Telemarking is a dynamic beautiful sport that keeps you honest, and keeps me going!
- Armond DuBuque
Along with first descents on Mt. Rainier on tele's, Armond's been perfecting the ultimate - the Ultimate Tele Binding. Not gone, and not forgotten. Get in line!
Descender: Where are you from?
Armond DuBuque: Right here in Washington. I grew up in Monroe. Started skiing when I was nine. I went to the snowboard when I was fifteen, but still kept skiing. And then about nine years ago I started to telemark. I still board and lock the heel down, but I love telemarking. It s beautiful to watch. It puts a smile on my face. The fluid motion of someone ripping it on tele skis is a great things to see. It's inspiring.
Photo: Andrew McLean
D: Where does the UTB (Ultimate Tele Binding) fit in?
A: Well, I was discouraged by what was out there. This hasn't been a quick process. I wanted something light, reliable, stronger, and multi-functional. The UTB can be set up with the crampon or without. I think it fits in under ski mountaineering but ceratainly any tele rider can use it. I mean, there are similarities between the UTB and other cable bindings, but the UTB is going to be lighter, stronger, more versatile. You can use the crampon to climb up and step right back into your skis and head down. The newest model is going to be super trick! Specialized is the word. It s great when you re in tight, steep spots. Just step back in and you're ready.
D: How much testing did you do before you took the UTB up Rainier?
A: (Laughs) Well Rainier was the test for the most part. I took an inferior prototype to do that climb and descent. I'll tell you though, the conditions were perfect. Everyone I was with was a little sketched out at the fact that I left my crampons at home and just brought the UTB. But like I said the conditions were perfect. There was about a quarter inch layer of corn that was like velvet. It made all the difference. Rainier turned out to be pretty amazing. It was the biggest thing I'd ever skied. After it was over, we figured that we had gotten away with something, as if we had captured a perfect moment up there. The right place at the right time.
Photo: Andrew McLean
D: What do you want to see in telemark skiing? What do you think it needs?
A: What do I think it needs? I don't know. More reliable gear is probably the first thing. Skiers are reaching levels that put a lot of stress on equipment and the equipment needs to meet and exceed the challenge. I'm not so sure tele needs a scene. I have a lot of respect for people that go big and throw crazy tricks, but I'm in it for the long haul. Tele needs respect. It needs inspired people that are pushing the limits. We need people to keep the spirit alive. Keep progressing, keep turning heads, and people keeping their head when they're out there.
D: Anyone keeping you outfitted?
A: I'm not really out there like some media darling. I ski my line and do my thing. But there are definitely some people helping out. Patagonia for example. I've been skiing with the same set up from them for a couple of years, it's great stuff. Mike Hattrup over at K2, he's a great guy. I'm skiing the World Piste, it's a great ski. I skied it all last season. It's all who you know really, I'm not into the flashy stuff, but there are people who are and that's their gig, not mine.
D: What is the UTB made of?
A: Well, aluminum, stainless steel, and I'm trying to hook up a titanium toe plate, but nothing is final on that yet. I'm trying to leave out as much plastic as possible. I'm still working it out. But it will be half the weight of the rest and way stronger.
D: How about a tour of the UTB factory?
A: (laughs) It wouldn t be much of a tour because it's my dad's machine shop (the garage).
D: Has he played a part in any of this?
A: Oh yeah, he s been great. He's a super smart guy who has given me a lot of support, both kinds, through all of this. He told me to go for it. His patience has been tested.
D: What else?
A: I'm psyched for a fat season, but I don't want to talk about it too much. I don't want to jinx it. I just want to create something that is lighter and stronger, more versatile. And most of all I want people to enjoy it. Be safe and have fun.
Call the Ultimate Tele Company @ 360.793.5415 for more info about the UTB. The new super trick, space age, lighter, stronger, better binding will be out sometime next year. Armond is going to set up a waiting list for a limited release. So if you want in call up and get on it.
Photo: Andrew McLean