There’s a longstanding belief that an extra 500 grams of weight on your foot slows you down much more than an extra 500 grams in your backpack.
I found another reason to doubt that it’s true for climbing up a steep hill with skis on my feet versus with the weight of skis on my pack.
Climbing up a hill at steepness around 16% grade, I got pretty nearly the same time and speed either way . . .
after several weeks of specific
training climbing up with the weight of skis+boots+bindings on my feet.
So if I frequently climb up with skis on my feet, my muscles can adapt to an extra 500 grams on my feet about as well as they can adapt to an extra 500 grams in my backpack.
I think three times a week with one session focused on moving the feet at high frequency and/or long strides is enough to get a reasonable adaptation in 6 weeks or less.
My guess is that twice a week with one focused session would work pretty well—in which case lots of skiers who start in early December and get out for a short intense early-morning or evening mid-week ski would be adapted by mid-January.
. (I’d guess that people who only ski once a week aren’t going to adapt as well)
Adapted? I don’t mean that I could climb just as fast as without the extra weight - (of course extra weight anywhere is always slower) - only that it’s not slowing me down significantly more than the same amount of weight carried in my pack (which also would take time to adapt to).
Seems to me that the muscles used to move the weight on the foot + ski forward up the slope are big leg muscles (hip flexion + knee extension, including the “quadriceps") which are well able to develop in response to specific progressive training stress. Frequent skiers are well able to apply the specific training stress.
So there’s no special advantage of a lighter ski binding versus carrying a lighter camera (or no camera)—for frequent skiers.
But we have this odd result where the skiers who are most able to adapt to the extra weight in their boots/skins/bindings/skis are the most likely to be compromising on reliability, release-safety, and downhill-skiing performance, while those with least time to adapt are more likely to have heavy equipment on their feet.
Who gets the biggest uphill speed benefit from light equipment on feet?
People who only climb on skis once a year on their annual ski-mountaineering trip.