to quickly and simply swap from the Dynafit tech toepiece to a sturdy downhill binding before dropping into a backcountry run. Combine that with the Lords and I hopefully have to do as little swapping/modification as possible to have a reliable setup. I’ll look forward to following your adventures this winter on the blog, and maybe ill bump into you some morning on the skin track. Thanks again.

          1. Jon Miller

            I live near Burlington and split my time between Smuggs, Mad River and Jay on the really good days. Also looking forward to getting out and touring in the Adirondacks and Whites this season, too.

          2. Brian Sweeney Post author

            Jon, did you ever put together your SI&I system? How did you get ahold of it – were you a kickstarter participant?

          3. Jon Miller

            Hi Brian. Yes i purchased through Kickstarter back in the spring. I got the $450 level which gets me the full mounting plate system plus the dynafit toe piece. I’ll be matching it to Marker Lord SP bindings and Dynafit Titan boots so that all i ever have to do is swap the toe piece on the CAST system (the lords are designed to take a tech boot with no modification necessary).

            Unfortunately i dont have the CAST system yet, they are a little behind in their production but supposed to be in my hands in December. Slight bummer but hopefully well worth the wait.

          4. Brian Sweeney Post author

            cool thanks for explaining. guess i should have gone in on the kickstarter while i still could.

  3. jeff

    Im on the CAST boat too. Very little info out there. Will keep an eye on this blog. Jon – if you are at Jay give me a call. Im here now. Would love to chat about the setup. 508 742 5222


    1. Jon Miller

      Hi Jeff. Nice to meet somebody else on this voyage! I called CAST this week for an update and spoke with Lars Chickering-Ayers for a few minutes. The current update is they hope to ship everything in early January and are working on production right now.

      For my setup I have the Marker Lord bindings as the alpine component and one thing Lars told me is that the hole patterns are the same for the CAST plates as the marker line of bindings. Meaning, if I wanted to (still deciding) mount my Lords between now and when the plates arrive, it would not require re-drilling. I might just wait it out because these are going on my brand-new, still-in-the-plastic DPS Wailer 112s. In the meantime getting by with my secondary K2 setup.

      Anyway, if you want to know more you can call CAST at 307-200-9060.

      I am hoping to get to Jay soon and will give you a call, would enjoy chatting about the experience. This weekend I’ll be at Smuggs tomorrow to take advantage of the coming storm. Have fun!


      1. Brian Sweeney Post author

        Hey Jon,

        I’m basically a little kid, and couldn’t wait any longer so I had my Lords mounted traditionally. Once the SI&I stuff shows up I’m going to remount, possibly using some kind of binding insert so as i expand my quiver i’ll be able to move the whole system around. I checked in with Lars and Silas and they said this was totally reasonable. Once this whole thing is put together i’ll do another write up about the install and how it all went. One benefit to me jumping the gun on mounting the Lords is that an insured retailer was able to measure all the drill points with the mechanical jig – which was nice as I too was working with still-in-the shrink wrap DPSs. Too nerve wracking to drill into those things with a sheet of paper duct-taped to my ski…

        Hey Jeff how was the skiing this weekend?

        1. Jon Miller

          Yesterday as I was cruising down Smuggs with my competent but by no means all-star K2 backups on, I felt the pangs of regret for not mounting my lords to the DPS’s by now. Which DPS model did you end up going with? I absolutely would enjoy seeing/hearing about the process once its complete. I am going to wait about another month to make my decision. in February im going to the southern part of the powder highway in BC and thats my deadline to have the DPS’s ready to go one way or another. Hope you got some good turns this weekend.

          1. Brian Sweeney Post author

            Yo Jon, do you have your setup put together yet? I’m gettin antsy. The only touring setups I have now are a huge pair of Black Diamond Zealots and a similarly huge pair of Voile Drifters, with DynaDukes and no where in New England is filled in enough for those skis. Not to mention I’m still too scared to really send it on Dynafits. I actually hit up the LG in Tucks a couple weeks ago and ended up skiing with the toe levers locked up because I have more faith in my ability to not fall than in the ability of the Dynafiddles to keep connected to my precious skis…

            At this point I might just do a traditional mount and worry about binding inserts later when I actually have more skis to mount.

          2. Jon Miller

            Hey Brian. I’m right there with you. I had my Marker Lords mounted to the DPS’ this week and am going to ski them for the first time today. Heading to Spokane and the Kootenays in BC next month so I need time on my DPS. The update from CAST, as of about 10 days ago is that things should be shipping soon. Hopefully they’ll arrive before I leave for Canada. I’m really interested to see the system in person once it arrives and how it integrates with the bindings already mounted (I’ll have to take them off, put the CAST plates down, and then re-attach everything). Time is of the essence this season! I’ll let you know once the system comes in.


