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mzvarner

I'm making the switch

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Fist off... I figured this was a much discussed topic, so I searched through the pages of this forum for info (as well as other forums).

 

I have been snowboarding for 16 years. the last four of them I have been using a splitboard (home made) in the backcountry. I quickly learned that (in my opinion) the split board system is not ideal for approaches and ski mountaineering mainly due to the weight of the system and lack of stiffness in boots.

 

I am switching to skiing. I have gone a handful of times to the resort over the past few years, but this year I plan on skiing at the resort as much as possible to gain enough skill to get setup for late season/ spring skiing.

 

I plan on skiing the volcanos year round and approaching climbs (dragon tail, Stuart, Chair peak, hyalite ice, etc). (I will stick to my split board for those deep powder days or strictly back country trips). My question is mainly about ski design and whats best for around the PNW. Rocker, camber, reverse rocker w/ camber? also what size and widths seem the most versatile for year round use here. Im 6'0" and 200#.

 

thanks much, hope to see ya out there!

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My fiancee made the same choice a bit ago after going out with skiing friends and trying to keep up on a splitboard, and not enjoying the splitboarding as much. She still boards on good powder days but enjoys touring with the rest of us now, although her skiing is still improving. She's skied a couple of volcanoes and done some other good stuff. She's been pretty happy with her K2 Talkbalk/Waybacks and I have a pair as well that I use for spring ski mountaineering, fairly cheap and versatile.

 

Fora quiver of one I might got a bit wider though, around 100mm underfoot maybe? I have a pair of K2 sidestashes that are decent but a bit heavier than I would like. There are more wide stiff boards on the market if you have the dough. I think for versatility you want just a bit of tip and tail rocker and some normal camber, but I'm not an expert.

 

Check out www.wildsnow.com for some good reviews too. Have fun!

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I totally agree that skiing is the ideal way to travel in the backcountry. After snowboarding for over 25 years I started skiing a couple years ago. With that being said, if i want to ski a big line in the cascades, I do not have the skills to do so on skis, so I will ride it.

 

Before you completely throw in the towel, check out Phantom Splitboard Bindings. It's a system designed to be used with modern lightweight AT boots: TLT 5's or 6's, La Sportiva Sideral's. Unlike hardboot bindings of the past (designed for racing), the Phantom set-up is designed to have lateral and medial flex. I LOVE this set-up. My splittty is lighter then my skis, and shreds it up. Worth taking a look:

 

http://www.phantomsnow.com/

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olymntboy was spot on with bit of tip rocker, and some normal camber under foot. Not sure I can speak to tail rocker as much but a little upturn at the back can be good for slip-sliding which as maybe a non-expert skiing you will do more of.

 

the best volcano skiing, reliably imo, is in the spring-summer..you can easily get by with 75mm underfoot for that. That said. The 'fatness' of the ski if you go find a post from 2-3years ago people will say 90-100, now people say 100.. hopefully that is the top out. Maybe it's being more oregon centric but we don't get 2ft of blower powder.. i have a friend of your stature+ who runs 78mm underfoot and powder skis here on hood and he hoots and hollers with fun the entire time. Never seen it hold him back a bit. Has run those same skis off the top of about every volcano as well. More often than not in the NW you will be dealing with a lot of variable snow, esp. year round on volcanoes. Personally I think do not be afraid of something that is 88-95 underfoot, that ~5mm diff is not a make or break and it can save a lot of weight, depending on budget and such. That mm underfoot was spoken of as a fat ski 5-7 years ago. Smaller ski width = smaller skin area = better grip and less weight too. additionally if you are to hear arguments about what is 'easier' to ski on breakable crust and such should almost summarily be thrown out imo, because that just absolutely blows in the first place--you don't buy a 2ton pickup as your daily driver because 2 times a year you need to move a bed frame..

 

so.. 88-100mm underfoot, slight to moderate camber, bit of rocker/early rise tips, bit of tail rocker or upturned tail rocker optional. for your height probably 176? you could get by anything from 170-183 probably just fine.. 170 maybe a bit small but easier to deal with too. maybe you can plop $40 at a local place to demo some things--I did that before buying, was a bit helpful for sure--for instance I found a volkl nanuq great but dynafit manaslu squirrely. If I recall that came down to the nanuq having more camber, easier for a beginner skier to wield.

