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Old 10-07-2010, 12:54 PM   #1
fvrwld
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Considering AT skiing

I believe that there are a few experienced AT skiers on the forum. I am thinking of taking the jump into this. Actually I've been thinking about it for a while...it looks like a lot of fun. I have a few questions that I am hoping to have answered.

Most importantly, how is it on the ankles. I have a bad ankle and walking down a mountain takes its toll on it. Skiing down looks like a better option. Looking at the boots it looks like the ankle is pretty well locked in there. Is there much lateral (side-to-side) ankle movement? Also, the boots look to be in a state of permanent ankle flexion. Is flexion beyond that necessary?

How much control is there? I have a pair of free-heel backcountry skis and never really liked how it felt like I had little control on the downhill. Is there more control when the heel is free on an AT setup? Is it common for one to lock down the heel for any little bit of downhill?

Many years ago I downhill skied and I was pretty good at it. Is the AT ski with the heel locked down just like skiing with the regular downhill ski binding?

What can be done in them? I've seen people climb up a trail and then ski down a slide. I'm thinking that there aren't many trails that they can be used on. For example, is a ski down from the Basin-Haystack col feasible? Maybe from farther down? Maybe I just need to move out west?

Is there any reason why I shouldn't buy used gear?

If I do decide to try this, will anyone go with me? Or are there clubs?

Not sure if anyone here can aswer this but...would they be usuable on a Cascade glacier in the summer? The snow can be pretty wet and heavy.

Any help is greatly appreciated. As you know, this is an expensive decision.
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Old 10-07-2010, 01:08 PM   #2
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I'm a telemark skier so I will let others answer, but I thought it was funny that when I went to read your post the ad that came up below the post was for the "Brace Store" showing all sorts of knee braces.

Especially, so since I just got my knee brace for skiing this year after blowing out my knee last season.
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Old 10-07-2010, 01:47 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adk Keith View Post
I'm a telemark skier so I will let others answer, but I thought it was funny that when I went to read your post the ad that came up below the post was for the "Brace Store" showing all sorts of knee braces.

Especially, so since I just got my knee brace for skiing this year after blowing out my knee last season.
Maybe its a sign
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Old 10-07-2010, 02:42 PM   #4
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Not trying to talk you out of AT gear, but you don't see it all that much of it in the Adirondacks - many, many more on tele gear than AT - and I think there's a good reason. Most of the backcountry routes have approaches with ups and downs to them, and tele gear is more amenable to that, easier and more pleasant to ski, I think. You're more likely to see AT gear in the Whites or even VT where the steeper routes are all climbing on the way in and all descent on the way out. Anyway, just something to consider - there are certainly some AT devotees in the Adirondacks and they seem to make out just fine.
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Old 10-07-2010, 05:13 PM   #5
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What's the difference in the gear between Telly, AT, BC and Randonné?

I've seen some very nifty shorty (100 cm or thereabouts) banana-like skis, fiberglass with edges and serious looking bindings. I would think they'd be the cat's pyjamas for winter peakbagging the 46.
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Old 10-07-2010, 05:49 PM   #6
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Yep and you have to have excellent balance or be eight years old to `control those things.

Funny no one mentioned snowboards. I have been blasted away near Pinkham by downhill dudes on boards. They snowshoe up.
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Old 10-07-2010, 06:12 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil View Post
What's the difference in the gear between Telly, AT, BC and Randonné?

I've seen some very nifty shorty (100 cm or thereabouts) banana-like skis, fiberglass with edges and serious looking bindings. I would think they'd be the cat's pyjamas for winter peakbagging the 46.
BC skiing kind of encompasses everything one would use for skiing in the backcountry or for ski mountaineering. But when one says "backcountry skis" I think of beefier cross country skis with metal edges. Telly have a full time free heel. AT and Rondonne are one in the same. The heel can be left free for touring and the locked in for downhill skiing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by yellowcanoe View Post
Yep and you have to have excellent balance or be eight years old to `control those things.

