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Alpine Touring

#21
I've done lots of bc touring in NE over the years. Great AT/tele shop in Portland called Allspeed. They are located in the same parking lot as Trader Joes. They did a wonderful ski pro night last night and the staff is super helpful. And, it wouuld be a fun outing for both of you. Staff members and regulars are some of Maine's best tele skiers!
 

snow addict

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#22
To @snow addict 's point, it matters whether you plan to ski close to the edge of your ability level, where having skis you trust is most important, or whether you plan to ski more for the touring aspect, on terrain where you can afford to have less familiar/sturdy equipment.
Have you seen the ski mountaineering world championships? Modern touring equipment can withstand a hell lot of abuse and will tolerate any terrain. The point is that if equipment that you feel most comfortable on to ski on the edge of your ability is not the kind of equipment that allows you to get to the place where you can ski on the edge of your ability, it's not good for the purpose, and solution is usually just like with everything else: to expand the comfort zone so that you get more comfortable skiing on other equipment. Then, after you spend couple days touring and go back to your regular equipment, feel the difference. You will be flying:smile: When dropping weight off your equipment you don't have to go down to competition grade anyway, but even 1500 kilos per ski and 600 grams per binding will already provide a huge gain in efficiency compared to regular gear, without big sacrifices for the downhill part.
 

bounceswoosh

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#23
Have you seen the ski mountaineering world championships? Modern touring equipment can withstand a hell lot of abuse and will tolerate any terrain. The point is that if equipment that you feel most comfortable on to ski on the edge of your ability is not the kind of equipment that allows you to get to the place where you can ski on the edge of your ability, it's not good for the purpose, and solution is usually just like with everything else: to expand the comfort zone so that you get more comfortable skiing on other equipment. Then, after you spend couple days touring and go back to your regular equipment, feel the difference. You will be flying:smile: When dropping weight off your equipment you don't have to go down to competition grade anyway, but even 1500 kilos per ski and 600 grams per binding will already provide a huge gain in efficiency compared to regular gear, without big sacrifices for the downhill part.
No one in this thread is training for the ski mountaineering championships. Shane McConkey could ski chutes on snowblades. Doesn't mean it's the best idea for us mortals. And a lot of knowledgeable people still have concerns about binding releases with light weight touring bindings. I'm going to bet the people in those championships have their bindings locked to prevent release, like that woman in Europe a few months ago who basically pulverized her leg.
 

SallyCat

Moderator
Staff member
#24
Wow, I was just coming to type "Alpine Touring" into the search bar when I saw this thread. Perfect! I was listening to the "Wintry Mix" podcast about Ascutney Mtn in VT opening for rope tow access and also skinning to the peak. I thought that might be fun and great exercise, but such a huge expense to get started. Thanks for the great ideas and resources!
 

altagirl

Moderator
Staff member
#25
With snowshoeing you would need to carry skis on your back, good luck with that:smile: I think in snow it's better to have "worse" skis on one's feet than great skis on one's back.
Hah, you completely misunderstood my comment - I would never recommend packing skis on your back as a serious touring option (Though, back before we had AT gear, we used to hike up Alta preseason in just hiking shoes and backpacks with skis and it was actually more fun on the whole than trying to descend on sketchy AT gear, to me anyway..) . I'm just saying that if you start sacrificing ski performance to the point where the goal is just to go get some exercise in the mountains away from the resort, I'd personally much rather leave the skis at home and go just plain snowshoeing or XC skiing than have a terrifying descent on skis that are difficult to control. I've skied on AT setups that were so bad, that on the descent, I really wished I'd picked a different sport that day....

I very much admire your abilities, don't get me wrong. Ski touring is just not for me (my knees are not to be trusted in a kick turn!) I love getting away from civilization too, but touring on the wrong setup is NO FUN, in my experience. Though, we have very few options locally for touring in mellow terrain, so maybe it's different elsewhere.

Anyway, my only real recommendation here is to not just settle for any old thing because it was the cheapest or easiest to find. There is a massive difference in types and you need to find the right thing for what you want to do.
 
