I think it depends how important the downhill is for you, but for touring telemark gets my vote.
Rongon, my vectors aren't big enough for most breakable crust. For that I would want something at least 108mm underfoot or wider. I'm taking my vectors back East this season and hope to do some sking. Are you in the Catskills?
I found this insightful, interesting, well presented, and useful information for my skiing desires. Thanks.rongon wrote:The answer to the question really revolves around what kind of terrain you want to ski over/across/up/down.
I went on a glacier traverse in the Canadian Rockies on my telemark rig - 3-buckle plastic boots, Voile Vector skis (no fish scales) with skins, Voile Switchback X2 bindings. There was a group of young folks from the Vancouver area tagging along who were all on modern Dynafit AT setups with pretty big skis (bigger, heavier, slightly wider than my Vectors). Most of them weren't terribly good skiers. I would not consider myself a highly skilled skier, but I seemed to be more technically on it than they were.
Much of a glacier traverse is more like XC skiing than skin up/ski down. Each day held 6 to 8 miles of traversing, with lots of long, low-angle stretches, punctuated by the occasional really steep (and fairly long) ascent or descent. The snow was wind-battered, so there was plenty of difficult skiing on wind crusts, along with some dicey skiing on thin snow with plenty of rocks poking out. There was no ice, but not a lot of powder that hadn't been wind-hammered.
The young folks with the AT gear had a much easier time than I did skiing down the steep stuff. They had better control. I could not keep control with alpine turns going down the 40+ degree, wind-crusted steeps. I *had* to make telemark turns to keep my speed in check. I punched through the crust with each turn. The young AT folks skied faster and with less busting into the crust. That could have been from their wider and longer skis, but the power of an alpine setup would definitely help there as well.
On the long flat stretches, they had the advantage of youthful strength and endurance, so they kept a pretty good pace. I was able to keep up only because of my lighter skis and looser touring setup. That was purely because of my being older and not in as good physical shape as them.
Had I brought my heavier/bigger skis (Dynastar Cham 97 HM with AXL bindings), I would have had better control on the steeps, but I'd have paid for it with lots of strain from dragging the weight of those bigger skis and skins across the glaciers. That would have left me with less energy to handle the steep downs, so the heavier gear might not have been enough to keep me in control. Tough call whether I made the right choice bringing a lighter setup. I think it was the right choice.
So, my point? I found that ounce-for-ounce, it certainly looks like you get a lot more power and control from an AT setup. You have to be a really good telemark skier to hang with the AT crowd in alpine terrain. So, if you're looking to ski big mountain backcountry (out West), then I'd say stick with AT and use the ski skills you have, work on your backcountry travel, survival, and avalanche safety skills.
If you're in the Northeast or staying at lower elevations below treeline, then maybe telemark would make more sense. I know tele makes much more sense here in the Adirondacks, Greens and Whites (upstate NY and northern New England). Long, rolling approaches do not seem to go well for those with AT setups. Traveling over rolling terrain for 6 miles before getting to only about 1500 feet of vert is usually considered 'not worth it' by those with AT setups. That's the usual thing for a telemark skier around here.
So the answer to your question really depends on what exactly you want to ski, what terrain, and how much of that terrain will be rolling/up-and-down and flat as compared to higher-angled skin up/ski down.
Sorry that was so long and rambling. It's always difficult to cover everything in this topic. I've tried to explain it so many times...