I finally got to do a bit of touring on my new 555s. They are mounted on 165 AK Launchers, and my boots are Scarpa Denalis. I had skied them lift served once, as a test, but had never got them into thier element until today. My previous bindings were the old 404s, and I have also skied on Fritchis, but not the new Freeride. The 555 met all my expectations, and exceded them. The step in feature is awsome; the binding actually feels like it sucks the boot in. This makes it very easy to click in, especially in scetchy places. The first thing I noticed when I started skinning was the major improvement of having the hinge point under the ball of the foot. This makes a for a much more natural, less restricted, longer, and more efficient stride. It kills the old 404, and the Fritchi in its touring ability. The edging was also a big improvement over the other AT bindings I have used. I felt very confident skinning up steep hard snow. The heel elevator was very easy to operate with a pole. You press a button to release it out of ski mode, and it pops right into position. The two level touring elevator worked well, and was very easy to change height with my pole. It was also painless to use the pole to get back into ski mode. I found these features much more user friendly than the same ones on a Fritchi. How does it ski? Very well. In a blind test, I doubt I could tell if I was skiing the 555 or a true alpine binding. Would I use it as an every day alpine binding? No. Could I? Maybe. Time will tell, but no AT binding has a great track record as an everyday alpine binding for fast, hard, lift served skiing, especially bump skiing, something I truelly love. The Fritchi is probably a better choice for that, but has a life of maybe 100 days (pretty good actually) if you ski it hard. The release system on the 555 is also not the most sophisticated on the market, although it is very interesting. I have released out of my old 404s, and have a bit of confidence in Silvretta's releasablitiy. Needless to say, I am super stoked with the 555, and glad I did not go the Fritchi (although I really like it too).
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4/24/02 at 5:43pm