Nordic backcountry setup for above treeline

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lilcliffy

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Re: Nordic backcountry setup for above treeline

Postby lilcliffy » Tue May 23, 2017 9:40 am

Great to hear that you ski and adventure with your wife. I do too- we are somewhat bound to our local hills and ravines in the short-term- but we used to make regular backcountry trips to the mtns- looking forward to it again when our children are a bit older!

Check out the videos of the downhill skiing on the Hok over in the Community Reviews section.

The Hok might be a good place to start. I can't say enough good about that ski. Despite how much I love flying on long Nordic touring skis- if I had to have one backcountry Nordic ski- it might have to be the Hok....

Another ski to consider is the OAC KAR and the WAP:
https://www.skinbased.com/skis

WAP is even wider and floatier than the Hok.

KAR is a bit stiffer and more cambered than the Hok- more efficient XC ski than the Hok.
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hrishi

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Re: Nordic backcountry setup for above treeline

Postby hrishi » Wed May 24, 2017 1:14 pm

Great to hear that you ski and adventure with your wife. I do too- we are somewhat bound to our local hills and ravines in the short-term- but we used to make regular backcountry trips to the mtns- looking forward to it again when our children are a bit older!

Thanks. Since moving in Boulder, I fell in love with, and started learning, ice skating and hockey. But my wife is too terrified of falling on hard ice. After a few tries, I gave it up thinking I'd rather do something common with her that is equally exciting. So I am pretty stoked that she is digging into skis.
The Hok might be a good place to start. I can't say enough good about that ski. Despite how much I love flying on long Nordic touring skis- if I had to have one backcountry Nordic ski- it might have to be the Hok....

There remains a strong case for the Hoks. I especially like their simplicity of use. I wish I could try them!

Another ski to consider is the OAC KAR and the WAP:
https://www.skinbased.com/skis

WAP is even wider and floatier than the Hok.

KAR is a bit stiffer and more cambered than the Hok- more efficient XC ski than the Hok.

I was unaware about these, so thanks for pointing. Interesting that their website says nothing about using a single pole/Lurk. Rather, all images show people using normal double poles. Surely the fore-aft stability that is an issue with Hok (when paired with double poles) would also be the case with WAP?

A couple of days back we found some used leather boots (75mm for me and NNN-BC for her, based on which boots fit the best) that could pair well with the Hoks or the Eon/ Excursion-88/ BC 90/ Ingstad type ski. At $35 a pair, it was hard to resist getting them (considering Neptune rental for boots is $20/day). I guess after a season or two we could switch to a Kom-type ski with plastic boots if needed.

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lilcliffy

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Re: Nordic backcountry setup for above treeline

Postby lilcliffy » Thu May 25, 2017 8:29 am

hrishi wrote:I was unaware about these, so thanks for pointing.

The other ski to consider is the OAC XCD: https://www.skinbased.com/product-page/xcd-160-uc

Very cool design- a little short as far distance efficiency- but highly maneuverable.

Interesting that their website says nothing about using a single pole/Lurk. Rather, all images show people using normal double poles. Surely the fore-aft stability that is an issue with Hok (when paired with double poles) would also be the case with WAP?

Well- I can say that I frequently downhill ski steep terrain with the Hok- using double poles. The telemark turn greatly increases fore-aft stability.

Look closely at a couple of recent videos in Hok review thread.

In the first video, you can see a group of Hok skiers using a Tiak and using Alpine turns- on dense consolidated snow. Alpine turns offer effective side-to-side stability- but the Hok is so short, the tiak gives the skier additional fore-aft stability when needed.

In the second video the skier is skiing downhill through the woods and glades in deep fresh powder. The skier is using double poles and using a mix of Alpine and telemark turns (you can tell based on which ski is leading the turn- if the downhill/outside ski is leading in the turn it is a telemark). The skier is adjusting his/her stance and turn depending on the stability needed in the moment (although I do notice that the skier favours the telemark primarily on one side :ugeek: )

A couple of days back we found some used leather boots (75mm for me and NNN-BC for her, based on which boots fit the best) that could pair well with the Hoks or the Eon/ Excursion-88/ BC 90/ Ingstad type ski. At $35 a pair, it was hard to resist getting them (considering Neptune rental for boots is $20/day). I guess after a season or two we could switch to a Kom-type ski with plastic boots if needed.

Great find on the boots! I have 4 growing children at home so I am always looking for those kinds of deals on boots.

You won't need the plastic boots unless you plan on doing some very challenging downhill skiing.

Again- referring to the second video mentioned above- the skier is using NNNBC bindings on the Hok- but, it is important to note that the skier is in ideal snow conditions- the skier is riding his skis- as opposed to trying to carve turns edge to edge.

