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Randonnee Bindings on Alpine Ski

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Would it be A Big Mistake to put randonee bindings (such as the Fritschi Diamir Freerides or Naxo nx21) on a pair of skis that I'll be primarily using for lift serviced skiing? I'd like the option of doing some backcountry without needing dedicated bc skis.
post #2 of 22
I wouldn't say it would be a mistake, but you'd just have to realize the pro's and con's of the setup and ask yourself if you're cool with them.

Obviously, you know the pro's or you wouldn't be asking this question: You'd get a versatile set of boards that you bomb around the resort all day and then go lift-served OB and still have the ability to skin.

As for con's, if you're an aggresive skier, you might not like the "feel" of either the Naxo or the Fritschi as compared to a standard alpine binding. The rando bindings will have a little more flex than an alpine binding which might make them feel "sloppy" to you in certain situations. Some people notice it, others don't. I oftentimes bomb around the resort on a pair of Freerides on my Bro Model's and while I do happen to notice the flex, it doesn't bother me too much. I definitely dial it back a bit them when I'm skiing them inbounds: i.e. no hucking to hardpack or high-speed cruddy runouts, etc.

Also, the Naxo & Fritschi sit a little bit higher than a flat mounted alpine binding. So you might notice that you're a little higher on the ski than normal if you're used to running alpine bindings flat on the ski sans lifters.
post #3 of 22

sure, but...

No problem at all, but consider the weight of the ski- remember, you will be going UP with them as well as down. The other issue to consider is the release factors of the binding. Both of those bindings are excellent, but although their safety and reliability are very good, I think that most people will agree that they are not quite the same as a regular alpine binding. This has been discussed here before, I think, and has been discussed at www.couloirmag.com as well. Nevertheless, there are many people that use these as everyday lift-served bindings without any problems. If you don't really intend to do much BC climbing you can get a pair of Alpine Trekkers. They are certainly heavy compared with a true AT setup, and put you up a bit high off of the snow, but if you are not doing much climbing they may be just the ticket. Not only that , I just happen to have a pair in great shape that I am considering selling! (PM me if you are interested).

What boots will you be using? You will need to reset the bindings from AT to alpine boots each time (that was one of several factors that made me decide to invest in a separate AT setup). You will be able to skin in alpine boots, but unless they are Flexons, they will be much heavier than AT boots, and not as comfortable. Plus, if you have to climb in the boots, the soles are slippery and have no rocker, making it very difficult on rocky terrain.
post #4 of 22
i'm by no means an expert on the subject, but find myself in a similar situation. my buddies all Tele, but I don't want to go that route yet. but i have done some very minimal out-of-bounds skiing and love the fresh tracks. they encouraged me to mount AT bindings on one of the 5 pairs of skis i bought last season. the only real "problem" is that many alpine skis are quite a bit heavier than an AT or tele ski. as for my decision, i am looking at grabbing a pair of the PMGear Bros, however, and mounting ATs on them.

on a somewhat related topic, while demoing early last season, I tried a few tele/at skis and asked around a lot about mounting alpine bindings on AT skis (the opposite of what you are asking). most reps and shop techs said i could mount Alpine bindings on AT skis, but that they were considerably lighter. after trying a few pairs i found that I didn't like the lightness as much for predominantly resort skiing.
post #5 of 22

another thing-

Tyrone and I seem to have been reading your post simultaneously and thinking along the same lines. His post reminded me of another thing to consider. The ramp angle on most AT bindings is quite flat (the NX21 may be different, I am not sure, but I know my Freerides are). This feels different than my alpine bindings which have much more ramp angle (heel higher than toe)
post #6 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by dp View Post
Tyrone and I seem to have been reading your post simultaneously and thinking along the same lines. His post reminded me of another thing to consider. The ramp angle on most AT bindings is quite flat (the NX21 may be different, I am not sure, but I know my Freerides are). This feels different than my alpine bindings which have much more ramp angle (heel higher than toe)
ha yeah I noticed that to.

Good point on the ramp angle. Yeah, I hated the flat angle on my Freerides, so I actually mounted them without the rubbery shim under the toe. Feels a lot better (to me anyway), and although it might put me at a slight disadvantage when I'm skinning, I don't notice it too much. And I'm of the mindset that I don't mind suffering a bit more on the uphill, to be more comfortable on the downhill (lots of people are the opposite of this of course though)
post #7 of 22
Out of curiosity, would you recommend getting AT boots.

For example, I mentioned I am considering getting a pair of the Bros and mounting them with an AT binding. I was just gonna continue to use my Nordica Hot Rods and boot pack for those longer treks.

Sorry, hope i'm not totally hijacking the original thread...
post #8 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by dookey67 View Post
Out of curiosity, would you recommend getting AT boots.

For example, I mentioned I am considering getting a pair of the Bros and mounting them with an AT binding. I was just gonna continue to use my Nordica Hot Rods and boot pack for those longer treks.

