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looking for information on backcountry backpacking.... dynafit?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
 I've been researching skis for heading into the backcountry. On this forum tons of people ask questions about what type of skis to buy, and this community seems very helpful, so I'd thought I'd try as well. 

Me: 145lbs (with no pack)
Major Goal: Spend a week or two up in the high sierras. (first a 12 mile, 2500' ascent up Tioga Road, then 8 miles of rolling slightly downhilll terrain in meadows or on the road, then day after day of wandering around the high country painting, exploring and possibly doing some peaks if I'm with experienced friends and if not, just some low angle dome stuff.
Type of snow: Varied, crust, powder, roads, etc. typical Sierra snow. My home town is Tahoe, so more Sierra snow there too.

Secondary Goal: Wander around off trail in the Tahoe area going up and down hills with confidence. I'm often searching out spots for painting and I'd like to be able to get to some difficult areas that I can't approach on my current skis. Plus it's fun skiing down hills.

Thoughts on Current setup: Fischer E99, SNS_BC binding, lame lightweight boot
The skis are difficult to turn in (probably cause my boots) and I'm thinking something a little wider might be nicer in the backcountry. Cruising with a pack is a concern, but the glide is nice.

What I'm looking for....
1. Eventually I'll be able to ski up and down peaks. Right now, I'm not ready, but next year for sure. It'd be nice to have a setup that accomodates this, but not the priority.
2. Occassional resort use. (I don't go to resorts much since they cost money, but if friends are in town, it'd be nice to have something that I could do some intermediate skiing on. Nothing out of control- and I don't jump)
3. I like the idea of an autorelease binding in the backcountry.
4. I like to be able to go downhill safely.
5. I'm familiar with Alpine skiing so I'm not looking to learn new styles of skiing.
6. I like lightweight gear.

This is what I've been recommended by a friend:
Scarpa Spirit 3 boot, dynafit bindings, and a light ski of my choice... Are long tours possible with this setup?

The dynafits are insanely expensive, but I'm willing to pay the price if this is going to be the best rig for me. Short and long term.

As far as skis go, I understand the possibilities are endless, but maybe my description of my goals and such might give an idea of what shape of ski is best. If anyone responds, thanks in advance.
post #2 of 10
Your friend's recommendation was a good one.

If you want light, then Dynafit bindings are the only way to go for what you are going to be doing.  I think the only other durable option are Fritschi Freeride Plus bindings.  Easier to use, stepping in and out, and switching modes, but a couple of lbs heavier, and they do not ski better, but they do have the feature of also being alpine boot compatible, and the switch is easy.   Although you can ski the Dynafits at the resort with AT boots, it is not a setup you want to use a lot on hard snow.  I just spent a day at Telluride with a friend who skied bumps for 5 hours on his AT boots, and Dynafits mounted on Mantras with no problem, but it is generally not recommended.

Boot choice, especially fit, is crucial when skiing with a heavy pack.  Unfortunately, the light options are very expensive, but Dynafit makes some of the lightest and best skiing AT boots.  Above all, make sure you get a boot with the best fit. Skiing with a big pack will produce blisters in minutes if you have boot issues.

As for skis, extended tripping requires a 40 lb. pack, which means you are choosing skis for a 200 lb skier.  When skiing with a big pack everything is more difficult, so going a little shorter with your skis is a good idea, but you need float, so you gotta go wide.  Climbing and skiing bowlegged with a heavy pack can cause problems, so you need a ski that is not super wide, so you can maintain a normal stride when skinning.  Probably in the low 170 cm range for your size.

With what you are planning, every ounce on your feet matters, so you should research lightweight skis.  Something like the DPS Wailer, or Goode 106 are super light and ski well, but you would probably be looking at used ones because of their extraordinary price.  Something in the 100 to 105 mm waist range, without a lot of sidecut, or a hugely wide tip is what I would personally shoot for. A slight tip rocker would also be good.  It makes breaking trail easier, and gives better turning in deep or funky snow.  The K2 Koomback, or old Antipiste fit this profile, but there are lots of options that are lighter.  Twin tips are nice for backing up in deep snow, but it is a trade off because it is extra unusable weight.

I will say it again, every ounce on your feet is critical in what you are planning, so choose your equipment wisely, because after a few thousand steps the money you saved on the heavier boots will seem inconsequential..
Edited by mudfoot - 2/17/10 at 8:41am
post #3 of 10
I agree with some of what mudfoot said, but not all. 

Boots, he is right - look for a boot that fits your foot first.  Just about every brand makes a lightweight boot.

