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Complete newebie advice needed on gear and such

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
 Hi, I live in the mountains of Asheville, NC. The last few years we have gotten huge amounts(for here!) of snow. Already this year we have gotten several storms bringing in up to two feet each depending on elevation.

Sooo....people do cross country and backcountry ski around here, just don't know anybody, not really any clubs or anything. On a good year like this one there will probably be 20 or 30 days I could ski in the backcountry.

The type of terrain here will be complete back country, I drove up in the national forest here to about 6,000 feet over the weekend(only 10 miles from my house) and there was just endless forest roads with 1.5 to 2 feet of untouched snow on them. There are some roads that are somewhat flat but most of the roads and wider trails I could ski on are pretty mountainous, grades ranging from 4 to upwards of 20+ percent based on my mountain bike GPS computer.

So I'm reading all about backcountry skiis and haven't really gotten a grip on what gear would be best suited for my needs and am quite confused as to what skiis do what. Sorry, I've googled and googled and can't find the exact answers I'm looking for.

Basically I'd like to go out, use my skiis to climb up a mountain, anywhere from a mile or two, up to some of the big climbs here that are in the 5 to 8 mile range but also do rolling hills as well.

Soooo...what are the type of skiis that you can climb hills on(I've read about using skins) and then I've read that some you can actually lock the binding down like a downhill ski for the downhill section.

I saw these for sale, are these the type of setup that would do what I mention above?

http://www.akers-ski.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=17ALPK&Category_Code=Off_Track_Touring_Pkg

THANKS in advance for any advice you can give me. Sorry for the newbie question, can't seem to find these basic answers amidst a see of confusing info out there.

Jeff
post #2 of 10
Beautiful country there. Driven the Blue Ridge a couple of times, last time it was in the snow and came up on a bobcat in the middle of the road. That critter spun around 3 times in a blink before deciding which way to take off. The ski package you referenced looks to be a good choice at a good price. An upgrade to the cables for the binding would give you more lateral stability between the boot and ski for tight woods and steeper hills. I have a similar setup here in Upstate NY. The "locked heel" rigs you mention are more of an alpine touring rig for places with much steeper slopes and not much flat travel.  I have a Dynafit binding/K2 Shuksan rig that I use at ski resorts and in the Cascades out west. It would be over kill for your needs and a lot more expensive. Have fun.
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
 Hi, wooley12,

Much thanks for the reply. So I'm a bit confused then on the bindings on the setup I mentioned(http://www.akers-ski.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=17ALPK&Category_Code=Off_Track_Touring_Pkg)

So how do those bindings work? Are they permenantly unlocked like traditional cross country skis? If so how do you ski the downhills on them? Also, how would I climb the uphills with that setup? Would I need skins or could I just "skate" the uphills?

Just as an fyi there are some pretty steep hills here, basically I'm just looking to ski old grassy double track roads, wide mountain bike trails, and roads as well. Some of the doubletrack and wide mountain bike trails do have pretty steep grades and steep switchback turns. Just wondering if that setup I referenced above would be good for that. I did grow up downhill skiing, but have only done cross country a few times.

Most people here just ski the flatter sections of the blue ridge parkway, but I'd like to have more flexibility to ski in the remote backcountry here, mainly pisgah national forest with is a massive area criss crossed with trails and grassy roads that would be perfect for skiing, but some quite steep.

thanks!!

Jeff
post #4 of 10
There are two main families of gear relevant to your travel goals:

Nordic Touring Gear
Alpine Touring Gear

Nordic Touring gear is shown in the link you provide above. These skis have metal edges and require fairly stiff boots. People often use skins to climb steeper hills in Nordic Touring gear. The heel does not lock down, so downhill skiing is fairly difficult unless you have very good technique. You can, of course, glide down roads and gentle grades, but you might need a lesson or two. Nordic Touring gear is usually inexpensive, and extremely light, comfortable, fast. A decent used kit will cost ~$200 to ~$300. New gear is ~$400-~$500 for very high end equipment. Think of this gear as "inexpensive, but heavy cross country gear that is not very good for going downhill".

