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Telemark Skiing / Backcountry / Alpine Skiing

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Will someone explain the difference?

 

Telemark are skis where the heels do not click in correct? Then backcountry skiing you hike to the top of the hill, and alpine touring is just another word for downhill skiing?

 

I am starting to look at mid-fat skis for out west, and I want to clear up some confusion.

post #2 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan Pringnitz View Post

 

Will someone explain the difference?

 

Telemark are skis where the heels do not click in correct? Then backcountry skiing you hike to the top of the hill, and alpine touring is just another word for downhill skiing?

 

I am starting to look at mid-fat skis for out west, and I want to clear up some confusion.

 

Easy,  Yes on Telemark.

 

AT, or alpine touring, also called randonee involves bindings that allow you to free the heel for walking and then fix it to the ski for standard alpine /downhill skiing.  For hiking uphill on skis you also need a pair of climbing skins.  Tons of info in the back country forum here on Epicski also there are a few sites dedicated to back country skiing a google search on the subject should get you there.

 

If you are planning on doing back county skiing out west you may want to go with some experienced guides and you will likely need an avalanche beacon, a shovel and a probe.

post #3 of 19

Just a couple more related terms that can add to the confusion:

 

Slackcountry = off area skiing that is accessed by taking area lifts and then going out of bounds to unpatrolled and uncontrolled backcountry skiing.  Usually done with alpine gear.  May or may not end up back on the area at the end of a run.

 

Sidecountry = Often overlaps Slackcountry, but includes backcounty around skis areas that is accessed by climbing or skinning.  Usually done with AT gear.

 

All of the above can be done with telemark gear.  The first without using skins, and the second with skins.

 

Their are millions of mountains with good skiing, but only a few wiith lifts on them.  With the right gear (including avalanche beacon, probe and shovel) the skiing possiblities are endless.

post #4 of 19

Cool:        Alpine, A few lessons and your good to go!

 

Cooler:     Back-country, Must be seasoned veteran of the Alpine.

 

Coolest:   Telemark, Must have at least 10 years behind the wheel of a Subaru. 

post #5 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jag View Post

 

Cool:        Alpine, A few lessons and your good to go!

 

Cooler:     Back-country, Must be seasoned veteran of the Alpine.

 

Coolest:   Telemark, Must have at least 10 years behind the wheel of a Subaru. 


 

IMO, the less time you spend going downhill, (some hiking is good of course) the less progress you make with your skiing. Just saying, if that's what you want or not.

post #6 of 19

It's ALL good! Backcountry skiing (tele or AT) is awesome if you like variety, a hellacious workout, and the quiet nature thing. I love my lift skiing and the whole social aspect and bagging mass vert. but really enjoy getting away from it all too. I actually LIKE  the climb up - the challenge and sense of accomplishment I guess. I think bc skiing only enhances your lift skiing. Not to mention getting thighs like oak trees, climbing and spending time making turns in a variety of conditions like breakable crust, wind pack, guanchy, manky whatever as well as blower pow, spring corn, and mashed taters just makes lift skiing easyer for me. Plus it greatly expands your opportunities - especially if you live close to snow. I have nearly 1600' vert right next to my house some of which is pretty steep! Some places like here in Wash. state have snow to ski year 'round (think volcanoes and glaciers).  

post #7 of 19

Im looking at getting an AT setup, does anyone know where I can get an idea of what stuff I'll need specifically? I do a good bit of sidecountry stuff now and Ive done some backcountry but I dont have skins or really anything that is touring specific. Really any resources, books, sites, etc would be appreciated.


Yes I realize this will cost a good bit.

post #8 of 19

Right off the bat -- I and everyone here is going to tell you to learn to be safe. That means start off with knowledgable friends or pro guides and some Avy education.

 

Then, we're looking at Stuff --

Safety gear:

Beacon -- I just ordered the DTS Tracker, it's pretty easy to use but practice.

Shovel

Probe

(Of course, if you don't have a shovel and probe, just borrow your friends'. I'm sure they'd rather you have a shovel if time comes to use them.)

