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Question: Tahoe Area AT Setup?


Diva in Training
Hi ladies! I live in the Tahoe area (Mt. Rose frequenter) and will be expanding my skiing into the touring world this next season thanks to a few extra encouraging, experienced friends. I had a looooong extended illness that kept me sidelined for much of my 20s, making up for that now! I currently just resort ski and do some light XC ski touring. I've been shopping around the area locally trying to put my setup together for a "reasonable" price (on a budget, but want to get what works). I've been given quite the variety of recommendations from different shops and am a bit scrambled.

I'm looking for a second setup (hybrid) that allows me to progress my abilities inbounds, ski mixed snow/powder conditions better, and begin my touring experience/skill-building enjoyably and safely. Again, mostly Sierra skiing with the occasional budget Colorado trip when funds allow. Setup weight is important, but I've realized I'll need to just save money for a 3rd setup that's lighter in the future if I end up touring all of the time. Any input from you all would be super appreciated!

About me: 5'1" ~115 lbs, strong intermediate/"low" advanced skier
Current (only) ski: Blizzard Black Pearls 88cm, 152cm
Boots: Atomic Hawx Ultra (was living in some fairly ancient Salomon Pro 90s)
Goals: ski powder and steeps more confidently, half-day local tours, a couple overnight hut tours (low-mileage approaches, day excursions), early morning "fitness" laps with a couple friends
My thoughts: Hybrid set-up that tours decently, but can always work as an inbounds powder/crud-day ski since I have my Pearls for zooming around in between snow storms

Suggested bindings: Atomic Shift MNC 10s, Fristchi Tectons, Duke PT 12s
Suggested skis (& ski length): Elan Ripstick 102s (154cm or 162cm), Moment Bella 106s (162cm), Salomon QST Lumen 99s (153cm), Black Crow Atris Birdie 108s (160cm)


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I have thoughts; I ski in north Lake Tahoe (but do not live there) and am also roughly your size and conscious of gear weight. Also, super jealous of being able to do morning pre work/school laps! I’m a little pressed for time right now so will respond more fully later, but my general sense and (decade old) experience is that hybrid doesn’t really help with weight, although I’m also not particularly familiar with those bindings. Wider/longer ski also increases weight. A lighter setup is not going to be that great for skiing crud.


Certified Ski Diva
Hybrid setup r lighter but not super light. U need 2 decide if u want 2 use the setup more 4 resort with some touring or more touring than resort. Duke PT r super heavy. Shift MNC have an unstable toe piece which may not be a problem since ur an intermediate advance. Idk Fritschi. Marker kingpin 10 r the easiest 2 put into touring mode. G3ion10 is what I use.
Plz take an avalanche course, learn 2 use beacon. Get probe&shovel.


Certified Ski Diva
Hybrid setup is the worst of both worlds, I think that's the only way to put it.
I personally wouldn't go over 100 underfoot just because powder days are the exception, not the rule, at least where I ski on the western slope of CO. I'd rather have something a little lighter and more nimble for the climb, and tight trees/variable snow.

Perhaps a ski like the Dynafit Beast W and the Vipec binding? Atomic Backlands are great skis but are light and need a correspondingly light binding. I wouldn't put something as clunky as a Vipec on the Backlands but that's just me.

If I were you, I'd put my money into a real AT setup (light skis and tech bindings- huge ATK fan here) and look for a used, cheap pair of powder skis with regular bindings for inbounds use. For inbounds powder vs. an all-around AT ski, you're going to want fatter and longer anyway.


Diva in Training
@Pequenita I would love to hear your thoughts when you have a few moments! I'm definitely torn between the pros/cons of a lighter setup vs. heavier given that I won't be doing big tours in the next year or two, just a few hours-half day outings while I get my backcountry foundational skills nailed down (avy class, intro to touring classes, short outings with friends). I would also LOVE to have a slighter wider ski for the variable snow conditions out here (still love my BPs for cruising on groomers...especially during storm-lacking winters like this past season).


