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Skis vs. Splitboard for Technical Climbing


James T · · Livermore · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 80
Nick Drake wrote:

If you go this route just make sure that you don't get a boot fitter going for an alpine ski "performance fit" on you, go with 2 fingers in the shell if you can w/o heel lift. Going with a normal ski fit you WILL bash your toes front pointing. 

Good to know.

I'm looking at the hardboot setup w/ Spark dynos and was going to use the off-season to get fit for TLTs, proclines and some of the LS line. I have wide, hight volume feet so it could be interesting.

brian burke · · santa monica, ca · Joined Nov 2013 · Points: 115
James T wrote:

Good to know.

I'm looking at the hardboot setup w/ Spark dynos and was going to use the off-season to get fit for TLTs, proclines and some of the LS line. I have wide, hight volume feet so it could be interesting.

tlts are a very slim fit in my experience, not sure about the others.

builttospill · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 0

I have experimented with a few different approaches to this.  Like OP, I am a pretty good snowboarder but never learned to ski when I was younger.  So I faced the dilemma of deciding between investing the time + energy to learn to ski well versus the slightly added frustration of a splitboard over AT skis.  A few thoughts:


1. I ride my splitboard in mountaineering boots (La Sportiva K4S).  With strap bindings, I ride pretty much as well as I ride at the resort.  This is totally feasible for the types of riding you would do on a typical descent (i.e. not riding a narrow couloir, but descending a wide-open apron, etc.)

2. Don't underestimate the skill needed to ski in the backcountry.  If you've never skied before, sure, you can go to the resort for a few days and probably get good enough to ski blue squares.  But skiing on variable conditions, on less-than-ideal gear (i.e. not a downhill setup, because you're going ice climbing, after all), is a helluva lot different.  You're already a good snowboarder, so at minimum you can survival snowboard through bad snow conditions.  The amount of time and energy spent learning to ski well enough so that it is not a headache is going to be very large.  People don't just become ski mountaineers overnight.

3. I never found the hassle of rolling terrain that much of a problem on a splitboard.  On a trip with skiers, I would typically transition one or two more times than they would.  Remember, they have to remove + apply skins also.  Once you know how to set up your board, it will take you less than 2 minutes extra to do that versus just adding/removing skins.  That may sound like a lot and in the moment it may be frustrating, especially if you're in a big hurry.  But falling your way down a long descent because you're a shitty skier is going to ruin your day in a much bigger way.

Ty Falk · · Park City, UT · Joined Nov 2011 · Points: 270
Jason Killgore wrote:

I'd look into a very light AT setup. Take a few resort days to become passable as a skier so you dont hurt yourself or a tourist on popular bobsled trails in places like RMNP. I agree with other folks that the classic silvretta approach ski is obsolete at this point. AT gear has gotten very light and very good. 

In the silvretta heyday, a typical setup might be 1600-2000g / ski, 1000g / binding and then you had your typical mountaineering boot (say Sportiva nepal or Scarpa Inverno (1200-1300g / boot). The setups were mostly only useful for approach, and even then the skinning efficiency and even security (e.g. on a side-hill traverse) is awful.

Total weight (w/o skins) = 3800 g per foot

Consider that a lightweight AT boot now weighs around 800-1000g per boot (Scarpa Alien, Dynafit PDG, Sportiva Syborg). A lightweight binding is around 150-200g. A lightweight ski is around 800-1100g/ski. note - I'd consider going just bigger than rando-race size for the ski (so maybe 70-75mm waist, 170 length, 1 kg-ish weight). It will be more forgiving than a pure race ski (64 mm waist, 160 length) and give a bit more float on deeper approaches. You could switch to a race ski down the road if you found yourself carrying them over often and weight was truly at a premium.

Total weight (w/o skins) = 2000 g per foot 

A setup that really pushes the weight could be in the 1500 g per foot range.

For moderate routes with skiable descents, plan to climb in the ski boots. For harder routes, or rappel descents, plan to carry climbing boots in your pack on the approach and leave your skis at the base. Your total weight on the approach with the latter option will be lower and not on your foot. Furthermore, skinning efficiency, side-hilling and skiing will improve dramatically.

Ty Falk · · Park City, UT · Joined Nov 2011 · Points: 270
Jason Killgore wrote:

I'd look into a very light AT setup. Take a few resort days to become passable as a skier so you dont hurt yourself or a tourist on popular bobsled trails in places like RMNP. I agree with other folks that the classic silvretta approach ski is obsolete at this point. AT gear has gotten very light and very good. 

In the silvretta heyday, a typical setup might be 1600-2000g / ski, 1000g / binding and then you had your typical mountaineering boot (say Sportiva nepal or Scarpa Inverno (1200-1300g / boot). The setups were mostly only useful for approach, and even then the skinning efficiency and even security (e.g. on a side-hill traverse) is awful.

Total weight (w/o skins) = 3800 g per foot

Consider that a lightweight AT boot now weighs around 800-1000g per boot (Scarpa Alien, Dynafit PDG, Sportiva Syborg). A lightweight binding is around 150-200g. A lightweight ski is around 800-1100g/ski. note - I'd consider going just bigger than rando-race size for the ski (so maybe 70-75mm waist, 170 length, 1 kg-ish weight). It will be more forgiving than a pure race ski (64 mm waist, 160 length) and give a bit more float on deeper approaches. You could switch to a race ski down the road if you found yourself carrying them over often and weight was truly at a premium.

Total weight (w/o skins) = 2000 g per foot 

A setup that really pushes the weight could be in the 1500 g per foot range.

For moderate routes with skiable descents, plan to climb in the ski boots. For harder routes, or rappel descents, plan to carry climbing boots in your pack on the approach and leave your skis at the base. Your total weight on the approach with the latter option will be lower and not on your foot. Furthermore, skinning efficiency, side-hilling and skiing will improve dramatically.

I have race boots and TLT's and promised myself to never take race boots into the real mountains again. I have almost lost my toes trying to climb the grand in January in race boots. Also putting a real crampon like a Petzl lynx on a race boot can crack the shell from the pressure of the heal throw. The little extra weight of the TLT makes it much warmer and a better performing boot for climbing and skiiing. Some of the better Splitboard's I know use hard boots so they can use a real crampon or the spark system if there not into hard boots.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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