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SallyCat

Moderator
Staff member
#26
I would never recommend packing skis on your back as a reasonable touring option.
I've been passed on the trail up to Mt. Washington by skiers with their boots and skis on their backpacks, headed up to Tuckerman's Ravine. I would think that in some touring situations, you would need to hike to where you can skin? I'm just curious, not disagreeing with anyone; I know nothing about AT. I'm just very intrigued by the idea and I've only seen it done in the Whites in the spring/early summer, so that's my reference.
 

Pequenita

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#27
Anyway, my only real recommendation here is to not just settle for any old thing because it was the cheapest or easiest to find.
Yes. This works out well for very few people, and it would be a shame if the wrong gear wound up turning someone off to touring. Kind of like how all-cotton baselayers and nylon ski suit will likely turn someone off from skiing in the dead of winter.

I've been passed on the trail up to Mt. Washington by skiers with their boots and skis on their backpacks, headed up to Tuckerman's Ravine. I would think that in some touring situations, you would need to hike to where you can skin? I'm just curious, not disagreeing with anyone; I know nothing about AT. I'm just very intrigued by the idea and I've only seen it done in the Whites in the spring/early summer, so that's my reference.
Yes - you need to get to where there is snow and a pitch that can actually be skinned (e.g., you need to boot pack up the routes in the Ravine). But a lot of the people going up Tucks do not have AT or tele gear, and they have strapped on their alpine skis onto their packs.
 

altagirl

Moderator
Staff member
#28
Yeah, and I guess I really just wanted to mention it because I know a lot of people are like, oh, I want to try this and don't want to spend too much on a secondary setup so I'll just get this cheap setup I found in the right size... Or find a dual duty setup that will be for both resort and touring purposes (which only generally makes sense for slackcountry skiing). I think it's important to assess your goals and expectations and try the right thing. What will be fun for a couple hour slackcountry tour (Getting out to ski a lap or two of those steeps and powder you can see from the resort and maybe even access from a gate at the top of a lift) is likely nothing like what you'd want for all day/ multi day touring where the focus is on gaining tons of elevation and covering lots of ground. I just know I've made purchasing mistakes and know plenty of others who have too, hence the warning.

I guess everything I'm saying is kind of obvious statements, but it might not be if you're just looking into touring for the first time. I'd think about where you want to go touring and ask people who ski there regularly what they like. Or think about the setups the people you will be touring with and if they are focused on climbing or descending or more of a balance. If you are on the opposite end of the spectrum than your partners, it's going to be tough to find a mutually agreeable pace. (very similar to mountain biking! )
 
#30
Yeah, and I guess I really just wanted to mention it because I know a lot of people are like, oh, I want to try this and don't want to spend too much on a secondary setup so I'll just get this cheap setup I found in the right size... Or find a dual duty setup that will be for both resort and touring purposes (which only generally makes sense for slackcountry skiing). I think it's important to assess your goals and expectations and try the right thing. What will be fun for a couple hour slackcountry tour (Getting out to ski a lap or two of those steeps and powder you can see from the resort and maybe even access from a gate at the top of a lift) is likely nothing like what you'd want for all day/ multi day touring where the focus is on gaining tons of elevation and covering lots of ground. I just know I've made purchasing mistakes and know plenty of others who have too, hence the warning.
Yep! I did this, with the dual-purpose set-up. It made for a heavy AT set-up and soft boots for resort skiing. 5 years later I'm finally going to 2 dedicated set-ups, though for now I'm keeping my old boots for resort.
 

altagirl

Moderator
Staff member
#31
Yep! I did this, with the dual-purpose set-up. It made for a heavy AT set-up and soft boots for resort skiing. 5 years later I'm finally going to 2 dedicated set-ups, though for now I'm keeping my old boots for resort.
That too. I have a friend who talked his beginner girlfriend into an AT setup as her only gear and it made it extremely hard to learn to ski. (soft, superlight boots plus AT bindings on fatter skis= no fun on groomers...)
 

