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Tele binding

post #1 of 45
Thread Starter 

I'm looking for a new way to get uphill and down. Telemark skis seem like the answer. ANyhow, just wanted to get some advice as I start to think about buying a new setup before this winter.

I'm a good (quite good) downhill skier that skis aggressively all over the mountain, catching air, blazing the steep and deep, and I love the trees. I'm 27 years old, 5'9", 145 lbs. I ski mostly around Tahoe these days, but venture to Colorado, Utah, Montana, and BC whenever I get a chance.

I'm looking for advice about gear I should look into, based on stuff that has worked well for ya'll. I seems to like the fit of the Black Diamond T2 boot. I like a secure binding. I like PHAT skis. I want to keep the setup as light as possible (I guess that is obvious). My main uses will be to ski fresh tracks where lifts don't go, and to be able to use when I go snow camping (I'm sick of snowshoes!).

I greatly appreciate any help/advice/info from those who know.

post #2 of 45

Tele Universe

You can get the low down(pun intended) @ http://www.telemarktalk.com/phpBB/in...f85a148c730616
post #3 of 45
Well, you didn't quite ask this question, but although telemark would indeed be a new way for you to get uphill and down, randonnee/alpine-touring would be the easiest way for you to get uphill and down - especially if you like a secure binding, and want to go as light as possible (via a Dynafit setup).
post #4 of 45
Randonnee, french for can't telemark. Check Slider's link, teletipsters can answer your questions 'till you're sorry you asked. T2 might be a bit light to power real big skis if you're beginner telemarker. Heavier boots will cost you on the uphill. If you like T2, maybe go with T2's and mid-fat tele ski to learn on, phat skis later if you decide you want them after you acquire basic skills.

Lots of discussion at Teletips on bindings (active vs. passive).I'm not feeling a need for active bindings, but most seem to like them. I think the most important feature is safety release. I use Voile CRB hardwires.
post #5 of 45
Originally Posted by telerod15
Randonnee, french for can't telemark.
Ah yes, what a fresh and clever retort!
Actually, the correct translation of randonnee is, no thanks, I'd rather not telemark, since that in turn is Norwegian for "wait for me" (since the tele binding creates so much resistance while skinning up, the tele boot bellows is so sketchy for kicking steps with crampons while climbing, the tele turn is inherently more prone to falls while skiing, and the tele binding breaks so often while doing just about anything).
But if the goal is to make telemark turns, then by all means get telemark gear.
But if the goal is to ski in the backcountry, then get the gear that is designed to do exactly that.
post #6 of 45
Originally Posted by Jonathan Shefftz
Ah yes, what a fresh and clever retort!
Actually, the correct translation of randonnee is, no thanks, I'd rather not telemark, since that in turn is Norwegian for "wait for me" (since the tele binding creates so much resistance while skinning up, the tele boot bellows is so sketchy for kicking steps with crampons while climbing, the tele turn is inherently more prone to falls while skiing, and the tele binding breaks so often while doing just about anything).
But if the goal is to make telemark turns, then by all means get telemark gear.
But if the goal is to ski in the backcountry, then get the gear that is designed to do exactly that.
Well put, Jonathan.


I, too, am wondering if you've considered AT and rejected it in favor of tele for some reason. There are a few legitimate reasons to consider tele (it's a good, stable turn in certain types of deep crud, it's great for traveling long ridgelines that combine small downs and predominant ups, it's an aesthetically "pretty" turn when done right by someone who knows how), but you've already got the skills you need to do the downhill turn if you use AT.

If you want to drive tele turns with big skis, you're most likely going to want a heavier boot than the T2 and you're going to want a pretty burly binding. At that point, you've probably got a rig that's at least as heavy as a medium-range AT setup.

Why not just put Fritschi Freerides on a pair of the phat skis you've already got and start hiking? If you hike a lot, you'd reach a point where you'd want to get some dedicated AT boots, but for the time being you could be up and running with a minimum of expense and no time spent learning a new turn. (You could spend that saved time improving your backcountry avalanche skills.: )

Good luck,

post #7 of 45
Well, we know John Shefftz can't telemark!

