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how to choose a randonee ski?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I've always just skiied with the lifts on alpine gear but I am looking to combine my two main hobbies (mountaineering and skiing) in an alpine touring setup.

As for boots, I have very few choices as only Scarpa makes them in the size I need (big feet). Scarpa AT boots fit both Dynafit and normal bindings so I can decide that later but with some of the sales going now I was thinking about getting some skis. Problem is nobody near me has even heard of alpine touring let alone stock any of it.

I weigh 180lbs but factor in also that I'd likely have as much as 50lbs of gear on my back... What do I need to look at for length/width to have them be usable on the uphills and ski well on the downhills?

Right now I am skiing on 170cm alpine skis with a 106/73/113 profile.
post #2 of 20
Backcountry skiing is a special experience if you have friends who go and have the training and equipment to minimize risks. Any alpine ski that will accept AT bindings is fine for backcountry use. Different weights, widths and skiing characteristics all play in to the choice as well as whether you are skiing mainly in the east or in the western mountains. Do you need an ultra-light setup for long approaches? Are you going to be skinning in deep powder snow, or are you going to be booting up wind-blasted rime?

Bottom line is many skis will work, and many skis sold for alpine touring have an equivalent alpine downhill model tha is only different in graphics; but we dont know much about your skiing needs.
post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 
I would mostly be in the Washington Cascades... like Rainier type stuff.
post #4 of 20
Boots, get a boot that fits. I bet that Garmont also makes large sizes. If you are really interested in combining skiing and mountaineering, consider getting a lighter set-up. It will really help on the ascents. Iā€™d also look for boots that fit Dynafit bindings. These binding are a bit finicky, but they are solid and light. I commonly with a 25 lb pack, but 50 lbs ā€“ good luck. For lighter skis, check out skis that are ~ 85-90 cm wide. These skis offer a compromise between weight (say 6.75 to 8.0 lbs) and performance. Length ā€“ with modern well-designed skis, unless you are looking for big jumps or high speed, go relatively shorter. One other comment, I assume that you have had some avalanche education (e.g., Level 1 class) and the associated equipment. Have fun.
post #5 of 20
50 lbs on your back? Yikes! That doesn't sound like fun. You need to invest in lightweight gear. Light boots, too, if you're planning on mountaineering in them as well as skiing. You have to get up it to ski down it.
post #6 of 20
Iam in the same situation. Have a pair of old K2's bought @ 1995 when the smaller parabolics were coming about. Size is 193, i weigh 195lbs. Looking to remove my downhill bindings and put AT's on. I wear a leather mountaineering boot. Will AT bindings accept my boot? How do is size skins for these older pair of skis?
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by raspritz View Post
50 lbs on your back? Yikes! That doesn't sound like fun. You need to invest in lightweight gear. Light boots, too, if you're planning on mountaineering in them as well as skiing. You have to get up it to ski down it.
50lbs is a fairly light load for a multiday winter mountaineering trip by the time you factor in all your personal gear, part of a tent, food for 3-5 days, fuel for cooking and melting water, crampons, rope, etc. For a guy who is 6'3", a 50lb pack is not much. For a denali trip, you're looking at a total individual load of around 90lbs, some of which is going to be on a sled.
post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by nhluhr View Post
50lbs is a fairly light load for a multiday winter mountaineering trip by the time you factor in all your personal gear, part of a tent, food for 3-5 days, fuel for cooking and melting water, crampons, rope, etc. For a guy who is 6'3", a 50lb pack is not much. For a denali trip, you're looking at a total individual load of around 90lbs, some of which is going to be on a sled.
I respectfully disagree. I do this stuff too, including Denali, and 50 lbs. is not a light load. A 7.5 or 8.0 mm rope, superlight crampons, superlight axe, superlight 'biners, slimmed down alpine rack, superlight shovel, superlight pack, Bibler I-tent, lightweight headlamp, etc. might easily trim 20 pounds off that 50. Details matter.
post #9 of 20

Light weight gear

This guy is all about ultralight!

http://www.promountainsports.com/
post #10 of 20
OK, back to your original question about skis and boots. You never mentioned what size boots that are required. I'd look for a store that specializes in backcountry skiing, so you can look around and try boots on and check out skis.

