Approach Skis to the Climb for a non-skier


Original Post
Gary Stoker · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 0

Whats a good setup for Long distance over mountainous terrain skis for the approach for a non-skier.


mark felber · · Wheat Ridge, CO · Joined Jul 2005 · Points: 28

Snowshoes? I would suggest learning to ski and getting some mileage in before using skis to approach and/or return from climbs.


eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 136

learn to ski. If you've never touched skis in your life then you're probably better off with snowshoes, but skis are much more efficient if you are going both uphill and downhill.


Gary Stoker · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 0

So in general what is everyone on, Has everyone switched to AT gear for backcountry jaunts to an objective?


jason.cre · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 0

It all depends how gnarly the terrain is. If it is a relatively mellow approach your best bet would be nordic skis.


Brandon.Phillips · · Alabama · Joined May 2011 · Points: 0

This was a set up I liked when living in AK, had plenty of non-ski friends use this in the Alaska range as well as climbs around Anchorage:

Silvretta Bindings 500+
Metal Edged Nordic Ski (like the BC Positrack in the 75-125 range)

http://www.rossignol.com/US/US/nordic-men-skis.html

Silvretta Bindings clip onto mountaineering boots like a crampon. I don't know if they are produced anymore, but you can find them on eBay. I liked the thinner skis (Positrack 90s). I never climbed anything huge with them and never used skins. I had a friend with 125s that used BD climbing skins with his.

They are so much faster than snowshoes, and if you go Silveretta you can avoid changing/ carrying a different pair of boots. I'm sure by now there are probably other companies making a similar binding. From everything I see online it seems like people are just climbing in their AT setups now.


David A · · Amsterdam, Netherlands · Joined Oct 2008 · Points: 205

I used a pair of old, borrowed skis with Silvretta bindings for my Denali trip with absolutely no knowledge or skill of skiing. I had gotten familiar with using the system over a few days here and there in the months before my trip, but other than that, hadn't skied a day in my life. Granted, I ditched the skis at 11K foot camp and bootpacked it from there on up, but it made for travel on the lower glacier a breeze, and am now convinced that skis (or in my case, a split board) are vastly superior for over-snow travel in the backcountry vs snowshoes.

The nice thing about the Silvretta bindings are that you can use them with your regular mountaineering boots, but the down side is that they are hard to find (not in production anymore) and a little heavier than say a Dyna fit setup.


Gary Stoker · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 0

I know that if it's mostly a flat approach xc would be the best but for more hilly, rocky, mountainous terrain it would be different, a good combination of busting crud and flotation but also being able to travel the distance.


jaredj · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 0

The most expensive, steepest learning curve, but best long-run outcome is to get a dedicated AT setup with tech bindings and lightweight modern boots (which are more than capable of steep snow climbing and moderate ice / mixed climbing). In this scenario you're climbing in the ski boots (with the top strap / buckle undone and the stiffener tongues removed if you have them - this is also the way you skin as well).

Silvretta approach skis with your existing climbing boots is a solution that I think is falling by the wayside as modern AT boots have advanced to the point of being capable for legit climbing.

Some flavor of nordic ski is really good but only if you are pretty sure you're not going to have to cope with deep / soft snow or extended uphills and downhills.


Gary Stoker · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 0

Well of course if money was no object, I'd grab a pair of these arc'teryx procline boot and some sort of AT setup, I've put together a couple sets of Tele 3 pin binding and skis and might just try them since I'm not in a location that has any or much snow during the winter, so buying some crazy expensive setup that would barely get used, doesn't seem overly logical.


calebmmallory · · NC, Seattle, and Hong Kong · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 175

Mountain Approach Skis are great for shorter approaches:
http://www.mtnapproach.com/index.php


Idaho Bob · · McCall, ID · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 53

Snowshoes while slow may be a better choice unless you're willing to learn to ski tour. Use of skins, swithbacks on steep terrain, efficient climbing with a pack are just some of the things to consider. Spend time in the boots before a long trip to build blister resistance. On Mt. Logan a few years ago I met two climbers from the UK who had each summited Everest twice. Had never been on ski before but thought it would be trivial given their experience. Ha!. They never made it past camp 3.


t.farrell · · New York, NY · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 0

Read this article:

https://www.wildsnow.com/3671/ski-gear-climbing-boots/

If you think you'll ever get into skiing as more than just a means to get to a climb, then invest in real AT kit with Dynafit bindings and light touring boots. Skinny skis are better when you're also hauling climbing eqpt. I wouldn't go over 100mm underfoot but that's personal preference.

