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Backcountry Gear

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Well, it's official: I'm moving to Utah next fall. I'm going to Westminster College.

I would like to continue skiing, mostly in the backcountry of Alta (when I'm not racing).

I need to know what you need for backcountry trips. To start, I am also looking for a good powder ski - I'll take suggestions. Being an east coast skier, I really have no idea what I need to tackle the backcountry. So, if you could provide links or direct information, it would be most appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Best,
Chris
post #2 of 24
First find a partner who can keep you out of Danger and take you to the goods in your first few years. Invest in some good avalanch training too.
I use a pair of Bandit XXX mounted with Fritshi Freerides. They have been great for me. I also use G3 skins and a Garmont G-ride boot.

The XXX is an easy ski to attach skins to because of the old school pointy tip and the notched tail. The Fritshi binding works great inbounds too with your standard alpine boot.

Rent or purchase a beacon, shovel and probe set up. Practice with them.

Have fun.
post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 
I was planning to take the backcountry lessons at Alta. I'm pretty sure I saw them there...

Have you tried any other powder skis? Does the binding really matter on them? I have an old (2004), 3-10 binding just lying around.

Best,
Chris
post #4 of 24
The safety aspects can't be overstated, but equipment is pretty easy to understand. Regarding your old bindings, those will leave you postholing. Do some research on new or used AT bindings. Alpine touring (AT) bindings like Fritschi, Naxo work like the downhill binding you are used to, but they also allow the heel to be released for walking, or locked down for skiing. If you were to completely equip for backcountry you would be looking at skis, skins ($150), AT bindings ($400), avalanche beacon ($300), probe and shovel ($60-$100), Pack ($80), BC classes and guiding ($??). So easily over $1000 in investment without even talking about AT boots. You might be able to find used gear on Ebay, so keep your eyes open for a good deal.

There are a lot of BC skiers in Utah, especially at the schools and colleges. They will show you the ropes to a point, but you need to have some background and safety equipment. Not too many college students can afford to give ski partners a beacon, and not too many are willing to risk their lives on someone with no training or experience. You can learn a lot by skiing inbounds and working with instructors and patrollers that offer classes and training.
post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 
Re: Bindings

So, these are special bindings? I am guessing they require a special boot, yes?

What do you mean by skins?

I can afford the backcountry gear.

Best,
Chris
post #6 of 24
I completely agree.... Education is so important. Learn how to read the snow. Pay attention to the avalanche advisories. Never ski alone in the backcountry. Get good safety gear. If you don't have the gear and don't have the knowledge then don't go backcountry. No matter how good of a skier you are.

I bet there's a club at your school from which you can access knowledge and equipment. But by gawd, take an avy awareness course.
post #7 of 24
Some AT bindings like Fritschi and Naxo can accept a standard alpine boot, others like Dynafit require special boots. This is a picture of an AT binding:



That heel piece can be locked down to the bracket in back and this works just like the bindings you are used to, or you can walk. Some of the best articles on backcountry touring and equipment are on Wildsnow.com Telemarktips.com and telemarkski.com. There is also good stuff on the Telemark, AT & Backcountry topic area of this site. The articles there can get you past the basics. Since you are moving to Utah, your best bet is just to ski alpine and hook up with people using AT gear and ask questions. If you rush too fast into this, you will spend a lot of money, and not get what you want. Do some research and feel free to ask specific questions here.
post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 
OK, one more question (for now):

Is using AT bindings considered telemark skiing?

Best,
Chris
post #9 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bohemian
Re: Bindings

So, these are special bindings? I am guessing they require a special boot, yes?

What do you mean by skins?
Skins are what you put on the bottom of your skis so that you can walk uphill. They have a directional nylon nap that will slide (relatively) easily forward, but then the fibers grip and won't let the ski slide backwards when you put your weight on them. Skinning up to a BC descent is way easier than putting your skis on your pack and post-holing up. The alpine touring (AT) bindings release at the heel when you are hiking so that you can walk more easily. AT boots typically are lighter than Alpine boots, and also have a walk/ski mode to give more forward flex for the hike. They also usually have a Vibram style lugged sole that works better on ice covered rocks on ridge lines. Lately, Garmont and other companies have been marketing pretty beefy AT boots that don't give up a lot of stiffness when compared to Alpine boots, but they seem to be approaching the weight of Alpine gear as well.

Fritschi Freerides (which I own) and Naxos are bindings that will work with Alpine and AT boots, and seem to be gaining popularity for folks that want one pair of skis for both inbound and out of bounds skiing. Dynafit bindings are another AT choice; they tend to be used by mountaineering types and competitors in AT races. They're much lighter than the above and require Dynafit specific hardware on the boots. You can also buy AT specific skis (which tend to be lighter), but I mostly see mid-fat and fat alpine skis with AT bindings when I go out.

Couloir magazine runs a forum populated with more of the hard core AT/Telemark crowd that's worth checking out.
post #10 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bohemian
OK, one more question (for now):

Is using AT bindings considered telemark skiing?

Best,
Chris
No, AT gear demands the use of alpine (fixed heel) techniques. The telemark requires free heel bindings and compatible boots.
post #11 of 24
I use the Fritschi Freeride and have used my standard alpine boots for most inbounds skiing. I bought the Garmont Adrenaline AT boot in May, and got a really good deal. The AT boots have a rockered sole and a walk mode and area bit lighter. Compared to walking in Alpine boots, they are great, but I still wouldn't want to hike major miles in them. I have only been on those twice. So in answer to your question, you can use standard boots, specialty boots or both.

