Gear advice for newbie

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Tomski
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon Feb 08, 2021 10:13 pm
Location: Oregon

Gear advice for newbie

Post by Tomski » Mon Feb 08, 2021 10:45 pm

Hi All,

Great site here with lots of helpful info. I am eager to get into tele skiing and am finding the gear options to be bewildering.

About me: I grew up in Wisconsin and am a die-hard XC skier. I do both skate and classic at a high level and have many pairs of XC race skis (that I do race on). Free heel skiing feels very natural to me; in fact, every time I've tried alpine skiing the heavy equipment and locked heels have been frustrating. I love the idea of carving turns, and the idea of XCD. I live in Oregon now and there are plenty of steep mountain slopes to go touring on, but I am more interested in low-angle and rolling terrain touring. So I'm thinking a ski with fish scales would be best, but I'm struggling to decide on gear beyond that. The snow out here tends to be wet and heavy (Cascade concrete!), and when it's "powder" it's still quite a bit heavier than Rockies powder. We have plenty of days with harder, crust/icy conditions too.

Last weekend I skied at a local alpine resort and rented an NTN setup (Scarpa Tx Pros, Outlaw bindings, and Black Diamond Verdict skis which were pretty wide for resort skiing (132-100-119), and simply massive compared to a 44-41-44 XC race ski!) but that was what the shop had for a tele rental in my size. It was my first time attempting to tele (other than fooling around on XC race skis) and I felt like I was getting the hang of it by the end of the day. I didn't fall once which is sort of amazing since I have skied on alpine/AT equipment less than a dozen times ever--maybe I should have pushed harder! I have been watching lots of tele videos and I think that helped me internalize what it should look like and things to focus on. I had fun, but the skis and boots seemed heavier and more downhill-focused than I would want for my own setup.

On the one hand, it seems like NTN with tech toe is the superior technology at this point and best for going downhill, and would allow me to join my friends who ski AT setups with the rest of the herd. On the other hand, I'm interested in actually getting some kick and glide and low-angle turns, and perhaps lighter boots like T4s or Alpina Alaskas with 75 mm bindings and a skinnier ski makes sense. Also, I am not eager to venture into areas with significant avalanche risk.

I was hoping that a single setup would do all of this, but I'm not sure the compromise would be worth it. Perhaps I should start with a 75 mm setup with S-Bounds or Voile V6 BCs, or something narrower. Then later I could consider a second NTN setup with TX Pro and Lynx and skins on wider skis without scales for downhill focused tours, if I felt the need.

For low-angle tele touring, what boots would be best to consider for this? Is there a strong case to make for Alaskas or leathers, or would T4s or T2s still allow enough range of motion to kick and glide? Thanks for any advice!

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John_XCD
Posts: 21
Joined: Thu Nov 05, 2020 9:46 am
Location: SLC, UT
Ski style: Powdery aspen glades
Favorite Skis: S-98, ObjectiveBC, Breidablikk, XC race skis
Favorite boots: Alaska+Guard Adv NNNBC

Re: Gear advice for newbie

Post by John_XCD » Mon Feb 08, 2021 11:23 pm

I took the same route you describe to arrive at XCD -- and generally ski the terrain that you describe (but in the lighter powder of Utah). Started with Alaska/NNNBC/S-bound-98 and was hooked on XCD with this set up. If you are generally sticking to slopes < 30 degrees and appreciate kick and glide, Alaska with NNNBC is quite capable to telemark in favorable snow and will XC ski adequately. See pic for some short laps on this set up (~30 degrees at the steepest point).

Scales really excel in the spring corn (or other variable conditions) and I don't miss wax for up/down touring on different aspects/elevations etc. Certainly a drag on a snowmachine track though. The Alaskas can handle a wider ski than s-bound 98 in soft powder, but s-98 seems to push the limits for that boot on very firm consolidated snow.
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Tom M
Posts: 104
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2019 10:01 pm
Location: Northwest Wyoming
Ski style: Skate on Groomed, 3 pin Off, Backcountry Tele
Favorite Skis: Fischer S-Bound 98 Off Trail, Voile V6 BC for Tele
Favorite boots: Currently skiing Alfa Skarvet, Alfa Greenland 75, Scarpa T2
Occupation: Retired
Website: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCam0VG ... shelf_id=1