Funny no one mentioned snowboards. I have been blasted away near Pinkham by downhill dudes on boards. They snowshoe up.
Or they can use a Splitboard to get up. I think those are way cool but I don't know how to snowboard. I do know how to downhill skill though (or used to know anyway.)
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Old 10-07-2010, 06:44 PM   #8
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Teleskier is spot on. I do both Tele and AT in the highpeaks. Tele is way better for the longer rolling approaches you see in the Adirondacks. Most AT set-ups do not have a return spring on the binding which makes going logs and rocks during skinning a real pain. On rolling stuff you are constantly locking and unlocking your heels. I am a longtime alpine skier and started doing Tele when I was teaching my daughter to ski several years ago to keep the boredom down. I love to tele but I am a better skier (for now) with my heels down. So go AT if you dont want to learn a new turn and are willing to put up with the shortcomings. But if you plan to ski in the Adirondacks for the long haul - go tele.
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Old 10-07-2010, 07:03 PM   #9
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I've done a fair amount of splitboarding in the Adirondacks, there's a couple mountains where they are the best way to go... It's a lot of fun, but taking the time to do the conversion can be a pain in the butt, and they aren't the most pleasant things to deal with on rolling terrain, so I try to tele sometimes (although I'm not too good at it.) I've been thinking about picking up AT stuff, cause I'm way better on alpines than teles, but it is expensive. I know a few people who AT and they seem to do fine. (yes, the heel is locked in on the way down).
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Old 10-07-2010, 11:44 PM   #10
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Ski touring, wherever it's done and with whatever equipment, is basically the same: an approach, an ascent and then a descent

Differences in gear will impact the approach and the ascent, but not significantly -- the big difference is in the descent: with AT gear your heal is locked down and you're making parallel turns. With Tele gear your heal is free and you can make a variety of turns as conditions dictate.

AT gear tends to be beefier: plastic boots, high end bindings and fat skis. Tele gear can vary from light leather boots, three pin bindings and skinny skis to heavy plastic boots, releasable bindings and fat skis.

If you can downhill ski then you can ski down a hill on AT gear. It can be frustrating skiing down a hill on Tele gear without taking some lessons and having an understanding of turning.
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Old 10-08-2010, 11:02 AM   #11
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I understand that with AT skis on long descents the heels will be locked down. On gently rolling terrain, slight grades but enough grade to pick up speed, does the heel need to be locked in or can it be left free and the turn made as if you were on regular cross country skis.

I really feel that it will take me years to master tele skiing enough to feel comfortable using it in the backcountry. I really loved downhill skiing when I did it. Once I started hiking, snowshoeing, etc I couldn't see the sense in paying somone to use a mountain. AT does seem like the answer to this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by adkskier
Most AT set-ups do not have a return spring on the binding which makes going logs and rocks during skinning a real pain.
Could you translate this please.
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Old 10-08-2010, 12:16 PM   #12
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When making turns on Tele gear, you alternately shift your weight(lift your heal up) and make the turn and initiate the next turn in rapid succession. Tele bindings have some form of spring or other compression device to bring the heal down more quickly and therefore help with the weight transfer to assist you in initiating the next turn. This helps to distribute and transfer the weight when touring as well -- if the ski isn't weighted you're not going to get much kick.

AT bindings have a pivot point at the front and a heal locking mechanism in back -- no spring assist since your heal is locked on the descent.

Hopefully this makes sense...
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Old 10-08-2010, 02:45 PM   #13
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Actually many of the newer telemark binding are incorporating a free pivot on the toe (like AT) when in "walk mode", making it much easier to stride. During the stride the ski is weighted until the end of the stride, but you don't get the resistance to forward motion like the non-free pivot bindings.

While this free pivot feature is not as necessary in less stiff plastic or leather boots, it is so much easier to walk with the stiffer boots because of the increases length of stride.

The heavier equipment currently used by many in the back country has really separated tele from XC. Let's face it, once you put on the skins, you have no "kick and glide".

As much as I encourage people to tele (because I get so much joy from it) there is a big learning curve to it. My mentor who is in his mid 70's now and still going strong likes to say the first 10 years of tele are the hardest. The learning curve of going from alpine to AT is almost negligible. However I would suggest practicing a bunch at ski areas' glades to prepare for skiing back country. A day at the ski area will allow you to practice in the woods (though often not untracked) as a week in the bc.

