EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › Backcountry, Telemark, and Cross Country › new to backcountry skiing (yet to downhill/xc/skate)..any ski suggestions?
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new to backcountry skiing (yet to downhill/xc/skate)..any ski suggestions?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hi ..i'm a mid 40s in shape guy about to try this coming winter backcountry skiing...(I also do xcountry and skate skiiing too as well as regular downhill...am about to buy some new Nordica Speedmachine 10 boots, actually)

First off, can you please provide some and club or association suggestions, where i can make some new ski buddies and take useful courses?

Second, I do have a pair of Head i-monster m77 (all mountain) skis for downhill skiiing...but a ski retailer suggested a wider ski for backcountry here in BC where I live (in Vancouver) ie something on sale he had was the Rossignol Barras S5 @ 171cm for cdn$499...(i stand 5'6"/weigh 175)...any other ski suggestions?

One thing which confused me was yet another retailer who told me that i might want a few different width skiis depending on the varied terrain of backcountry skiing I'd be engaged in (but don't want to spend alot of money given this is new to me).

many thanks!
post #2 of 14
1. Might I suggest that you try googling for clubs in your area, you might be surprised by what a quick search can yield.

For example, I just Googled "Backcountry Skiing in Vancouver" and came up with this: http://www.themountainschool.com/ski-touring.html

I have no idea about the club or its courses, but further Googling of various combinations of "Backcountry", "Skiing", "Vancouver" should yield some additional options/suggestions.

2. I'd also suggest renting or borrowing some equipment first to make sure you truly enjoy the backcountry experience. Though you state you XC, so you probably will, but couldn't hurt to demo some gear and figure out that you really dig the vibe. A lot of people are attracted to BC, but then get out skinning and bootpacking and find out that it's not for them (too much work for turns).

3. That retailer telling you to get numerous skis is just trying to sell you something you don't need. I BC on a 94 or a 99mm waisted ski and it works quite nicely. It is also my everyday resort ski. Granted I'm mostly touring in the Spring, but still, I think you'll find anything in the mid-90s to be fine.  That said, it's really a personal thing. I've been with folks on skinnier skis and with folks on fatter skis. It's all really a matter of personal taste and conditions. 

4. If you are buying new Alpine boots, then why do you need BC specific skis? Most folks I know have an Alpine set-up and a BC set-up. Or they have a single set-up with something like Dukes for bindings so they can ski Alpine and tour fairly easily. It really depends on your level of commitment and what you like in a ski/binding/boot (I have some friends that ski inbounds at resorts on AT gear all the time. I have other friends with dedicated set-ups for both, etc). Again, if you're just getting into it, I would suggest renting some equipment first and trying it out. You can use these things called Trekkers, which can fit into your Alpine bindings and give you the walking function needed for skinning. Renting a pair of these would provide you with a cheap option to see if you really enjoy BC. 

So, long story short, I wouldn't rush out and buy new equipment. I'd Google backcountry skiing, clubs, and the like for Vancouver, try and get a discussion going with a club or other like-minded individuals. Heck, you could even check in with the local REI, as they usually have clinics and courses throughout the season. They (or another shop) might actually have an Intro to BC course or something.

I'm a total noob to the BC thing, but that's my 2 cents on it (I borrowed equipment from friends to get into my first touring this past Spring just to make sure I enjoyed the hiking for turns action).
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
thanks for your extensiver reply...'tis appreciated!
post #4 of 14
"You can use these things called Trekkers, which can fit into your Alpine bindings and give you the walking function needed for skinning. Renting a pair of these would provide you with a cheap option to see if you really enjoy BC."
- I suppose that is a guaranteed way to avoid a false positive (i.e., enjoy initial trial outing, but end up hating the real thing).  However, that approach has a huge chance of generating a false negative, as any sensible person is going to hate using Alpine Day Wreckers.
 