          3. Brian Sweeney Post author

            I emailed the earlier this week and they said they should be be shipping early next week. lets cross our fingers. also have fun in bc!

  4. jeff

    hey guys….i could not wait to mount my whitedot carbonlite rangers (108/ 186cm) until they released the SI&I in january. I have a trip coming up so i just put the new tour F12 EPF on there. the main logic was that i feel that by using the binding inserts you can make a nice system without drilling the shit out of an expensive ski. You can have the lord pattern and the duke, barron, tour pattern on the same ski. My goal is to see how people are liking this system and then move over next year if im digging it. I dont totally trust the tour f12 as much as the lord/ duke but it seemed to be the compromise between weight and durability that i was seeking…plus i only weight 160. Shred on…jay is fillign in nicely…sunday was a nice pow day

      1. Jon Miller

        Congratulations! Its like Christmas in January. Curious, how did you find out did they email you or did you contact them? I’m itching to get mine now.

        Not that this thread is about ski reviews but after only a half-day on my DPS Wailers I am completely sold in the technology. Cold as shit today, hard and fast…making sharp turns on double-black slopes with minimal grooming overtop of hardpack and the skis never missed a beat. The ease of turning such a wide ski so quickly even at speed was noticeable and rather amazing.

        Anyway…good luck have fun and can’t wait to see your first post on the setup!

        1. Brian Sweeney Post author

          They emailed me, it looked automated. Totally agree with your sentiments on the Wailer 99s. They really are the consumate all mountain ski. I’m surprised that you havent heard yet. Hopefully any time now. Where did you ski the other day? I’m hitting Jay this weekend.

          1. Jon Miller

            Just smuggs for a half-day afternoon. Hard to beat the $15 half-day as a badge holder there. I didn’t feel bad about only taking 3 runs due to the cold. Deciding between smuggs and jay for this weekend sounds like jay is going to be nice!

          2. Jon Miller

            Hi Brian…wanted to let you know that yesterday was a very good day as my CAST system finally arrived, unnanounced but whatever. Didnt even have time to snap any pics to post before I rushed down to the Gear XChange in Burlington to get the ski techs to work mounting them. I’m not very versed in mounting bindings and when I looked through the box and saw zero instructions I figured why not leave it to the pros.

            Anyway, they are keeping my setup over the weekend to get it mounted but wanted to share a few things they told me that you or others reading those post about mounting CAST might find useful.

            -one small thing not thought through at least with my marker lords sp binding is that the ski techs needed to create threads all the way to the top of the screw holes on the lords that could then grip the entire screw going down through the lord and into the CAST plate. small issue but they were nice enough to ask me first before modifying my lords

            -their biggest feedback was that the hardware screws CAST provided to secure the base plates/risers are too long…so the gearx guys are having to grind down the screws to make them fit properly into the skis.

            Overall the techs were pretty geeked out to see the system up close and were confident that once they ground down the screws it should be easy going. They were impressed with the machining on the plates and how snugly everything fit together.

            How’s it going on your end?

            With a potential big storm for New England in the near-term forecast coupled with leaving for the Kootenays in two weeks, February is (i hope) shaping up to be fucking awesome. Hope its the same for you.


          3. Brian Sweeney Post author

            Dude that’s great news! Mine showed up on Friday morning as well. I almost put together a quick post but I was trying to get some work done before I took off skiing for the weekend.

            I’m glad you posted, I was going to just try all of this myself but it sounds more complicated that I thought. One thing I’d be interested to find out is if the 112s and the 99s are the same thickness. My buddy had a pair of Wailer 95s and Wailer 105s, and the 105 was the thinner to save weight. I wonder if they did the same with the 99s/112s. Anyway I’ll have to check into this.

            I haven’t even looked at the screws yet. Are they just regular woods screws that you’d normally see in a ski? I’m not even sure how you’d tap the binding holes for that kind of screw. Sounds like I may have to find a shop too if I want this to come out right.

            February does look it should be pretty great, but before I can get after it I need to see if I can warranty my skis. I pulled them out of the roof box yesterday morning to ski Jay and discovered that one ski had delaminated in the tip. No idea how or why. I’ve heard that there was a production issue for some batches of those skis that didn’t get caught soon enough. Hopefully they can hook me up with a new ski. But for now I’m stuck skiing dynafiddles on my big skis. Maybe if we get a few feet of snow I can do without the 99s for now.

            Anyway good luck with your skis. Let me know how everything goes once you get them back. Any idea what tours you’re gonna do first?

          4. Jon Miller

            Man that is a bummer about your skis, I hope you have good luck with the warranty.

            It’s been an exciting couple of days for me. I picked my skis up from the gear xchange on Monday, unfortunately the techs who worked on them weren’t there when I went in, so I wasn’t able to talk with them further about their impressions, sorry to report. Not sure if you are in the Burlington area but Chris was the main ski tech there I worked with and he was very knowledgeable.