Sorry, hope i'm not totally hijacking the original thread...
AT Boots...again it depends. You should ask yourself, what is more important to you? Is comfort, speed and lightness on the uphill more important than supreme control (and you could say comfort here too I guess) on the descent? How long will your tours be? Multi-day adventures? Or just accessing some side-country through a BC gate at a resort?

For me, as I stated above, I place more emphasis on the downhill portion than the uphill portion of touring, and thus, 90% of my BC tours are in my alpine boots. However, nearly all of my touring is simple day trips with less than 5000 vert elevation gain. And for these, I tour in my alpine boots and have no problem skinning and keeping up with my friends (well, most of them )

That being said, I do also own a pair of AT boots that I'll use for overnight trips and longer tours. I'll use them in the spring when I know I'm more likely to need to do some mixed climbing on rock. The vibram sole and and rockering in AT Boots is gold when scrambling on exposed, snow-less ridgelines. But I don't like the way most AT boots feel on the descent as oppossed to alpine boots (FWIW I use Garmont Adrenalines) since AT Boots are generally softer flexing and not quite as supportive as alpine boots.

So again, IMO it depends mostly on what kind of BC you'll be doing the most of, and what your personal preferences & tolerances are for uphill comfort vs. downhilll security.

One option perhaps is to just do a few day trips or lift-accessed tours in your alpine boots and see how it feels? You might be in a better position then to answer some of the questions in my first paragraph.
post #9 of 22
Cool, thanks.

Right now I've been doing minimal lift accessible runs that require minimal hiking/traversing to get to the untracked stuff. Did a 1/4 mountain semi-out-of-bounds hike at Alta that practically killed me between the Hot Rods and the weight of my Mantras on my shoulders, but the football length run I got was worth the pain/discomfort and got me itching for more. My tele buddies feel I'm ready to tackle some bigger stuff and have suggested I get an AT set-up and basically what you suggested, boot pack and see how much I really like it before plunking down on AT boots. Sounds like a good plan.
post #10 of 22
Something you may consider if you want an AT boot is something like the Garmont Adrenalin or its successor (something-in too), which are pretty as close to an alpine boot as you can go with an AT boot, and which will work with a non-AT binding too (exchangeable rubber/plastic toes and heels).

I have to say though that for lift-served backcountry and skinning, or even more serious skinning, you should do fine in alpine boots, unbuckled on the way up. I spent a full year touring day long trips with my alpine boots, G4s and Trekkers, and that was just fine (except for the height you are at on Trekkers: traverses become so much more fun!).

Another option people have suggested is a Dalbello boot which has some walk mode. But if you do true backcountry and then ski mountaineering, you will want a rubber sole: nothing gets your heart pumping like slipping on your hard plastic sole on rocks above any sort of exposure...

drC
post #11 of 22
I agree with everything that's been posted here about the boots and would add one other perhaps minor (although it was major for me) point. How much canting and custom bootfitting did you need in your alpine boots? I have very screwy feet and needed a lot of work on mine. AT boots are much harder to cant and alter compared to alpine boots (you can't plane the soles, for example, and depending on the boot and bootfitter you may need under-binding cants). Jeff Bergeron was able to do some great work on my Lowa Strukturas- they aren't as perfect as my alpine boots, but after a lot of work on his part I can actually ski in them now! This may be a consideration for you, too. I am at least lucky in being a real lightweight, so the softness of the AT boots doesn't matter as much for me.
post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dookey67 View Post
Out of curiosity, would you recommend getting AT boots.
...

Sorry, hope i'm not totally hijacking the original thread...
That was actually my next question.

My current boots are Nordica W8s (Sniagrab specials), I skiied in them all last winter and didn't have any complaints. I even did a fair amount of boot pack and postholing in them. I'd probably end up using them with AT bindings because I don't have the extra money to shell out for AT boots.

dookey: sounds like we're in the same situation - mostly hiking out of Alta (and the Canyons, in my case).
post #13 of 22
Yeah, sounds like we are in a similar sitch. I went mildly O/B in Alta, did a lot of backside at Alpine Meadows (I live in Cali), and tend to gravitate more toward off-piste these days. One of the guys I ski with the most is my old college roomie who lives in Truckee and is a tele fiend, so he drags me off into the untracked bowls most of the time where we do minimal hiking to reach the good runs. Another, this time out-of-state, ski buddy is also a tele fiend, but when we went to Utah together he was rocking an AT set-up on Black Diamond Havocs. Both of them dig skiing with me (and vice/versa since they challenge me) and started in with the urging of me getting, at the very least, an AT binding set-up on a pair of skis. That desire became stronger given the LONG season out here in Cali this past year and the number of cool hike-to runs available around Yosemite, Lassen, and Shasta, as well as Tahoe.