 

Ski Gear --

Pack (Loaded up with good layers, a space blanket, a first aid kit, anything you might need in case something goes wrong and you're stuck outside overnight).

Skis - your choice, but you'll notice a heavier pair on your feet over time.

AT Bindings - A lot of different choices here and that really depends on what you wanna do, from lightweight dynafit (which require special boots, see below), to AT-specific bindings like Naxos or Fritchi freerides, to Marker Dukes (ride like regular alpine bindings, but fairly heavy like 'em too). Or you could go the Alpine trekker direction and it'll let you use your regular skis. I've not used em but generally people seem to wanna get rid of em fairly soon after getting them.

Skins - Wanna slide your skis uphill, climbing skins are the way to do it. BD Ascensions seem to be the most popular brand around. Thats what I've got.

Boots - you can get away with your ski boots, but eventually you might want a pair that has a walk mode... if you have dynafit bindings, then you'll need dynafit boots.

 

 

So it's not cheap, but it's not too bad and if you're saving on lift tix, then this should pay for itself in no time...

 

Edit: PS -- Other Bears know much more about this stuff than I, and you can get good info in the cross country/ BC forum if you're looking for help.

 

 


Edited by Aleph Null - 2/26/2009 at 10:10 pm
post #9 of 19

My passion is the backcountry, I find the tranquility and challenge to be fantastic.  So, you want to venture out there?  Awesome, on top of the gear list above (good list), you're going to want a good knowledge of first aid (and a kit), maps, compass, gps, high quality clothing that breathes well, and some really good lungs.

 

I always suggest that anyone seriously thinking about the BC go out and take at least a level 1 avy class, and a mentor to learn from.  If you are talking about true BC (as opposed to slack/side country)  camping skills, some winter survival skills are invaluable

post #10 of 19

And here is another cool thing about AT skiing:

 

Go to a place like A-Basin in Colorado, put your skins on and "skin up" to the top. Rest and grab a bite to eat, then spend the rest of the day skiing all the upper lifts (where they don't bother checking your lift tickets) for free.

 

And it isn't considered "illegal" or cheating..., they even have a specific starting point marked for 'uphill skiing'.  The patrollers will stop as they ski down to chat - usually to remind you to stay to the sides, etc., but always with a friendly attitude.

 

And here in Colorado, we have a fairly extensive back-country hut system (10th Mountain Huts, for example) where you get reservations, ski in with a bunch of friends and spend a couple of days skinning up and skiing down some great areas. Solar power for lights, wood burning stove for heat, pots, pans and melted snow for water. The outhouse can be cold, but minor price to pay.

 

Whoops...Sorry, I'm gettin' carried away. No hijack intended.

 

 

post #11 of 19

An excellent, fairly new book;

 http://www.amazon.com/Backcountry-Skiing-Touring-Mountaineering-Mountaineers/dp/1594850380/ref=wl_it_dp?ie=UTF8&coliid=I3LFJSSG4O56Y2&colid=2T6L28V6B8JNV

 

"Frontcountry" or "slackcountry" can be convenient, fun and safe!

 

 

 

post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aleph Null View Post

 

Right off the bat -- I and everyone here is going to tell you to learn to be safe. That means start off with knowledgable friends or pro guides and some Avy education.

 

Then, we're looking at Stuff --

Safety gear:

Beacon -- I just ordered the DTS Tracker, it's pretty easy to use but practice.

Shovel

Probe

(Of course, if you don't have a shovel and probe, just borrow your friends'. I'm sure they'd rather you have a shovel if time comes to use them.)

 

Ski Gear --

Pack (Loaded up with good layers, a space blanket, a first aid kit, anything you might need in case something goes wrong and you're stuck outside overnight).

Skis - your choice, but you'll notice a heavier pair on your feet over time.

