Lars Chickering-Ayers grew up skiing in the East, but after high school moved West and joined the Freeride Tour. He loved skiing crazy lines inbounds, but the backcountry beckoned with fresh snow and challenging new terrain. “I got over the powder panic and early morning rush to the lifts,” he said. “If I want to ski powder, I’ll walk to the top.” The problem was how best to do it. Lars and his brother Silas wanted a binding that toured well on the way up and performed well on the way down – something that included a safety release like you’d have on a resort ski.
About five years ago the brothers set out to create the best backcountry binding for freeride and big mountain skiing, and eventually created a system of interchangeable toe pieces. Using lightweight plates that slide on and off the ski, you can rock a Dynafit toe piece on the way up and then swap it out for your bomber alpine toe piece to charge hard on the down.
The result is more freedom when touring in the backcountry as well as simplicity, Lars said. One pair of skis is ready to go for the backcountry or at the resort. He can ski the morning inbounds and head outside the gates on the same skis and bindings. “We’ve seen that become the Holy Grail,” said Lars, a founder of Cast Touring. And he said he feels lucky he and Silas found it before anyone else. Cast Touring is based out of Driggs, Idaho, giving them direct access to the Tetons to use as their testing ground. They construct each system in Driggs, using parts ordered from US vendors.
Since they started selling the SI& I systems, Cast Touring’s signature product, they’ve created seven variations of it to fit most major alpine binding brands. They also offer a boot conversion system so you can keep wearing your favorite alpine boots, revamped for more efficient touring. Cast Touring is a name for a group of hawks; it was picked in memory of Ryan Hawks, a friend of the brothers who died in 2011. Ryan’s spirt guides Lars and Silas. In his honor, they want to create quality products that make it easier, more fun and safer to get into the mountains. Want to see the backcountry binding system in action? Check out this one-minute video.