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Ski Gear Recommendations


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I'm looking for some suggestions for climbing ski gear.  I know there are a lot of websites out there but I'm looking for exclusively the PNW perspective with our unique snow conditions.  There are also some older topics on this forum, but ski gear changes quickly so another can't hurt?

A little about me.  My main goal is climbing and the skiing part is really to make the approaches easier (in some cases) and to speed up the decent as well as add in some extra fun.  I've been climbing for some years on rock as well as in snow and ice, but it has all been by shoe/boot and occasionally snowshoes.  I'm familiar with glacier travel and avalanche basics and I have a beacon/shovel/probe and know how to use them.  Nevertheless, I will continue avalanche education.  Objectives are anything from walk ups to moderate climbs or traverses (e.g. Baker NR, Isolation Traverse, etc).  I'm certainly not out there pushing the envelope and won't be looking to ski the sickest lines in the Cascades.  I've been a boarder in the past and have done some BC boarding, but I'd rather switch to skiing for multiple reasons instead of getting a split board.  I've only skied in-bounds with rental gear and only a handful of times.  Although I'll practice in-bounds more, I've picked it up fairly well and have had a bit of fun.  I've never used ski skins.

I have all of the normal climbing gear, so I'm really look for recommendations on the ski side:  boots, bindings, and skis.  I'll need ski crampons and skins too.  I tend to buy lightweight gear, so my preference is minimal weight and I'm willing to shell out a few more $ for that.  I'm happy to learn to climb in my ski boots, as I know that is a common suggestion to avoid lugging both ski boots and mountaineering boots around.  Since I'm not particularly familiar with skis, the options for length, width, taper, etc is a bit overwhelming.

I'm 140 lbs and 5'8" and wear a size 8-9" US shoe size (brand dependent).  My foot is on the wider size, so narrower brands like La Sportiva tend to be a bit of a tighter fit.  Price-wise, I'll probably looking for something moderate.  I don't want to get super beginning friendly stuff and be buying again too soon, but I'm also not good enough (nor rich enough) to go out and buy the top of the line stuff.  I'll be keeping my eye out for used gear, so I need to know when I see gear posted if it may be a good fit for me:

  • What size skis should I be considering?
  • What bindings should I look for?  Is Dynafit still the best?
  • What boots are good for both climbing and skiing?
  • What do you think are good weight ranges to consider?
  • Are there certain features on the skis/boots/bindings that I should make sure I get?  Obviously I'll need to be able to release the heel of the boot for skinning up.
  • Is there gear or brands to make sure I avoid?
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Go see a good boot fitter for your boots.  Evo in Fremont has some good ones.  I have Atomic Backland Carbon boots that have been punched and molded to my wide forefoot and high instep.  Boot fit is the most critical element of your setup.  Do not skip this step.  There are a ton of boots out there, I prefer a good range of motion on the cuff in walk mode for hiking, skinning and occasional climbing.

I'm a little heavier than you but essentially the same size.  My primary BC ski for the last decade are Dynafit Manaslus in a 169cm length with Dynafit Superlite bindings.  The bindings can be annoying to some because they don't have a "flat" setting and the heel is always a little elevated when you're skinning.  This setup weighs 108 oz per ski.  I wouldn't go any lighter personally, these get bossed around in hard conditions.  I have a fatter set of touring skis that weigh 166 oz each but are a lot more fun to ski.  

Lighter skis, boots and bindings are faster on the ascent but can be a liability on the descent.  You have to find what works for you.  

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3 hours ago, slb said:

Although I'll practice in-bounds more, I've picked it up fairly well and have had a bit of fun.

I would recommend getting really quite good at skiing in-bounds before you buy a BC setup.  Get a used in-bounds setup and a season pass and get so you can ski anything on the mountain well.  Adding climbing gear and crappy conditions (when the climbing conditions are good, the skiing typically is challenging) is not a recipe for fun if you are an intermediate skier.  It is much harder than you think, and the BC is no place to hurt yourself.

And @Bronco gives excellent advice RE boots and skis/bindings.  I would add that going a bit heavier on your ski setup will make it easier if you aren't an expert skier.

The folks at ProSki can answer all your questions and are a great place to buy your gear.  Evo is good too.

Good luck!


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Bronco and JasonG are giving you great advice, evo and proski northbend are great bootfitters and have great knowledge about skimountaineering. The light skimo bindings these days are amazing. I've been running dynafit speed radical toe pieces and plum 150 heel pieces for many seasons, light and no funky releases. I'm the same size as you and ski my gear very aggressive. The advice to lift ski as much as possible, is so you can handle all the conditions you will find off piste. Cheers!

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