- XCD Enthusiast
- Posts: 1
- Joined: Wed Jun 26, 2019 8:29 am
- Location: montreal
- Occupation: psychologist
- XCD KNIGHT
- Posts: 1823
- Joined: Wed Dec 18, 2013 6:11 pm
- Location: Quebec / Vermont
- Ski style: Dancing with God
- Favorite Skis: Redsters, Radicals, Objectives and all Asnes skis.
- Favorite boots: ALFA Guard Advance, Scarpa TX Comp
- Occupation: Full-time ski bum
Telemark is pure bliss, the culmination of a lifetime of truth seeking. The living end. But it does require a small learning curve... A learning curve that is growing exponentially more fun every year until your next life... (I can confirm that your hard-learned tele skills will get transfered into your next incarnation here...)
"And if you like to risk your neck, we'll boom down Sutton in old Quebec..."
- XCD KNIGHT
- Posts: 2239
- Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2015 7:20 pm
- Location: Stanley, New Brunswick, Canada
- Ski style: Nordic backcountry touring
- Favorite Skis: Asnes Ingstad BC; Asnes Gamme 54 BC; Asnes Storetind Carbon
- Favorite boots: Alpina Alaska; Scarpa T4
- Occupation: Forestry Professional
Instructor at Maritime College of Forest Technology
Husband, father, farmer and logger
To add to Johnny's excellent post-
I did a fair amount of big-mountain backcountry touring in the 90s in both AT and Telemark setups (I worked in the logging industry in BC and went on wilderness expeditions on my downtime with my close friend and mountain fanatic from Germany).
I am a lifelong Nordic skier- so I will always have that perspective on this matter- I not only don't like having my heel locked down- I hate touring in a boot that doesn't allow a natural foot flex!
I say this because I have known a number of Alpine skiers- my wife included- that are much more tolerant of touring in a boot with an Alpine sole. I have a close friend that occasionally comes backcountry touring with me that is willing to XC ski in his AT boots if we are planning on covering some significant vertical on our tour! (I must admit that is a bit annoying for the rest of us in the group- as he cannot keep up over distance in his AT setup!)
IMO/IME- AT setups excel in two dimensions- UP and DOWN. AT technology is designed to climb up the mountain- and ski back down- not cover distance. Can you XC ski in an AT setup? Sure you can- if you are willing to tolerate not being able to comfortably and effectively stride in a Nordic boot!
Nordic/Telemark setups offer the skier the ability to effectively and efficiently stride- the XC advantages of this cannot be understated! And with some commitment- and most importantly time and practice(!)- one can effectively ski downhill on even the most XC-focused of setups!
The Nordic ski spectrum is incredibly wide- from performance XC track skiing- to downhill-focused Telemark- and everything in between!
(I must admit here that I have effectively skied some big-mountain downhill conditions out west in AT gear that I do not think I would have attempted in my Telemark gear of the day! Today's most downhill-focused Telemark technology is pretty burly indeed- some of the NTN tech I have tested allows me to pretty much to use full-on Alpine-downhill technique!)
Other than the FUN FACTOR (I agree with Johhny BTW) an important question is what type of backcountry touring you want to do and where.
From a purely practical point of view- my opinion is that Telemark gear quickly outpaces AT when there is significant distance to cover. AND- yes- one can probably put up with XC skiing in an AT boot for a few hours- but on a multi-day trek? MURDER!
As an example of this issue from my past-
I once did a multi-day traverse from west of Valemont BC thru the Columbia Mtns (Cariboo Range) to just east of 100 Mile House with the German friend I mentioned. Despite the fact that the avalanche danger prevented us from skiing any extreme terrain- he convinced me that we would need the AT setups. As it turned out- although we downhill-skied some amazing terrain- we did an incredible amount of XC skiing and the AT boots were MURDEROUS. We would have been much better on our Telemark setups!!!
I see you are in Montreal- where do you plan on touring and on what kind of terrain?
Unashamed to be a "cross-country type" and love skiing down-hill.
On the light and efficient side, AT wins by far. There’s also heavier gear on steroids if its more your style. The offer is broader. And not more expensive.
Tele gear offer is more limited and you don’t really find light weight boots (older perhaps, but not the newer stuff). Today i think its more a market than a technology issue, we seem to be a small market, not enough to have plenty of choices. And the dominant buyer is the piste skier i believe.
Love for telemark comes from the turn, not from the uphill efficiency (and neither for the downhill efficiency). If you don’t feel the need to renew the passion for skiing, don’t look for telemark, you might end up frustrated. If you do, get ready to spend some time learning the turn, and once you love it, the efficiency discussion will not be as relevant anymore.
Edit: i was answering not having in mind XC skiing, i agree with the comment above about long distance trips with such gear. I’m not sure if everybody name it telemark though.
- XCD Guide
- Posts: 647
- Joined: Fri Feb 19, 2016 9:06 pm
- Location: Oakland County, MI
- Occupation: Construction Manager
I took that road and just inaugurated the gear last Sunday. After some deep introspection, meditation, mindfulness and self brain washing, I accepted that it’s okay to switch to alpine on the icy and steep slopes and then switch back as soon as I’m back to my limits on tele. So I enjoyed the mountain everywhere at its best.
I can confirm that alpine turn on tele is not as strong as on alpine (I always knew, but I could test it on the same slope with same gear now). Not saying that you can’t do parallel turns on tele, you can and it works, the only difference is that with alpine you can get rocket power. Also I can do more extreme carving on the groomers (the reason why I added the AT heels to the package), so plenty of new options for the hardpack.
Some of you are probably thinking I’m a bad or average skier, I’m not, I consider myself a decent advanced tele skier. I’m just messing with some of our taboos here. The traditional answer is that it doesn’t make sense to lock the heels at all, that good skiers have enough with the heels unlocked. It doesn’t for most conditions or styles but it does for others, that’s the truth that most of us don’t dare to tell.
Now with pow, different story, of course.
Howdy all! Hope everyone's summer is going well so far!
That would be the short answer to the question, actually...martin2007 wrote: For me it doesn't get better than tele turns in powder
Yes I am, I live in Chile. Not a good winter start in the central region so far..martin2007 wrote: hey, Andinista, are you skiing somewhere south of the equator?
Last year started much better:
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...