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HELP! I need some serious guidance with buying ski gear. AT bindings vs regular downhill bindings

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

So here's my situation, 

 

I just bought LINE Soulmate 86s and MARKER Squire bindings to go with them. I just moved to Calgary and I'm looking to take skiing to the next level of difficulty. I've skied in the alpes, and with that got to experience a little bit of off piste skiing just on the sides of the groomed hills. But I am now being drawn into the excitement and challenge of back country skiing. Here's my question for you all: 

 

How should I begin exposing myself to back country skiing? And more specifically is the gear I just bought at all going to work for me? I was thinking of returning the MARKER Squires and buying some Alpine Terrain bindings but I'm not 100% sold on this because it's a lot of work and if I'm just gonna be going slightly off piste into the powder perhaps my MARKERs are good enough. Also I'm looking to buy new ski boots within the $100-200 range so nothing tooo fancy, but again perhaps you all have some recommendations if I want to start moving away from the groomed slopes. 

 

Literally any guidance on my situation would be super helpful and much appreciated. Thanks in advance!

 

Vic

post #2 of 11

What exactly are you trying to do? Backcountry is not the same at all as off-piste inbounds skiing at ski resorts. And $200 simply isn't enough for good new boots. You might run into some crazy online deal (not good for first-time boot buyer) or find some decent used boots (a big toss-up, especially if they had any custom work done).

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

I'm really interested in backcountry, but i've never done it before. I was hoping to find out whether or not off-piste inbounds would be a good first step to eventually doing back country? I just don't want to throw myself into a advance back country skiing experience without being confident that I'm good enough. Do i need to be experienced with off-piste inbounds before starting back country skiing? The confusion is real. 

post #4 of 11
Absolutely. At least learn to ski the various conditions in mostly-avalanche free inbounds before adding that into the mix. Here, by the way, you can do uphill skiing AT THE RESORT before heading out into more dangerous environs. There is plenty of tree skiing and even some uncontrolled side country. Practice your beacon skills at the area they've set up.

You should also start reading up on things like evaluating snow layers, etc.
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

What would you all have to say about Backcountry Access Alpine Trekker Adapters?

post #6 of 11
post #7 of 11

I wouldn't recommend the Alpine Trekkers. They are pointlessly heavy and sloppy on traverses. Everyone I know who bought them as a cost saving measure has come to regret the decision. If you are willing to exchange the Marker Squires for a more versatile binding you might want to take a look at the Marker Kingpin which is burly enough to be used in and out of the resort.

 

I agree with others who've said you won't find worthy new boots for $200. With luck you might find some used boots in that price range. Try looking at MEC's Online Gear Swap. http://www.mec.ca/AST/ContentPrimary/Community/GearSwap/Snowsports.jsp

 

Renting first would be a good idea.  In all likelihood the Mountain Equipment Co-op in Calgary will have a wide selection of rental gear.

 

There is a great deal of low angle/low avy risk terrain in Banff NP where you could easily try out gear safely without having to restrict yourself to the margins of a ski resort. Chic Scott's ski touring guide--Summits and Icefields 1: Alpine Ski Tours in the Canadian Rockies--is worth checking out if you are unfamiliar with the best backcountry routes. You might also consider hooking up with the Calgary section of Alpine Club of Canada. http://www.acccalgary.ca/ There you can find ski partners with a wealth of knowledge and experience to guide you through the early stages of your evolution as a backcountry skier. They also offer avalanche skills training courses.

post #8 of 11

That dummy Tecumseh recommended a binding--the Marker Kingpin--that requires a tech binding-compatible boot. Shows you how much he knows. Best the OP stick with frame bindings if he switches his Squires for a touring binding.

post #9 of 11

1st.  Look at all the bc skiing videos you can find on utube.

2nd. Look at all the avalanche videos you can find on utube.

3rd.  Buy a book on skiing in the backountry like Backcountry Skiing by Martin Volken et al. (Mountaineer Books).

4th.  Join a local club and go on supervised tours.

5th.  Take courses in bc travel, route finding, avalanche avoidance, survival skills, and rescue techniques.