Anyway, since you already know how to downhill ski, and you're fit enough for the suffer fest known as skate skiing, and you enjoy nordic touring away from groomed xc centers (correct?), then I don't how you could do anything other than fall in love with alpine touring.  (I did all three of those before I got into alpine touring, and when I finally did, it was such a perfect combination of everything.)
 
"Heck, you could even check in with the local REI [...]"
- "REI" in Canadian translates into “MEC” which will carry everything you need.  That same stretch of West Broadway has an amazing concentration of other outdoor shops, although all the ones I’ve stopped in seemed to be competing with MEC mainly on soft goods.  (But I’ve been there only in early July, so maybe it was just hidden away for the summer.)  Vancouver must have a locally owned ski shop with a big selection of AT gear . . . or is competing with MEC impossible?  
- The retailer was right about a backcountry quiver.  A range of skis is even more valuable than for resort skiing, since although wider skis perform better for winter-time unconsolidated snow, they also weigh more, and weight becomes a huge factor when skinning.  You might want to start with something relatively wide for winter, then in the spring think about getting a lighter setup for more consolidated corn.  (Budget approach: get some random used alpine or backcountry skis somewhere between 80mm to low 90s.  The better your downhill skills, the more you can get away with narrower, lighter skis in difficult heavy unconsolidated snow.)
- The other issue is boots: you could get something like a Dynafit Titan, Scarpa Skookum, or BD Factor, with downhill performance that comes close to your resort boots, but once again, extra weight on the up.  Or instead a Dynafit Zzero4, Scarpa Spirit 3 or 4, Garmont Radium, etc., as more of an all-around boot, i.e., compromising between the up & the down.  (Budget approach:  opt for the latter, used, since so many of these all-around boots are being sold off as people “upgrade” to the latest stiffer, heavier models.)  
- The only easy part is bindings: either Dynafit ST or FT12 if you really need release setting > 12.  Or I suppose the new G3 Meetu/Onyx if you want to be patriotic, eh?  Anything else is like trying to skate ski on your nordic touring gear, i.e., possible, but much harder, with no benefits.  (Budget approach: unfortunately, there is none.)
- That referenced guiding school (which seems to get a good review over at your ttips inquiry) is only a 100-meter walk from MEC.  The course looks good, but the problem is that they even allow people in with Alpine Day Wreckers, so with your fitness level and new Dynafit setup, you might spend most of the time waiting up for everyone else.  - Another approach is to first take your AST intro avy course:  http://www.avalanche.ca/CAC_Training_Level1
. . . then see if any of your classmates are interesting in just hiring a guide for a weekend course of your devising.  You can look up qualified guides here:
(You might even end up just taking both courses from that place near MEC, but assemble your own group of compatible partners for the touring course.)
 
- These seem to be the two relevant clubs for you:
Might be some less-expensive volunteer-led courses (interesting discussion of pros/cons here:  http://www.turns-all-year.com/skiing_snowboarding/trip_reports/index.php?topic=13848.0 ), plus a great way to meet fellow skiers.
 
- Meanwhile, read these two excellent books:
- And browse around this website:  http://www.wildsnow.com
post #5 of 14
 Canali:

I got into BC via a crew I have been skiing with for the past 3 seasons down at Mammoth during the Spring.

Last summer I did a couple of dry approach patch skiing trips (skis and boots on pack, hiking in tennis shoes). That initially got me hooked. But I didn't jump on buying AT gear right away (I did buy some Dukes and have those mounted on a pair of 99mm waisted skis, which are actually my everyday and will become my AT set-up this season).

This Spring I actually did my first 4 real tours, complete with skinning, down near Mammoth. Thankfully, I had friends that loaned me gear (skies, skins, beacon), which was cool. I enjoyed the hell out of hiking/skinning for turns. I ended up buying a beacon, but need to still get skins and look into boots (I need new boots and need to remount my Dukes a bit further back on the skis they are on, too).