Pequenita

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#32
@Neha Khurana (from this thread) -- If there is an instructor for the course that you can speak to about gear, do so. It's not super complicated, but there are some differences in gear for alpine skiing vs. touring, as you probably experienced last year. Invest in a pair of AT boots that fit. Here's a recent thread on that: https://www.theskidiva.com/forums/index.php?threads/buying-at-boots.19114/

When it comes to bindings, make sure they are the right kind for your boots.

Your college also likely has a ski swap. Go to it - it's a great place to get affordable gear. Even if the ski is not backcountry-specific (the industry is moving away from this, other than the super, you can make do with many of the skis that are on the market. Bring a laptop or phone with you and research the skis on the spot to make sure they aren't super old. If the ski has bindings for alpine skis, you can have a shop take them off, and buy/mount alpine touring bindings.

How long were your skis that you used last season that felt too long for you, in relation to your height? Do you remember what they were? Since you're a newer skier, it's important that your gear allows you to pick up skills (in the resort) that will be crucial in the backcountry.

You'll also have to get a set of skins, which the instructor should be able to help you with. They'll need to be cut to fit your skis - either have the shop do it, or ask the instructor for guidance.
 

snow addict

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#33
No one in this thread is training for the ski mountaineering championships. Shane McConkey could ski chutes on snowblades. Doesn't mean it's the best idea for us mortals. And a lot of knowledgeable people still have concerns about binding releases with light weight touring bindings. I'm going to bet the people in those championships have their bindings locked to prevent release, like that woman in Europe a few months ago who basically pulverized her leg.
So, because of that you would rather shlepp for a few hours on heavy gear? :smile: Don't lock your bindings on a descent, you are not supposed to do it and I wouldn't bet that competitors are doing it as they are not in a competition for breaking legs.
Anyway, if you are mainly for skinning a bit uphill to get to some good snow not directly accessible from lifts or just for a bit of exercise through the woods when you are not time-constrained - by all means having a heavy kit won't make big difference, I do it all the time, it doesn't matter if it takes me 1 hr 15 or 1 hr 20 minutes to make a journey I would otherwise make in one hour, but if the route is 4 hours, that will mean much bigger difference for the ETA and I will be shedding weight off my feet to avoid it. Being one hour later in backcountry can have serious consequences... I am a common mortal, and while are am not in training for ski mountaineering championship I am not into hacking cliffs either, so on balance I think light tech bindings is a good and reliable option. They are not an option for hacking cliffs (though Beast-type bindings are changing this too) or for hard skiing of hard lines, so and if the cliff and lines in question are far away you will be better served by a helicopter to get there.
 

snow addict

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#34
Hah, you completely misunderstood my comment - I would never recommend packing skis on your back as a serious touring option (Though, back before we had AT gear, we used to hike up Alta preseason in just hiking shoes and backpacks with skis and it was actually more fun on the whole than trying to descend on sketchy AT gear, to me anyway..) . I'm just saying that if you start sacrificing ski performance to the point where the goal is just to go get some exercise in the mountains away from the resort, I'd personally much rather leave the skis at home and go just plain snowshoeing or XC skiing than have a terrifying descent on skis that are difficult to control. I've skied on AT setups that were so bad, that on the descent, I really wished I'd picked a different sport that day....

I very much admire your abilities, don't get me wrong. Ski touring is just not for me (my knees are not to be trusted in a kick turn!) I love getting away from civilization too, but touring on the wrong setup is NO FUN, in my experience. Though, we have very few options locally for touring in mellow terrain, so maybe it's different elsewhere.

Anyway, my only real recommendation here is to not just settle for any old thing because it was the cheapest or easiest to find. There is a massive difference in types and you need to find the right thing for what you want to do.
Sorry:smile: not I actually got that you had a bad setup which ruined your experience. I agree that when you start improving your uphill efficiency some downhill performance would be sacrificed, it's a trade off and everyone chooses the suitable balance. It's not dissimilar to all-mountain skis where you need to find balance and decide how much piste performance you are prepared to sacrifice to get better performance elsewhere, etc. But the situation is actually much better these days, gear has been constantly improving and losses of performance are not dramatic and for most people apart from those who like to charge and hack no matter where they are they will be barely noticeable with lot of modern gear. And your last point - I cannot agree more.
 