Alpine touring gear is more akin to light alpine skiing gear. The skis have metal edges and very stiff boots. People always use skins to climb steeper hills in Alpine Touring gear. The heel is free for the ascent, and can lock down for the descent. Alpine Touring gear is very expensive, heavy, and slow compared to Nordic Touring gear. A decent used kit will cost ~$800 to ~$1000. New gear is ~$1500-~$2000 for a complete kit. This of this gear as "extremely expensive, extremely heavy cross country gear that is excellent for going downhill".

Try http://www.wildsnow.com/ for more information on alpine touring equipment. You probably don't want/need an Alpine Touring kit, but it's a very good option if you don't mind the extra weight, or if you wish to travel out West with your skis. Please keep the following in mind: if you choose to travel on Alpine Touring gear, you will not be nearly as fast, nor as comfortable, and you will spend A LOT more. If you choose Nordic Touring gear, you will be fast, comfortable, and spend A LOT less but you will probably have to avoid steep descents.

Inexpensive, Low Weight, High Comfort, Bad Downhill = Nordic Touring
Expensive, High Weight, Low Comfort, Good Downhill = Alpine Touring
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
 Awesome, thanks, great info!!

Looks like Nordic Touring gear will be a great starting off point for me.

thanks again,

Jeff
post #6 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Instability View Post

There are two main families of gear relevant to your travel goals:

Nordic Touring Gear
Alpine Touring Gear

Inexpensive, Low Weight, High Comfort, Bad Downhill = Nordic Touring
Expensive, High Weight, Low Comfort, Good Downhill = Alpine Touring
I would expand a bit on what "Instability" wrote, and I don't really agree with all of what he said.  You need to match the tool to your goals and to your skills. There are at least three major types of backcountry skis: Nordic touring (cross-country, skating), Nordic downhill (telemark), and Alpine touring (also known as AT or randonee) [I am excluding snowboard/splitboard, since that obviously isn't what you are asking about].  You have made pretty clear that, in addition to uphill skinning, there will be a significant downhill skiing component to what you want to do; therefore, you need either telemark or AT gear. If you are already a competent downhill alpine skier, you will be able to get on AT gear and ski it on day 1; if you don't know how to telemark ski (which it sounds like you don't), you will have to learn that first, which will take you a year or two (you need to be fairly competent before you take your show out into the backcountry where there is no ski patrol to rescue you if you get hurt).  The cost factor may be significant for you. As to weight, at the higher end of the price range AT and telemark gear weigh almost the same. As to comfort, AT gear is generally more comfortable than telemark gear or alpine downhill gear. As to performance, I can ski anything on my AT gear that I can ski on my alpine gear.
Edited by raspritz - 2/3/10 at 6:39am
post #7 of 10
I'll have to agree with Instability and with Brownrecluse on his choosing heavier Nordic Touring gear for where he lives.  There are huge differences in terrain between east and west. Take a look of some sat views of the area involved.  We may have some steeps in the Back Country but 99.9 percent of the time the trees are so thick that it's tough to even snowshoe through. The mention of biking/skiing on roads with a 20 percent grade means 11 deg. Here in the East, we encounter tours where you will transition from up to down 5 times in a mile. Skins would be a killer and the glide in skins can be measured in inches as opposed to feet with waxless patterned skis. Ski touring is always a compromise in equipment choice but in the east, nordic touring will be more efficient and fun.
post #8 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by brownrecluse View Post

 Hi, wooley12,

Much thanks for the reply. So I'm a bit confused then on the bindings on the setup I mentioned(http://www.akers-ski.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=17ALPK&Category_Code=Off_Track_Touring_Pkg)
 

That is a GREAT setup for the sort of skiing you want to do, but it is a bit climbing and travel-oriented rather than downhill-turn oriented.   Are you over 180lbs?    The Lite Terrain may be too little ski for you, look at the Cross Terrain instead.