Tahooooe, if you want to have more fun, telemark. AT is easier, lighter, and more efficient.
post #8 of 45
It takes a certain kind of person for Tele.:
post #9 of 45
I suppose it is true that tele is more fun that AT in a mixed party, since the AT skier is often getting pretty bummed out waiting for his tele partners.
Otherwise, I've gone tele skiing a few times - the first time I did it, at a lift-served area, I was able to ski everything at the area, but then again it was Bolton Valley (very tame).
I'm willing to grant that there is something intriguing about a well-executed tele turn, but that still doesn't compare to the power and precision of a truly carved fixed-heel turn (especially for anyone with a modern racing background).
Plus in any ski mountaineering setting, tele bindings come with so many disadvantages, and so few can be fitted with ski crampons (though this is changing with the K2 platforms that can accept Dynafit crampons) and so few are releasable in avy terrain (which is barely changing).
However, if you're stuck frequently skiing a small unchallenging hill (say, Ski Liberty), then checking out tele to break up the same-old/same-old routine makes sense.
By contrast, if the goal is to skiing the steep terrain around Tahoe, as well as other big mountain western venues, and the type of turn is not the primary consideration, then tele gear is only going to hold you back and add to the inherent challenge.
The bottomline though is, if you want to tele, then by all means, tele. But the original post is almost all about backcountry skiing, with hints of ski mountaineering, in which case buy the gear that is designed precisely for that.
post #10 of 45
Tele gear is designed precisely for that.

Yes I did learn to tele and snowboard at Liberty to make it more interesting but if these forms had not come around, I would have continued to ski and love skiing, alpine never became boring to me and I'm challenged on any hill, any gear. Carving is the ski not binding, it's unusual but not difficult to carve clean tracks with slalom shaped skis and nordic bindings w big tele boot.

I never skied backcountry so I don't know Jack. I think I could skin with my set-up and descend a couloir. I would like to try backcountry but I'm not worried about crampons and the mountaineering part yet.

I'm sorry you found telemark too easy and telemarkers such a drag to ski with. Rest assured, I will never ski in a "mixed party".
post #11 of 45
Randonnee/alpine-touring gear is the only ski gear designed with a sole focus for backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering.
Tele gear is primarily designed to make tele turns (which is certainly an enjoyable activity for many skiers) -- this has the added benefit (as compared to alpine downhill gear) of also being able to be used for backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering, but the tele turn capability entails inevitable compromises. I am impressed that you appear to maintain otherwise yet simultaneously confess you have no first-hand experience in backcountry skiing?
Carving is theoretically possible I suppose with tele gear, but I've never seen anyone in person make tele turns significantly across the fall line that would meet the "carving" definition from my ski coaching days.
I never said I "found telemark too easy," but instead was just refuting the statement that "we know John [sic] Shefftz can't telemark." (I also have a heavy duty SNS BC setup - Solly Raid boots + Fischer Rebound skis - which can make telemark turns, but though the setup is mainly for touring, not turning.) I also never said telemarks are "such a drag to ski with" -- some of my best backcountry ski buddies are telemarkers. However, I wish I didn't have to wait up for them so much, wish I didn't have to cope with their nervous movements sans ski crampons, and sure hope they never get in an avy with their nonreleasable bindings.
post #12 of 45
AT is easier, lighter and more efficient, and doesn't entail inevitable compromises. I can carve, I use releasable bindings, I'm repeating myself. If I didn't telemark, I would enjoy fixed-heel skiing, it is certainly an enjoyable activity for many skiers. Peace, brother of the glisse!
post #13 of 45
Originally Posted by telerod15
Peace, brother of the glisse!
Amen to that - we must unite against our common enemy, snowboarders!