Kimmyt

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#35
I agree that when you start improving your uphill efficiency some downhill performance would be sacrificed, it's a trade off and everyone chooses the suitable balance. It's not dissimilar to all-mountain skis where you need to find balance and decide how much piste performance you are prepared to sacrifice to get better performance elsewhere, etc. But the situation is actually much better these days, gear has been constantly improving and losses of performance are not dramatic and for most people apart from those who like to charge and hack no matter where they are they will be barely noticeable with lot of modern gear. And your last point - I cannot agree more.
I chose to go with tech bindings because the type of touring I was doing (low angle, mellow terrain) was likely to take me longer to get up than down. So I decided light weight bindings were more important than having an aggressive downhill feel to the setup. Honestly, I do notice the trade off quite a bit. But I still wouldn't go with a different binding, maybe a different set of skis. Of course, I don't go touring enough for it to justify switching the skis out for a more appropriate pair.
 

snow addict

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#36
I chose to go with tech bindings because the type of touring I was doing (low angle, mellow terrain) was likely to take me longer to get up than down. So I decided light weight bindings were more important than having an aggressive downhill feel to the setup. Honestly, I do notice the trade off quite a bit. But I still wouldn't go with a different binding, maybe a different set of skis. Of course, I don't go touring enough for it to justify switching the skis out for a more appropriate pair.
It always takes shorter to get down:smile: even when it's steep, first turn is scary, then it eases up, then terrain eases up, then you hit a slush and all off a sudden you see civilization and it's all over. I actually feel ok about bindings but overall feel is a bit off compared to downhill. I guess it's the combination of all factors: weight, a bit different shape of boots, different ramp angle... I just stay more alert to my body position and especially in the beginning it felt truly weird. Nothing hurt or was uncomfortable, but just felt strange. My first turn is always a step turn, even when it's mellow... I don't even try to turn normally, I need to start with a step. Then I feel more confident to get going. But of course touring setups are not exactly for ripping, but it's hardly ever a purpose. It's possible to ski very steep slopes on them but it's all about jump turns. Still, light setup makes them easier and since there is no way I will ever be able to point skis down narrow steep gullies with normal skiing, no matter what super skis I might have, I feel that a lighter setup actually expanded my technical possibilities.
 

bounceswoosh

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#37
I keep going back to @marymack 's original post:

I've only ever been a resort skier, though I'm venturing into the glades more and more and I'm fairly comfortable in ungroomed snow.
Now, ladies tend to underestimate their abilities, but this suggests to me a skier who is still developing skills and as such probably wants a confidence-inspiring setup. Which to me does not scream "ultra light."

@snow addict , I feel like you are generalizing your experiences, which are perhaps specific to European skiing and particularly how your crew approaches it. Some people *do* go backcountry to ski terrain that's gnarly. But it's also relative, and from what Mary describes, I think it's likely that going backcountry will mean skiing at the limits of her abilities.
 

SkiGAP

Angel Diva
#38
I've still never used the skins I bought for my Voelkl Amaruqs. I've a telemark setup (hammerhead bindings) which is not for all-week hard core touring, rather a morning uphill followed by a lunch then downhill I suppose. Around here there are many clinics and clubs for such day-touring...someday I will motivate...
 

marymack

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#39
Well, another piece of the puzzle was purchased: At the ski expo this past weekend I picked up a pair of Lange XC boots (https://www.evo.com/outlet/alpine-s..._source=googlebase&utm_campaign=EB-81313-1003) While I think I probably could have gone with a slightly higher flex, my regular alpine boots are 90 flex, these are 80. I think they will fit my purposes well. They will be come my "teaching" boots for low level lessons and my AT boots.

Next up is deciding figuring out if I can mount the marker Dukes on my Volkl Tierras or if I will need to purchase a different ski. And Skins.
 

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