AT Bindings - A lot of different choices here and that really depends on what you wanna do, from lightweight dynafit (which require special boots, see below), to AT-specific bindings like Naxos or Fritchi freerides, to Marker Dukes (ride like regular alpine bindings, but fairly heavy like 'em too). Or you could go the Alpine trekker direction and it'll let you use your regular skis. I've not used em but generally people seem to wanna get rid of em fairly soon after getting them.

Skins - Wanna slide your skis uphill, climbing skins are the way to do it. BD Ascensions seem to be the most popular brand around. Thats what I've got.

Boots - you can get away with your ski boots, but eventually you might want a pair that has a walk mode... if you have dynafit bindings, then you'll need dynafit boots.

 

 

So it's not cheap, but it's not too bad and if you're saving on lift tix, then this should pay for itself in no time...

 

Edit: PS -- Other Bears know much more about this stuff than I, and you can get good info in the cross country/ BC forum if you're looking for help.

 

 


Edited by Aleph Null - 2/26/2009 at 10:10 pm


 

This is great, exactly the info i was looking for. Thanks to everyone in this thread as well.

post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 

I am curious about the gear differences between AT and normal downhill gear.

 

From what I gather,

 

Telemark skiers have the ability at all times to move their heal as it is not locked down. Their gear consists of flat skis and telemark bindings, as well as telemark boots.

 

AT skiers can use their heal when they are going up hill (w/ skis on), and they will probably have "skins" on while going up hill. Once uphill the AT skier will lock his heel down and go downhill with his heel locked down.

 

AT skiers purchase flat skis so they can purchase AT bindings that allow free heel movement, as well as most likely purchasing AT boots as well.

 

Other Backcountry gear that you might find AT skiers with; beacon, shovel, probe. Besides training in avalanche , first aid, CPR, and above average skiing skills.

 

If any of this is incorrect, please me let me know.

 


Edited by Ryan Pringnitz - 3/30/2009 at 08:51 pm
post #14 of 19

You've got it -- although there are tele specific skis and and AT specific skis, you can usue regular alpine skis with those bindings... you could mount DH bindings on any of those skis and have a good time.

 

As for the other gear, those are things that anyone traveling out of bounds or into Avalanche terrain should have -- even if you're bootpacking or snowshoeing up, or you're heading out of lift-served gates.

post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan Pringnitz View Post

 

Will someone explain the difference?

 

Telemark are skis where the heels do not click in correct? Then backcountry skiing you hike to the top of the hill, and alpine touring is just another word for downhill skiing?

 

I am starting to look at mid-fat skis for out west, and I want to clear up some confusion.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan Pringnitz View Post

 

I am curious about the gear differences between AT and normal downhill gear.

 

From what I gather,

 

Telemark skiers have the ability at all times to move their heal as it is not locked down. Their gear consists of flat skis and telemark bindings, as well as telemark boots.

 

AT skiers can use their heal when they are going up hill (w/ skies on), and they will probably have "skins" on while going up hill. Once uphill the AT skier will lock his heel down and go downhill with his heel locked down.

 

AT skiers purchase flat skis so they can purchase AT bindings that allow free heel movement, as well as most likely purchasing AT boots as well.

 

Other Backcountry gear that you might find AT skiers with; beacon, shovel, probe. Besides training in avalanche , first aid, CPR, and above average skiing skills.

 

If any of this is incorrect, please me let me know.

 

 

 If I sound sarcastic, I apologize. I'm not trying to be, just trying to figure out what it is your fishing for?

 

To learn the difference between the styles? or what would be best for you?

 

The question is, what type/level of skier are you now + what type are you going to be doing out west?

 

A) Are you the typical Mid-West bump rider for 10 days a year that's planning the occasional trip west?

 

B) Or are you a 50+ die hard that west is a routine part of?

 

I think the confusion you are facing is; do you need a Mountaineering ski set-up to ski Back-Country?

 

Advice: Hit Side-Country for a while, only after gaining experience in that, should you attempt advanced big mountain back-country.

 

Their is a wealth of knowledge on this link, post up.

