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Old 12-10-2015, 07:12 PM   #1
rdl
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AT/Randonee question

I've picked up some inexpensive, unused(new circa 2009) AT skis. Online reviews are excellent, but they are basically 5+ years old. I need to get boots and bindings now. I'm a longtime tele and alpine skier, never tried AT gear. Not quite sure why I want to add new equipment to my ski quiver, but now that I have the skis I have to get bindings and boots...

So some basic questions:
1) are some/most/all AT bindings releasable ?
2) I find my tele setup is not that much fun in icy conditions when I'm at a resort -- will I have a better/worse/same experience in my new AT setup when at a resort ?

Any suggestions on boots/bindings combo are welcome.

Thanks in advance...
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Old 12-10-2015, 09:08 PM   #2
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In answer to your questions:
1. All (that I know of)
2. Better, probably...

All of the AT bindings that I have ever seen have some form of release, after all, they're alpine bindings with a sometimes floppy heel, right?

Whether or not you enjoy icy trails at a resort depends more on your ski and boot than the AT binding that you're using. As you well know, some skis are just not good on hardpack, and some boots can't deliver much power to the ski.
If you have skis that have a reasonable side cut (and sharp edges, but really, if you need edges the skiing sucks!), and a powerful enough boot, glazed, lift served terrain shouldn't be a problem. Whether you enjoy it or not is a whole other question.

I have two AT set ups, a pair of Rossi Scratches with Marker Baron bindings, and a pair of Fisher Wateas with Fritchi Freeride bindings.
The Rossi's are OK on thinner snow base, but tend to sink in the deep stuff. They are worthless in breakable crust.
The Wateas are incredibly capable on all surfaces, give plenty of float for my welteweight frame, and just want to go, go, go!

On the Rossi's are a pair of bombproof Marker Barons, heavy as can be, but really, really sturdy. I can't tell the difference between them and any modern alpine binding. However, to switch from free heel to locked in heel, you have to release your boot from the binding, flip a lever (usually with a bare hand, a gloved hand is very clumsy) and reenter the binding. Not only time consuming and hand chilling, but in good powder, I sink pretty deep doing the switcheroo. The heel lifters for climbing are also clumsy to use.

The Fritchi's are not as heavy or rugged as the Markers, but they are much easier to live with. Free heel to locked is a simple flip of a lever by hand or ski pole. While they seem fragile, I have never seen one broken, and one of my ski buddies is a very aggressive 180 lb mogul basher, and they hold up for him too!

Boots are tough. I have a pair of Garmont Adrenalines that are as comfortable as a pair of slippers, and just as powerful. They're OK for BC runs, but are so soft that I can't lay on them enough to rest my quads. If I ski lift served in them (once, never again) I can't last very long. The boots also are too low for me...I have a large part of my lower left leg missing, courtesy of a distracted driver running over me and my bicycle. Well, the Adrenaline tops out at just the wrong spot for whats left of my leg. While I have no feelings at the surface, deeper tissue is excessively pressured by the boot tongue. That's strictly my problem though, but the boots are soft.

I also have a pair of Scarpas with heat molded liners and a flex rating of 120 or 130...these also fit like a pair of slippers, but are very powerful and taller, giving me more leverage and avoiding that chunk of missing tissue. I can ski all day anywhere in these boots, and I even heat molded them at home in the kitchen.

Sorry if this is too long winded, but I wanted to give a thorough description of my equipment, and why it does or doesn't work.
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Old 12-10-2015, 11:25 PM   #3
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Exactly the kind of feedback I'm looking for, thanks...

A friend of mine has an extra pair of Dynafit bindings, I need to find out what model specifically and do some research on those.

I've heard elsewhere the mold-able liners are the way to go.
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Old 12-11-2015, 09:12 AM   #4
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Those Dynafits are some of the lightest weight bindings on the market.
As far as the heat mold liners, there's nothing better!