Actually, those split boards aren't *too* bad in the backcountry.
Maybe instead unite against backcountry snowmobilers - well, until we want to shorten an otherwise lengthy approach, or need a rescue, or . . .
post #14 of 45
Originally Posted by Jonathan Shefftz
Carving is theoretically possible I suppose with tele gear, but I've never seen anyone in person make tele turns significantly across the fall line that would meet the "carving" definition from my ski coaching days.
I can carve turns across the fall line that would meet you're definition of carving on telemark gear.

Last year I did not ski on alpine but maybe one day. I will admit though that I do not do many telemark specific turns on telemark gear. I do mostly alpine turns, even in big nasty icy moguls.

Here is my take on this. I think that AT is a better setup for pure back country skiing for the reasons that JS has stated. I don't have AT gear because I started 25 years ago on telemark and well, I've always done it that way and I am comfortable on telemark gear. I also own decent telemark gear.

Right now I need new alpine boots because mine alpine boots are stiff and are so different from my telemark boots that I cannot easily make the transition back and forth. I am considering buying AT boots and using them in Alpine bindings. I have seen a few ahole's doing this and it sure looks ok to me. I guess after a while that I will probably buy AT skis and bindings to replace my alpine gear as well.

I will keep my telemark gear as well. Its like owning a Harley. They ain't the best motorcycles but there is a whole culture and lifestyle built up around them.

And ahhh oh yeah. Randonee is short for can't tele as long as I am on tele gear at the time and that is just tough. Its part of the lifestyle to claim so.
post #15 of 45
Pierre, don't waste time w AT, life's too short. New Karhu 7tm tour addresses some of JS's concerns, a tour mode with pivot in front of boot like AT, safety release, ski crampon.
post #16 of 45

No lobotomy yet

Originally Posted by telerod15
Pierre, don't waste time w AT, life's too short. New Karhu 7tm tour addresses some of JS's concerns, a tour mode with pivot in front of boot like AT, safety release, ski crampon.
Now telerod, I can put down the tofu and ramen noodles long enough to acknowledge that there is some pretty good AT equipment out there right now. I am not abandoning my tele equipment. I am abandoning my downhill equipment.
post #17 of 45
As we can see you are very good downhill skier and (I think!) the best way for you is to switch to AT.
You have "downhill thrill" in your blood and you will push hard when you see steep, pristine slope. I am buying my stuff in the best store in Canada (MEC). They have new catalog for download if you like to compare prices and see line AT/Telemark line for 2004/2005. It's PDF file and link is here:
post #18 of 45
Dobrodošao, Zorane.
post #19 of 45
Oh damn, I can't believe I flamed AT again! I can't help it, sorry! OTOH, how many people need to tell our new friend Tahoooooe that he doesn't or shouldn't want to know anything about tele gear? He actually did ask about telemark equipment. Maybe he wants to telemark! Telemark is the preferred backcountry ski gear in USA. AT is popular in France! OH, there I go again! Well I hope Tahooooe found some answers at teletips.com, and also feels welcome here. I actually like this site more, it's a pretty cool group, sorry to be a flamer, sometimes the tofu does go to my head.

Pierre, you're right, the AT gear is pretty good. I'll probably get some AT boots when my Burton hard boots wear out. Hard boot snowboarder, hmmm, how french is that!? Bonjour!
post #20 of 45
Originally Posted by telerod15

Telemark is the preferred backcountry ski gear in USA...
Ummm, yeah....

I'm sure *someone* must prefer it.

post #21 of 45
BP, who me? I've never skied backcountry! AT is preferred in US too, by those who prefer it. I think AT is growing but telemark is still more popular for backcountry in US? Or not, I don't know, doesn't matter. Yeah I telemark when I get out there in mountains like Jackson Hole wow! but I only afforded it a few times and just went off piste and a little OB. It's beautiful how ever you like it, maybe if I had your experience in skiing I would need the power and control of fixed heel. I'm still a beginner compared to you.
post #22 of 45
Thread Starter 

AT / Tele Confusion

Thank you all for your insight! It was quite helpful in confusing me even more. I had been dealing with the AT vs. Tele battle in my head all summer, and finally thought that I had come to a decision to go ahead with a tele setup. Now I'm leaning back to the AT side of the fence.