IMHO and experience at the light-duty end of the Nordic backcountry/XCD spectrum (e.g. very flexible leather boots)- there is no significant difference between 75mm-NN and NNNBC in terms of downhill stability and control- at this end of the spectrum "the boot means more than the binding". The primary advantage of 75mm is it allows you to clamp in a more rigid and powerful Telemark boot into the binding. So- for example- you can swap out your leather 3pin boots for a plastic Telemark boot on the same ski- your wife's NNNBC binding won't allow that.

On the lighter end of the spectrum I personally prefer NNNBC- therefore, I have both NNNBC (BC-XCD) kits and 75mm (downhill Telemark) kits.
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lilcliffy

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Re: Nordic backcountry setup for above treeline

Postby lilcliffy » Thu May 25, 2017 8:34 am

Meant to add this- I ski a lot without poles when using the Hok. I keep my poles strapped to my pack if I need them- but a lot of the time I am skiing without poles- including downhill.
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hrishi

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Re: Nordic backcountry setup for above treeline

Postby hrishi » Sat Jun 03, 2017 2:25 pm

ilcliffy, your perspective has been very helpful.
I have 4 growing children at home so I am always looking for those kinds of deals on boots.

Then you would have absolutely liked this shop in Boulder - 'Play It Again'. It has so many used-but-good boots, including several pairs of Excursions, at really great price (~40 bucks). Unfortunately most didn't fit me (I have EEE wide feet with narrow heels). Found Syner-G in my size but they were too heavy- I can't imagine hiking in them.

I checked the suggested videos (also many more on youtube), and I am now very much inclined towards the Hoks- I think they seem, at least in principle, exactly what I want for steeper hikes. I wonder what size I should get- 145cm or 125? it's probably a no-brainer that my wife would should get 125s. I have also decided to supplement the Hok setup with a generic backcountry ski like Eon for longer but gentler hikes. Considering this, may be I should also get the Hoks in 125?

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Re: Nordic backcountry setup for above treeline

Postby lilcliffy » Sun Jun 04, 2017 2:47 pm

I strongly advise speaking to the experts regarding choosing between the 125cm and 145cm Hok- Nils Larsen or Francois Sylvain, at Altai Skis: http://altaiskis.com/about-us/contact-us/

I have never tried the 125cm Hok. 125cm is very short for a ski in terms of offering effective stability. The 125cm might offer enough float for your lighter wife, but I would think that she would have to be quite short for 125cm to offer enough stability when downhill skiing.

Both my wife and I have the 145cm Hok. My wife is 5'6" and significantly lighter than me (not sure how much). She loves the 145cm.

The 145cm Hok has been redesigned since we bought ours- you can read and discuss the details on the Altai Ski website. At the very least the 145cm Hok now has a stiffer flex than the 125cm (don't think it is any more cambered). Again- that stiffer flex will produce more stability- it will also produce better XC glide. I don't know if the skin insert is larger on the 145cm vs. the 125cm- again, something to ask about.

Personally, I don't think that I would want the 125cm Hok unless it was for strictly bushwacking through dense forest on gentle terrain (I am 5'10"; 185lbs- I am also often carrying weight in the bush)- and, the 145cm is still highly manoeuvrable in the woods!
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hrishi

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Re: Nordic backcountry setup for above treeline

Postby hrishi » Sun Jun 04, 2017 3:14 pm

Cool. I'll get in touch with the Altai Skis team.
Thanks for the discussion, folks!

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Re: Nordic backcountry setup for above treeline

Postby hrishi » Tue Sep 19, 2017 11:22 am

Hi folks, its me again, and hope you had a great summer.

So I got a great deal on an used Fischer S-bound 88 in NNN-BC, and ended up getting it for gentler hills (decided to postpone on wider XCDs until my wife and I become proficient in the XC) and winter camping. The ski is 169 cm in length. Now, I am trying to figure out whether which one of us should use it, and which one of us should get a new ski. Since we are beginners, and will be skiing in hills, I was thinking of going with shorter skis.
1. ideal ski length for my wife: She weighs 92 lb, and is 157 cm tall ( 12 cm shorter than the Fischer ski we got). Weight wise, Fischer suggests 169cm for <150 lb, and so it is suited for her. But other manufacturers offer shorter skis than Fischer (Rossi: 159 cm for 90-105 lb, Madshus: 165 cm for < 125 lb). These offering, especially with respect to their suggested weight range, appear to be more precise than Fischer for shorter and lighter skiers. Would these be a better alternative for my wife, especially in the context of getting a shorter ski?
Along similar lines, would cambers and resultant flex differences between these offset the length differences?
2. ideal ski length for me. I am 162 lb, and 180 cm tall (11 cm taller than the Fischer ski we got). As I said, I would like a shorter ski for better maneuvering. However, how short is too short in XC and gentler XCD? Weight wise, the suggested ski length from the brand websites is 180 cm. Shall I consider going lower than that- say 175 or 170 cm, or are the suggested lengths 'already' at the shorter ski lengths? I did ski on a 175 cm Eon, but the conditions were such that the snow was balling and I couldn't gauge the ski stability at higher speeds due to it.
3. winter camping: We would be doing it probably only once or twice this season (as opposed to day trips which we plan on doing every weekend), so should we include the weigh of ~ 35-40 lb backpacks when we estimate the correct ski length?