Consider Scarpa Spirit 4 or Garmont Radium boots or even try a Dynafit zzero 4 pu. These are very good lightweight backcountry boots. Given you weight and size of pack, here are a few suggestions for skis - not the lightest, but still nice for touring. K2 Mt. Baker or BD Kilowatt. G3 makes some nice skis, but I have little experience with these skis. I limited my suggestions to straight tail skis.
post #11 of 20
If you're going to be skiing the cascades I'm surprised nobody around you has heard of AT. The cascades have the largest population of year round skiers in the country, in large part due to the accessibility and diversity of the mountains. Even in September, there's a regular line of skiers climbing to the Muir or the Coleman.

There are several shops you could go to for good advice and fitting. Glacier Ski Shop near Baker, Pro Ski Services in North Bend, Marmot in Bellevue or Pro ski Services in Seattle.

I would also look at www.turns-all-year.com or www.telemarktips.com for more targeted advice.

My criteria for a randonee ski are: light, stiff, fairly straight. I have fat skis mounted for winter use and narrower skis for summer use. My fat skis are a 180cm Big Stix 106. The extra flotation of the width is as much of an advantage climbing or on flats as it is descending. My summer skis are usually a rock ski I have otherwise retired from my quiver. Currently an AK Launcher in a 180cm.
post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 
I don't live in the cascades...
post #13 of 20

skis

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry_Morgan View Post
If you're going to be skiing the cascades I'm surprised nobody around you has heard of AT. The cascades have the largest population of year round skiers in the country, in large part due to the accessibility and diversity of the mountains. Even in September, there's a regular line of skiers climbing to the Muir or the Coleman.

There are several shops you could go to for good advice and fitting. Glacier Ski Shop near Baker, Pro Ski Services in North Bend, Marmot in Bellevue or Pro ski Services in Seattle.

I would also look at www.turns-all-year.com or www.telemarktips.com for more targeted advice.

My criteria for a randonee ski are: light, stiff, fairly straight. I have fat skis mounted for winter use and narrower skis for summer use. My fat skis are a 180cm Big Stix 106. The extra flotation of the width is as much of an advantage climbing or on flats as it is descending. My summer skis are usually a rock ski I have otherwise retired from my quiver. Currently an AK Launcher in a 180cm.
Harry, am I right in assuming: Wider skis in winter for powder in BC? Narrower poss rock skis in summer, late spring for what kind of snow? Hazards i.e. rocks etc. ? I think I know the answers but woould rather not guess and appreciate listening to someone who has been there. Thanks Pete
post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 
Harry_Morgan,

just curious how tall you are and what you weigh? what is your skiing style?
post #15 of 20
Quote:
Harry, am I right in assuming: Wider skis in winter for powder in BC? Narrower poss rock skis in summer, late spring for what kind of snow? Hazards i.e. rocks etc. ? I think I know the answers but woould rather not guess and appreciate listening to someone who has been there. Thanks Pete
Ski touring with lots of up-hill and downhill, I find that light skis and boots work best. Its just less stuff to carry. A wide ski certainly skis great in deep powder, its just that wide touring skis are just too heavy. Skis that are between 84-90 mm are fine for most B/C skiing. With variable B/C conditions, I am probably in the minority, but I just stick with a single pair of 88mm skis with dynafit bindings.