            Now the excitement. Returned today from an awesome bluebird day at Tuckerman’s. This was literally my first true backcountry experience. I didn’t intend for this to happen, I had signed up to do a day of basic avalanche awareness training with Mark Synnott of Synnott Mountain Guides, and today was the day we picked. Wouldn’t you know it, my setup got done in time, and we had a calm day. All of sudden I find myself standing off to the side of the sluice digging a snow pit with Mark this afternoon, after which we skiied the sluice.

            The Wailers performed admirably, one thing I was not prepared for was how variable the snow was…just didn’t occur to me as I was making turns, having never done a true backcountry line before. This led to a brief fall and slide wherein all kinds of bad thoughts entered the mind (similar I am sure to your experience with the dynafiddle), but thankfully a quick rollover got me pointed back downhill and stopped the slide.

            All in all, a hell of a day. I had hoped to bag a line in Tuckerman’s by the end of the season after I built up to it, but hey when you’re there and the weather is perfect and you’ve got a guide watching your back it just seemed like the thing to do.

            It was also highly informative to have put the CAST system through a full day in the backcountry. Couple things I will do different next time:

            -try and figure out a bungee or better strap system to hold the brakes up instead of rubber bands when touring. the bands both nearly broke after only a few hours.

            -when doing the changeover from the dynafit to my marker toe pieces, i had to whack on the dynafits with the handle of my ski pole to get them loose, a lot of ice had built up under and around the plate. this definitely took a few minutes trying to do all this (including taking skins off) on a steeply pitched slope. need to play with it at home a little more by jamming some snow and ice in there to experiment. nothing a knife or multi-tool can’t assist with, but i found myself fumbling with all of that and the marker toe pieces while trying not to drop anything.

            I really hope you can get your 99s squared away. Good luck and enjoy the coming snow.

          5. Brian Sweeney Post author

            Big bummer. DPS seems like they might help me out, so we’ll see. If not I’ve heard JBWeld helps…

            I’ve heard of GearX – one of my friends got his AT boots there. Sounds like they are pretty great. I don’t actually live anywhere near Burlington, but maybe next time I’m up at Jay I can drop them for the weekend. After hearing all of the little nuances you had to consider, I’m more tempted to let pros do this.

            Glad to hear you had such a great experience in Tucks! Were you in a group or one-on-on? I know a few people who have worked with Mark Synnott this season – sounds like a good program.

            I was worried about the whole swapping procedure as well as the rubber bands. You’ll have to let me know if you come up with anything – I’ve been pondering it but nothing has occurred to me. You’ve probably realized that the best place to de-skin and otherwise fiddle with your gear in places like Tucks is at the bottom of the bowl before you get up to some place precarious.

          6. Jon Miller

            Hey Brian. How have the last few weeks been for you and your setup? I returned a few days ago from a week in British Columbia on the powder highway. Hit Red Mountain and Whitewater. Whitewater was amazing, living up to its rep for powder and lack of crowds. My Wailers were in their natural habitat in such deep snow, and they performed fantastically. Also got in a short tour on the final day to find some totally untracked powder and each time I go out now i feel more fluid with the transition. I’ve learned to flip my skis upside down standing up in the snow when swapping the toe piece, and really get into the notch at the front of the toe plate to make sure any and all snow and ice there is removed (get my knife in there)…that ensures my downhill binding plate slides and clicks in with no issues.

            How did it go with DPS trying to fix your laminate issue? Hope you were able to get it worked out.


          7. Brian Sweeney Post author

            Thats great, I was wondering how your BC escapade turned out. Any photos or anything?

            So I put together my bindings by hand the other day. Had to do some jerry-rigging as you suggested I might. Not too big of a problem tho. DPS told me my damage was superficial and that I should just epoxy it, but that if it gets worse I should let them know. I just hope that if it does get worse, it happens before the warranty is expired. Anyway, I have it writing now. I’ll have some photos up in a bit. I’m thinking of hitting some place in the whites this weekend to test ’em out. Not sure where just yet. Next weekend is looking to be pretty good.

          8. Jon Miller

            Here’s the gopro edit crammed into 4 minutes.

            The very end was a tour I did with some awesome locals that we met in the lodge. Really worked out cause none of the others on the trip had touring setups and i wasnt going to go alone since the avalanche danger was really high all week. Makes me really want to go back and spent some more time in the backcountry because the terrain that is easily accesible from the lifts at both Red and Whitewater is just awesome.

            Let’s ski together at Jay later this season. I have to be away this weekend but am planning on getting to Jay at least a few times before the season ends. My email is jonmiller617@gmail.com.

          9. Brian Sweeney Post author

            Wow seeing those conditions brought a smile to my face! Some nice shots in there too! Looks awesome.

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