How would you repair a cracked duckbill 50 miles into the wilderness?

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bgregoire
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Re: How would you repair a cracked duckbill 50 miles into the wilderness?

Post by bgregoire » Fri Oct 09, 2020 6:15 pm

Cannatonic wrote:
Fri Oct 09, 2020 11:40 am
Here is a pic showing one guy's boots - definitely not Excursions, looks like a rubber sole but I can't see the rest of the boots, I wonder what they are? - these guys are living dangerously, what a crazy idea to ski across ice that is breaking up:

https://explorersweb.com/2019/10/01/ous ... -sledding/
Nice job Canna. I had tried to find a pic myself but you fared better. Here it is:
70857537_10162320002550542_7413155029395177472_o.jpg
We can't see much, but still, i've got quite an eye for boots and feel 95% confident these are the Alfa Polar Advance (75mm) with the commonly added (mod) velcro rand to attach an insulated gaiter.

You will find some more pics of a banged up modded pair here (when it was called the Alfa Mordre):
https://www.telemarktalk.com/viewtopic. ... 152#p24100

There is actually nothing new about this boot setup. It was the common polar solution before Alfa came up with the Alfa Polar APS (NNN-BC). Both are good setups by the way but I can totally see why these two chose the Alfa Polar Advance (Mordre) for their latest trip.

As for the Excursion, definitely not what they used, and I would be surprised if such as boot was commonly used on a nordic ski polar crossing (maybe for kiting?). I think the soft shells options are much better.

But! I know most of the members of the Proket Karibu that crossed québec from south to north in 2014 did use them:
http://www.rcgs.org/fr/programmes/exped ... karibu.asp
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trite
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Re: How would you repair a cracked duckbill 50 miles into the wilderness?

Post by trite » Sat Oct 10, 2020 4:19 pm

@bgregoire

In general, I agree with you.

My goal in this thread is to encourage discussion on various robust and lightweight field repairs for 3-pin bindings and boots rather than to debate the merits of a different system. I think I’ll leave the 3-pin vs NNN BC debate for here and here. :)

However, I have a few remarks, mostly pertaining to my use case:


  • Toe bars do fail on expedition, I’ve read at least one account from a Greenland crossing. While I admit I’ve read about more duckbill problems than toe bars, it’s usually due to not being careful with the pin holes or not using true Norwegian welted boots… or, in my case, relying on old, cracked rubber.
  • Even if the NNN BC setup fails, on average, less than the NN 75mm setup, for now I prefer a (marginally) less reliable but totally field repairable system over a more reliable system that isn’t completely field repairable. I don’t normally “pack my fears,” but I’ve yet to read of a reliable toe bar repair.
  • Portages can be very long, rough and steep, and I think cables/cord will alleviate this stress to the bindings/boots in a way that NNN BC cannot.
  • I’ve had bad experiences with slush freezing around the toe bar. Slush is a big problem beneath the snow on most lakes in mid-winter on the Canadian Shield. It hasn’t been a problem with pin holes, especially with anti-ice tape.
So grateful to have people like you on this forum! Thanks for the advice on Voile straps and cables, the consensus here so far is that it's the most fool-proof repair kit for NN 75mm. And for what it’s worth, I have no real problem with NNN BC, and I want to pair Asnes MT 48s with Magnums for Arctic tours.

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trite
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Re: How would you repair a cracked duckbill 50 miles into the wilderness?

Post by trite » Sat Oct 10, 2020 4:31 pm

@Cannatonic @bgregoire

Yep, definitely the Alfa Polar Advance.
94707988_2509458852639755_4642596863696961536_n.jpg

And here's a screenshot of his Polar Advance setup from his 2014 book Ekspedisjonshåndboka:
Screen Shot 2020-10-10 at 3.28.25 PM.png

Bonus, here's Borge fixing cracked soles on his 1997 solo Antarctica crossing:
borge paracord.jpg

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bgregoire
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Re: How would you repair a cracked duckbill 50 miles into the wilderness?

Post by bgregoire » Sat Oct 10, 2020 6:42 pm

More ttalk
About expedition gear and repair: http://www.telemarktalk.com/viewtopic.p ... 09&start=0

By the way those NNN vs NN threads are ridiculously irrelevant to expedition related discussions such as this,’as I am sure you’ll agree.

Looking forward to reading more of your ideas about field repair.

please post more links to Articles or blogs detailing repair experiences for both Nnn and nn!
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lowangle al
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Re: How would you repair a cracked duckbill 50 miles into the wilderness?

Post by lowangle al » Sun Oct 11, 2020 8:19 am

I had the same thing happen to my boots but was close enough to the car to carefully ski out. Both of my boots and both of my wife’s boots cracked on the same day during a short boot up a snowshoe trail. We both had on Merrill’s about twenty years old.

My take on this is that if your boots are old don’t rely on them for an expedition.

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Cannatonic
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Re: How would you repair a cracked duckbill 50 miles into the wilderness?

Post by Cannatonic » Sun Oct 11, 2020 12:46 pm

lowangle al wrote:
Sun Oct 11, 2020 8:19 am
My take on this is that if your boots are old don’t rely on them for an expedition.
agree! The only boot issue I've had were my old Alpina NNNBC boots - one of the uppers de-glued and completely separated from the sole while kicking through some crud. They were 20 years old so it wasn't a shock. I was able to shuffle the 1 mile back to the car. Duct tape would have been helpful.
"All wisdom is to be gained through suffering"
-Will Lange (quoting Inuit chieftan)

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trite
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Re: How would you repair a cracked duckbill 50 miles into the wilderness?