 

not sure costs but both these weigh great amounts, the carbon synapse looks damn good frankly but the zenoxide might be a bit more of a workhorse and be easier to ski while you're mastering the craft? anyone feel free to correct me if i'm mistaken what I've relayed, i dove into bc skiing a few years ago so i'm no pro.

 

http://www.genuineguidegear.com/gear/skis/zenoxide-carbon-93

http://www.genuineguidegear.com/gear/skis/synapse-carbon-101

 

 

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Thanks for the input so far guys

 

Sol- I have a hard time buying a pair of ski boots for my split board. To me it seems like im trying to tweak the wrong tool for the job (choking up on a framing hammer to use as a finishing hammer?). I also already dropped some serious coin and bought a pair of the Magneto Speed split bindings and love them!

 

Water- I am renting skis at the local ski hills. They are nothing special, but it allows to try a variety of sizes to figure out the difference and what feels best.

 

From my research so far it seemed like 90mm underfoot was what was being recommended. I also saw a lot of people putting out good reviews on skis like the K2 Shuksan and Coomback. (Sounds like the Shuksan was designed for us PNW skiiers?). These reviews are a few years old tho. It also seems that the "trend" has been to go wider. (correct me if I am wrong...) But wide skis are best for deep pow. We dont see much of that around here. If we do I plan on using my splitboard on those days as previously stated.

 

A narrower ski is going to have a better grip on the uphill (and downhill?) because there is less relative surface area so more pressure being exerted? So a narrow under foot ski (but wider than my boot, I have read people have problems w/ this?) w/ a little extra rocker at the tip and camber under foot?

 

I can see what the rocker is doing; helping keep the tip up out of snow, crust, crud, crevase, etc. but what is the camber doing?

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"Fat" skis are so light and laterally stiff these days, I'm not sure the traditional logic remains true. My Volkl Nunataqs are 107 underfoot and are one of the most versatile skis I've owned. I do also have a skinnier, even lighter pair for summer skiing though.

 

My question about your idea is that if you plan to snowboard all winter then just ski when you want to go in the mountains, are you going to have the skills necessary? If you're going to switch to skis maybe you should ditch the board completely to develop your ski skills.

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Regarding camber, some people would argue it gives more "pop" and better performance on firm snow. However I think this idea is being questioned these days and you're seeing lots of all around skis being made with considerable less camber. Unless you really want to rail groomers all day, a really cambered ski probably isn't what you're after.

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I might take a look at the voile vector if I was you. Its a bit more of a ski mountaineering ski but at 94 underfoot its fairly versatile. It doesn't have a big shovel (118 mm) but rockered tip makes up for that flotation wise.

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Pete- I am giving up the board for the most part. This is my first year skiing seriously at all. So all my time in the resort is going to be on rented ski equipment. Since I still want to go into the back country on my days off, I will take the split board. When my buddies want to go ride powder and spend a few days in the back country at one of the cabins around here, ill ride the split board. Then hopefully at the end of the season Ill have enough coin put away and skill built up that I will be able to get some spring corn turns on new gear.

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pete, you're quite the skier, please understand I defer to your more extensive background but i'm curious if you could elaborate more on the lessening of camber and how it may relate to gaining edge hold when scraping down something steep vs railing on groomers? My understanding is part of that holding an edge is not having too much side-cut, but also having some camber too.

 

that voile vector looks good. You've got your split for the fun deep days, really any weight you can bleed off your feet = performance gains. You specifically called out volcanoes, I do think something 88-90 would overall serve you better than something 100+ would. unless you pony $ for the lightest fat skis they're still going to weigh more than something smaller. not to mention the skins on them. To answer your question you've basically got it about better grip up (smaller area of skin=more contact/pressure). And yes you would not want a ski tons skinnier than your boot but that would be into skimo race ski width (60mm) which i would not recommend as an all arounder.

this is a great link: http://skimo.co/light-is-right

 

 

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sol has the right stuff.

