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Help Me Build XCD Kit

Posted: Mon Dec 02, 2019 1:48 am
by BackInMyDay
Greetings All,

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was an avid TTipper. I spent many hours glued to the Mitch-era site, and made some very close friends here. Back then, I was TeleBear, and it seems that account is tied to an email address I don't control any more. So it goes.

Today, I want help dialing in my XCD setup. My history is as and alpine ski racer (high school / college), then an "extreme" skier and occasional competitor (20s). In my late 20s, I took up telemarking, but always on heavy plastic boots and long, wide skis, including Tua Crossrides, many pairs of Volkl Gotamas, then Skilogik Bombsquads, and now ON3p Wrenegades. I always skied the burliest bindings I could find, and have been on Hammerheads / Axls / Outlaws, and now Lynx (also some home made pintech tele bindings that preceded the Lynx).

Now I'm 48, and 6'4" and 205lbs naked. My girlfriend and I might finally be ready to settle into some lighter weight touring. I have a more-or-less destroyed left knee, and have been re-learning how to ski with looser boots (still in TX Pros), open walk mode, and a deep tai chi practice that has me skiing more centered and flowy, with the same energy, but less raw power. With lots of P/T, stretching and quarterly PRP treatments, I'm pain-free, if not somewhat stiff, most days.

We live in the Front Range of Colorado, with a place in Summit County, and a winterized van that lets us get out of town for 3-6 day trips a handful of times a winter. Our purpose for these skis is to tour lower angle terrain away from the most popular trail heads, with a mix of skiing up / down existing trails, but including lots of low-angle powder -- aka meadowskipping. Also, I live right up against the foothills, and want to be able to ski out the door for the 10-20 days a year that the skiing is good (like right now). In some cases, we might want to be able to ski something a bit steeper, like maybe terrain in the 20* to 25* range. But, most "touring for turns" will be on the heavier gear we already have in the quiver.

I've read a lot of what's relatively recent on the boards here, but it seems like most of you are more midwest / east coast focused (I grew up in NH), and seem to prefer more xc-oriented skis. I wonder if you think there's a different mix for me as a primarily heavy-gear skier in CO.

Here's what I think so far -- please help me correct any mistakes.

SKIS: It seems like the Fisher SBound 112 is about the most popular ski around, with a decent mix of XC and DH ability. I can see that the Annum is pretty close, and has a great pedigree. I was hoping to ski something wider, like the recent SBound 125, or the Rossi 120. I see that the Rossi is the ever popular shape of the 7 series alpine skis, which is intriguing to me. But I also read that these extra wide skis really give something up on the packed snow we'll find on most trails. I've always skied wide skis in my more gravity-focused skiing, largely due to my size, and liking the extra flotation, especially in the backcountry, where I believe it helps me stay "light" over obstacles. Am I thinking too wide with the Rossis? Is the SBound 112 really just the right ski? Is the 189 long enough? Can I even find a Fisher 125 anywhere in the first place?

BOOTS: I typically would think about a low plastic boot for more power, but I'm pretty sure that's NOT what I want. So, I'm leaning strongly toward the Alpina Alaska (75mm). Why NOT choose these? As near as I can tell, they're a real standard, and seem to be crafted extremely well, and could last me the rest of my remaining 3-4 decades of skiing. I like the idea of the Fisher / Rossi boots with plastic cuffs, but when I try them on, the boots themselves seem to be less well made. While they might have more lateral rigidity, they seem to have less forward resistance than the Alaska. I typically have a wide foot, but the Alaskas fit pretty well, even with a thicker sock on, at least in the store for 15-20m.

BINDINGS: I'm thinking 3pin, for the relative power advantage. I might do a 3pin hardwire, and carry the hardwires for the occasional steeper lines, but can the Alaska drive the hardwire, or is that a mismatch? Also, the hardwires looks to be mounted on a pretty substantial riser, and I'm not sure that's to my advantage -- what do you think? Can I mount them flat to the skis, since I won't need the climbing bails? What about the telebulldog / spike touring binding? They look like they're burlier, but is that really true?

Anyway, let me have it. I'm stoked for this next evolution.

Re: Help Me Build XCD Kit

Posted: Mon Dec 02, 2019 7:35 am
by lilcliffy
Wow! Welcome! I greatly appreciate your introduction!


It appears to me that the Fischer S-125 has been discontinued along with the second-gen Rossi BC125. My examination in the shop lead me to believe that these two skis were identical in camber-flex-sidecut profiles- the Fichers having the better base and Easy-Skin attachment.