Alpine touring is downhill skiing with a locked heel. The only time you release the heel is for walking on the flat or uphill. When you need to go uphill, attaching skins give you traction. In fact I can climb any intermediate and most expert steepness without a traverse. Now, if I could just get into shape so I didn't wheez so much
post #12 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bohemian
Re: Bindings

So, these are special bindings? I am guessing they require a special boot, yes?

What do you mean by skins?

I can afford the backcountry gear.

Best,
Chris
I reccomend you get an alta/bird pass and spend the season getting a clue.
post #13 of 24
He's young...

hopefully not foolish.

Too many deaths in the backcountry due to foolishness and lack of prep and ed.

WE DON'T WAN'T TO READ ABOUT YOU AT AVY.ORG AS A CASUALTY. GOT IT KID?

Take avy ed courses, learn to read the snow, study study study....

An essential book you should read before the season begins:

Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain by Bruce Tremper.

Read it backwards forwards upside down and then practice what you learn on the mountain. And that's all before you go skiing in the bc.
post #14 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by ski nose popsicle
He's young...

hopefully not foolish.

Too many deaths in the backcountry due to foolishness and lack of prep and ed.

WE DON'T WAN'T TO READ ABOUT YOU AT AVY.ORG AS A CASUALTY. GOT IT KID?

Take avy ed courses, learn to read the snow, study study study....

An essential book you should read before the season begins:

Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain by Bruce Tremper.

Read it backwards forwards upside down and then practice what you learn on the mountain. And that's all before you go skiing in the bc.
This is why I think he should spend at least a season inbounds. Even Tremper's book assumes that the reader has some knowledge about the mountains. It is unlikely that he could relate the lessons on the pages to the real world. A season at alta would teach him some basic terminology, along with an understanding of basics like aspects, slope angles and "hands on" feel for different snow conditions.

For example, it's much easier to recognize hoar and hollow sounding snow if you have some basis to rely on.
post #15 of 24
Just reading a book and taking a class isnt going to teach you jack shit. Sure you will learn the basics, but not much else. The only way to become proficen and safe in backcountry travel to actually spend a shitload of time in the BS skiing with somebody that actually knows what there doing.

That being said, go buy a DTS tracker, a 6 meter or longer prob, and a shovel with a metal blade.
post #16 of 24
Zion gave you good advice. Ski Alta/'Bird for a season. Get used to skiing Utah pow. There are plenty of virgin stashes in bounds, beyond the gates, that will get you ready for a true backcountry experience. There are excellent, but uneducated, skiers who die in the Wasatch backcountry every year. Become familiar with the terrain, the equipment, the lingo, etc., before venturing out. It could mean all the difference in the world to you.
post #17 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bohemian
Well, it's official: I'm moving to Utah next fall. I'm going to Westminster College.

I would like to continue skiing, mostly in the backcountry of Alta (when I'm not racing).

I need to know what you need for backcountry trips. To start, I am also looking for a good powder ski - I'll take suggestions. Being an east coast skier, I really have no idea what I need to tackle the backcountry. So, if you could provide links or direct information, it would be most appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Best,
Chris
Better start saving now!! Gonna cost you some cash to do it safely!!! I was a poor college guy once too
post #18 of 24
I wholeheartedly agree bakerboy.
post #19 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bohemian
Well, it's official: I'm moving to Utah next fall. I'm going to Westminster College.

I would like to continue skiing, mostly in the backcountry of Alta (when I'm not racing).
Congrats. I just moved (back) to Utah myself. In fact, I live just a few blocks from Westminster.

Ski the "inbounds backcountry" areas at Alta first (Catherine's, Wildcat, Greeley, Devils and East Castle). It will teach you the terrain and feel of the mountain, and you don't even have to invest in special equipment.
post #20 of 24
Thread Starter 
All right, I will.

Thanks.

Best,
Chris
post #21 of 24
Bohemian, props to ya man for trying this thead on TGR. Thats great, you only got JONGed 6 times in the first page. Things went south by page 2, and you are going on page 4 now. Good information over there. Really enjoying the edumacation. http://www.tetongravity.com/forums/s...ad.php?t=35550

For an innocent bystander, you are the first person I know of to be moderated (twice) at TGR and have your post moved! That thread has got to be classic. Be sure to respond soon! It looks like they are waiting for you. ROFLAO (irul, nice post at #32)
post #22 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks. I did post. I bought the Rossi Scratch BC boards, but I still need a powder specific board. I was thinking Volkl Gotamas.

Best,
Chris
post #23 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Canyons
Zion gave you good advice. Ski Alta/'Bird for a season. Get used to skiing Utah pow. There are plenty of virgin stashes in bounds, beyond the gates, that will get you ready for a true backcountry experience. There are excellent, but uneducated, skiers who die in the Wasatch backcountry every year. Become familiar with the terrain, the equipment, the lingo, etc., before venturing out. It could mean all the difference in the world to you.

And don't forget that backcountry skiing is not just about powder. Spring corn is safer, and an easier environment to learn about your gear etc.
post #24 of 24
Spring Corn is one of my favorite snow surfaces.

Had an amazing corn snow day at Powder Mountain on a tuesday with noone at all there.

The melt refreeze had reset the entire coyabee canyon and inbounds backcountry smoothly.
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