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Telemark or Randonnee?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hi, I'm an alpine skier (advanced - expert) and mountaineer (rock, snow, ice) looking to get into serious backcountry skiing. So should I be buying Randonnee or Telemark gear? What are the pros / cons of each?

The set of issues I'm thinking about :

1. Randonnee seems closer to alpine skiing in terms of technique, so I won't need to re-learn telemark technique.
2. Apparently Tele skis are much easier to use for sninning uphill as compared to Randonnee. Is this true?
3. For the steeper ascents, Randonnee boots can take crampons whereas tele boots cannot.

I think I'm leaning toward Randonnee, but I want to hear opinions from the gurus on this forum first. Also, any suggestions on boots / skis / bindings.

thanks!
--Zott.
post #2 of 12
Since I do not tele myself I cannot compare in a fair manner, but there are separate tele forums where you can get any answers about anything like boot/crampon combos and stuff.

I do randonee and from what I observed so far it seems to suit somewhat better to very steep and icy conditions if that's what you are doing too. OTOH the tele gear is definitely lighter. Basically it comes down to personal preferrence and style, you can go either way. But you are definitely right about your point under 1.

I think LeeLau from this board does both, maybe PM him.
post #3 of 12
I tele and rondanee in the backcountry. Tele skis do not skin uphill more easily than rondanee, the hinge point on the rondanee bindings actually works a little better. The real issue is the weight of the boot, binding, ski combo, which can be lighter with either setup depending on what you buy.

Bottom line, if you are going to get into serious backcountry skiing as far as variable conditions and skiing with a good size pack, it will take you years to get totally comfortable on tele skis, as opposed to being able to do it tomorrow on rondanee if you are already a good alpine skier. In addition, I believe that you are correct on the crampon incompatibility with tele boots.
post #4 of 12
I am pretty sure that BD Sabretooths (rapidfix) will fit most tele boots, but, of course you need to try them to be sure.
post #5 of 12
BD Sabretooths, hmm, them's the ones with the long heel lever that can block the walk/ski switch on low-cut rando boots. As dp says, try before you buy, or even borrow your buddy's.
post #6 of 12
I don't ski fixed heel or OB (much) but I understand randonee out performs free heel gear skinning and downhill. The only negative I know of is that it limits the kinds of turns you can make. You can not telemark on rando gear but you can make good parallel turns on modern telemark equipment. I have skied with a guy who did 99% parallel turns. Although he could make expert alpine turns without heel binding*, he still split his ski time between alpine and nordic gear. I think because fixed heel is easier on the body even in parallel mode, he had a bad back, though it didn't stop him from rocking a competition bump run several times after the contest, free heel, alpine turns. Go figure...

I would not get a telemark set-up solely to ski backcountry. Rando will get you there and back a lot easier and faster. Most skiers can ski steeper slopes and deeper snow with fixed heels. Telemark is more demanding, more fun, better exercise...

*heel binding, sounds like something done to chinese girls to deform their feet. Ill fitting alpine ski boots did deform my feet, but that's another story...
post #7 of 12
I don't tele, so I can't give you a full comparison. But if you say you are coming from an alpine background with mountaineering skills, then rando is probably the quickest and easiest way to get into backcountry. The weight of rando gear is coming down (see Dynafits) and I have heard of people using tele skis with rando bindings. I am not sure about the whole tele boot/crampon bit, but my ski mountaineering boots take a set of Petzls quite nicely.

Both have some pluses and minuses, I would say go with what you feel most comfortable with.

M.
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
Folks, thanks for all the good tips, I guess it's going to be Randonnee for me, at least as a start.
So is skiing randonnee downhill just like skiing downhill alpine? Is the binding as strong or is one supposed to ski much more gently? I know one needs to be very cautious anyways in the backcountry :, so aggressive skiing is out of the question, but could I, for example, ski in a resort on randonnee and do the same aggressive stuff as with an alpine ski? What about the binding release - is that pretty sophisticated as with an alpine binding?

thanks again,
--Zott
post #9 of 12
Quote:
So is skiing randonnee downhill just like skiing downhill alpine?
yes, there is no difference.
Quote:
Is the binding as strong or is one supposed to ski much more gently?
the bindings are close, but not quite as strong and durable as modern alpine bindings. i wouldn't ski differently on randonnee, except if i bring my rando gear to a ski area, i try to stay off the groomed trails. rando binding has a slightly increased chance of breaking when you don't want it to, so a few spare parts wouldn't hurt if you're planning a big trip.
Quote:
I know one needs to be very cautious anyways in the backcountry , so aggressive skiing is out of the question, but could I, for example, ski in a resort on randonnee and do the same aggressive stuff as with an alpine ski?
how are you defining aggressive skiing? people regularly use rando gear to access and ski steep couloirs 50+ degrees. most rando bindings aren't recommended for hucking 50 foot drops or what not, but for aggressive turns on a steep pitch, i haven't experienced any problems.
Quote:
What about the binding release - is that pretty sophisticated as with an alpine binding?
pretty close. on the recommended DIN on my freerides, i was actually prereleasing a bit, but an extra .5-1 increase fixed that. the release worked fine for me and hasn't damaged the binding yet.

over all, alpine bindings do have better performance than the rando bindings. rando bindings are designed for being light weight as possible, so are not quite at the same level. but they are close enough that most alpine skiers will not notice much if any difference. some people complain about a little "play" in the binding, which i noticed only when the boots were not on my feet and i locked them down, but haven't noticed while skiing. all this perspective is from only having skied a freeride binding in the rando catagory, other folks, especially with the dynafits i would guess, may have another perspective?
post #10 of 12
Just to slightly expand on rivercOil's excellent comments, I think you'll find that an awful lot of *very* aggressive skiers are making randonnee bindings their primary alpine skiing binding. Zott, your definition of "aggressive" skiing may be way off the charts, but I've seen some SERIOUSLY aggro skiing done on Freerides and Naxo's.

Personally, I ski primarily on Fritschi Freerides. I feel absolutely confident in those bindings, both for retention and for release, in almost any skiing situation I've encountered. I've even done quite a lot of bump skiing with them and they seem to work absolutely fine. Probably the only type of skiing where I'd have second thoughts would be hard-charging, high-angle carving on hard groomed runs at high speed. I'm not sure the shock absorption of a Freeride or Naxo is really up to that kind of skiing.

Also, just an aside on Dynafit randonnee bindings. I have never heard a single firsthand account of a mechanical failure of a Dynafit binding (unlike Fritschis or Naxos). They are so simple that they seem to be utterly bombproof. My Dynafit complaint (I do have a pair that I ski relatively often) has to do with my own bumblefootedness. Even after many years, I have a hard time lining up my boot toe with the little prongs on the binding. That's just me - a lot of hardcore backcountry skiers absolutely swear by Dynafits, so don't rule them out.

Bob
post #11 of 12
zott - if you've got a mountaineering and alpine skiing background then absolutely stick to rando gear. There's some very good tele'ers who ski-mountaineer and go into hairy stuff but my experience is that tele gear is a compromise in those situations. Again, there'll be a lot of debate about this but that's just my opinion. If you want me to type more then I can but I will also ask you to look at www.telemarktips.com for a different viewpoint. Modern AT/rando gear is very very good.

I use Fritschi Diarmir II's, Fritschi Freerides for AT/rando and G3 bindings for tele.

I stick with Fritschi and G3 because they're very serviceable in the field and I am familiar with them. Bob Peter's advice on this is also spot-on
post #12 of 12

Wildsnow.com

Also try Wildsnow.com
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