Bindings - IMO there is no other choice besides dynafit!  I think they ski better than downhill binding; of coarse I haven't been on a downhill binding in 10 years

I would NOT go with a 100 to 105 mm waisted ski for BC use those skis would be heavy and overkill.  The widest I would go with is 95mm for the BC if you are mostly wanting to ski powder.  Yet, knowing the Sierras (as I lived there for 10 years) most of your touring will be on corn snow.  I would go with around 85mm underfoot ski myself.  As for length, take what you use in the resort as starters and I would go a size shorter (ie. if you use 183mm in the resort, look for a 173 mm lenght BC ski).  As for brands, go with what you know; most downhill ski manufactures make light BC skis.
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
 Thanks Mudfoot, that information is extremely helpful. I'm going to do some research on the skis you recommended right now. Yesterday I scored a pair of great fitting used AT boots - Scarpa Laser. Older, but the price savings was insane and I'll ride this boot for a bit and when/if I'm ready for a new one I could upgrade.

So you recommend around 100mm waist. Sounds wide, but I see your point. Someone else recommended the koomback so I checked those out. They are newer it seems so the price is going to be higher. If I can' find what I'm looking for used, I'll buy new, but I'm not in a super rush, so it's nice to be able to take my time and find something that really fits my needs and budget.

 now I'm off to the classifieds to see what that has to offer.
post #5 of 10

I understand where Mooddude is coming from, I am 215 lbs and ski a 95 mm waisted ski in the back country, but often wish I had wider.  It is obviously weight/performance trade off.  My thought was that skiing with a big enough pack for multi-day winter camping is putting you in the 40 lb. plus range.  A wider ski will obviously float better, but also be more forgiving for all those awkward deep snow maneuvers with a big pack.  Also, it sounds like he will be breaking a lot of trail, where the additional float is a very big plus.  The OPs goal is winter camping and powder, both of which favor a wider ski IMO, but as always, it comes down to personal choice, and lighter is definitely better for the long haul.

K2 discontinued the Antipiste this year, which is the same ski as the new Koomback, but with tele binding inserts and a different top sheet.  If you can find them on the net they should be cheaper, and you can mount AT bindings over the inserts without a problem.

P.S. If  you are just talking bc skiing, I completely agree with Mooddude, but I suggested extra width because of the backpacking element.  A 95 mm waist would probably work fine in most situations, especally in the heavier Sierra snow.

Edited by mudfoot - 2/18/10 at 8:54am
post #6 of 10
As an FYI, I do use my 95mm to BC ski, and BC "Backpack" in the winter (in Utah), and switch over to 85mm in spring which I also use to "backpack", and I weigh in at 185#.  Don't see the need for such huge skis, even when I use to ski and backpack in California? Just remember "every pound on your foot is worth 10 pounds in your pack".
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
For my backpacking trips I'll be using a base camp, so it's only my initial and final haul that I will be carrying a heavy pack. A typical day on my trip would consist of: skiing around the meadows and forests looking for places to paint, skiing up domes catching the views, repeat.

On days when friends are around, I'd like to be able to ski peaks with them.

Once or twice a year I may go to resorts, but this is the least of my concerns.

It sounds like something between 90-100 is going to be good. With 100 on the fat end.
post #8 of 10
Nice score on the Laser boots -- definitely the best deal on AT gear these days.
For ski width, as you're probably figuring out, it's all about trade-offs, so you can go crazy trying to determine where you want to be on the continuum.
Also, I hope you already know this, but even if your goal in the Eastern Sierra is just some mellow touring, the avalanche paths along Tioga Pass Road are truly terrifying.  (One of the contributing factors to Tioga Pass Resort recently ceasing operations -- to many missed pick-up/drop-off days, plus they had to get some safety/environmental aspects of the facility up to spec.)  And if you wait until later in the spring, the lower portions might be melted out.  (A combo-bike ski approach might work well -- we used that combo access Gnarnia Couloir on Mt Lewis a couple springs ago.)  Also, some kicker or super-skinny skins would be worthwhile for the road skinning.
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
 I'm all too familiar with the avalanche zone on tioga pass. My car was hit by a huge falling boulder late one evening heading down the pass. I've heard others say they've gone up bloody canyon, and there is also the west side approach. Tioga would be my first choice though, but as always.... safety first.
post #10 of 10
All very good advice.  Regarding skis, here in Colorado, where our snow tends to be lighter than Sierra cement, the typical one-solution BC ski has waist about 95-100 mm.  However, the past two weekends I've done long BC trips with my Icelantic Shamans (110 mm waist), and it was wonderful having all that flotation skiing bottomless fluff wearing a heavy pack. The Dynafit bindings can't be beat; you can ski Mt. Everest in them if you can make it up there.  The TLT Vertical FT12's din to 12, which is enough for most folks....  And definitely go with whatever boots fit you best; Dynafit ZZero's are about the lightest, and they happen to fit me perfectly.
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