At any rate, finding a good group to go skinning with I think is essential. You should see if any Bears are in your area that are willing to take you out on some inaugural jaunts. I had the luxury of touring with folks whom I had skied with semi-regularly, so we all knew one another's abilities and were comfortable on the safety side of things, as well.

The suggestion of Trekkers was merely a suggestion. I have never used them. From what I have heard they are hit and miss. Some people dig them, others despise them. But that's pretty much the way with most AT gear. I know people who hate the Dukes (too heavy, have to take the ski off to switch from Alpine to AT mode) and others who love 'em. For basic, not-so-gnarly treks, I think they rock, mostly because they feel sturdier than the average AT binding (though I have never been on Dynafits).

Explore your options...and if you're in the market for new boots and are serious about taking up the AT thing, you might want to scope out some of the boots JS mentioned. Additionally, Krypton is debuting an AT boot this season. A number of the newer AT boots are being made sturdier and with more of a cross emphasis on Alpine and AT skiing in an attempt to make a do everything boot that would conceivably make it feasible to only have one boot for both inbounds, resort skiing and AT backcountry trekking. Since I need new boots, I plan on scoping out the Krypton AT boot and the BD Factor, which are 2 of these new cross-breeds.

Best of luck and if you end up digging AT, you're gonna be hooked. I can't wait until I have a full set-up and can get back out (I'm much more inclined to go trekking in the Spring when the weather is sweet and the corn is fresh).

:)
post #6 of 14
 “The suggestion of Trekkers was merely a suggestion. I have never used them. From what I have heard they are hit and miss. Some people dig them, others despise them. But that's pretty much the way with most AT gear. I know people who hate the Dukes (too heavy, have to take the ski off to switch from Alpine to AT mode) and others who love 'em.”

-          Reactions among skiers certainly vary significantly with regard to various gear items, but Alpine Day Wreckers are outdated gear that are universally despised by anyone who has used modern AT bindings:  such touring adaptors (two other brands were made, with BCA still selling what must just be remaining stock) are extremely heavy & inconvenient, plus they put you so high on the ski that any sort of traversing skin track is super sketchy.

-          The Duke/Baron, by contrast, excels at its primary application:  an alpine downhill binding with limited touring capability (i.e., way too heavy and inconvenient for dedicated backcountry use).  So the perfect binding to put on a pair of skis intended mainly for the resort, but also occasional “sidecountry” trips.

-           

Back to gear on which opinions vary among those who are actually familiar with the range of AT gear, the Dalbello Virus prototypes looks interesting, although no mention of them on what is labeled as the 09-10 Dalbello website?

post #7 of 14
I'll tell you how I got into backcountry skiing:

When I was in my eary teens, I used to race competitvely but I got bored. Then when I turned 18 or so, I went to a mountain with a lot of glades (Jay Peak), once I enetered them, I fell in love with skiing again.

I skied the official glades maybe 20 days or so that year and the next. I talked to the people I met occasionally and found out about some backcountry runs. I then went with some friends of friends on some of the bakcountry runs and it was fun. Eventually I started bringing my own friends there and doing harder and harder terrain. I also took a lesson at one point to make sure I was doing things correctly.

A couple pointers for skiing in the glades:
- Look where you want to go (the means the clearings), don't look at the trees. If you look at the trees you'll hit them.
- Don't be afraid to fall, better fall than gain speed and hit a tree.
- When you fall, fall with your skis in front of you, that way you'll have a better chance and avoiding injury.