Rocks are perhaps more common in early season, by the time spring time comes - most areas are filled in or you can see the rocks melting out. Does this help?
post #16 of 20
After years of backcountry skiing (both tele and AT) I have come to the point where I only buy used skis. Between rocky chutes, creek crossings, walking over logs, and just hitting stuff under the snow I can't see any reason to have real nice skis with razor sharp edges. Except for late spring skiing and the occasional odd situation, you are not going to be on hard snow (at least that's not what I'm looking for when I hike for turns), so you don't need pristine bottoms or edges, and that way when you do hit the inevitable rock, it won't matter so much. The key is to keep your skis waxed so that your skin glue will not stick to your bottoms.

I am a big guy and use 84mm waisted skis. My next pair of AT skis will probably be a little wider, but between the weight of the skis and wider skins, I don't see myself going much above 95mm. It's all about the skiing, but you spend 85% of your time climbing, so light is always better.

P.S. A ski with a rockered tip will make breaking trail easier, and give you quicker turns in the tight spots.
post #17 of 20
I'm 5'9" and weigh 180. I ski mostly skis in the 180cm range, because that is what I'm most comfortable on.

As far as wide skis being heavier - yes that is true. However, much of my "winter" touring can include very deep snowfall, and deep trailbreaking. Flotation is a big big plus there. If I'm not trying to break trail through 3' of new, I can downsize to the launchers.

The AK Launchers are probably a bit heavy as well, for what they need to do, but it's a ski I like and they're fairly indestructible. Spring/ summer use, I like a ski with good edge hold but enough width to handle variable cascade conditions. I've skied heavy new snow in late June. I prefer to use a ski I am not worried about wrecking in the summer as well - even on the glaciers there is often surface rock brought down from above.

My ideal spring/summer touring ski would be a midfat, about 84mm, moderately stiff, radius of 25m+, light in about a 170cm length. The 180cm are longer than I need for 'most' late spring conditions. The exception being those heavy snowfall days.

I just put together an IM88 in 164cm with freerides for a friend. He opted for shorter than I would go, but many people do. One of my other partners uses an Atomic randonee ski in a ridiculously short length with dynafit lights - he's willing to give up more on the downhills to carry less on the uphills.
post #18 of 20
I live in the Seattle area, and I too am considering joining the ranks of BC skier. I know I have a bit of work to do in terms of learning both the theoretical and practical aspects of avalanche science, actually, the avoidance thereof, but I am also starting to think about equipment.

I would probably start with more of a side-country emphasis so widest applicability will probably be more important than lightest weight for climbing. Since I already have a stiffer and heavier alpine ski (Dynastar Legend 8000), I was hoping to get a lighter and wider ski that I could use for BC as well as those times that I head to meet friends in Utah or Colorado with their light fluffy snow (as opposed to the PNW "whole-grain goodness" snow, ie heavy). One ski I have been thinking about is the Watea 84 (maybe 94) with either the Duke or Baron binding. I know that for climbing and frequent switching from one mode to another that the bindings will be heavy and a pain, but that would give me the greatest flexibility for also those times I fly to drier climates.

Is anyone here using the Watea series for BC or side-country? How do they work out? I am 6'2" and a naked ~185 lbs (or a tad less) and I thought that ~184 length in either the 88 or 94 would be good. Any thoughts anyone?

Now, if only I could find a pair of AT boots for my long narrow 14.5 foot.
Thanks,
BigNick
post #19 of 20
BigNick: I'm skiing the 184 (or are they 186?) Watea 94s tele and have used them in everything from 18" new to hardpack. I also have the Watea 101s for my alpine powder ski. I'm on some older 84mm waisted Atomics for AT, but I think the 186 Watea 94s would be an excellent ski for a guy your size for bc and your other intended purposes. They are not twin tips, but the tails turn up a bit so you lose a little length. The ski has a great personality for an all around ski, and they're not too heavy.
post #20 of 20
Thanks for the input Mudfoot. I will definitely try to demo a pair of the Watea 94s when they become available. Perhaps Sturtevant's will have them at their demo day at Steven's Pass.

Thanks again.
BigNick
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