If they're just for access maybe look into an XCD ski (madshus annum comes to mind) with Silvretta bindings so you can wear your ice boots. Downhill won't be pleasant but you can get the job done.


Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 87
Gitrinec wrote:Well of course if money was no object, I'd grab a pair of these arc'teryx procline boot and some sort of AT setup, I've put together a couple sets of Tele 3 pin binding and skis and might just try them since I'm not in a location that has any or much snow during the winter, so buying some crazy expensive setup that would barely get used, doesn't seem overly logical.
None of these parameters were stated in your original post, so don't get too sassy when the suggestions posted in response to your vague question don't meet you liking. The best way to handle this problem can be very dependent on a lot of factors, so providing more information would be very helpful.

I think that all of the methods mentioned (snowshoes, silvretta, AT, splitboard) have merit, and they might all be appropriate in the right circumstances. Without knowing your circumstances, it's hard to know which to suggest. Some random food for thought:

-How long is a "long distance" approach? 2 miles? 10 miles 50 miles?
-What is the terrain? All snow? Above or below treeline? How hilly? How much climb? On or off trail?
-Do you plan on skiing down? Are snow conditions good enough for skiing down?
-Do you prefer to snowboard rather than ski?
-Do you need to do the climb in climbing boots or are ski boots ok?

I have used 3 of the 4 methods (snowshoes, Silvrettas, splitboard) and still see all of them having a place. Learning to ski and going AT is also really appealing, but the learning curve is tough for me to swallow as a snowboard-capable climbing-focused person.

Gary Stoker · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 0

Here is an elevation profile image, this is Gannett peak, the distance back from the trailhead is about 17-18 miles though there is a possiblity of having to slog another 14-15 miles up hill to the trailhead during this time of the year. I've actually got a pair of Madshus Epoch skis with Voile Hardwire bindings though I'm not sure how they'd perform in that terrain. I also have some ASNES USGI surplus skis which are waxable with some Voile Cable bindings as well.

Gannet Peak elevation profile


t.farrell · · New York, NY · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 0
Gitrinec wrote:Here is an elevation profile image, this is Gannett peak, the distance back from the trailhead is about 17-18 miles though there is a possiblity of having to slog another 14-15 miles up hill to the trailhead during this time of the year. I've actually got a pair of Madshus Epoch skis with Voile Hardwire bindings though I'm not sure how they'd perform in that terrain. I also have some ASNES USGI surplus skis which are waxable with some Voile Cable bindings as well.
They'll work just learn how to use them properly. Easy enough to switch out the bindings. You could even put AT bindings on them, but if they're just for access then the idea would be to stay in your ice boots. There are plenty of options for skins if you feel you need a pair. I have a pair of BD GlideLite Kickers as an emergency pair, but more often than not they're not needed.

It all comes down to what you want to do and what your budget is.

jaredj · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 0

doligo · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2008 · Points: 212

It depends a lot on the snow conditions as well. If the snow is faceted and/or rotten but deep on steeper slopes, the only way could be the snowshoes. Couple years ago we attempted to approach an ice climb on skis (couple miles from the car), but the last couple hundred feet to the climb we couldn't get much traction on skis and could not move much in deep snow off skis, so after battling for an hour and making no progress, we retreated. Came back the next day with snowshoes and it took us 5 min to get up the same slope!


hikingdrew · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 15

This might be an option between snowshoes and skis:
http://altaiskis.com


Ain't That Rich · · White Oaks, NM · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 0

Climbing in AT boots absolutely sucks. Skiing in climbing boots also really sucks. Especially if you're a fat guy skiing complex terrain. Skiing easy, open spring glaciers approaching Denali is not the same as winter skiing a river drainage in the Winds.

I use older MSR Denalis with the extra flotation to navigate the San Juans in winter and have learned to pull my gear with a sled for multi-day epics. Though, even with that set-up I've been turned back by the steep and deep. I've also epic'ed with AT gear through the Sangres. BTW, don't even THINK of skiing with a pack on!

Stick with snowshoes if you have no experience with skis, though I highly recommend raiding the local gear swap for Silvrettas and old crappy skis and skins. For about $150 you can pick up enough gear to hurt yourself at a resort, because if you hurt yourself or break your gear in the backcountry, you'll be way screwed. Also, what works well in one region (or even season), may not work so well in another.

Read up on Wild Snow...it's a treasure trove of useful info.


Don Ferris · · Eldorado Springs · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 0

In my extremely limited, newbie like experience, I'd say get something that has scales on the bottom so you don't have to put on and take of skins (unless it's steep) and a binding that you can switch from tour to ski and vice versa without taking your boot out completely. Those are my two biggest gripes as a climber who tries to ski.


Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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