 

www.epicski.com/forum/list/7

 

BTW, it's not "Other Backcountry gear that you might find AT skiers with..." it's "WILL"

 

post #16 of 19

It's been a while and time once again for the classic:

 

The Dark Side - How I stopped worrying and learned to love the fixed heal.

 

I hate breakable crust on teles!

 

 

To add to the confusion:

Rugged Touring

Classic Touring with or without grip wax

Skate skiing


Edited by Alpinord - 2/27/2009 at 05:25 pm
post #17 of 19

I am not sure that I would recommend sending an inexperienced skier off into even "side-country" without some avy skills and the proper gear....see the posts about "Lost for 10 days...fought off wolves...one dead".  That may have been a side-country trip gone bad.

 

Here is a basic primer on AT and telemark...

 

Both telemark and AT gear allow a skier to climb uphill with their skis on.  To do this, both AT skiers and telemark skiers use skins, which allow forward movement but retard backwards movement of the skis on snow.  If you are familiar with fishscale XC skis, the principle is the same, but skins are far more effective.  Climbing with skis and skins allows a backcountry skier to cover significant distances in deep snow, where bootpacking is not practical.  Even snowboarders can get into backcountry using a split-board, a snowboard that is cut lengthwise down the middle and used like skis for uphill travel, and then clamped back together for downhill travel.  For all of these modes, the key is being able to lift your heel when climbing. 

 

Telemark boots and bindings accomplish this by letting the boot bend at the forefoot so you can lift your heels.  AT bindings do this by hinging at the toe, and releasing the heel piece from the ski. Some telemark bindings can also hinge at the toe, providing even more range of motion during the climb. The difference between the two is that telemark skiers leave the heel free during their descent, while AT skiers clamp their heel down to descend.

 

You may see telemark skiers at a resort, too, riding lifts and otherwise doing the same things as regular skiers.  The difference is one of technique, although with modern plastic telemark boots and beefy bindings, many tele skiers can and will do regular alpine turns if they feel like it.  I telemark, and switch back and forth between telemark turns and "regular" alpine turns as my mood and the terrain dictate.  Most telemark bindings are not designed to release, although there are a handful of releaseable models.

 

There may also be skiers using AT equipment in-bounds.  Unless you look closely at their bindings, however, you may not notice them.

 

Another gear difference is with the boots.  Regular ski boots are not designed to walk in.  They have slippery soles to enhance proper release and no ankle flex.  Telemark boots and AT boots typically have vibram soles so they can be used to scramble over rocks and other mountain terrain. Telemark boots have a bellows at the forefoot so they can bend, and some have a "walk" mode, which releases the connection between the ankle cuff and the lower boot.  Most AT boots also have a walk mode, too.

 

As others have suggested, both AT and tele gear are tools for accessing the backcountry.  However, to be safe, you need other tools, probe, shovel, beacon, emergency survival gear, and perhaps an avalung, which is a device which can extend survival time for a buried victim who is not already dead from trauma. 

 

If you are interested in backcountry skiing, and unfamiliar with any of this, the best thing is to hire a guide service to give you a managed taste of what it is like. At Alta there is a group which takes you out of bounds from the top of the lifts, where it is possible to bootpack up a relatively short distance and get to interesting terrain.  Other western resports may have similar services available.

 

If you have the cash, cat-skiing or helicopter skiing also provide excellent ways to get a taste of the backcounrty.

 

good luck and be safe....

post #18 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stan from Pa View Post

 

I am not sure that I would recommend sending an inexperienced skier off into even "side-country" without some avy skills and the proper gear...

 

1) True, very true.  I was not saying skip the avy training cause your side-country, I was referring to building experience before diving. Guess I should have been more specific. Thank you for mentioning.

 

post #19 of 19


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alpinord View Post

 

It's been a while and time once again for the classic:

 

The Dark Side - How I stopped worrying and learned to love the fixed heal.

 

I hate breakable crust on teles!

 

 

 GAWD that was funny!   Thanks for that!
 
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