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New to skiing. Need some advice.

Original Post
Anthony Lubetski · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 25

Hey people of mountain project,

My wife and I just bought a house in Wenatchee, WA. It looks like the cascades will be home for a good long while. Coming from Wisconsin, I never really got past cross country skiing.

Now that I live here, I want to get into a ski setup that will let me glide in to ice climbs or into the backcountry for other alpine endeavors. I also want to use these skis to ski backcountry powder too. So basically, I suppose I'm asking what ski setup would be good for a 150lb 5' 8" dude that's just getting into skiing, primarily in the Pacific Northwest backcountry, and can only afford one set of skis?


Simon W · · Nowhere Land · Joined May 2013 · Points: 70

Dynafit "tech" bindings are the way to go if you want to be able to lock your heel down for the descent. That style of binding is called an AT binding.
It looks untrustworthy for the hard skier, but I haven't released from mine unintentionally so far...

Paired with a climbing skin you can go anywhere and do anything. Dynafit skins are cut to match their skis and are really nice.

You can get a really light setup that will be great going uphill.

Marker duke and freeride bindings weigh quite a bit more but also get the job done. All of these bindings I mentioned are designed to be used with a stiff(ish) boot so you have control going downhill. AT boots typically aren't as stiff as their alpine counterparts but they also weigh much less.

Dynafit stuff is incredibly expensive if you pay sticker price. Can't say it's worth it at that price, I shopped around for about 6 months when I got mine, and until I get a few solid seasons of backcountry excursions in, can't say I've gotten my money out of it. VERY expensive..

ryanb · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2008 · Points: 85

Go post a wanted to buy on and see what people have to sell.

Spend the most money on boots (consider buying new or budgeting for bootfitting). The late model dynafit boots (tlt5/6/7, one, neo, mercury, vulcan) are pretty easy to find used or on sale and climb well. Maybe Scarpa maestrale and sportiva if those don't fit. The new light salmon and atomic boots also look nice.

For skis i'd say you want something light, 100 ish under foot with at least tip rocker and tech bindings. Check wildsnow for reviews. People tend to let BD skis go cheap, the drift or convert might work well for you or the voile vector.

If you want something for skiing in ice climbing boots ask around for a beater pair of skis with old silvretta 404's (old wire bail frame bindings that work with ice boots). But don't spend more then $50 or so.

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

First off, can you alpine ski at all? You say that you never got past xc skiing so I'm assuming that you're a beginner skier. If that's the case, get a cheap alpine setup and put in some time at the resort. Also, take an Avy Level 1 course prior to going out. Honestly, an Intro to Backcountry Skiing course would be beneficial as well.

All of that aside, Tech bindings are the way to go and Dynafit and G3 are the best on the market. They hold up to "hard skiing" which was in question above, and will more than serve their purpose for a beginner-intermediate skier. The Speed Turn 2.0 or Original Speed Turn is light and will work just fine. If you're wanting a more reliable toe piece the Speed Radical 2.0 is the way to go. BD Ascension Nylon skins climb very well, are amongst the most affordable, and are durable. Skis, well a good ski for the PNW is rockered, typically 106 underfoot or up, that being said if you're wanting a ski more for approaching climbs then a 95-100mm underfoot ski would suffice.

Boots=the most important part of the equation. Be sure to be properly fitted at a reputable boot fitter and don't stress about forking out extra cash and paying close to retail. It is worth it and an investment that will keep on giving smiles for years to come.

Andrew Schindler · · Lakewood · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 75

Take a look on Craigslist for used backcountry/alpine touring skis. Don't even bother with bindings like the marker duke, tyrolia adrenalin, salomon guardian if you want to focus on touring. They are heavy, clunky, and far less streamlined than dynafit/tech bindings. I just switched over to dynafit and I'm kicking myself for not making the initial investment. If you mostly want to ski at the resort they can be an ok option.

