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New Skiier Touring Bindings


Original Post
strudell Trudell · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 0

Looking for some advice on a ski touring setup for this winter as I'm in a seemingly strange position re: advice in articles.

Based in SW BC. I've never skied. However, I'm switching over to ski from splitboarding for my winter time in the mountains. So that means I'm experienced in backcountry travel and snow conditions, etc, and totally committed to touring only (unlike maybe your average ski beginner).

Question is: can I get tech bindings? (and continue shredding the uptrack), or start out with something heavier, cheaper, and maybe safer (pop out from the toe too)?

Then I'm thinking I get cheap sticks since I won't have much preference on style there, and fork out the cash for good boots?

What advice would you give me? And then what do you have to sell me?

Thanks a million!

S

Scot Hastings · · Las Vegas · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 35

I switched back to skis 3 seasons ago after 10 years on skis followed by 15 years on a snowboard. In those 3 years, I've owned frame (Fritschi Freeride), traditional tech (Dynafit Radical), and new tech (Vipec) bindings.

I had a whole diatribe written, but I'll save you the time. It sounds like you're already on the right track.

Traditional tech bindings without toe-initiated release are more dangerous, period. Whether that will result in additional injury is largely a function of how you ride and a whole bunch of chance.

As a beginner, you're right to get the best boot you can afford, preferably with both step-in and tech support (I highly recommend the Maestrales). After that, save your money with a cheap frame binding setup, ideally used. As you haven't skied, you won't know any better. As you improve, you can consider stepping up.

Also keep in mind that the learning curve for skiing is long and gradual. It's going to take hundreds of downhill runs before you can start descending cool shit. I highly recommend that you plan on some resort time to accelerate those laps until you get the hang of it.

FWIW, the new batch of tech bindings are showing a lot of promise. I rode the Vipec Blacks for the back half of last season and was really impressed, both with the performance and the release characteristics (after having ridden Dynafits for 1.5 seasons). It's still very much early adopter territory, though. If you wait a couple years, there should be a lot of really good, affordable product out there.

Good luck and have fun!

Jon H · · MD/DC · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 123

Buying tech bindings would be a dangerous choice. The most common falls taken by beginner skiers are slow, forward-twisting falls. Coincidentally, tech bindings do not have defined release characteristics in, you guessed it, slow forward-twisting falls.

The big problem with people in your position (new skier, totally committed to touring) is that you're a highly motivated, experienced backcountry traveler, but about to revert to being a total gumby. That's hard pill to swallow. But until you become a proficient skier, you're literally a hazard to yourself and your entire touring party in the backcountry. Not to mention that you'll be stuck touring on only the most mellow (and boring) terrain possible.

You know as well as anyone that you're only going to get 3-4 runs per day when you're touring. An entire season of that won't even get you to a "mediocre skier" status. For your first season on skis, you should seriously consider getting a resort pass, paying for lessons, and skiing the resort. Get your BC days on your splitboard. And yes, lessons. Can't emphasize that enough. Learning proper fundamentals from the start is a HUGE boon to a lifetime of future skiing. I thought I was too cool for ski school when I was 12 years old and "taught" myself and I'm still paying the price for it 20 years later with all sorts of bad habits.

As suggested, get a boot like the Maestrale (tech and frame compatible), have them fitted by a pro bootfitter, then buy cheap used skis and a pair of frame bindings (my first touring bindings were Fritschi Freerides and I would recommend them to someone in your position wholeheartedly).

Morgan Patterson · · CT · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 8,767

I'd echo Jon's point about learning on the bunny slope at a local hill. . . As someone who's been skiing 31 years of my 34, bad habits, poor technique, and 2-3 BC runs a day will limit your progression greatly. Learn how to ski, then take it to the BC. Its like you're asking if its good to learn to climb on a 5 pitch, overhanging 5.10, sure but it'll suck. Gotta build a good foundation before you build the house!

I'd look into an AT setup to learn at the local hill. I would stay away from tech bindings until u've got a solid base.

Rick Blair · · Denver · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 268

Adding on to above advice. Get lessons and make sure as you progress you learn drills. Once you are on black terrain you will never master it until you learn drills. Think of sports like football where you have repeat motions over and over until they become automatic. The better you get the more fun it is. Being able to make short turns in powder and weave between tight trees and rocks or ski a mogul run top top bottom in control, without stopping is an incredible rush. If you put in the work you will be rewarded, especially in the back country.

