Lars Chickering Ayers and brother Silas are no stranger to rowdy lines. Both formidable competitors on the FWT, they have developed a binding system designed around the way they ski. Fast. Hard. And full-throttle full-time. If you currently ski a framed AT binding in alpine boots or are looking for a one-binding-to-rule-them-all solution (and ski hard) this deserves your look.
Here at Earlyups we are fans of shoestring-budget, organically-grown start-ups, After all, we are one. So when we hear of some of the best big mountain skiers in the world developing an innovative binding system product out of a machine shop in Driggs we take notice.
CAST is a real grassroots style company. No, none of the members have trust funds, they don’t have parents who can wrecklessly throw money at an idea and they didn’t appear on Judge Matthias at any point in their lives. They are simply guys in their 20s with an idea. Dudes who aren’t scared to live in a van or eat raman to accomplish a dream or objective. They are skiers in the truest sense of the word.
Let me get the important part of this out there first. The guys are in the midst of fund raising on Kickstarter. Although they’ve realized their fundraising goal, every bit helps keep the lights on and further develop their ideas. For those who haven’t used it, Kickstarter works by contributing money to an idea in return for some sort of product depending on how much you contribute. For instance, if you contribute $15 you get a finger painting from Silas, (we can’t wait for ours) pledging $600 or more gets you the entire system (more below).
Before we get into the system understand this isn’t something that is designed to replace a tech binding. Lars fully acknowledges that if you are a ski mountaineer, tech bindings are the best tool for the job. However, if you emphasize the skiing aspect of “backcountry skiing” the most and your throttle dial goes to 11 or you simply want something you can ski in all places (in bounds and out) and want something you can tour efficiently on, keep reading.
What makes the SI&I system so unique is the ability for one to have a robust alpine binding for the descent and a tech binding on the way up. The brilliance is in the machined plate/locker system. While ascending, a skier inserts the tech toe piece into the machined slider, locks it in place, retains the brakes with rubber bands and up you go. For the ski, one removes the tech toe, inserts an alpine toe, removes the rubber bands, clicks into the binding as normal and down you go. Full alpine performance.
The system consists of 4 plates per ski. Two of the plates are mounted to the ski, one at the toe location, the other at the heel location. The other two plates are mounted to the tech toe and alpine toe for interface with the toe sliding/locker mechanism (pictured in the center)
The heel plate serves two purposes. One, to raise the binding to the same height as the toe and two to add the addition of the 2 risers.
Confused? Watch this video.
Now for the next component of the system — Adding a tech toe to any boot. The boys at CAST are some of the best skiers in the world. They don’t have confidence skiing on the current AT offering when really getting after it. They ski full on plug race boots (as they should). Hence, to accommodate this system, the boys have figured out how to add tech fittings to any boot (plug or otherwise) and can modify any potential customers boot for $100.
Weight difference to standard Alpine Binding:
– While skiing: +250g
– While touring: -142g (yes 142g lighter than your standard alpine setup)
– 0g lifted weight while touring, touring efficiency equals that of a tech touring system
– Increase in stand height: 7mm
What its made of
-Cast aluminum body for the mount plate which is then CNC machined to precise tolerances.
– High precision laser cut aluminum for the slider plates. These attach to the tech and downhill toe pieces allowing them to slide in and out of the mount plate during your binding change over.
– Wire formed steel climbing bails for your heels to keep you balanced on any terrain.
– Laser cut steel locking mechanisms to make sure your toe pieces don’t go anywhere while in use.
– Injection molded high density plastic formed for the heel lifter making the toe and heel pieces of your binding the same height.
– Cast stainless steel tech insert and molded plastic for the boot lifters allowing boots to step into Tech and Alpine bindings with no change over.
The binding system will be compatible with Rossignol FKS 15 and 18, Look Pivot 15 and 18, Tyrolia Peak T.H. 15, X T. H. 18, 4FRNT Deadbolt 15 and 18, and Head Mojo 15 and 18, Marker Jester and Solomon STH platforms.
The Company’s Name
CAST is derived from the collective noun for a group of hawks and named in honor of CAST’s founding member Ryan Hawks. For those that don’t know, Ryan passed away skiing at Kirkwood in 2011.
Tech bindings have become more commonplace among the “hard charging” group of skiing. The bio mechanical advantage on the way up and lighter weight is undeniable in helping skiers go further and tour more efficiently. Although we here at Earlyups skied tech bindings more than alpine binders this season (gasp) we still can’t deny the power, safety, consistency and confidence of a true alpine setup on the way down. (Editor’s note, Jeff doesn’t ski tech setups in bounds and has more ski setups than you can shake a stick at.)
If we had to put together a one-ski-quiver to take on a trip anywhere in the world, we’d be hard pressed to find a better answer than utilizing this system and a real performance oriented alpine boot with a walk mode such as the new K2 boot slated to come to market next season.
After fondling the product first hand I can attest to its craftsmenship, attention to detail and overall quality. Lars is a smart dude and this product showcases his attention to detail ability to think creatively. Plus, you can ski with confidence knowing in no way will you push this product to the level he and his brother have. They are straight up batshit insane on skis (I mean that in the nicest way possible.)
We’ll follow this up with a real in depth look at the product and the guys behind the company. For now, we’ll leave you with a link to the TGR forum with a ton of information on the product and Silas’s winning run at Snowbird from last year…(on the binding)