Look for a light pair of skis, they can be backcountry specific but they don't have to be. Go with a waist around 100, more if you anticipate very deep days and you mostly ski fresh snow. Probably something right around your nose, a little shorter or longer is ok.

Skins, whatever.

Boots, get a light touring boot if you're not an aggressive skier, incredibly light options from dynafit, la sportiva, etc. Get a little beefier boot for more support while resort skiing, something like the scarpa rs, or even scarpa freedom. If you're doing a lot of resort skiing you will be less tired with a beefy boot.

Use alpine ski poles, 20 bucks on craigslist, or drop some major cash on collapsible, carbon poles. Not necessary at all, nice for ski mountaineering though.

Don't worry about ski crampons unless you are skinning up very steep terrain all the time.

Go used if you're trying to save, tech bindings age well.

Zachary Winters · · Mazama, Washington · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 207

If you're in Wenatchee, go to Leavenworth Mountain Sports and chat with them. You'll be close to Mission Ridge in Wenatchee which is a great place to learn

Anthony Lubetski · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 25

Thanks for the answers everyone! I downhill skied from the ages of 10-17, so I'm not a total beginner, but I'm going to suck.

And I've taken avy 1. I spend lots of time hiking the backcountry so this just seems like a normal progression because I also love going downhill.

I was assuming dynafit was gonna be the way I went, and after hearing all of your thoughts - dynafit will definitely be the way.

tnease · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 10

I live in Roslyn (about an hour .5 from wenatchee) keep me in mind when you get all set up and are looking for backcountry partners!

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 2,745
Tapawingo Markey wrote:First off, can you alpine ski at all? You say that you never got past xc skiing so I'm assuming that you're a beginner skier. If that's the case, get a cheap alpine setup and put in some time at the resort.
This ^
Nat D · · Seattle, WA · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 765

I recently started using the Fritschi Vipec 12 binding (bought off Black Diamonds site) and like it. It's dynafit compatible but has full certified DIN release in the front and rear binding. If you are getting started out, this could allow you to "grow" into your AT binding because you can keep a low release at first to avoid injury and ramp it up as you improve. They aren't the lightest, nor the heaviest, but are easy to learn and I find them user friendly.

I also got the BD Helio 105s and am loving it. This is my first season doing AT/backcountry coming from alpine only for the last 7 years, and I couldn't be happier with the Helio 105 / Vipec 12 for this transition. I found it took only a couple days at the resort to re-sync my skiing with the new rig.

Lastly, I opted for the Arcteryx Procline Carbon Support as my boot. This was a complicated choice. I have an average foot but the procline is a narrow last. I also have an old ankle fracture (ankle is bigger than the other) and the procline has very little padding / firm-plush comfort. However when I wore my Nepal evos and Spantiks on one foot, and various AT boots on the other, the procline was the boot that I felt truly could function as a one boot car-to-car solution. This has been the hardest adjustment from my alpine boots. To make the procline light, walk like a climbing boot, ski like a ski boot, fit tech bindings and standard crampons, the sacrifices came in the form of giving up thick comfy liners.

Some delicate punching (to not degrade the sole integrity under the stress of crampon use) and molding or even better custom liners will likely mitigate some minor comfort issues when I get to it.

Drilbur Drilbur · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 0

When most people close their eyes and dream of ski touring, this is the image that comes to mind. Sweeping turns down a blank canvas of freshly fallen snow in a void of silence filled only by your own breathing. It is certainly a romantic and hard to obtain goal and we all know skiers who will only suite up for the promise of these illusive perfect turns. we begrudgingly admit there have been incredible advances in freeride touring boots. This used to be a complete myth composed of Alpine boots with decorative walk mechanisms that left you trudging uphill. Now even the biggest burliest boots have a great range of motion that allow you to take longer more efficient strides even if they are a bit on the heavy side. Best of all these boots rip as hard as any but the stiffest alpine race boots so you can say goodbye to compromise.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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