Seth Jones · · New Lenox, IL · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 25

I thought about switching back to skiing from splitboarding for the ease of transitions and touring but then I remembered that downhill skiing is nearly as much fun as snowboarding. Plus, hard boots suck. Just sayin :)

Rui Ferreira · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2003 · Points: 869

For ski touring I recommend that you get tech bindings. You will appreciate the efficiency and performance of the system.

I switched from telemark to tech bindings (Dynafit Speed Radicals) four years ago and have not had issues with performance or safety. I have BC skied up to 35 days in one season, mostly touring in the Belledonne range of the French Alps, with a lot of elevation gain and drop (typically 5000 ft, sometimes much more).

I do not consider myself an advanced skier and have taken plenty of falls with both set-ups and find the tech bindings to be far more practical and safer than the telemark. Tech bindings are used all over the European Alps for technical ascents and descents and have proven their merit.

You should check these sites to get a skier's perspective on this topic:

wildsnow.com/

coldthistle.blogspot.com/

Yes, buy the best fitting boots that you can afford (Arcterix is coming out with a new boot this winter that claims to climb well in case you want add that to the mix). Lightweight boots are sufficient for most conditions and liners are interchangeable to accommodate colder conditions.

Regarding skis, there are really good touring skis on sale at deep discounts on the web. Look for highly rated skis that are from the last two or three seasons. Evo.com always has good deals, for touring I have been really happy with Dynastars Cham 97 that I picked up for $199 US!

Tapawingo Markey · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 75

Honestly, I'd go tech bindings from the beginning. After messing around with a frame binding for a season I decided to spend a little cash and never looked back. Climbing is so much more efficient and the skiability of the tech bindings nowadays is pretty close to on par with most alpine bindings, especially in pow. The new radical st 2.0 is fully DIN certified and has a much more reliable release and wider mounting platform and is the way to go imo. Also get a wider ski (no less than 112 underfoot for that Cascade concrete and you'll be loving life as a skier.

In terms of boots I'd get a few on at a big box store then try to find them used for cheap on TGR. Intuition liners can be baked multiple times so as long as they're not completely beat up you can get into a tech boot for a reasonable price.

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 483

This thread has some of the better advice I've seen posted on this forum. I have to ask what your motivation for switching to skiing is if you're already proficient at snowboarding. You're looking at a minimum of 3 years to really ski decently enough to be a competent backcountry partner on moderate terrain in variable conditions.

If you want a more rigid sole for pons and somewhat technical climbing have you considered just switching to hard boots? There is a lot of information on modifications to specific AT boots to make them snowboard more naturally on the splitboard forum. Another bonus of going to a hard boot is dramatically faster transitions. You still won't match your buddies AT set up, but you can cut your time in half from a soft boot setup in my experience.

The only time that I really see an advantage of AT skiing is when you are covering lots of rolling terrain. Learn to drop a knee with your skins on for easy terrain and you can mitigate the disadvantage fairly well.

JohnSol · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 15

+1 on skiing the resort a bunch. Get a ten pass if money is an issue. Use those and go Bell to bell.

Skiing with a lift will get you up to speed much much faster. Also get your legs I in shape for the skiing part, which is where the risk is. No joke, practice falling. I do that as part of my lessons to friends.

Tech or frame, they have fairly equal issues at your level. Eventually you will want tech.

Parker Wrozek · · Denver, CO · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 83

Get combo frame and tech boots. Get a season pass to the resort. Get a mid grade ski with traditional bindings. So learn to ski all year. Stay with the splitty for this winter and start skiing next. If you go get a good 40 days on skis in the resort you will be in good shape then.

Parker Wrozek · · Denver, CO · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 83
Nick Drake wrote:Another bonus of going to a hard boot is dramatically faster transitions. You still won't match your buddies AT set up, but you can cut your time in half from a soft boot setup in my experience.
Snowboarding in hard boots is very awful though... Curious why the transition would be any faster. The transition for me is under 5 min on my split. Followed by 10 min of waiting for the skiers to show up ;).
Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 483
Parker Wrozek wrote: Snowboarding in hard boots is very awful though... Curious why the transition would be any faster. The transition for me is under 5 min on my split. Followed by 10 min of waiting for the skiers to show up ;).
Soft boot is 4 straps to ratchet down and a forward lean adjuster to flip (non event with the new spark adjuster or karakoram, pita on sparks older bindings). Hard boot plate just requires popping one toe lever down and flipping one buckle to lock your forward lean. It also faster to pop out your rear foot to skate and get it back in while riding than a soft binding.

