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selkirk

Tele/Rando/Board battlecage

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Ok, so i'm pretty much a rank newbie in terms of backcountry and am wondering what the relative advantages of Tele, Randonee, or Split board settups are for backcountry turns and/or ski mountaineering? The only skiing i've done was downhill on fixed heels, it's been 2 or 3 years but I didn's suck terribly. I imagine I could pick up Randonee pretty quickly, but since i'm out of the loop and don't have any gear right now thought I would consider Boards and Tele settups as well. So what's better and why? boxing_smiley.gif

 

Thanks bigdrink.gif

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I don't think there's much difference b/w tele and rando these days but split boards suck to take apart and put together a bunch plus they are not as good on harder conditions since not very stiff. But if you haven't skiied much it should be a no brainer get fixed heel rando shit cause it will take you too long to learn how to telemark.

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I might get flamed for this but I don't think snowboards are a viable means of transportation in the backcountry. Those guys are always trying to keep up on the traverses, hills, etc. You can't break trail or set track for them easily because their boards are always wider than your skis, or they are trying to do the snowshoe thing with the sail on the pack.

 

I can tell you I have been with climbing partners who have had to back off of relatively straightforward ice because they didn't want to climb it in telemark boots (their frontpoints would not stick out far enough in front of the bill for them to be comfortable). There are crampons (such as the BD sabertooths) which can be adjusted to accomodate the bill on telemark boots, though you do lose some power with the flex of the bellows. However I have also seen some people climb some pretty fierce stuff in telemark boots. It can be done.

 

This is not to say it is easy to climb in high performance AT boots. The plastic is much stiffer than that of a typical plastic mountaineering boot. The very aspects that make an AT boot good for skiing make it a poor climbing boot.

 

Overall, I find AT boots and bindings to be the most logical choice for doing the most activities. If you have the desire to telemark, go for it. You can parallel turn in telemark gear very easily; the gear is that good these days. Most AT bindings are reliable and light now, so the choice of telemark is more a style consideration than anything. Telemark gear is nice when you have to wander through tree-choked drainages, as it is easier to "shuffle" around with the released heels w/o skins on. AT bindings are more vulnerable when the heel is released, as you can put a tremendous amount of force on that hinge in the front.

 

Hope that helps.

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So 2 more questions then....

 

How steep is the learning curve for Tele? (I was reasonably good at downhill before I stopped, comfortable/competent on pretty much any in-bounds terrain)

 

 

And does the increased force on the front AT bindings that iain mentioned, when skinning, and shuffling often cause problems or failures? Or is it just something you need to be aware of?

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Rando gear is the most practical for PNW skiing. Tele gear is better for more moderate approaches (Sierra) and if you like tele skiing. Splitboarding is for hardcore snowboarders. It's less practical than the above.

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I don't know of any binding failures on AT gear this way, but I have heard of problems when people try to "telemark" with their AT gear smile.gif which is damn near impossible anyways, and a good way to headplant (there is zero resistance on that hinge when you go over the bars).

 

I find the times when I'm really cranking on that hinge are on really steep skinning traverses, to the point that the ski/hinge is flexing enough for my heel to miss the heel riser completely, and chops off my plastic ski brake arms (freerides). All my brake arms are broken now. This can't be good for the binding, but it's still in one piece.

 

The learning curve for telemark is as steep as you want to make it. If you are committed and have some talent, you can be styling by the end of a resort day. It's one of those "get the basics" in a day "years to master" kind of things. You can always bail out into alpine turns. Overall I think a solid alpine background is a big benefit more than a hinderance.

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If you're pretty competent with your heels locked down, switching to tele is not going to be that bad. With modern gear, parallel turns are pretty easy to fall back on in the manky stuff.

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The learning curve for telemark is as steep as you want to make it. If you are committed and have some talent, you can be styling by the end of a resort day. It's one of those "get the basics" in a day "years to master" kind of things. You can always bail out into alpine turns. Overall I think a solid alpine background is a big benefit more than a hinderance.