 

So how do those bindings work? Are they permenantly unlocked like traditional cross country skis?
 

Yup.

 

If so how do you ski the downhills on them?
 

You push down with the big toe and lift with the little toe, just like with regular skis.     It's just the twisting you gotta get rid of.      It's a skill.     Those boots are a bit soft and won't support much twisting anyway.

 


Also, how would I climb the uphills with that setup?
 

Very easily.   Just shuffle.
 



Would I need skins
 

Nope.
 



or could I just "skate" the uphills?

 


You won't be skating in those bindings unless a) the skis are very short, not a good idea and b) you put 20mm+ plates under them  both.

Skating is out for this setup.     If you want to skate, you'll want a stiffer, less sidecut ski than the Lite Terrain (or Cross Terrain), and system bindings.
 


Just as an fyi there are some pretty steep hills here, basically I'm just looking to ski old grassy double track roads, wide mountain bike trails, and roads as well.

Yup.
 


Some of the doubletrack and wide mountain bike trails do have pretty steep grades

If you're over 180 lbs, I'd buy the Cross-Terrain, the Atomic Chugach, or the Karhu XCD 10th Mtn/Guide, and a cable binding, with a slightly stiffer and taller boot.
 



and steep switchback turns.

Learn to kick turn.
 



Just wondering if that setup I referenced above would be good for that. I did grow up downhill skiing, but have only done cross country a few times.

Most people here just ski the flatter sections of the blue ridge parkway, but I'd like to have more flexibility to ski in the remote backcountry here, mainly pisgah national forest with is a massive area criss crossed with trails and grassy roads that would be perfect for skiing, but some quite steep.

thanks!!

Jeff

Totally understood.   I am using Alpina Telelites and BD Riva bindings for that sort of terrain.

Off to ski now.
post #9 of 10


On the left: Alpina TeleLite.    This is my travel + XC downhill boot.    This is much burlier than the Alpina you link to.


On the right : Rossi X9     This is directly comparable to the Alpina you link to in terms of feel, a little narrower in the toebox, and a little stiffer above the ankle than the Alpina you link to.      This is a climbing and travel boot.    It can handle some downhill, it can even handle a cable binding, but it will feel severely undercontrolled on such terrain to an alpine skier.

The Atomic alpine boots are to provide scale.




Each boot clicked into the binding it goes with.    On top: Rivas.   Notice the cable around the heel.

On bottom:  Rottefella SuperTelemark with 10mm lift.      10 mm lift is really nice to have for short boot XCD setups, more than that and it can get squirrely imo.    



On the top:   Atomic Rainier, directly comparable in category to the the Alpina Lite Terrain you link to, slightly stiffer, slightly better glide under a heavy skier, less climbing ability and less 'edged-turning' ability than the Lite Terrain (but also less hooky in random snow).   Comparable skis: Karhu 10th Mtn.

On the bottom:   Tua EscapeS, just as fat as the Atomic but NO sidecut.     Absolutely awesome climber,  extremely good glide in random broken snow with no hooking.      Turning does require patience, edging (and the occasional kick turn on a hairpin turn) but the improved glide and the difference in spanning and averaging out random broken snow is just TOTALLY worth it.
post #10 of 10
Ski choice is always a compromise. Especially if you can  have only one pair. What I love about off track / backcountry skiing is the chess game of mixing terrain  selection and technique to work best for your route. i.e. , get around and down with a grin on your face. I ski leather, laceup Merrells with Karhu Hardbodies and cable 3-pin bindings and I often run into steep narrow downhill trails where turning is not and option.  You could take off your skis and walk or-- 1- hold both poles together in front of you with one hand on both grips. 2- place other hand about midway down on poles with hand reversed ( thumb facing down to basket end. 3- put reversed hand in crotch 4- Combo snowplow stance with downward body pressure jams the pole tips into the snow and results in a controlled descent. Hope your catching some of this weekends snow.
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