 

you dont have to give up on the splitboard. phantoms and dynafit tlts are the way to go. I've got quiver killers in my board and ski set-up so i have one set of dynafit bindings and boots for both a splitboard and skimo skis.

 

you can go just as far, just as fast, and just as efficient on a splitboard. You just have to know what you're doing...

 

that being said if i were just going to approach a climb i would do a ski setup, mostly because they are skinnier so there is less drag and more glide. (78mm width skis with mohair skins)

 

The bigger part of the whole backcountry deal is knowing your equipment (and terrain) well so your not just fiddling with gear all day. Thats what kills your efficiency and drains your muscle power.

 

most people take way too much stuff. too much clothing, too many gadgets, elaborate foods, etc.

Edited by christophbenells

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For a guy @ 6ft @ 200# I wouldn't go any shorter than 178, unless the skis are just for approach and not for enjoying the down. 90-100 underfoot (more float on the down, more grab on the up; trade off between weight, friction , etc.). Something with camber to deal with ice on the down, rockered skis suck on the up. Leashes, tech binders w/o brakes, ski crampons, dynafit/scarpa/La sportiva boots. My 2cents.

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The problem w/ the phantom set up is that it looks like ~$850 just for the bindings. Then factor in a new split board around $700 (I currently am riding a home cut franken-board that was 99$ at a local outlet store), and ski boots $500-$800.

 

In my mind, I may as well just get set up w/ AT skis that I intend to use for approaches and Ski mountaineering/ descents. Then I have my fall back (split board) for the powder days.

 

My objectives are not gnarly awe inspiring lines. I want to get down from muir faster, ski the classic lines on Adams, Baker, Rainier, etc. as well as make the resort fun.

 

Now I am second guessing myself all together. I have a pair of spantiks and I have used them w/ the split board. It was OK, not great, but ok. I could just invest in a real splitboard and shut up and get out in the back country. I will have more confidence in my abilities as a snowboarder on sketchy terrain versus newb on skies.

 

 

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For a guy @ 6ft @ 200# I wouldn't go any shorter than 178, unless the skis are just for approach and not for enjoying the down. 90-100 underfoot (more float on the down, more grab on the up; trade off between weight, friction , etc.). Something with camber to deal with ice on the down, rockered skis suck on the up. Leashes, tech binders w/o brakes, ski crampons, dynafit/scarpa/La sportiva boots. My 2cents.

 

I would argue fatter skis have more "grab" going up because there's more surface area. Side hilling might be a bit more challenging though. I also don't think rockered skis suck to climb with unless they are like super rockered reverse camber or something.

 

Water, I'm definitely no expert. Lots of people know way more about skis then me. I think, though, to answer your question about camber, there are lots of factors that would play into how well a ski holds on and steep icy surface. On one extreme, a soft ski with lots of rocker and no camber won't hold well at all. I think ski makers are incorporating different concepts to make skis versatile, like a fairly stiff ski with rocker and some camber(though less than you would have traditionally seen). A ski like this will ski a wide variety of conditions well, and while it might not hold an edge like a downhill racing ski, it will be just fine for most freeskiing applications.

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i see the rome whiteroom on sale on the interwebs at $389. that board weighs 6 lbs.

 

you can find used dynafits for under 200 (or just the toe peices for $165 new), i see some bd slants for 150$ new. Take a dremel to em and they ride ok. or find some used tlt5's. Burton race plates are around 100$ for a full split binding setup.

 

you can do it for cheap if you try.

 

Don't get me wrong i love skiing as well. I definitely encourage you to get a ski setup also.

 

if you tried ski touring on the equivelant gear that you are on on a split you would hate it, ever try alpine trekkers?

 

 

Edited by christophbenells

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I see this trend happening with people who *usually* have limited experience splitboarding. They decide to learn to ski late in life and immediately want to go in the backcountry (since that was their whole goal in the first place). There is a big problem, becoming a TRULY competent expert skier takes years. Going out and skiing variable snow/terrain without the proper skill set does make you a liability for your touring partners. A torn ACL in the backcountry is no joke.