All of the above is true for "modern" tele gear, aka platic boots, active cable bindings, fat skis. Older gear will provide different results.

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if you are looking for more of a ski mountaineering setup i would get AT gear with the older(slightly) silvretta. this will allow you to use any climbing boot that takes step-in crampons. i have a number of friends who use these bindings with AT boots as their regular bc ski set-up, and they keep up just fine.

i tele so i'm biased, but you can pretty much mountaineer any peak in tele boots. wouldn't want to be doing full apline style climbing or anything like that, but my buddy went up mt. fairweather in his t-2's. also for big cold trips you can take a thermo liner that fits in your tele boots and in your mt boots and just swap shells when the climbing calls for it (for really long trips only....like denali). the tele learning curve is fairly steep, helps if you spend a season or two on-piste to get the skill level up, having a solid alpine background has defeintely bailed me out more than once in the steeps.

i am also an ex-snowboarder and have seriously been considering getting a splitboard, my g-friend has one and i help her across the flats and whatnot. great if you are really into snowboarding, otherwise a bit of work. there are new stiffer boards than the voile noodle that edge better, but traversing on these fatties can be a problem. for ski mountaineering i would rule the current models out unless boarding is a. what your best at or b. all you know.

 

i would reccommend you get the AT set-up, or go tele if you want to get that good internal feeling of being slightly elite...kinda like when you pass all the stopped cars as uyou ride your bike to work yelrotflmao.gif

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Overall, I'd see little reason you'd want to adopt Telemark technique for ski mountaineering because the AT gear skis better and the release mechanisms are better - offering greater safety in falls and in avalanches. However, Telemark bindings are better for crawling through the woods because you can pick up the tail of your ski without having to reach down and grab it with a ski pole. This is often a significant advantage when climbing over logs and crossing creeks on stepping stones and stuff like that.

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I have used a split board and love snowboarding, but i have to agree about backcountry travels. Split boards are great for doing a few long runs in a day. But if you want to really get out there, i'd think a randonee setup would be the best. A number of my friends use them and really seem to have a good time on them.

 

Remember. Randonee is french for "Can't Tele"

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AT bindings are nice for breaking trail in deep powder. The free hinge lets the ski ride up over the snow easily.

 

There are now tele bindings that tour on a hinge like AT bindings, and actually release, if those are important to you.

 

A great telemarker carving up a slope is a beautiful thing to behold.

 

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Telemarking- a lot of fun. A real rhythm, great in powder (you get way down into it) and good conditions. Many feel it is worth the learning curve, which can be challenging. Start at an area and get solid there before you move to the balance issues of telemarking in wild snow. Not as good in shitty conditions, but you can adapt. Nice light feeling underfoot. Easy for traveling around on long tours. Not as good with a big pack.

 

AT- solid, easy if you are already an alpine skier. Comfy boots, good for climbing in too. Good for all types of snow, better than tele for shitty snow. Great for traveling, esp with a heavy pack.

 

Snowboard- uphill comfort/ practicality depends on system. Snowboards perform the best downhill in most backcountry snow- deep pow, mank, ice crust... (and I'm not a boarder).

 

It all depends on what you want to do. Many people do more than 1 style and pick the system for the day dependent on the objective and the conditions. If I'm going out for a day tour with buddies and the snow is nice, I'll usually tele. If I have a big pack or the snow is shittier, I'll usually AT. It's all fun, no matter what you decide to focus on first. No system is "best"; having fun in the snow with friends is best ) .

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OK, I'll chime in but you know what they say about opinions. I was an alpine skier for many years and starting telemarking in the late 70's - long poles, floppy boots, skinny skis. I have been exclusively tele skiing since then including at least one B.C. trip per year in Canada - usually the Selkirks. I consider myself a pretty fair tele skier - in and out of the area, mix t-turns and p-turns, have skied almost all the volcanoes, yadda yadda.