One thing to remember is that you are not limited to tele turns on tele equipment. You can parrellel, stem christy, snowplow, tele or any combination of the above. Some who use tele equipment almost never do tele turns, but enjoy the increased comfort from boots that flex and ease of travel on the flats.

Neil: Randonné is French for "Can't tele"
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Old 10-08-2010, 06:52 PM   #14
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I have AT gear and I love it. I never lock my heels in for short sections of downhill either, just point and go. Skinning uphill is a breeze and they are pure joy for the downhills. I kind of got sidetracked by life, but they are one of the best investments I have ever made. I have used them on Marcy, wright, big slide, sections of gothics, whiteface, Gore, and just about every fire road/and big enough hill in central new york through to the central ADKS. I'm pretty sure that just about everything that has been hiked has been done on skis. The heel lift feature is a huge bonus too. My setup is a few years old right now, but it is fritschi daimir bindings on a tua sumo ski, and my boots are scarpa lasers. I have black diamond ascenion skins, kickers and full length. The kickers are usually enough. I bought the boots and bindings new from black diamond, and got the skis on a closeout rack at a ski shop in lake placid. Depending on your size, you can find incredible deals on sierratradingpost.com and mgear.com Check out the black diamond website at bdel.com and don't be shy about giving them a call. They have gear that is 2 and 3 seasons old sitting in the warehouse and do great deals when you are on the phone with a live person--seconds and scratched topsheets go cheap. For craigslist, check out any of the colorado sporting sections, and there is always bentgate.com out there too. Give it a try, you will love it. Get the gear, watch for snow, and go straight to the wright peak ski trail. It is 100% make your cheeks hurt from smiling FUN.
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Old 10-09-2010, 04:17 PM   #15
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Val,
I have AT gear, as well as alpine equipment. My AT stuff skis nearly the same as my alpine, except the skis that I use for AT are a little wider and softer.

As the others have mentioned, AT is not the best for skiing hiking trails, due to the rolling terrain.
But, if you want to have fresh tracks every time down, and have a quiet, serene experience, then AT is for you.
Keep in mind, that the amount of experience and skill you have will directly affect the variety of terrain and conditions you can enjoy.
Anyone (well, not really anyone) can make it down a back country descent, but to really enjoy it you have to ski within your ability. To be fully self sufficient you should be able to ski steeps, trees and bumps, as well as breakable crust, windslab, boilerplate and crud. If not, just limit your exposure until you can ski a wider variety without peril. My buddy's wife skis AT with us, even though she's an advanced intermediate, at best. She still enjoys the experience, particularly the fact that there are no out of control drunks uphill from her, approaching at high speed.

As far as your ankle, the AT boots can provide as much support as an alpine boot. You shouldn't have a problem. I had a compound fracture of both tib and fib, along with severe blunt force trauma on my lower left leg (along with more broken bones, tendom damage and other trauma...another story). For the 1st few years my alpine boot was a discomfort. My AT boots have always felt like a pair of slippers.
I'm pretty sure you wouldn't have any trouble at all.

There are a number of defunct downhill ski areas that can be AT skied easily...it's a perfect way to break into the activity without too much risk.
I can PM you with details if you wish.

Maybe I'll see you on the snow!! Good luck and good choice.
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Old 10-09-2010, 09:33 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fvrwld View Post
I believe that there are a few experienced AT skiers on the forum. I am thinking of taking the jump into this. Actually I've been thinking about it for a while...it looks like a lot of fun. I have a few questions that I am hoping to have answered.
I'm a telemark skier, but some of my friends use AT gear. Lots of good info so far in this thread. Despite my tele tendencies, I agree with others that you would most likely be better off going with AT gear rather than tele gear. In addition to the reasons that others have given, I can add one more important reason...release capability. AT bindings have superior release capabilities to most tele bindings. The few tele bindings that are releasable are generally heavier and clunkier than AT bindings. The superior release capability of AT gear would be important for you due to your bad ankle.