Post by trite » Sun Oct 11, 2020 1:36 pm

@lowangle al
I agree, but let us know if you have any input on robust field repairs as new boots fail on expedition too.

@bgregoire
Assuming you already know about this one, but here's an NNN BC sole glue issue (my link starts at 15:28). Oof, now that would suck. Funny, because the others are using 75mm with Voile Cable Bindings.


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trite
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Re: How would you repair a cracked duckbill 50 miles into the wilderness?

Post by trite » Sun Oct 11, 2020 1:47 pm

@bgregoire

https://www.icehorizons.com/2019-crossing-blog.html

Scroll down to: 26 April 2019

An NNN BC binding repair, ripped off the ski. Sounds like a standard fix without issue. And everyone either wore Outback A/P/S or Polar A/P/S.

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bgregoire
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Re: How would you repair a cracked duckbill 50 miles into the wilderness?

Post by bgregoire » Sun Oct 11, 2020 2:07 pm

@trite

Cool that you linked to the Baffin Babes! We are actually friends with some of them and they were an inspiration for our 50-day Laponia crossing in 2014. Kristin wore a rare Meindl NNN-BC boot, might even call it a prototype if you push it thats how rare they were (Baffin 2009). They were hand produced by the order for a limited time, before Alfa started selling their version commercially, the Alfa Polar (introduced in 2011). I assume the glue used on that Meindl was not on-par and whatever Alfa uses now is better.

Sole ungluing is actually a common problem with glued soles. the outcome is a little more serious on NNN-BC and thermomolded 75mm boots as the boot becomes temporarily unusable (bonus for the NNN-BC version however as a Voile strap or otherwize can more easily be wrapped around the boot to keep it strapped shut in an emergency (the rat trap bindings gets in the way of such a repair). The rubber vibram soles on the norwegian stitched 75mm are also glued but a broken bond is without serious consequences as the bail keeps all the boot components as one under the force of the closed bail. In any case, a good glue on a warm day (or in sleeping bag) should fix this (i've fixed several unglued soles, mind you that was at home or by my local cobbler).

About that loose binding you linked to. They wrote the binding came loose, they do not say it ripped of the ski!!

The loose binding issue can be a problem with both NNN-BC and rat traps bindings (personally it has only happened once on an old pair of Voile 3-pin cables). For long expeditions, I recommend you always carry the required tools for binding replacement (screw driver, mini drill, extra screws, quick drying epoxy), and as mentioned previously, a pair of bindings to be shared by the group.

Do you think the folks on that Antarctic expedition had the screws of their bindings sit in epoxy originally? Perhaps not, and that could have been a good precaution!

I can tell you the rest of the Baffin Babe crew used modded Alfa Mordre boots (the go-to expedition boot at that time) and they brought an extra pair of skis (with bindings) for the crew on the 2009 Baffin trip. I remember looking at Emma's Alfa Mordres sometime after the expedition, man were they a mess.

If you would like to know more about the equipment the Baffin Babes used on their Baffin crossing, I actually have their book at home and believe its all listed there.

Still looking forward to reading the report of that broken NNN-BC boot pin you speak so fondly of! ;)
Last edited by bgregoire on Sun Oct 11, 2020 4:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I live for the Telemark arc....The feeeeeeel.....I ski miles to get to a place where there is guaranteed snow to do the deal....TM

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trite
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Re: How would you repair a cracked duckbill 50 miles into the wilderness?

Post by trite » Sun Oct 11, 2020 4:28 pm

@bgregoire

Thanks for the background on their setup! Very interesting. And please post that gear list when you have a chance, always love expedition gear lists. 

Re: my mysterious toe-bar failure reference. It’s an article in Norwegian and I can’t find it. I know the boots weren’t Polar A/P/S.

Here’s another trip report of a Greenland crossing where a 75mm binding ripped out of the ski — yes, ripped — but the guide fixed it rather quickly (epoxy, etc.) Everyone else had NNN BC with no issues. They weren't all pulling totally full sleds, though. This was a trip with Ousland Expeditions with Bengt Rotmo as guide along with dogs. The author’s account is actually kind of amusing, and he’s a bit clueless that the 75mm squeak is a standard sound effect. :lol:



I hope I don’t give the impression that I think NNN BC isn’t the obvious best choice for most overland crossings. I’m very aware that if I stopped into Sportsnett in Oslo and said I need skis for Greenland, I’d be out in 15 minutes with a pair of Amundsens and Polar A/P/S.

I also think the NNN BC toe bar fear is overhyped, like you say. That said, I STILL want to know a reasonable plan if such a failure were to happen! It’s reckless to go on expedition without planning for everything that can possibly break. I mean, I’ve read of so many North Pole expeditions evacuated in the first week because of binding or boot failures (Ben Saunders in 2008, Lars Flesland and Kristoffer Glestad in 2014, there’s others). The latter are frostbitten feet, but still boot-related. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars, wasted.

I reckon the Polar A/P/S boots inherently solved a lot of these past issues since we don’t really hear about problems like this as much anymore.

For right now, I’m focused on 75mm because it seems the best choice for the conditions I’m travelling.

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