Anyone have a good link to some AT info?
post #23 of 45
For AT info, skis are basically skis. The basic decision is whether you're willing to sacrifice a bit of performance (mainly having the ski deflected in crud and such) and get a lighter backcountry-specific ski, or take on some weight by mounting up any old random alpine downhill midfat or fat ski (as long as it doesn't come with any sort of pre-mounted plate, which unfortunately is a trend that works against such a setup these days).

For bindings, if this setup will be used purely for backcountry, hard to resist the lightweight lure of Dynafit. See www.wildsnow.com for most info available anywhere on the Dynafit (and lots of other useful stuff too.)

If a mix of lift-served and backcountry, and if you want to be able to use your alpine downhill boots w/ this setup, as well as have a bit more choice in AT boots (since a few models are still not Dynafit compatible), then either Fritschi Diamir or Naxo. Supposedly the complicated Naxo pivot makes a big touring difference with alpine downhill boots, and helps a bit with any boots going up moderate terrain, but is a drawback doing kick turns going up steep terrain.

If Naxo, then pay close attention to the wildsnow website on how to be sure you're getting this year's version - you definitely don't want last year's. If Diamir, then last year's is fine - mods for this year are pretty minor. If you can live with a DIN up to 10, then best price seems to be at e-omc.com , and if you need up to 10, then check out thebackcountry.com (north lake tahoe) or sports ltd (south tahoe, but the one at the Y, not the one closer to Heavenly). Also alpenglow is a good shop at tahoe. And in your hometown, Marmot Mountain Works.

Another interesting option is the new Silvretta Pure, which roughly splits the difference in weight between Fritschi/Naxo and Dynafit. Not too many reports from its first year in Europe last season.

Boots? General adage is get what fits, but with only a few brands, it's not like with alpine downhill boots...

Stiffest boot is the new dawg from Garmont: the Adrenalin comes with swappable AT/downhill boots soles, and the review in Backcountry Magazine (might be worth buying the latest issue, lots of good stuff in there) says it lives up to its stiffness billing. Kinda heavy though.
Next up is Scarpa Denali TT (the red successor to the previous blue XT).

After that are lots of good all-around boots:
Scarpa Matrix (slightly stiffer version of the old Laser, which is great on closeout deals, but be sure to get the 03-04 version w/ thermoflex liners, which save weight)
Dynafit TLT 700
Garmont MegaRide & GRide (latter is a bit stiffer, heavier, and lacks Dynafit interface)
Lowa Struktura Light (comes w/ a super-flexy tongue for touring, a stiffer tongue for turning, but lacks Dynafit interface)

Then some lighter boots that are more touring oriented:
Scarpa F1
Dynafit TLT4Pro and new Aero
Garmont MegaLite & Dynamite (latter is a bit stiffer)

(No matter what you do though, stay far away from Nordica TR series - walk/ski switch locks up only rearward flex when in ski mode, leading to absurdly soft forward flex when attempting to ski.)
Oh, and be sure to budget some $$ for avy gear, as well as a Level I course, plus the Tremper book. The Tahoe snowpack is relatively predictable and hence safe, but you still need to know what you're doing.
post #24 of 45
Jon- I have been interested in getting to the backcountry for some time now, but have yet to actually do it (got a pair of Trekkers last year really cheap as an introduction, but never was able to coordinate the time for an avy course- hope to this season. I did read Tremper's book, however). Do you have any information on the fit of all of those AT boots? Specifically, what ones should I be looking at if I have really narrow, low volume feet (I ski in Raichle Flexons with thermoflex liners now, which are pretty light and very narrow).
post #25 of 45
Kudos for you for reading the Tremper book in advance of taking a course! Even after having taking a Level 1 course and reading all the other books out there, Tremper's book got me so excited about further avy study that I took the Level 2 and 3 last season.