I don't think you are going wrong with going wider than the S-112/Annum. The only ski I have tested in recent years that is even as wide as 68mm that isn't completely dead and squirrely when XC skiing on consolidated snow is the Fischer 88. So- my point is if you want more width than the 88- then you might as well look at something significantly wider because the S-112/Annum are not going to be any better on a hardpacked trail- IME/IMO.

Have you considered the Voile Objective or the Ultravector- or the Altai Kom?

And- with this related to your BOOTS- do you have a width-limit in mind with a boot like the Alaska? Would you pair the Alaska with a ski as wide as the S-Bound 125?

BINDINGS: I am no expert on modern Telemark bindings. I do have skis setup with both the Voile 3-pin cable binding and the 3-pin hardwire. I have yet to try the hardwires with a soft BC-XC boot- I will be testing them with a Crispi Lofoten boot this winter. Voile does not recommend the hardwire for boots this soft- I will soon find out! I have been using the hardwire almost exclusively with my Scarpa T4- I love this combination for my touring for turns. I have a pair of stiff-flexing leather Alico Ski March boots that should suit this binding as well- but I have really struggled with fit in them as they are really too large in volume for my feet and the lacing system is not as good as a boot like the Alaska...

I think it is Phoenix that has reported on the Bulldog bindings on this site- and if I remember correctly he is very pleased with this binding mated to Alaska boot, mounted on an Objective....

Wonderful that you joined us! I certainly have similar hours on skis as you do- but I certainly do not have the level of downhill/Telemark experience, skills and expertise that you do! I look forward to reading your stories and perspectives!

Re: Help Me Build XCD Kit

Posted: Mon Dec 02, 2019 10:49 am
by greatgt
219 e 99's......or....205 e109's.....R0ttafella super telemark cables.....leather boots.....threw away my Alpine stuff when I got back from cruising South-east Asia.....Went with the skinnies and had a blast...@ 1980 saw a telemark and the world changed.....Your a decent alpiner....why get the same stuff that your giving up....Do something different....The turns you can do on skinnies is totally different from dropping your knee at a ski area....The FEEL of doing it on the above is cloud like.....Thinking I'm full of it but the cheering crowd at the lunch rocks didn't....nor did the young lady who pulled up her top in appreciation....Nobody on DH skis or Alpine telemark got that kind of treatment.....The reason is they could feel the powder it's again a different world and the word you should focus on is slicing not riding on top....if you can do it....and MOST can't your in for the most incredible feeling....The learning curve is....uh....difficult....because.....your gonna eat lots of snow but behind sex it's the best feeling in the world....TM

Re: Help Me Build XCD Kit

Posted: Mon Dec 02, 2019 2:37 pm
by Cannatonic
those foothills out back sound like some fun skiing! I think you're expecting too much from the Alpina Alaska, it can't control wide skis like the ones you're talking about, IMO they are just sturdy XC boots, more like a high-top sneaker or light hiking boot. Definitely can't handle the Hardwire binding, I'm not sure there are any leathers out there today for that bindng.

To keep things light and basic 3-pin there are only a few stronger leather boots available, they're expensive but I recommend the Crispi Antarctic or Svartisen, or even better the Andrew Rifugio, only available here... ... fugio.html

Re: Help Me Build XCD Kit

Posted: Mon Dec 02, 2019 6:55 pm
by phoenix
Welcome. Good insights above; I'll add some thoughts: I'd most definitely look at some Voile's for skis, and go with something stouter than the Alaska. I'd skip the Hardwires, and probably stay with my 3 pin Spike Bulldogs.

Skied alpine growing up, and into my 20's, overlapped with xc/xcd for a few years, hung up my Rossi 650's and added resort tele to my backcountry skiing. Most of this has been here in the Greens and Adirondacks, though I lived (and skied) in the Wasatch during those transitional years. Have a fair sense of your terrain from visiting my daughter in Telluride a few times, and driving down from SLC.
For your skiing,I think something in Voile's Vector series would be as close to perfect as you could get. I've had the Objectives for a couple of years,after looking at the Rossi's and Fischers in that class. I'd get another pair in a minute. "Low Angle Al" has some excellent reviewing of the Vector's on some posts here; maybe take a look.

I got a pair of Alaska's at the same time as the skis. I love 'em; they're comfy, warm,dry, and I like the height, wrapping snugly above my ankle. They're delightful for cruising around and little hills, but in anything other than good consistent snow, they start feeling noodle fast. And that's on an 88 waist. I also have a pair of Scott Excursions, and the difference in control is quite substantial. If I'm out touring for turns, I wear those.
I fully get you'd rather stay with leather, and would suggest going with a much sturdier full leather boot at a minimum, if you do.Cannatonic has some good advice there, I'm not up on those currently.