Please don't take that as a personal attack, it's just an observation I've seen. You mentioned wanting to ski inbounds for at least a season first, you get it, but a lot of people do not.

 

As for splitboarding and efficiency in the mountains, when it comes to transitioning you will never match the times of someone with tech bindings, no way around it. You can significantly lower your time if you think about little ways to be more efficient. If you have been touring for 2-4 hours on a big day no one is going to jump up and down angry that you took a minute longer than them anyway.

 

Rolling terrain? Buck up and ride faster to get further in the flats. Transition to touring and just drop a knee on the downhills,

it's pretty easy to ski down moderate slopes with skins on. If you come to a mellow 500 foot downslope on the tour out and your ski friends take their skins off you may actually make it to the bottom before they have put skins back on, it's happened to me many times.

 

In terms of mountaineering/climbing what are you objectives? If it's just regular volcano ski mountaineering the fitwell soft boots will take a crampon perfectly and work well while using the bindings you already own. Beware the liners suck, there is a good chance you will end up getting intuitions.

 

I think hardboots are a better long term solution for touring. Great weight reduction while touring, faster transitions (depending on binding), WALK MODE, you can wear lycra and no one will question it, and you get to sing the "juicy fruit" song from their ads in the 80s while touring. I just had a set of TLT6s fit, haven't had a chance to ride them yet but am very impressed by the carpet flex test. Without mods they seem similar to my salomon malamutes when they were newish. Very light and well fitted. Swinging a crampon around in to some wood in the garage they feel much more precise than any snowboard boot, but that might be a placebo effect after spending all the money.

 

For touring give the toe pieces that Chris of Ranger Bindings in New Zeleand is making, lighter than dynafit and no icing in springs.

 

Spark does have the Dyno DH hardboot binding available, same tesla system as your current bindings. It won't pull the board as tight as the phantom set up, but it's much cheaper and doesn't require as much clearing of ice (phantom fit is very precise).

 

If you really want to learn to ski go for it, the important thing is having fun. If you're just considering it because you felt splitboarding wasn't "efficient" then look for ways to mitigate the drawbacks. I wouldn't drop something I spent decades mastering that is very enjoyable just because I hadn't mastered a new way to travel doing it.

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@ NDrake- thanks for the excellent post. I do not feel attacked. I think you make a very good point about safety. I had no intentions of doing any backcountry skiing this year for that very reason. I know of one guy, an experienced skier, who broke his tib-fib after a freak slip up down the bunny hill on the first run of the day getting to the lift. Me personally, I have already had a bad fall rock climbing where I had a spine fracture among other breaks. Safety in the mountains is important to me.

 

On another note, since my original post I have thought more about it. I am leaning more towards staying with the split board. I think I'll by a real one next season and get a pair of crampons for it. I think my main motivation for wanting to switch actually stems from boredom at the resort. Riding groomers is kinda boring after 15 years so I wanted to make the resort fun again.

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Is NDrake Nick Drake? I snowboarded a bit with a Nick Drake in the late 90s or so (probably at snoqualmie and alpental IIRC).

 

Coincidentally, I made the snowboard to ski switch a few years back myself. For me, as my interests focused more on combining climbing and sliding on snow, it just made more sense. Some minor regrets, but not many...

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I switched from a split to skis this season. I skied as a kid though so the transition isn't as brutal as it might be for some. Have yet to go to a resort, but so far I've been able to keep up with my skiing buddies on the downhill. Sliding on snow is fun no matter what's strapped to your feet.

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While mountaineering boots (ICE 9000s and Spantiks) never treated me poorly with some Spark bindings, I'm loving my TLT5 and Phantoms. So versatile, much lighter and rips. Spendy, YES, but worth every penny IMHO. There's ways to trim down the price point, so if you haven't given up on the split for your mountaineering objectives I'd suggest really considering that I option.

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Is NDrake Nick Drake? I snowboarded a bit with a Nick Drake in the late 90s or so (probably at snoqualmie and alpental IIRC).

 

Yup, if they did a lot of methods that would probably be me! Actually I don't know of any other Nick Drake's who rode Schralpental so I'm sure it was.

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