Anyway, unfortunately I'm not a good judge of AT boot fit, since with my C-width, low foot volume, and being used to my Nordica Dobermann for alpine downhill, *all* AT boots feel too bit for me. When I do come across other people's judgements on the fit of various AT boots (a subject unfortunately not covered in Couloir & Backcountry magazines), they're all over the map, with often directly contradictory opinions on some boots.
That said, a few things to note:
- within the Scarpa line, the Denali, Matrix/Laser/Magic, and F1 all use different lower shell molds, so if you try on one, another model from the same company might still fit you (i.e., don't write off the whole company right away);
- within Dynafit, ditto for 700 vs 4Pro/Aero;
- within Garmont, ditto for Adrenalin vs GRide/MegaRide/Dynamite/Megalite (and vs the discontinued GSM line);
- within Lowa, they're all basically the same shell.
(BTW, other models exist than the ones I mentioned in my previous post, but they're all economy versions, and if you want to save money, probably better to snag an old Laser or GSM on closeout special).
The other big item is that Intuition-made Thermoflex liners for Scarpa and Dynafit expand when heated/molded, so the fit is "tight" in the sense of not feeling any voids. However, it's kind of like getting into a bathtub and filling it with oatmeal - the Thermoflex liner is a bit squishy, as compared to say, an alpine plug boot. Then again, they're so warm and comfy and light that you might not care. (My original plan was to use my after-market Thermoflex liners only for big backcountry days, but they were so wonderfully warm, comfy, & light that I don't care that much about the squishiness, and the original liners are now gathering dust.)
By contrast, the Garmont G-Fit liner is much more thin & dense, and if anything contracts when headed/molded. So if the shell has too much volume to begin with, the fit is going to be sloppy. But if the shell is a good fit for you, the G-Fit liner will offer better performance.
Not quite sure what the Struktura liner is like - it became available only this past season in the "Light" version and took awhile to hit the stores. My hunch is that it's another Intuition product, although could be wrong.
Also, if you're going to get Diamirs or Naxos, might want to just keep your Flexons for the moment, since they're pretty good as alpine downhill boots go for backcountry use. That way you can check out friends' boots, and maybe wait until Feb/Mar when boots go on sale. (Either way, be sure to check out Neptune Mountaineering - amazing shop!)
post #26 of 45
The heck with AT and Tele. They are both inefficient and boring. I've just come up with a new device which I'm going to patent soon called the BC LAUNCHER. It consists of a lightweight cannon which will hold a single skier/rider plus their tool of preferance. The ignition system runs off a hydrogen/oxygen mixture ignited by a bic lighter. The recovery systems consists of a large net made out of tent screening material strung between four fixed poles at the top of the mountain. With this device, the ascent is even more exciting than the decent.
... the one thing I haven't worked out yet is how the first person will be shot to the top of the mountain each morning to set up the recovery system for the others... Oh, well, just a minor detail.

Look for this to be on the market soon at your local outdoor retailer.

For people who may find this a bit too abrupt way to start their day, I'm also coming up with a more laid-back version called the Med Zepplin. It's basically an ultra-light hot air balloon (made of space blanket mylar) which runs on, yes, you guessed it - Good Ole Raisins 'n Peanuts. It's ignited by a lightly glowing roach and it takes about half a baggy of gorp per 1000' vert. It carries only telemarkers*. It attaches directly to your climbing harness and with enough gorp and weed you won't have to come down unless you mindlessly inhale your igniter and munch down all your fuel.

