Originally Posted by sbpark
First, I'd like to thank you for taking the time to write such a great reply, and you address some great points, and I'll do my best to answer your questions.
1. I enjoy snowboarding because it's just fun making turns on a board. I'm no speed demon or park person, I just like being in a nice place and in a visually awesome setting and making fun turns, love powder, and the occasional run through the trees as well. The main reason I want to change gear, and transition from boarding to skiing is versatility and accessibility. I hate crowds, and really want to work toward getting into the backcountry for touring, hut trips and eventually some fun descents. I prefer quality over quantity, meaning that I'd rather spend the day in the back country skinning to get one super fun run in, than spend the day in lift lines at a crowded resort. I personally think split boards are stupid and a big hassle, and don't see the attraction personally. All that work just to have a snowboard in the backcountry, when it's much more practical and efficient on skis. I had been an ice climber and alpine climber for years, and always wanted to learn how to ski to make approaches easier and quicker as well. It just seems like skiing is the more obvious choice over snowboarding if your goal is touring and getting into the backcountry. It sounds like you are a relaxed kind of snowboarder, not driven by competition nor ambition to achieve glory on snow. You enjoy relaxed sliding on snow and being outdoors, so have boarded for years with that goal. But you want to get off the commercial mountain and do hut trips in the backcountry that you are already familiar with from your climbing. You don't want to walk up with a snowboard on your back - too much work. You want to get up by skinning, with the least pain and stress possible. That's all good. This approach pretty much eliminates tele; too much aerobic drain on the system when going downhill. Others may disagree, but I've spoken with tele skiers and I know they get drained and stop earlier than their equally fit alpine skiers. If you aren't aiming for exceptional skills, but instead looking for a relaxed way to have fun in the backcountry, i expect you'll find tele draining. Choose AT.
2. What bores me with alpine turns? I dunno, I just think snowboard and tele turns are more visually pleasing to my eye is all. Alpine turns seem very stressful and akward, while snoboarding seems more graceful and intuitive (coming from a surfing and skating background), and although tele turns don't seem to be intuitive in my mind, they are still graceful (when done properly). I'm never really impressed by the alpine skier who bombs down the hill making super quick turns, just to see how fast they can get down the hill. That's not my style (but this could also be said for tele skiers and snowboarders I guess!). When the conditions get steep and gnarly I'm impressed by anyone, regardless of what they are on; board, tele, AT or alpine set ups, as long as they do it with style and it looks good. Alpine turns are not stressful nor awkward once you know what you are doing. To explore the backcountry on skis, you'll need to get pretty good at skiing, so your learning curve will move through that awkward stage you're describing and beyond it. Being a snowboarder of many years will certainly speed your learning. As a mature adult learning to ski however, not a young kid learning by default while just having fun, you'll be painfully aware of your shortcomings, exuberant when you have those rare breakthroughs, and frustrated/impatient when your'e stuck on a plateau. Most of the learning curve resides on plateaus. If you aren't up for that emotional roller coaster, well, it ain't gonna happen in just one season for sure. But you can still do it; it will take longer, that's all.
3. I'm in Colorado, so I'm guessing that it would be a little easier to get tele lessons out here, but obviously not as easy at AT/alpine lessons.
4. I work three days a week (full-time hours, some weekends, which means I have a lot of days off during the week) and have 4 days off a week. I have an Epic pass and plan on getting out as much as I can. I live in Denver, but have places to stay up in Summit County, so that makes things even easier. I am also considering picking up a set of cross country skis just to mix it up on days I want a change or to get a workout early in the morning or to avoid crowds. If you end up skiing 4 days a week next season, that will amount to a nice amount of time to build skills on skis. If you concentrate your focus for most of those days on learning to ski on two planks with heels locked, riding up a lift and skiing down with a focus on learning, with instruction from a competent instructor guiding you, you'll learn to ski in one season. Then you can take that pack of skills the next season to the backcountry, if you also take backcountry avalanche training first and learn to be humble in the presence of avalanche danger. But doing some cross-country skiing, and doing some ice climbing, and doing some other stuff on those precious days off will slow your progress; it might take more than one season if you diversify your pleasures and put fun first rather than personal improvement. Actually, personal improvement can be fun too.
Thanks again for the awesome reply!
My advice is that you need to rent good alpine skis for the season. Buy AT boots from a very competent bootfitter and get them custom-fitted; spend $$ on this (a lot of $$). Dedicate another chunk of $$ for lessons in alpine skiing, and take learning seriously. Take lessons, do the drills on your own, and go back and take more lessons when you hit a wall or when you can't break out of one of those predictable plateaus. Repeat as necessary, as if you were training for a competition the following year. The next season take avalanche training and buy the AT skis and bindings. Refresh your skills on piste early season before heading out back. Forget tele.