Quote:
Most importantly, how is it on the ankles. I have a bad ankle and walking down a mountain takes its toll on it. Skiing down looks like a better option. Looking at the boots it looks like the ankle is pretty well locked in there. Is there much lateral (side-to-side) ankle movement? Also, the boots look to be in a state of permanent ankle flexion. Is flexion beyond that necessary?
Properly fitted boots will allow forward ankle flex, but little lateral flex. Most boots have multiple positions of locking forward flex...one for walk mode, and one for ski mode. For either AT or Tele, getting properly fitted boots is the most important equipment choice. Going to an experienced boot fitter is worth the time and money. The guys at the Mountaineer do a good job.


Quote:
Many years ago I downhill skied and I was pretty good at it. Is the AT ski with the heel locked down just like skiing with the regular downhill ski binding?
Basically, yes.


Quote:
What can be done in them? I've seen people climb up a trail and then ski down a slide. I'm thinking that there aren't many trails that they can be used on. For example, is a ski down from the Basin-Haystack col feasible? Maybe from farther down? Maybe I just need to move out west?
See this recent thread for info on routes, books, etc.: http://www.adkforum.com/showthread.php?t=14343


Quote:
Is there any reason why I shouldn't buy used gear?
Used skis would be fine. Look for relatively short and fat skis for backcountry use.
Used bindings should be checked by a qualified ski tech before using.
Used boots...only if they fit well...see above comment.


Quote:
If I do decide to try this, will anyone go with me? Or are there clubs?
Check with local ADK chapters...many chapters offer outings with experienced trip leaders.
Several AMC chapters offer backcountry skiing instruction and trips (http://www.amcboston.org/ski/index.html, http://amc-nh.org/committee/ski/index.php)
You should consider attending the annual Adirondack Backcountry Ski Festival sponsored by The Mountaineer.
Informal groups are common on message boards such as:
http://www.telemarktips.com/
http://www.telemarkeast.com/
http://timefortuckerman.com/


Quote:
Not sure if anyone here can answer this but...would they be usable on a Cascade glacier in the summer? The snow can be pretty wet and heavy.
Yes, summer glacier skiing with AT gear is common in the pacific northwest. (http://www.turns-all-year.com/)


Other resources:
http://www.wildsnow.com/ The go to place for info and discussion on AT gear (run by the legend Lou Dawson)
http://www.offpistemag.com/
http://www.backcountrymagazine.com/
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Old 10-15-2010, 01:12 PM   #17
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Well??
Did you make any decisions?
There's fresh snow on the ground in central Vermont even as I type...Adirondacks are bound to get something too!

from last season:

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Old 10-15-2010, 01:44 PM   #18
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I skied alpine for 25 years, then switched to tele for the last 15. All info above is good. Tele is more suitable for the Adirondaks, once you're good at it. It really depends on how much time you are planning to devote to skiing this winter. The only way to learn is to go to lift served ski areas, where you can get many runs per day. If you plan on taking a few lessons, and then devoting 20 days or so at a lift served area, with maybe a couple more advanced lessons thrown in, you can become reasonably solid on tele. Less than that, and you might be better off with AT.

For the Cascade mash potatoes, plan on AT unless you have become REALLY solid on tele. That stuff is tough, and many tele skiers who look good on corduroy fall apart on slop. It's easy to cheat on corduroy, and look good doing what we call "faux tele." But take that faux tele to the powder or slop or crud, and you'll crash on every turn.

Have fun! Once you decide, bump up the thread and get specific about equipment advice. Plenty of folks can help with both AT and Tele.
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Old 10-15-2010, 01:47 PM   #19
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It's almost that time!

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Old 10-24-2010, 11:24 PM   #20
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Just got into AT myself two winters ago. All my gear is used and I have two set ups. Although AT bindings release, there is no DIN standard so it's more of making sure they are functional. Properly setting the release should entail some trial and error. In a safe slope, dial them down til they release then go up a bit. I do that at the local ski resort. Only been the the Cascades where AT (or tele) gear is a must and not the ADK yet but that may happen this year.

And the Cascade glaciers are fun in the summer too. June on Rainier



And Mt Hood
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