But about 5 years ago something changed. I learned something about sidecut on skis and heard about the telemark turn. I learned my flimsy xc boots were not driving my skis as well as a pair of good ski boots should. I learned about metal edges too. You see, I was on waxless, non-metal edge Karhu Pathfinders and wearing golf course boots and SNS bindings for years and years. Slowly, I started reading my neighbors 10-year-old, 2000-2001 issues of Backcountry magazine after day tours while sipping maple whiskey at his wood stove at his camp in the Adirondacks. I saw people skiing the backcountry on "skinny" Tua's in these old magazines. They were doing what I'd been doing, but they were doing it more for the down, not just the tour. I started living in these old magazines, as opposed to today's magazines where everything is fat and tricked out plastic boots and heavy bindings.
I started to pay attention to sidecut, and images of backcountry tours with turns started forming in my brain. First came some nice Fischer waxless Snowbound Crowns 77-61-69 with NNN-BC. But my boot/binding interface was still weak it seemed. A season or two passed and now I'm reading Telemark Tips and absorbing so much. I'm doing my usual touring all over the Adirondacks on my BC setup, but not out there for turns. I am more aware than ever of the skiers I see going into the backcountry wearing plastic boots and wide skis. They are going for turns. I want some of that, but on that gear? And give up the beauty of the tour?
I'm sold on a burlier set up anyway. I pick up a pair of waxless Fisher Outtabounds Crown 88/68/78 and my first 3pin Voiles and some nice Fischer BCX6 75mm boots. Now I have a great backcountry touring/turning package, but I'm not touring for turns all of a sudden, mostly just going solo in untracked deep snow on tours. But a transformation is taking place because now I'm reading Pinnah and other forum "nordic backcountry" skiers and I'm reading Barnett's XCD posts and his books, and ebaying old issues of Backcountry mag before fat skis.
I start doing my first turns on wide roads in the backcountry, on dowhhills I would have just bombed down years ago. This is getting fuckin fun! I'm enjoying myself on skis more than ever. I notice I've lost some of the tour to the floaty quality of the wider Outtabounds, so I ebay a pair of 90's Black Diamond Polar Star tele skis 72/54/68 and get my first set of Rottefella Super Telemarks for bindings. I start mounting bindings in my basement at night. And the Polar Stars are wax skis so I dive into applying Swix in binder, blue and green and red on these skis. I've never had so much fun! I'm still learning the Turn but I'm flip-flopping between Outtabounds and the Polar Stars. I think I'm feeling the holy grail more with the Polar Stars because they are lighter and my 75mm BCX6 boots are driving them nicely.
This was all about two years ago, Meanwhile, I still love to ski the xc ski centers in the Adirondacks. I ski them on my skinniest bc set ups. At a ski center on consignment, I picked up a pair of Alico doubles, my first leathers, which help greatly in overnight tours as I'm able to dry the inners in my bag at night. And waxing continues! I'm waxing the tips and tails of my sintered Fischers and the Polar Stars now. And I'm practicing my first turns.
I have a golf course behind my house with some nice hills, and I'm out there at night with my headlamp trying to carve, climbing and carving and falling and laughing. I buy a pair of Asolo lace up slippers for these nightly yo yo's on the golf course,since the Fischers BCX6's take too long to get into after work. I call them my slippers, and they are light and pair well with some more skinny skis I encounter, like a pair of Karhu XCD GT's, the old skinny ones. Now ALL my skis are 3 pin Super Telemarks. I know I know I read all of Barnett and the SNS and Salomon Adv6 or 8 theory, but I need simplicity, economy and changeability, so everything goes over to 3 pin and I sell everything NNN-BC.
Finally I have to get a pair of Madshus Glittertinds as a Barnett disciple, and I put Rotte Supers on them. I buy them a little short ala Barnett and get 190cm. I buy them as wax skis too, since I'm totally into the alchemy of Swix colors, and getting wax skis to kick and glide and climb. My turns are getting better and I'm not falling as much. The Glittertinds flex more than my BD Polar Stars, and they are lighter. I get this incredible feeling of linking turns together a few times now. It is sweet, and yet I can still tour all day on this gear. I can apply this light gear to everything in the backcountry. It seems XCD is all I need. I go real skinny and find a pair of Atomic Mountain BC 59/50/55, such a fun ski! I can put miles behind me on tracked trails on those.
My neighbor is a 30yr ski patroller. He invites me to the local mountain to stay in the patrollers summit hut overnight for a few weekends. I take my BD Polar Stars from the 90's and ski my Alico's for a little extra drive with the boots. I'm doing well in the morning on the groomed with some powder on top, but I'm spilling when things get churned up. I'm affraid of the Alpine skiers whipping downhill in long graceful turns with incredible speed. I want to ski slowly with control, on tourable skis. I know the tele turn is for me. People are looking at me weird on the mountain, but I'm in the gear I know I love for it's dexterity.
I love when I leave the local mountain for awhile and bushwhack to some old roads and tour for hours, then come back to the mountain and try and do turns on the same gear. This is fun skiing to me. Last year, I bought my first skins, so now I'm going places I've never been, climbing hills like a goat and then turning between the trees on the way down. Mine are poor turns but I'm having the most fun, because I'm touring and turning the same day on light gear.
This is where I've been as a skier and how I evolved. Maybe some of you guys could tell me where you're located and show me more of XCD and BC skiing. Maybe someone wants to go to the Chic Chocs with me, which is a trip I really want to do soon. I'm in the southern Adirondacks and always in the mountains for tours on the weekends, and now looking for turns too. But guarantee I'll be on skinnys and non plastic boots. Yeah, I've been tempted to buy Garmont plastics, but I don't think so, my leathers seem to mate so well with my skinny skis. I would never give up the freedom I've had in my lite XCD gear. I'll get the technique someday, that day will come, the day I can link turns on steep stuff. I'm a patient dude. And having lots of fun while getting there.
Evolution does take time, of course.
I share many of your passions, one big one being skiing in the ADKs. I've only recently got back to skiing up there after a long hiatus and even so I never skied the stuff I ski (or want to ski) now.
I too, long for the control of free heel ski in comfortable and tour-able boots... but heck, I ski down hills whatever way I can... if I can't seem to get my skis to turn or slow down... I'll plow, or half plow, step, fall, use my poles, hit trees, whatever... I long for the day when I can master any ski in any snow conditions, but I'm a long way off from that.
I've skied on wax before, but not with BC skis. I've been tempted to get a real pair of wax skinnies that will really glide... and that will probably require clean undies after looking downhill... but I have a really nice head of hair, and I don't want to lose it but maybe some day I'll revert back. That is until I read articles about xc ski waxing and I go cross-eyed and lose interest.
I'm kind of against the plastic as well when it comes to touring, or XCd, or xcD, or whatever but I put my wife on a pair (and she's not the strongest skier) and she was carving all over, so I decided she should have the unfair advantage. She was a little resistant to get them because of the lack of freedom and I'll see if she can actually tolerate them for a decent length ski. She has skinnies and leathers as well - but I wouldn't be lying if I said sometimes she freezes up looking at a mild slope. Hell I do too...
I'm itching to get the ADKs myself, but my wife had back surgery last week and probably won't be doing anything for another 5 weeks, so most likely I'll be puttering around the Rochester area. I've had my eye on Wanakena. There is snow there now and I've yet to ski out to High Falls. I'm hoping xmas/new years time there will be good snow and we'll start making regular trips again.
Anyway, best of luck. Maybe I'll see you on the trail.
Why don't you come back?
Outtabounds (S-bound 88)/SNS is my favorite set for skiing on powder.
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