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So I want to take up Ski Mountaineering / Touring

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Don't hate me, I live in this wonderful area and have never once tried skiing or snowboarding. But, after several trips over the last two years I've witnessed folks both enjoy and benefit from skis - I'm intrigued, curious and anxious to give it a try.


So some questions for those with experience or better yet have gone through (or know someone who has) a similar interest in learning a new activity!


1) What is the common ski gear for ski mountaineering?

  • Randonee?
  • Alpine Touring?
  • Other?


2) What's the best way to get started getting comfortable on skis and picking up touring? (I have friends who ski in bounds at Crystal, etc. but I'm alone in the interest of touring and ski mountaineering)

  • Assuming the best bet will be to take a beginners ski course up at the Summit next January
  • Other suggestions?


3) What's a good setup (Skis, bindings, skins, boots, etc.) to get into it for not too much $ but will be versatile to maybe last a season or two while I get my feet wet?

  • When / where is a good place to look into used gear?
  • Being that I'm also getting more into ice climbing, would randonee boots be better for use with crampons?



Any other advice is greatly appreciated! I'm all new to this idea and want to keep my eyes out in the off season to see if there are any used/off season deals on gear to get started. Also want to make sure I'm planning ahead for next winter!


I know I'll have to hit up Pro Guiding's Touring classes and trips for sure.

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1. Alpine touriing and randonee are the same thing. Yes. Above all, don't start off telemarking, unless you're a masochist. And this is coming from a telemarker of about 35 years, well, one who's been trying that long anyway.


2. Develop your ski skills first. Until then you'll be a liability to your partners, or yourself, in the backcountry. Yes, lessons are an excellent start, but developing your skills will be more a function of TIME ON THE SNOW. Wherever you go, get a season pass, and use it, not just both weekend days but during the week (night skiing) too. Get a pass at the hill that will benefit you the most, whether it be where buddies go, there's night skiing, or terrain that will not just allow, but force you, to improve.


3. For BC touring, the lightest Dynafit setup possible. But for inbounds, you may want a regular alpine set-up that's appropriate--depends on your financial situation of course. I know many others here are better versed than I on AT, and downhill, equipment.


If you're fairly athletic, get in many days during your first season (30-50?), you could conceivably be ready in the spring for backcountry, harvestable corn snow such as we have now. Skiing powder is a whole different story, and typically takes longer to learn--you'll want to develop your powder skills by skiing the off-piste inbounds first, and I wouldn't expect you to be able to ski BC powder until at least your second year, even with many days on the snow up to then.


Lastly, and most important, you need to develop your own knowledge for the BC, where it's all about avoiding avalanches. Head into the BC with knowledgeable partners, who know where to go, and how to avoid avalanche danger, or, if God forbids it ever happens to you, know what to do if you do get in an avalanche. You can get only so much by reading. By learning from others and actually experiencing it at the same time will you learn the most. So, for that matter, you'll at least want to take a Level I course early on.


No hating, there's plenty of love to go around in the BC. Have fun and good luck.

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If you want heals that lock and unlock Randonee = Rando = Alpine Touring. Otherwise you'd be telemarking, split boarding or suffering.


You'll be in the backcountry. You need navigation skills. Mountaineering/scrambling, and winter traveling experience is important.


Take an Avalanche Level-1 class.


Spend most of your money on boots that fit your feet. You can get a beater pair of skis and replace them later.

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Thanks for the advice/thoughts so far.


I have taken an AIARE Level 1 and plan to take Level 2 next winter. I also have experience with navigation skills and winter travel.

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I'd try to find some used dynafit bindings on craigslist / tay... I've put my old dynafit bindings through lots of touring and inbounds skiing, and they're just fine. I'm sure if you are used to stiff alpine binding and boots then my setup would feel a bit squishy... but I don't notice it and appreciate getting used to my setup in bounds.


I agree with others that skiing in bounds and getting comfortable is the easiest / safest way to go. I think the notion that you need to do every weekend day and a few nights is probably a bit much - if you pick things up fast stacking a few weekends together will get you a long ways if you stay on the slopes most of the day.


have fun


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I'm very biased, but my advice is: hire a guide. Take an Intro to Backcountry Skiing (or whatever the company calls it), rent gear for the first time, and afterwards you'll have a much better idea of what you want and don't want. Maybe go out a few times with a few different setups to settle on your boots/bindings/ski preferences.


My opinion - and it is very, very biased - hiring a guide is the best bang for your buck. Just like ski lessons at the resort. Yes, you can learn from your friends. And you can take group lessons with 3 or 4 other people with a variety of ski abilities and bc experience. But for the fastest learning curve, hiring a guide 1:1 will get you the fastest results.

Edited by chris

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