Bindings? I mounted my set up with the Spike 3pins, and really like 'em. I do believe they ski better than other 3 pins for XCD. And the step in feature spoils you quick. Thing to be careful of is that they don't have as wide a range of adjustment for duckbill thickness as the others. Some full welted Vibram soled leathers could be a little too thick, and the Alaska's really border on too thin. With a good fit, they're a superior 3 pin, in my opinion. I'd skip hardwires altogether, heaviest cable set up would be the Voile 3 pin with cable (which would fit any sole you're likely to get).

This is pretty long winded for me, I'll give it a break. Will chime in again if it'll be of help.


Re: Help Me Build XCD Kit

Posted: Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:04 am
by lilcliffy
If you really want to tour in soft leather boots like the Alaska- and man they are soft once they are broken in-

What about trying something at XC end of the spectrum? I know you want width- but for what you want to do- what about trying a modern BC-XC ski?

My 205cm Ingstad BC is amazingly stable and supportive in deep snow- breaks trail like a champ- climbs well- and offers wonderful turns- and- although not a track ski- is WAAAY better on packed out trail than any downhill ski. The Ingstad BC will certainly not float like a S-Bound 112, but I would argue it is just as good deep snow; it is a MUCH better XC ski; and IMO it even turns better than the 112.

To go even further- a 210cm Gamme 54 BC- is just as stable in deep snow; an even more efficient XC ski than the Ingstad (especially on a hardpack trail)- and still offer wonderful- but VERY long radius- turns.

I am just thinking that if you really want the joy of striding in a supportive BC-XC boot- why not try a modern ski that the boot was designed for? You might be surprised...

And if you were to go that far...I would challenge you to try the NNNBC version of the Alaska- it is a better boot than its 75mm counterpart.

Forgive me- I am not trying to push some old-school obsession with leathers and skiinies. I do not know the terrain you want to ski at all- I just know where a boot like the Alaska shines.

In my very humble and limited experience I think that the 78mm of skis like the S-112 and Annum are the reasonable limit for a boot like the Alaska- and that is only on moderate terrain and good snow (this is however the performance scope of both of these skis IMHO). AND- IMHO neither of these skis are better deep snow/downhill skis than a ski like the Ingstad BC (though they do offer shorter radius turns than a ski like the Gamme 54 BC).

(The reason that I am not suggesting Fischer's equivalent E-109/E-99 is because they do not offer the deep snow stability of the Ingstad BC/ Gamme 54 BC)

Just something to think about...

Re: Help Me Build XCD Kit

Posted: Tue Dec 03, 2019 11:27 am
by lowangle al
Here is some food for thought. Above Cannatonic compared the Alaskas to high top sneakers or light hikers, which I agree with. I don't wear sneakers or light hikers when hiking in the winter and I don't feel comfortable skiing in light boots if I'm in the backcountry. Heavier boots like my old school Asolos or Merrils give me a lot more confidence that I won't come down with frostbite if things go bad and I had to walk out or stay overnight.

If you decide to go heavier than the Alaskas I suggest you consider either the T4 or the Excursion. My T4s are only a couple ounces heavier per boot than my leather boots and give much better edge control than my leathers while having the same range of motion due to the low cuff. The thermo moldable liners of the T4 almost make them a sure fit, not so with leather.

I got my first ski in yesterday. I wore leather boots and a non metal edged bushwacker ski with 3 pins and I averaged 4.2 mph and started to develop a blister on one heal. I did the same tour today with T4s and Vector BCs w/3pins and averaged 4.7mph and had no discomfort with my already sensitive heal.

To sum it up I say that if you want to go heavier than the Alaskas consider a light plastic boot. You won't loose much if any touring speed, you will have more edge control, and with moldable liners a better more comfortable fit.

The only other advice I have for you going from heavy to light gear is that the lighter you go the more important it is to flex your ankles forward to get a good carve. Have fun.

Re: Help Me Build XCD Kit

Posted: Tue Dec 03, 2019 6:37 pm
by phoenix
I think low angle al and I are coming from pretty much the same place, and I think we get where you're skiing and what you're looking for.

Re: Help Me Build XCD Kit

Posted: Tue Dec 03, 2019 7:10 pm
by lilcliffy
Sorry if I gave the wrong impression-

I am not trying to push narrow BC-XC skis- I was trying to suggest considerin skis that I think are better mated with a boot like the Alaska- if the OP really wants to tour in those boots.

I don't disagree with what Al and Phoenix are saying.

Re: Help Me Build XCD Kit

Posted: Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:37 pm
by Munsi
Oh hell yeah Alpina Alaska's will drive those Fischers with 3-pin hardwires. No problem. Heck - IMO a pair of stiff (new) Asolo doubles would drive those skis plenty well on the terrain you describe.