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Alpine touring skis with cross-country skiers?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

I generally prefer downhill skiing, but have also done quite a bit of cross-country. I have never gone on an official track, but rather on snowy roads and trails in the Sierras. This is not speed-skiing on a XC track, but rather a hike with skis on our feet so we don't sink into the snow. Getting back down some of the slopes we have gone up is challenging because none of us can telemark and we have usually been on edgeless skis with scalloped or waxed bottoms.

 

I am wondering whether it would be reasonable to bring alpine touring gear on a day trip where the others are using traditional XC skis. I have never used AT gear before, but perhaps this would be a good way to get familiar with it without ascending anything beyond the capability of the XC skiers. One concern would be whether the bigger AT boots mean I could not go as far as the people with the XC boots. Also, can AT gear be rented easily to try it out? I might have the opportunity to try this in northern New Mexico or southern Colorado this winter.

post #2 of 10

AT gear, in the conditions you describe, would be overkill. Think slogging along a level slope in down hill gear where the binding pivots at the toe. My suggestion would be to rent a BC (back country) set up. It's like CC (cross country) only beefier. The boots have better lateral support and the skis have metal edges, more width, and in some brands and models, even some sidecut. You will have much more control with BC skis than the conventional CC variety. A small downhill stretch that makes me nervous with CC gear becomes routine with BC. A BC setup  probably isn't enough to let you make a tele turn down even a mellow slope. BC skis with sidecut would set you up to make a few slow sweeping turns with a modicum of control. 

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

Is Back Country gear the same as Nordic Touring, as shown here for example: http://www.backcountry.com/nordic-touring ?

post #4 of 10

Using AT gear while everyone else is on XC skis would be like going on a trail run wearing heavy hiking boots while everyone else was wearing running shoes.  

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeff2010 View Post

Is Back Country gear the same as Nordic Touring, as shown here for example: http://www.backcountry.com/nordic-touring ?

 

Backcountry refers to almost any area away from a ski resort's boundaries, not so much to a specific type of equipment.  Alpine touring, telemark, and various cross-country (Nordic) set ups are often referred to as backcountry gear.  

post #5 of 10
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Lee View Post

Using AT gear while everyone else is on XC skis would be like going on a trail run wearing heavy hiking boots while everyone else was wearing running shoes.  

 

 

Backcountry refers to almost any area away from a ski resort's boundaries, not so much to a specific type of equipment.  Alpine touring, telemark, and various cross-country (Nordic) set ups are often referred to as backcountry gear.  

Thank you. I understand "backcountry" as a location reference, but regarding gear Lifer referred to a "BC (back country) set up. It's like CC (cross country) only beefier." Hence my question about the nature of that type of gear.

post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by neonorchid View Post

Here ya go, and never look back...good grief man you're in the Sierras drool.gif :

Thank you. Sadly, I am no longer in the Sierras. I grew up in California, but now live in Flatland (Maryland). My parents just moved to Albuquerque, however, so I want to get out to NM/CO more frequently.

post #8 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeff2010 View Post

Is Back Country gear the same as Nordic Touring, as shown here for example: http://www.backcountry.com/nordic-touring ?


Some of the equipment at the link you pasted is backcountry equipment.  Some of it is lighter duty touring gear.  Lifer's description is spot on.  Backcountry gear sounds ideal for what you do.  It's great for going through the woods on unmaintained trails, will give you more confidence descending hills, and, unless you're racing, is not much of a detriment in a groomed/tracked area (unless you get a really wide ski). 

 

The specific differences between touring and backcountry gear:

 

Boots: A little stiffer and warmer than regular touring boots.  Much more lateral stability to control the ski.  Within the backcountry category, there are variations, just like there are variations within categories of downhill equipment.  Some are really heavy duty, some aren't much beefier than a touring boot. 

http://www.akers-ski.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=ASI&Category_Code=bcboot

 

Bindings: These look essentially the same as their lighter touring/racing cousins, but are just a bit more solid.  The predominant touring binding type is called NNN (new nordic norm).  The backcountry version of it is usually called NNN BC.  It looks pretty much the same, but is a little more solid, and has better guides on the top of the ski to fit into the groove of the boot.  Though they are similar, NNN is not compatible with NNN BC.  The Rotefella NNN BC is probably the most common.  They also still make 3-pin bindings, which also are reliable and work well, though not as common in most backcountry equipment now.  I skied on a 3-pin for many years, until last season.  There are more boots available for NNN now.  The 3-pin boots tend to be more tele focused and heavier. 

http://www.akers-ski.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=ASI&Category_Code=bcbinding

 

Skis: Essentially the same as touring, but generally slightly wider and often with a full or partial metal edge.  I'm cheap and have been skiing on the same heavy metal edge ski for around 20 years.  I prefer waxable XC skis, since I feel it gives you a better kick and much better glide.  I often glide much faster on my clunkers in a groomed area than friends on rental no-wax (scalloped/fish scale) gear.  You just want a ski that's wide enough, and perhaps with a metal edge/sidecut to give you more confidence on hills.  The manufacturers have started making shorter, stiffer skis, that are easier to control.  Be attentive to the weight/size recommendation on the ski.  It is really important, so you flatten the camber just right to grip and glide.  http://www.akers-ski.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=ASI&Category_Code=bcskis

 

I've had good luck with mail order from Akers Ski based in Maine, though there are other good dealers whose names I can't remember now.  Akers knows their stuff and can help you pick something out appropriate. 

post #9 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeff2010 View Post

I am wondering whether it would be reasonable to bring alpine touring gear on a day trip where the others are using traditional XC skis. 

 

Sure. I have done this in the past when playing around with new gear or when avy danger has been high for extended periods but I wanted to get a work out. Not sure you will be able to keep up with people on XC skis, depends on terrain, specific gear used, your fitness and their lack of fitness.... Some XC skiing actually is substantially up and down mountains / hills. So its not like you won't necessarily be able to make turns... depending on where you are going. 

post #10 of 10

Back country means different things in alpine (downhill) and nordic (cross-country) settings. Bob Lee is right about the alpine skiing perspective. For folks in the nordic realm, ADKS's post is right on point.

 

I do quite a bit of cross country skiing every winter at my mountain cabin. All of it is basically bushwacking as there are no groomed tracks. After a season of struggling on an old set of classic (long and skinny) cross country touring skis, I switched to a back country set up a few years back. This set up is so much better for breaking trail and provides much more control on downhill glides. I even have some fun making sweeping turns on moderate downhill pitches. No way I could do anything like that on my classic gear. This is not to say that the control is anywhere close to what you would have with an Alpine or AT setup. I think my original point about 'beefy' cross country gear about sums it up.

 

My setup is a pair of Alpina boots and Fischer Rebound Crown skis. My skis have full metal edges and noticeable sidecut. I bought the boots at REI and the skis at Sierra Trading Post. You mentioned visiting your folks in ABQ. I know REI rents backcountry gear. 


Edited by lifer - 10/8/12 at 8:39am
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