Are you planning to use the AT stuff for both backcountry and lift served?
Do you prefer tele gear or alpine for lift served?
Last question, what are your three favorite ski areas? (mine are Mad River, Hickory and Plattekill)
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Old 12-11-2015, 02:55 PM   #5
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Quote:
Are you planning to use the AT stuff for both backcountry and lift served?
Do you prefer tele gear or alpine for lift served?
I've only used my tele gear recently for lift served terrain. I guess it depends on how the new equipment performs. Nothing better than carving tele turns in nice snow, but I struggle on icy or particularly manky conditions with my tele gear -- so we'll see how the new gear handles that.

If we get snow this year, my next trip to the Adirondacks will probably see me carrying four pair of skis so I'm prepared for anything. I've got my waxable Karhu XCD GTs for touring, Atomic Raniers for tree skiing, K2 World Piste for the steeps and now the AT stuff.

I'm from WNY so most of my skiing is in Ellicottville at Holiday Valley or Holimont. But I try to get to Whiteface at least once a year, and then anything that conditions warrant in the backcountry.
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Old 12-11-2015, 06:35 PM   #6
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Alpine (fixed heel) gear was developed because it better handles hard, groomed snow and because the lift deleted the need for touring which was the advantage of free heels.

AT gear is typically a little less powerful that a full on resort setup due to weight concerns, but it should handle much better.

I still hate skiing on ice, fixed heel or free.
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Old 12-13-2015, 09:48 PM   #7
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so...rdl, did you make any decisions yet?
And what about everyone else, we can't be the only AT skiers on this forum!!

Anybody else ready to chime in?
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Old 12-14-2015, 01:09 AM   #8
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so...rdl, did you make any decisions yet?
Nope -- no decisions yet. Waiting to find out if I'll get the dynafit bindings from my buddy. Then I understand the dynafit bindings need some special jig for mounting, which I probably won't be able to find a shop in WNY that has that. I also don't actually have the skis in my hands yet either, waiting for shipping on those. If there was snow on the ground I think I'd be a little more driven to get everything here and mounted.
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Old 12-14-2015, 09:09 AM   #9
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I had trouble with my Black Diamond skins slipping off at both the tip and tail.
I just added a couple of short machine screws through the tips of my Watea's to hold the skin loop from slipping off. And the tail end of the skins had no straps at all, I suppose just the glue was supposed to hold them on. Well, I bought some 3/4 nylon webbing and a pair of plastic side release buckles. Webbing will be sewn onto the skins, and wrap up around the tails. A short piece of webbing attached to the ski just behind the binding heel piece will join the skin webbing with those buckles. That way, I can cinch up the skins and avoid the tail end coming loose. My Wateas already have a notch at the tail, so the strap can't slide sideways.
All of this to improve the reliability of the skin attachment, especially when I'm not in a previously made skin track. I got in over my head the other year (literally) and my climb/traverse out was extremely difficult, mostly because those BD skins kept slipping loose!

Yeah, some snow would be nice...I was tempted to join a buddy to ski Killington yesterday, $46 for 26 trails, 100% man made. I chose to wait for some real snow!

Those Dynafits were the hot item last year, everyone raved about them.
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Old 12-16-2015, 09:36 AM   #10
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For anyone still interested...
I received that nylon strapping and the buckles the other day, finished attaching everything to the skins/skis. Looks like it should solve any issues that I previously had.
Here's a look:

This shows the tail end of my Watea, with the piece of nylon strapping attached to the skin (sewn underneath, out of view here). Another piece of strapping is permanently attached to the ski, under one of the binding screws.



Next view is a close up of how that strap is attached. BTW, the Fritchi is in the climbing position, with the heel riser at the highest point. The height of that riser can be adjusted "on the fly" with a ski pole or gloved hand. It also can lock the heel down "on the fly". Waaay easier than the bulletproof Markers that I have.



Lastly, here's a look at the tip of my ski...I have had trouble with the skin loop slipping off of the ski. This #8-32 machine screw should prevent that. I didn't want to use too tall of a screw, there's always the danger of injury (puncture wound) in the event of a forward fall. If the screw head affects the ski performance too much, I can always switch to a flat head profiile (this is a pan head).

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