Diva in Training
@ESGCO thank you!! I agree, the hybrid setup isn't ideal for so many reasons. I had a friend really trying to talk me into some Moment Bella skis with a shift binding for a little bit of touring and a little bit of resort variable snow/powder skiing (I do understand her thought process). I am decently fit, but I'm also not an uphill cardio beast (yet...I'll keep dreaming and working on that!), and don't want to lug extra unnecessary weight. I'm trying to reconcile my gear/outdoor education budget with dipping my toe into the touring world while also wanting a bit wider skis for some inbounds use.

I've heard many positive comments regarding the ATKs! For skis, I've shortlisted the following:
*Armada Tracer 98s in 156cm
*Atomic Backland 98s in 156cm
*Icelantic Mystic 97s in 155cm
*Elan Ripstick 102s in 154cm
*Moment Sierra Tour 95s in 162cm (local ski maker)

I need to research the Dynafit Beast. Thank you for mentioning it, I didn't have that one on my radar! I see they make a 163cm.


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
It's a slight schlep around the lake from the Mt. Rose area, but maybe one approach would be to demo a few skis from Alpenglow next season? It is really too bad that one of the other regular Tahoe skiers on this site (@laine) recently sold her b/c setup - you and she are around the same size, and I think it would have been a great starter package (ATK 7, Ripstick 94 or something like that in 154). I like your new ski list better than the original one because of the number of skis under 100mm waist, and also the lengths.

I have comically poor fitness by Tahoe backcountry standards, but I swear that for a flatlander I am okay. Anyway, short legs, "poor" Tahoe fitness, and heavy gear (at the time, Fristchi Freeride Pro bindings and hybrid tech/DIN sole boots) slowed me down immensely, and decreased my level of enjoyment when skinning, so that's where my bias for light gear comes from. After about 6 years of the frame bindings, I sold them and redrilled my skis for tech bindings, and this year I got a second setup (Armada Trace 88, on the recommendation of @Analisa ) that is 4 lbs lighter than the first setup (as modified with tech bindings/boots). I used it for the first time this past weekend, and it may be in my head, but the uphill seemed much faster than my other uphills.

I hope some of this is helpful!
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Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I'm super late to the party, but the first setup is always a gamble, and a learning experience. It's really hard to foresee exactly how you like to tour and what you want in a setup until you get a season or two under your belt. I work with a lot of women to build setups, and some use that information to look for either used gear or clearance summer options to build something affordable / that has high resale value if they end up pivoting. Others choose a ski that will be right for at least some things, like a hybrid setup that's heavy and strong enough for inbounds pow days.

I'm further north in WA, and there are 2 quiver setups I see women build most often:

1) An inbounds ski and touring ski, both 95-105 in width.
2) 1 inbounds ski in the high 80s/low 90s, 1 powder ski with a hybrid binding that's 105-112 in width, 1 lightweight touring ski with an ultralight binding in the 85-95 width range.

A lot of people diss hybrid gear, but I wish my craigslisted pow touring setup came with Shifts. Breaking trail is hard regardless of 200 extra grams on my bindings. Days are short and I'm not going to get worn out in our 4 hours of mid-winter sunlight. Plus some people I've worked with really don't like how ultralight gear skis. But at the same time, I nabbed a pair of Backland 98s & ATK Raiders last fall and DPS sent me a pair of demo Pagoda Tour 100s and I'm very glad I have those for big spring days. If your gut is telling you that you need a hybrid setup, you can always tick that box and add to the quiver in another season or two.

Or getting an inbound powder ski & "all-arounder" touring ski could accomplish those same goals as well.

I wrote a piece this winter on How to Build a Touring Setup because in my experience, almost all the gear on the market is good. But the shopping experience is *horrible* where all touring gear is marketed together like it all serves the same purpose. Instead the market has so many options for all snow types, skier types, and attitudes towards binding safety / release capabilities. And once you pick some preferences, it really streamlines the number of options and simplifies the shopping process.

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