Also, from time to time I get asked by people if they can follow me a bit in the woods that I meet on the chairlift or while hiking to the slope. You can try asking people that look like they know what they're doing and follow them. I've asked a couple people myself.
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
thanks everyone...just ordered a pair of dalbello krypton cross boots...fit me really well compared to 3 other pairs  i also tried....
post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
www.epicski.com/products/salomon-x-adventure-7-backcountry-boot
what of the above boots for backcountry skiing?...they're sold via 'sigge's' here in vancouver bc
and the fischer E99 crown or E99 tour were suggested as skis..but they don't look like true backcountry skis that are for skins etc...i might be wrong howerver...no details on their(new) website....here are some reviews of the skis however:
www.ski.lovetoknow.com/Fischer_E99_Skis
 www.buzzillions.com/reviews/men-fischer-e99-crown-backcountry-skis-reviews
www.rei.com/product/757894

and i have attended last week a BCMC members meeting...next week it will be the alpiner's club...seems some people belong to both clubs
post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by canali View Post

www.epicski.com/products/salomon-x-adventure-7-backcountry-boot
what of the above boots for backcountry skiing?...they're sold via 'sigge's' here in vancouver bc
 

You're confusing 'backcountry' as meant by alpiners and 'backcountry' as meant by XC skiers (who are not necessarily telemarkers).

Both of those products are XC-backcountry.

Those boots are about as tall as and have about as much edge control as a softshell inline skate boot.   They are meant for tours that emphasize covering long distances on terrain that is generally no steeper than easy blues, and is usually much flatter than that.   

and the fischer E99 crown or E99 tour were suggested as skis..but they don't look like true backcountry skis that are for skins etc...i might be wrong howerver...no details on their(new) website....here are some reviews of the skis however:
www.ski.lovetoknow.com/Fischer_E99_Skis
 www.buzzillions.com/reviews/men-fischer-e99-crown-backcountry-skis-reviews
www.rei.com/product/757894

and i have attended last week a BCMC members meeting...next week it will be the alpiner's club...seems some people belong to both clubs
 
Old slight-fat metal-edged XC-backcountry ski.

Has been entirely surpassed by new designs, from Fischer, Karhu, Atomic and Alpina.

As a general rule with a few possible exceptions, XC-backcountry gear will turn, glide and track *nothing* like modern  alpine gear.    Unless you want to commit to another long learning curve that starts with learning to cover flat ground, that sort of gear is not what you want.

I see you have done nordic skiing in the past.    How good are you on rolling terrain, including climbs and downhills, in skate-ski  boots? 
 
post #11 of 14
Canada has one of the best clubs for the outdoors - Alpine Club of Canada (I even belong even though I live on the south side of the boarder). 
Before you buy anything, join the Vancouver section and get advice from people that live around you.  Maybe even find someone in the club that will go with you to the store so you can buy the right gear the first time!
post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 
comprex: thanks for clarification on differences between xc backcountry and downhill backcountry ('tis both i like, but am more interested in the latter sport)....i'm just now getting into skate skiing again....will be taking lessons shortly (need to find a good instructor here in vancouver bc).

mood dude: thanks for alpiner's club suggestion...i went to their slide show meeting just a few nights ago and signed up later that night online...so hope to make some skiing, hiking buddies (most of my friends are back east where I originate from)
Edited by canali - 10/29/09 at 12:43pm
post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by canali View Post

comprex: thanks for clarification on differences between xc backcountry and downhill backcountry ('tis both i like, but am more interested in the latter sport)....i'm just now getting into skate skiing again....will be taking lessons shortly (need to find a good instructor here in vancouver bc).

Just to whet your appetite, here is a slightly different trip report:

http://telemarktalk.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=57038

http://telemarktalk.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=45696

confession time: those two TRs have gotten me more excited for snow than 4 months of alpine chat.
post #14 of 14

my backcountry AT set up is:
G3 Reverend skis
Dynafit bindings
G3 Skins
Scarpa Dynafit compatible boots
Komperdell adjustable ski poles
Osprey pack
Pieps DSP 3-antenna beacon
probe
Life link shovel

happy with all of it.  it's a light setup compared to other options, but i don't think it takes away from downhill performance.  i ski this setup inbounds at the resort sometimes too with no trouble on the double black diamonds.  of course you pay for it.  probably one of the more expensive setups out there.

don't forget avalanche safety!!  good courses are 2 - 3 days long (including a day outdoors)
 

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