*For $1000 more there's a snowboarder version with an emergency locator beacon to alert air traffic when they drift into airline flight paths.
post #27 of 45

Jonathan- it sounds like you and I have similar feet. What kind of AT boots did you buy? I actually have a spare pair of thermoflex liners (uncooked) that I got really cheap for exactly this purpose. It is amazing how light the Flexons are with them- I don't think that they weigh much more than most AT boots, but the ability to skin and climb in them sounds more than a bit limited! I was also hoping that AT boots might serve a double purpose for me as a plastic climbing boot, but everything that I have read suggests that they really don't do very well at that (too high, too stiff, etc).
post #28 of 45
I still ski on the Garmont GSM, but they are modified and tricked-out so much they don’t really resemble the original boot any longer. New AT boots keep getting better, but I keep improving these every year to keep pace - might have met my match with the new Scarpa Matrix though.

I stuffed my feet into a shell size 5mm smaller than my alpine plug boots, which already require lots of grinding in the toe box. So for these I had to grind & stretch them in the toe (which is tricky - not much excess in AT boots), then for the thermoflex liners I use c-clamps a couple times a season to compress the material in the toe to an absolute minimum. With the smaller size, the reasonably slender fit of the GSM shell, and the expansion foam of the thermoflex liner, the fit is good enough for backcountry skiing.

The lack of a walk/ski switch on the Flexons is probably going to be the biggest problem. The lack of a vibram sole will also be a problem for any sort of scrambling about on rocks, although vibram can be added on by a skilled cobler, and this was often done with Flexons back when all AT boots were really noodly. (My brother recently did this to a pair of Line alpine boots with a walk/ski switch that he found on eBay for $100 - this is now his setup for mixed lift-served/earned days at Kirkwood, with his Lasers reserved for true backcountry days.) Kind of a shame that Raichle, which made both the popular alpine downhill Flexon and the popular alpine touring Concordia, let both of them fall by the wayside - combining the best of both boots would have made a great rando freeride boot!

The only climbing I’ve done is with wimpy all-alu axe & crampons, but my understanding is that the lateral stiffness that is an absolute requirement in any ski boot is an inherent drawback for technical climbing. That said, the most popular ski boot among climbers (well, except for those who use the Silvretta 404 or 500 with their climbing boots) is the Dynafit TLT 4 Pro. The new Dynafit Aero might also be a good choice - seems to be based on the 4Pro. The MLT 4 takes the same lower shell but uses a climbing boot upper cuff - better for climbing, but really compromised for skiing. The TLT 4 Race is a stripped-down TLT 4 Pro that is intended for randonnee rally racing, but might be pretty good for climbing too. In the Garmont line, their various three-buckle models (i.e., MegaLite, Dynamite, G-Lite) might be decent choices.
post #29 of 45

I too thought long and hard about AT vs. Tele and eventually chose tele. I have not looked back since. Some things to consider regarding your choice:

- Don't believe the hogwash about AT getting up the slope faster. I have spent countless trips up the Wasatch and Uintas with 'mixed' groups. The clear leaders are those with the best lung power, not gear setup. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Conditioning rules supreme when skinning up significant ascents. It's like some guy on a shinny new 28lbs MTB that gets dusted by the well conditioned rider on a heavier bike.

- Tele is a MUCH more soulful way of skiing, if that is what you are into (I am). If I wanted to ski with a locked down heel, I would stay in a resort and ski IB. AT is somewhat more gnarly, but you can be plenty gnarly at a resort with plain alpine gear (especially the better Tahoe resorts). Tele is just plain cooler Look at all way cool locals, they all have tele gear. AT is for geeks that can’t drop knee to save their lives. I never see cool people on AT gear. Joking aside, it is a lifestyle thing too to some degree.

- Tele is cheaper to convert to. Tele boots & bindings (I hate when people call them ‘binders’) are far less expensive than AT gear. Upgrades are also fairly interchangeable with the older stuff.

So, for the love of god, do NOT choose AT equipment. You will just end up buying tele gear in a season anyway

post #30 of 45
This is obviously a troll by an AT skier mocking our tele brethren.
Really now, that just isn’t nice. Every point is completely illogical or factually incorrect. Even the most chauvinistic tele skiers don’t believe all that.
Just say no to trolling (and please don't feed the trolls).
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