 

BC skiing is multifaceted and requires a wide variety of equipment and skills.  Your gear is good enough for skiing just off the piste, nothing more.

 

Being properly equipped for real bc skiing will run several thousands of dollars: skis, boots, skins, poles, probe, beacon, pack, clothes, GPS, survival geart, etc. etc.

post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tecumseh View Post
 

I wouldn't recommend the Alpine Trekkers. They are pointlessly heavy and sloppy on traverses. Everyone I know who bought them as a cost saving measure has come to regret the decision. If you are willing to exchange the Marker Squires for a more versatile binding you might want to take a look at the Marker Kingpin which is burly enough to be used in and out of the resort.

 

...

 

 

I agree with all those points (I know, I started out with them - damn, I was happy to buy a tele setup), but I wouldn't say that they aren't without a very good point - you can definitely figure out if back country earning your turns is for you if you use them even for a few weekends. Lot easier to ebay the trekkers and recover some cash then some randonee or telemark setup (skis, boots, bindings) seems to me.

 

I guess if the OP wants to use his lock heel gear, can't he just get some snow shoes, transceiver, shovel, etc?

 

To the OP, if you want to prepare for back country while skiing at resorts, make sure you ski off piste as much as possible. It's not going to be even 50% the same - off piste gets skied up crud and bumps which you don't usually get out back - but it gets you into some of the variety of conditions you will encounter out back. Even resorts get breakable crust off piste. It doesn't have to be "black diamond" runs. Just prefer to ski crud to get your back country chops. stay off the groomers.

 

If you go back country by yourself, make sure you wear that transceiver and that it is on and transmitting. You want there to be some chance that your body will be recovered. I won't tell you "always ski with a buddy" because that would be hypocritical of me.

 

I will tell you like others have mentioned that you need to take avy classes. You need to learn how to safely move through avy terrain. You need to be equipped to survive a night out. Booting up to some peak and yahooing it down in your alpine gear is all good and fun if you are within seeing distance of your car, but going the next ridge over is a different ball game in the snow.

 

And just my opinion and only my experience of snow in the Sierra, spring time is the best time to learn back country. 

post #11 of 11

I live in Calgary too, and have just recently started to get into bc skiing. But I'm still just dabbling and, by no means am I am expert. First, I would definitely recommend becoming comfortable on all kinds of terrain inbounds. Both Lake Louise and Sunshine have a great variety of terrain that is 'off-piste' but 'inbounds' and you can encounter an amazing amount of different types of conditions at either of these resorts in one day. Everyone has always told me that the best way to prepare for BC skiing is to become a good skier on inbounds terrain. Of course, it's not the same, but learning how to deal with different conditions is key. BC skiing in Alberta is varied - everything from yes, powder, to chalk, to glacier travel etc etc... Secondly, get your AST 1 - the U of C outdoor centre has great classes, and a good number of them every winter season. You can do the AST 1 through the ACC and Yamnuska as well but the dates are much more limited. I can't stress the importance of avalanche training, especially here where we do get wild swings in temperature throughout the winter season, uneven snowfall sometimes and have a number of accidents every year. The (relatively) recent avalanche the group of skiers to Bow Hut encountered on their way up the headwall - they had injuries and fractures in the group and they had to stay overnight before rescue came - demonstrates just how important things like avy training, basic wilderness first aid as well knowing how to survive a cold night are. Once you have your AST 1, I would highly recommend doing an Intro to BC skiing class - both the U of C and the ACC offer great classes. Once you have a basic knowledge of reading terrain, avy conditions but with experiences bc skiers. They are a wealth of knowledge. The U of C, Mec as well as Gear Up in Canmore are great places to rent bc gear before you buy. As for conditioning, I also found that adding cross country skiing to my arsenal has really helped. I did a classic nordic class through the U of C, and have also done some light touring on xc skis in Kananaskis, Chickadee Valley etc. XC skiing is, I find a fantastic complement to downhill skiing that will prepare you physically for bc skiing. It was already mentioned here, but get Chic Scott's book. This will give you a good sense of what is out there. 

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