Re: Gear advice for newbie

Post by Tom M » Tue Feb 09, 2021 12:53 am

First a disclaimer. I've never skied in Oregon, so I don't know if my experience will be of any help, but like John_XCD above, I also ski a set of SBound 98's in Northwest Wyoming. The 98's with leather boots are my go to ski for skiing soft snow conditions in moderate terrain when the route includes some nice downhill runs. The fish scales are great, but they will never be as fast in the flats as a waxable ski, and that might frustrate you a bit with your XC racing background. That being said, I skied waxable skis exclusively in the backcountry from 1972 to 2005, when I picked up my first set of Fischer fishscales for spring skiing. I had a fairly large quiver of waxable skis, but by 2020, I had given them all away (with the exception of my track skis) and replaced them with a quiver of waxless skis. It is a tough time right now to be looking for skis. Pandemic buying has pretty much depleted the supply of the most popular skis and boots. The good news is that next year there will be another binding / boot choice available with the Rottefella Xplore system. The Sbound 98 is a great ski, but it is an XC ski at heart, so it won't be a one ski quiver for you if you plan to ski with your AT friends on difficult terrain. I was out skiing mine today. It was a beautiful day and here is a photo from this morning showing what I think the SBound 98's are best at.
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AlaskaNordic
Posts: 24
Joined: Tue Dec 15, 2020 11:38 pm
Location: Alaska
Ski style: Style what style?
Favorite Skis: Madshus Annums
Favorite boots: Alico Double
Occupation: Fire Engine driver.

Re: Gear advice for newbie

Post by AlaskaNordic » Tue Feb 09, 2021 3:19 am

My two cents is also coming from where you are going so to speak, so the big thing about fish scales and wet snow is paste wax is a must, othewise massive balling. Second, I spent to many years trying to use one ski to do it all and my taste have changed in the type of skiing i enjoy for various reasons. So go ahead start small get a decent touring set up but have a quiver to any type of decent downhill. I invested in the wider Annums and the X2s and it quite simply has made me a better skier and I enjoy myself more going down hill, I cant imagine what would happen if I spent more and got some plastic boots and some Voiles!
Tom M is spot on, the pandemic has done things to the outdoor world, and skis are the new toilet paper, I have read so many article saying back country gear is flying off the shelf and at a all time low in inventory. I manged to find new skis this yeat but barely, you may want to research and shop for next season, especially since you are in the lower 48, not sure how much longer you guys have a snow pack to ski. T-2 are fine to tour in but, I love and cannot leave leather, why? Romace I guess, but the flex and breathabilty are of course better. Silly as it sounds I just love the craftmanship of my Alicos, they are made by hand in a small shop in a little village in the Italian alps like many other boots its just to cool. Anyway, thats all i got.
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lowangle al
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Re: Gear advice for newbie

Post by lowangle al » Tue Feb 09, 2021 7:49 am

I would go for the T4 or excursion for a boot. They aren't much heavier than heavy leather but they have the edge control of a plastic boot. The low cuff gives you freedom of moving your ankles that larger plastic boots don't. This makes it easier to get centered on your skis and has a more natural K&G.

For a ski, you can't go wrong with the Voile Ultra vector for what you want to do. In your dense powder I would not want a more narrow ski like the S98. The higher you stay in the snowpacK the happier you will be. The V6 might be more fun in powder(I never skied it) but won't tour as well. The ultra vector does both well and cuts through heavy powder with no problem. The scales on Voile skis are the best I have skied, they climb and glide well and aren't as loud as the others. They excell in wet snow, the only time I've had a problem with clumping is in fresh snow at about 32F, but that was very limited. If you appreciate stability and don't think crashing is an integral part of skiing, these skis will do it for you. Also down the road at some point I would look for a used pair of powder boards that you can put kick wax on for an even better experience.

I ski mine with a light cable binding(old Riva) the Voile traverse, Hard wire or Switchback work well.

It sounds like you have had a good run going fast on your racing skis and now may be the time to go with something completely different. There are other waxless skis out there that would also work but I wouldn't go more narrow than the mid 90s underfoot.





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Tomski
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Joined: Mon Feb 08, 2021 10:13 pm
Location: Oregon

Re: Gear advice for newbie

Post by Tomski » Tue Feb 09, 2021 3:17 pm

Thanks all for the advice. This is super helpful!

@lowangle al, good info on the Ultra Vector BC. I wouldn't have known how it compared to the V6 BC, but sounds like a winner, especially if Voile's scales are that good. I think I would lean toward trying the lower plastic boots (T4 or Excursion) so thanks for suggesting that. Waxing powder boards, hmm--I wouldn't have thought those had enough camber to make a wax pocket, so now I'm intrigued. Judging by your profile photo you're out west somewhere too?

