Putting the ION to the test in the Valhallas

With half a winter still ahead of us to test, use, abuse and enjoy next year's G3 ION binding, we figured we ought to get it onto even more skiers' feet. G3 athlete Orry Grant was chomping at the bit, and who better to put the binding through the paces? Between patrol work, highway avalanche control, and his weekend habits, we know he puts our gear to the test all winter long. What we didn't know was that he'd head straight for this traverse on his second day. Here is his field report.

After day #1 testing my new G3 ION bindings that hit shelves next fall, my confidence was through the roof! I had spent the day on Skadi peak in the Northern Valhallas with fellow tester Evan Stevens of VMT and one of the masterminds behind the binding; G3 engineer and die hard backcountry skier Cam Shute. Initial thoughts? Awesome retention, easy to operate with a ski pole and you gotta feel the step-in! That, along with Cam’s confidence in his work (and he’s a smart cookie) was enough for me to decide to put them to the real test.

Spring seems to have arrived in January, and when the snow quality starts to get… well… marginal, it's time to take advantage of predictable weather and good travel! What better way to spend my three day weekend, than to bite off a chunk of one of the more, rugged, and stunning traverses in the area with two good buddies. A short flight from Nelson airport to Hoder creek FSR dropped Mark Talbot, Thomas Hill and me just outside of Valhalla Park.  2 nights, 3 days, 4 passes, 37km, about 6500 vertical meters and 36oz (of rum!)  stood between us and a truck full of pilsner... huh… writing it that way makes it sound like alcohol was our biggest motivator.

The trip was fantastic. A few clouds on day one dispersed by noon, and the rest of the trip was blue skies and smooth sailing. Fresh wolverine tracks led the way past Lucifer peak and the Devils Range, through the col to ice creek lodge, up to Avis Lakes, and out the logging road on Snow Creek.

As for the Ion’s: I barely noticed them. They’re light, both ascenders are super easy to snag with the handle of a ski pole and they stood up famously to all sorts of conditions. Side-hill climbing on melt freeze crusts with ascenders up; skiing down through hard slab, soft slab, and even some knee deep blower (facets!) all with a 65L pack stuffed full. Zero issues.

When I agreed to test a pre-production binding, I anticipated having to criticize. So far, I haven't been doing any of that, which is fine by me! I can’t even suggest that they improve the appearance of it, since it seems like they have that one in the bag as well.

“Maybe you could add jet packs to them Cam”. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I've got one more can of pilsner, and a fresh bottle of rum to review!

-Orry Grant

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