 

That said, last year I converted to AT for the backcountry (I still tele in the area). The gear is so much more efficient and safer - the climbing hinge is better, you don't bend your toe (and force the ski into the snow) on every step, the climbing bails work better, the release is much better (I destroyed an ACL on tele's), and the boots hike and climb better.

 

For a newbie there is a learning curve, altho not nearly as steep as before. A good tele skier can and does ski anything that an alpine skier can do. Last year I took both my phat tele's and my really phat AT's to the Selkirks and I skied on the tele's one day (mostly p-turns). After 7K my legs were screaming.

 

I know they do go in the B.C. and might even be the best tool for pow, but I have never had a rider that could keep up with either good tele or average AT skiers. My current Selkirk guide doesn't allow them on his trips (altho others do). I did heli ski with two snowboarders from CA last year - they had their own guide because they were out of phase with the rest of the group.

 

So, to make a short story long, this very dedicated tele skier has gone over to the dark side. Long live lock and load!

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Get an AT setup. It will probably be the most versatile, safest and least work (learning curve, etc...).

 

A splitboard could be the most fun, but isn't the most versatile... splitboards kind of suck for uphill in firm conditions. For trailbreaking uphill in deep snow though, a splitboard is a better tool. Skis are easier to navigate through dense trees, narrow trails, etc... even compared to a split in ski mode. Then again breakable crust is easier (and fun) on a board.

 

Tele is best for rolling up and down approaches or nasty approaches through frozen tree wells and over logs, where you want the stiffness of a descent tool, but the flexibility to climb.

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Tele is best for

 

Tele is best when the snow is perfect, such as light fluff or hero corn (very common in the Sierra). The vast majority of the good tele action in ATA's videy is quintessential Sierra corn.

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If you already downhill then AT is a great way to go. The gear is lighter, easier on the legs, not to mention the free range of movement during skinning that tele lacks (mentioned above). All told, AT is a great way to start in the BC for those very reasons. If in the future you want to try and learn another turn, then try tele. Try Snowboarding. Try whatever they come up with next. The above challenges can always be overcome with a mixture of skill and strength. I take some of my sports degenerative flaws (that’s umm tele BTW) as a way to spice up the challenge, the rest I save as a valid excuse as to why I am lagging at the rear of the group.

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So a friend of mine snowboards, and snowshoes to get there.

He claims he keeps up with his telemark brethren.

I have not gone yet, but plan to real soon now.

I think I will snowshoe, then jump on my snowboard.

 

Can I expect to keep up with the ski crowd on a bc tour?

Would anyone recommend this approach on a longer (5 day or so) backcountry tour covering about 20 miles?

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So a friend of mine snowboards, and snowshoes to get there.

He claims he keeps up with his telemark brethren.

I have not gone yet, but plan to real soon now.

I think I will snowshoe, then jump on my snowboard.

 

Can I expect to keep up with the ski crowd on a bc tour?

Would anyone recommend this approach on a longer (5 day or so) backcountry tour covering about 20 miles?

 

unless the snow is really deep or really steep or the tele'ers are meek, or your friend is a cardio monster his claims are junk. i used to do the bootpack/snowshoe to snowboard thing...now i tele. for a reason, it's better in the bc.

 

if the bc tour is mostly going into an area staying there and getting turns the snowshoes should work ok, if it is more of a moe camp everyday sort of thing it won't be as fun for you. my $0.02

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AT is the way to go. This is from someone who only locks his heel down once or twice a year.

 

The only real advantage of tele IMO is the comfort. Skiing out long roads at the end of the day is better with free heels, because you can rest your legs and stretch while you are moving. Traverses also suck less on tele.

 

Otherwise AT is lighter, faster, easier.

 

Tele is just sexier. wink.gif

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The only place where snowshoers are consistently as fast or faster than skiers is in steep, heavily wooded terrain.

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Or in an avalanche... frown.gif Which is another good reason to use AT gear, or at least a releasable tele binding. There's no such thing as a releasable snowshoe.

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