Wondering if I could use a 75 mm binding like Switchback X2 or Axl and later swap out for NTN on the same pair of skis. Is there any such combo that would use the same holes for both bindings (e.g. staying within one binding brand), or is that overly optimistic?

@AlaskaNordic Thank you. I was rapidly coming to the conclusion that there was no way to do it all with one pair of skis/boots, so thanks for that input. Italian leather sounds nice!

Actually Mount Hood has snow through the summer, at least on Palmer Glacier. Many ski teams come here in the summer to ski. It's the longest season in the lower 48, I believe. And per Wikipedia even in North America, though that seems dubious... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palmer_Glacier

Lower down (4000' elevation), we have reliable XC skiing through early April, and sometimes longer. Down near Bend, the XC season goes through May (6000'). For backcountry, through April easily in many places.

@John_XCD and @Tom M Thanks for the recommendations! The photos of those gentle slopes with nice carving have me dreaming... I don't think I would go NNNBC, I would probably go 75 mm for this. But this Rottefella Xplore sounds interesting. I haven't had time to read much about it yet, but would you say it's a replacement for NNN BC and 75 mm, rather than NTN? It looks like it's designed for XCD BC touring. It's both exciting that new systems are imminent and frustrating that there are so many standards for telemark bindings in 2021...





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Tomski
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon Feb 08, 2021 10:13 pm
Location: Oregon

Re: Gear advice for newbie

Post by Tomski » Tue Feb 09, 2021 3:45 pm

Another question: I'm used to buying the longest size of XC skis. I'm 6'0" and 165 lbs. When it comes to wider BC skis, is there an argument for shorter? In general longer is faster, but I imagine shorter skis are more maneuverable and could turn better. Will I regret buying 184 cm in a UltraVector?





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lowangle al
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Joined: Sat Jan 11, 2014 4:36 pm

Re: Gear advice for newbie

Post by lowangle al » Tue Feb 09, 2021 4:36 pm

I don't think you will regret getting the 184s but I think the 177s would be long enough for you and maybe a better choice. They are a few mm more narrow and will be lighter.

I'd say since you are going for something completely different go with the 177s, they will be long enough. I'm at least 20 lbs. heavier than you and I wear a pack and they work very well even compared to my 185 much fatter powder boards.

I've been in Alaska for almost 30 years but have spent the last two ski seasons in Pa. East coast or west coast the T4/ ultravector would be my quiver of one ski if I had to choose. I have enjoyed everything from skiing on the frozen lake in Pa. to the steep and deep in Ak. where I had some of best and most memorable powder runs I ever had.

A disclaimer here, I have the original vector and the hyper vector which is the same ski with a lighter core. There is a warranty issue with the hypers with tele bindings but if you ski them with a lighter binding and aren't prone to yardsaling down the hill you should be fine. If you did pull a binding Voile can fix that for a fee but if you snapped a ski you'd be out of luck.

Kick wax work fine on a single camber ski. I'm sure you know that the proper wax doesn't stick until you put weight on the ski and create heat, I've been doing it for years. It pretty much lasts as long as it does on a dbl camber ski as long as the snow isn't very abrasive. Either way, single or dbl camber I wear most of my wax off doing turns on abrasive snow where the ski is flexed putting the underfoot part of the ski in contact with the snow with force.





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Tomski
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon Feb 08, 2021 10:13 pm
Location: Oregon

Re: Gear advice for newbie

Post by Tomski » Tue Feb 09, 2021 8:20 pm

Thanks! 177 seems to be just right in that ski, after some more reading.

When you say "original Vector" do you mean the UltraVector? And have you used both waxless ("BC") and regular versions of these skis? Now I'm torn....

If I can afford the $$$, perhaps I could eventually do two setups:

1. HyperVector BC with T4s for low angle tours
2. UltraVector with Tx Pros for steeper tours, with skins and maybe experiment with kick wax, but not sure that would even be worth it given the tall stiff boot affecting XC striding. I have noticed the range of motion listed for Scarpas tends to be lower than for Scotts, for example. That ROM (ankle fore and back) is pretty important for kick and glide, and Tx Pros are so far from nordic boots that this might be pie in the sky. Although they do have the walk mode which loosens them up.





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lowangle al
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Re: Gear advice for newbie

Post by lowangle al » Tue Feb 09, 2021 9:42 pm

Yeah, Tom the original vector was the predecessor of the ultra and hyper. The original was a great ski but the newer models are even better.

I do have both versions and the scaled version is so good that when waxing conditions are marginal I will just take them and be happy. That being said, a well waxed ski(even a fat alpine one) will out perform scales and be more fun. So you make the call.





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