I think I will get an AT set-up on a pair of skis (the PM Bros have piqued my interest) and start out bootpacking (not exactly sure what postholing is other than how it applies to making fences).

post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by dookey6

I think I will get an AT set-up on a pair of skis (the PM Bros have piqued my interest) and start out bootpacking (not exactly sure what postholing is other than how it applies to making fences).

dookey -- I'm just curious what you mean when you say: "I will get an AT set-up on a pair of skis and start out bootpacking".

I mean you do realize you'll be able to skin in your alpine boots right if you get AT bindings?

I just mention it because you said something similar about bootpacking with AT bindings in a few of your posts.
post #15 of 22
I'm new to this whole BC thing, sorry. Bootpacking, if I am understanding correct, is hiking up in regular boots with your alpines in a pack, right? Several of the coulours that my buddies and I were eying this season would require that.

But yeah, I am also aware that if i get a pair of skis mounted with AT bindings that I can also skin in them.

Sorry for any confusion and setting me straight on all the proper terminology is much appreciated.

post #16 of 22
Bootpacking is just hiking up the snowpack in your boots- usually ski boots. Postholing occurs when bootpacking, and you break through the upper layer of snow (or in new powder) and you sink in , sometimes up to your hips. Very exhausting and not very much fun. If others have bootpacked the trail before you, there is a well packed "trail" in the snow for you to follow, so you don't sink in.

As Tyrone said, the whole point of the AT setup is to AVOID doing all of this stuff- you skin up with the bindings in climbing mode (heel unlatched) and skins on your skis. This is not only much less effort and faster, but the skis let you float on the snow so you don't posthole. On top you peel off your skins, latch down your heels and go.
post #17 of 22
Gracias!

Then I have actually already bootpacked and postholed to a degree (at Alta, Kirkwood, and Alpine).

post #18 of 22
I put naxo's on a second pair of skis and have done lift skiing with them. They work ok. First I noticed that my foot was higher up off the ski. However, I have decided to keep to my regular downhill binding for most lift skiing. I just feel a little more confident. Mostly, I don't want to put the wear and tear on the Naxo's.

Backcountry skiing is mostly hiking up and getting a free ride down. The usage on bindings is a lot less than for lift skiing.

I have noticed that really hard core bc skiers use much lighter bindings that wouldn't be too appropriate for rugged lift skiing.

Also, early on, I got some $180 alpine trekkers, clip in adapters, that fit into regular alpine bindings. When you are ready to ski, they are removed and stuffed into the backpack. If you want to do a limited amount of skinning this is an option. The biggest advantage is you can skin and ski in bindings that you are used to.

One point of discussion is how much twist occurs in AT bindings. Actually, when I checked it out, I noticed some twist in my regular alpine bindings also. So, for me that is not much of an issue.

Naxo has a trend of beefing up their new bindings. So I would be tempted to get the beefiest Naxo's as the all in one setup. Because of Naxo's configuration, the forward binding more closely resembles an alpine release than other AT types.

It is a fine feeling to skin up your regular ski slope on a blue sky day after ski season and have the whole run to yourself.
post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 
I decided to go the Alpine Trekker route. It's considerably cheaper than buying a pair of AT bindings/boots, and I probably won't do enough back country this winter to justify buying a dedicated setup.

Thanks to everyone for the feedback and advice.
post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by kris247 View Post
I decided to go the Alpine Trekker route. It's considerably cheaper than buying a pair of AT bindings/boots, and I probably won't do enough back country this winter to justify buying a dedicated setup.

Thanks to everyone for the feedback and advice.
Good way to get into it.

I went the other way and figured out that I hate AT bindings (well at least freerides). Not sure if it's the slop, the height or no ramp angle or all 3 - but skis just feel so darn loose underfoot. I just find if I drive a ski at all in my normal way with the freerides they just slide out on me with no control (like I'm totally overpowering them). Other people don't notice this though, which makes me think I'm more sensitive to the ramp angle thing (probably due to my rediculously long legs).


HEY DOOKEY!! I'll be skiing at Squaw, Rose and occasionally Kirkwood this winter if you want to give my AT setup a test drive. I've got freerides on 188 soft bros - my bros are REALLY SOFT and easy to ski so don't be afraid of the length. My wife has freerides on 171 Rossi Sickbirds (same as the scratch BC) too if you want to try those.
post #21 of 22
Kris247 - Salt Lake City is the best..... for avalanches...

Don't forget avalanche avoidance training, partner, beacon, shovel and probe.
post #22 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruxpercnd View Post
Kris247 - Salt Lake City is the best..... for avalanches...

Don't forget avalanche avoidance training, partner, beacon, shovel and probe.
Yep. I have most of the equipment already (still need a probe, but I'll pick that up at the UAC fundraiser).

I've been through Bruce Tremper's book a few times, and I'm looking forward to taking classes as soon as the UAC publishes their new schedule.

All that's missing is someone who's willing to go up with a gaper like me.
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