Review: G3 Targa Ascent Telemark Ski Binding

G3 Targa Ascent Telemark Ski Binding

Anyone who has skied both alpine touring bindings & telemark bindings in the backcountry has felt the value of having a free pivoting binding.  Your legs are just a little more fresh (or a lot more fresh) at the end of each climb.  The telemark industry has listened and has started making free pivoting bindings, and wow am I ever glad!  Having to flex the binding springs on every step really does take its toll after 6,000 of a climbing.  The G3 Targa Ascent changes that forever.

The G3 Targa Ascent has a switch at the front of the ski that can be thrown to switch the binding from a locked down ski mode to a walk mode where the entire front plate moves freely on a pivot.  That makes going up hill effortless, which makes all the difference in the world!  I took my G3 Targa Ascents on a week long tour though the Tyrol region of southern Italy (which was amazing) and had no problem keeping up on the climbs with my buddies who were on AT gear.

Going down they perform just just as you’d expect the tried and true G3 Targas to perform.  I happen to prefer a binding with more torsional rigidity like a Rotofella Cobra R8 or a BlackDiamond 01.  That said, if you like how the classic, if not industry standard, G3 Targa performs, you’ll LOVE the free pivot addition to the Targa Ascent.  If you’re on older Targa bindings you’ll also like feel of the 3 degree rearward-cant of the toe platy which compensates for the rocker launch that compression springs can produce.

G3 Targa Ascent

My only major complaint with the first generation Targa Ascent is the heel piece.  When flipped up into the climb position the heel piece is held in position by tension of an elastomer spring.  I thought that we all learned from the Onza mountain bike pedals back in the late 90s that elastomers were not reliable springs in cold temperatures.  In the first 15 minutes I spent skinning up I had the heel risers drop down into the ski position at least 4 times.  Once the elastomer was cold, it lost all of its spring, and the heel lift could easily flop back and forth without any tension.  Combine that with Sierra Cement, and the heel lifts were useless.  They simply wouldn’t stay up. (while we do get the occasional champagne powder storm, generally we ski in mashed potatoes aka Sierra Cement)  I can see how the dry Utah snow wouldn’t pack up in the heel pieces, or it in the ski/tour switch, but were not so lucky in CA.  Even if I completely cleaned them out before skinning, they’d still pack up and fall down into ski mode.

I did also have the metal latch under the toe-plate for the tele/tour switch pack up once or twice, but it was very easy to clear the snow out of that get it to work properly.  After the day of skiing I took the skis back to the shop and they were amazed at how differently the elastomer spring performed when it was freezing vs. at room temperature.  My skis were fresh off of the car, and therefore below freezing, and the heel lifts preformed completely differently than the ones that were at room temp.  And as mine warmed up it started to perform normally again. They also remeasured and looked at the installation to make sure it was done properly for my boot size, and they had it right.  It turns out that the old Targa heel plates with a G3 riser under them are almost exactly the same height at the Ascent heel plate, so I switched mine out with one of my other pairs of skis that has Targas on risers.

My conclusion is that I like the binding and am really excited about the tour mode, but the heel plates only lasted about 3 hours before I replaced them, and it sounds like I wasn’t the only person in the shop that day that was thinking about doing it.  That said, the next generation heel pieces have a thicker elastomer that is supposed to perform better in the cold, but I have my doubts.

If you like G3 Targa bindings, you’ll love the G3 Targa Ascent.

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