Thanks!

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Re: Nordic backcountry setup for above treeline

Postby satsuma » Tue Sep 19, 2017 9:42 pm

hrishi wrote:Hi folks, its me again, and hope you had a great summer.

So I got a great deal on an used Fischer S-bound 88 in NNN-BC, and ended up getting it for gentler hills (decided to postpone on wider XCDs until my wife and I become proficient in the XC) and winter camping. The ski is 169 cm in length. Now, I am trying to figure out whether which one of us should use it, and which one of us should get a new ski. Since we are beginners, and will be skiing in hills, I was thinking of going with shorter skis.
1. ideal ski length for my wife: She weighs 92 lb, and is 157 cm tall ( 12 cm shorter than the Fischer ski we got). Weight wise, Fischer suggests 169cm for <150 lb, and so it is suited for her. But other manufacturers offer shorter skis than Fischer (Rossi: 159 cm for 90-105 lb, Madshus: 165 cm for < 125 lb). These offering, especially with respect to their suggested weight range, appear to be more precise than Fischer for shorter and lighter skiers. Would these be a better alternative for my wife, especially in the context of getting a shorter ski?
Along similar lines, would cambers and resultant flex differences between these offset the length differences?
2. ideal ski length for me. I am 162 lb, and 180 cm tall (11 cm taller than the Fischer ski we got). As I said, I would like a shorter ski for better maneuvering. However, how short is too short in XC and gentler XCD? Weight wise, the suggested ski length from the brand websites is 180 cm. Shall I consider going lower than that- say 175 or 170 cm, or are the suggested lengths 'already' at the shorter ski lengths? I did ski on a 175 cm Eon, but the conditions were such that the snow was balling and I couldn't gauge the ski stability at higher speeds due to it.
3. winter camping: We would be doing it probably only once or twice this season (as opposed to day trips which we plan on doing every weekend), so should we include the weigh of ~ 35-40 lb backpacks when we estimate the correct ski length?

Thanks!

Mostly, I want to comment on #1--your wife, at 92 lbs, is at the very weight end of adult skis. She will marginally be able to compress the camber to go uphill on skis with a wide weight range (ie the Fischers). A shorter ski with a narrower weight range might be a better choice. I would guess your wife is not the strongest person, and a shorter ski will also be easier to wedge. There is no advantage to a longer ski for her in powder--she isn't going to sink, and speed will not be an issue. Climbing and wedging should be your concerns.

The 169 cms are probably less than recommended for you. A shorter ski will be more maneuverable, but will not float as well. I don't know if stability during turns will be a concern, but I doubt it. You will be dragging more and it will be slower than the longer ski. I think the risks of you using this ski, however, are less than for your wife.

I intend to try Explorer 88's (which I can rent locally) in the 189 cm length this year for some xc skiing in powder. I am 5'7" and (now) 195 lbs. However, the primary downhill section on the route I am interested in is only about 150 ft elevation difference on a road, which I should be able to do with some wedging and wedge turns. My main concern will be float.

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Re: Nordic backcountry setup for above treeline

Postby rongon » Thu Sep 21, 2017 1:19 am

I skied a pair of Fischer Outtabounds (88mm tip, 68mm waist, a lot like the Excursion 88) to death over the last 10 years. I bought them as my first 'big' ski for bushwhacking and trail skiing. I got them very short for negotiating the wicked narrow trails here in the upstate NY/Vermont backcountry. It was a good choice for a first ski for that kind of thing. I used Voile 3-Pin HD Mountaineer bindings on them, with vintage Asolo Excursion boots.

I think that if you're new to backcountry skiing, the important thing is to get a reasonable setup and just get out there as much as you can. After struggling the first season or two, you'll have a much clearer idea of what kind of skiing and terrain floats your boat.

I remember the first time I put 2-buckle plastic boots on, I was afraid they were far too stiff and clunky. I remember how huge those Outtabounds skis seemed the first time I took them out. I didn't know it at the beginning, but I love making turns as much as I love touring through the woods. So now my go-to wandering-through-the-woods setup is a beat up pair of Madshus Annum with Voile Switchback bindings and Crispi CXP (3 buckle) boots. The binding's free pivot allows me to go for miles and miles, and with a flick of the switch I'm ready for the downhill. It's too heavy a setup for leather boots, but maybe not if you'll always be in soft snow in Colorado.

Anyhow, just go out and ski and all will become much clearer. You may find yourself straying far from the path you see now. It's a journey...


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