Also touring with 1.5lbs less per foot (weight of your split binding) off the board makes a difference. Full stride of a walk mode also is nice.

With work on the cuff they can (supposedly) ride very similar to stiffer soft boot (e.g. salomon malamute). I have a pair of TLT6s I have ridden a few times to get a feel for the whole hardboot thing. I haven't modified them at all because I went to small on shell size, so I get to sell this pair and loose a bit of money. I can say I'm totally sold on the *touring* advantage of AT boots, can't say that I'm convinced they will ride exactly like a soft boot until I prove it for myself.

Also you're lucky that either your friends are out of shape or you've got some big lungs. I have a few friends that are damn near the lycra pant end of ultra-light touring set ups, there's just no keeping up with them.
Scot Hastings · · Las Vegas · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 35
Tapawingo wrote:The new radical st 2.0 is fully DIN certified and has a much more reliable release
This is a really common point of confusion. The standard that the Radical 2.0 is certified against is ISO 13992, which is a very watered-down AT-specific standard. Here's a discussion on what it covers:
wildsnow.com/14843/din-iso-…

Notably, it does not cover toe-initiated release, which the Radicals do not support. As Jon H mentioned, that slow, twisty, over-the-tips fall that beginners make all the time really begs for a toe-initiated release.

Other tech bindings (notably the Vipecs) do support toe-initiated release.

Go frame, buy a pass, and plan on a year or two doing mostly resort. In two years, you'll have even better tech options to choose from.
strudell Trudell · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 0

Wow, great thread all. My partners'll be stoked everybody is keeping me from getting hurt, and, more importantly, from slowing anyone down before I get my sh*t together. Sincere thanks to contributors.

For the question Why switch? Long traverses, with rolling terrain, suck on a split. Exposed sidehill skinning in soft boots is scary. Bootpacking in soft boots on hard snow is garbage. The typical SW BC descent from a tour includes 500m of treeline exit, ranging from survival skiing the glades through to full on luge runs, and these suck on a split. The rig is heavy to carry on your back. Transitions aren't a problem, especially if you make sure you're the first one to the top. Ski mode sucks on splits because there is no din, you are locked in, and that's scary. Finally, decked out in harness, helmet, axe, full-on action suit... and shod in mountain skate-shoes just makes me feel like an idiot.

Consensus Advice I'll Be Taking

1. Keep the splitty so I don't slow my friends down for those early-mid season powder laps.
2. Get a night pass to the local, avail myself of the lifts. Take lessons, learn drills.
3. Get tech/frame compatible high quality boots. ie Scarpa Maestrale. Try 'em on at the store, buy em used online, have the liners remolded.
4. Get frame bindings to save my knees on weird beginner style falls. ie used Fritschi Freeride
5. Get cheap sticks, 112 underfoot or more.
6. Get 40 days in before traverse season so you don't have to lug the split in spring conditions.

Any corrections? Any gear for sale? (I'm 5'10 170lbs.)

Love that y'all figure I need to buy all this without cashing in on the splitboard setup, ride the whole regular BC season, meanwhile getting 40 days at the resort on ski with my seasons pass. Nothing quite like spending someone else's time and money is there?

S

Jon H · · MD/DC · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 123

I just posted a pair of skis with AT bindings and skinsee in the Buy/Sell board. They fit your stated desired dimensions but perhaps a little bigger than you want. I think that 112 underfoot is about as large as you want to go though. 100-110 is the sweet spot for the Rockies. Any larger is just cumbersome and slow. For touring, that is. In the resort, get crazy.

I'm 6'1 180lbs and I do 90% of my touring on 95mm underfoot. I only break out the big sticks when there's 10" or more of fresh.

christoph benells · · tahoma · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 235

my quiver is:

Dynafit tlt5 boots

splitboard w/ tech toe & phantom bindings

85mm waist ski w/ tech bindings

splitboard w/ Regular snowboard boots
spark R&d bindings

160cm old school ultralight skimo skis w/ voile mtn. plates
(used as approach skis with mtn. boots)

Verts
crampons
etc.

I would like a wider waist width ski though...

Tapawingo Markey · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 75
Jon H wrote:100-110 is the sweet spot for the Rockies. Any larger is just cumbersome and slow. For touring, that is. In the resort, get crazy.
Snow in the Rockies is much different (light and cold) than maritime snowpacks. You can find skis in the 110+ range out there than are sub 8lbs and they actually your damn well.
Morgan Patterson · · CT · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 8,767
Jon H wrote:100-110 is the sweet spot for the Rockies.
120+ is dream realm brah...
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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