Help me choose a first Nordic ski!

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samuel_clemens
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Help me choose a first Nordic ski!

Post by samuel_clemens » Tue May 11, 2021 3:34 pm

Help me choose a first Nordic ski!

I just got back from a 100km trek in the California Sierra Nevada, about 50% on snow. I have done numerous similar trips in the past on snowshoes but this year took Altai Hok "ski-shoes" as a sort-of introduction into backcountry skiing. I have zero XC ski experience and am a mediocre resort skier at best. I had a mixed experience. The Hoks are 125 cm, 123-109-123 mm, and have a permanent integrated skin. I used 75mm 3-pin bindings with Fischer BCX-675 boots. I weigh 155 lb (70kg) and was carrying a 30 lb (14kg) pack. Height 5'10" (178 cm).

In the high Sierras in late April / early May, the typical temperature range is daytime 40-50F (5-10c) and nighttime 20-30F ( -7-0c). In the morning the snow is icy crust, firm enough to walk on. By 10am it has softened into a lovely grippy texture (corn snow?). By 3pm the snow is rotten and even my snowshoes have trouble with flotation. The terrain I follow is typical mountain trail - lots of up and downs, rare slopes > 20 degrees. Mostly above the tree line.

With the Hoks, I was very pleased with the grip of the skins, even in early morning icy conditions. They started to slip at about 20 degrees, which is about the point I probably shouldn't be on skis anyways given my skills. I felt faster than on snowshoes, and it was definitely less exertion. I mostly just shuffled. I tried a few kick-and-glides which worked without my pack, but I had a hard time balancing with 14kg on my back. Flotation was good until the end of the day when my skis were buried and stuck in wet dense snow.

Downhill of any sustained duration or steepness was beyond my skill set though. Any time I picked up speed beyond a jog I felt unstable. I was able to handle most slopes with well-planned traverse lines but had an extremely low threshold for removing skis and booting down sections. Both holding an edge and snowplowing were challenging and took my full attention and strength. A parallel turn or stop was impossible.

I'm aware this whole tale sounds like a foolish and dangerous misadventure, but I hope I can reassure you that I was fully aware of my limits and never attempted anything that would put me or a rescue crew in danger.

For those still reading, all of this is to say that I loved my mini-introduction to backcountry skiing and am inspired to invest in a real set of skis and work on my skills next year. From reading this site I understand there is no one-ski-to-rule-all-conditions but for the present I'm going to have to invest one set at a time.

I'm looking for a no-wax ski that will climb well, handle icy crust, and allow gentle downhill and turns. I have no desire to bomb down the fall line though I would like to comfortable hold an edge and traverse steeper slopes. I hope to do frequent day trips during real winter in typical Sierra dense snow, and hope to repeat my spring trip with late season snow as above. In a repeat spring trip, I will definitely have to hike with the skis on my pack so lightweight and relatively short are important, though with a me+pack weight of 185 lb (84 kg) I recognize that flotation will be important.

I have learned a lot from reading past threads here but still don't really grasp the implications of width, sidecut, and stiffness for someone with my skill level. The Fischer 78 crown/skin vs the 88 crown/skin seem like strong contenders but I don't know how to choose. With any ski, what length?

Thanks in advance for any advice!

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ᚠᚨᚱ ᚾᛟᚱᚦ ᛊᚲᛁᛖᚱ
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Re: Help me choose a first Nordic ski!

Post by ᚠᚨᚱ ᚾᛟᚱᚦ ᛊᚲᛁᛖᚱ » Tue May 11, 2021 6:32 pm

If you're not totally settled on waxless or even if you are, skins can be used to great effect with just about any nordic bc ski. They climb better than scales for the most part and you can leave them on during the descent to help manage speed. I'd offer ski advice, but I'm sure someone more experienced than I will be along shortly.

*I guess I can add that the Fischer crown pattern works extremely well on that sun warmed snow, but would not work well at all on still-frozen crust. I bought the Fischer Excursion 88s longer than recommended because I wanted the added flotation, but I definitely sacrificed turning. The Excursion 88 is not very light so keep that in mind if your skiing requires a lot of step or jump turns. The point may be moot since I haven't seen a lot of Fischer skis in stock.





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Nick BC
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Re: Help me choose a first Nordic ski!

Post by Nick BC » Wed May 12, 2021 6:21 pm

My suggestion would be Voile Vector BC’s or Altai Koms for what you describe. The Koms have a waxless base instead of the permanent skin on your Hoks and are more of a ski than a slow shoe.





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ᚠᚨᚱ ᚾᛟᚱᚦ ᛊᚲᛁᛖᚱ
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Re: Help me choose a first Nordic ski!

Post by ᚠᚨᚱ ᚾᛟᚱᚦ ᛊᚲᛁᛖᚱ » Wed May 12, 2021 9:40 pm

samuel_clemens wrote:
Tue May 11, 2021 3:34 pm
Help me choose a first Nordic ski!
I just got back from a 100km trek in the California Sierra Nevada, about 50% on snow.
If this is the context that you're looking to address with a new ski I would think that you'd be needing a comfortable boot to hike in (taking T4s out of consideration) and skis that are light enough to not be overly burdensome while being carried.
By 3pm the snow is rotten and even my snowshoes have trouble with flotation. The terrain I follow is typical mountain trail - lots of up and downs, rare slopes > 20 degrees. Mostly above the tree line.
Rotten, unstable snow is always a challenge, I suspect the shortness of the Hoks didn't help.
Downhill of any sustained duration or steepness was beyond my skill set though. Any time I picked up speed beyond a jog I felt unstable. I was able to handle most slopes with well-planned traverse lines but had an extremely low threshold for removing skis and booting down sections. Both holding an edge and snowplowing were challenging and took my full attention and strength. A parallel turn or stop was impossible.
A normal length ski (especially with skins attached) would probably be more stable (though less maneuverable). Holding a wide ski on edge on icy conditions or when wedging, requires an adequately burly boot.
I'm looking for a no-wax ski that will climb well, handle icy crust, and allow gentle downhill and turns. I have no desire to bomb down the fall line though I would like to comfortable hold an edge and traverse steeper slopes.
Keep in mind that waxless patterns do not climb well in icy conditions at all. You'll need a ski that's narrow enough for you to hold on edge with your boot of choice. You can descend a slope with most skis, but if your skis are more more touring oriented then you have to be more strategic about how you descend a slope.
I have learned a lot from reading past threads here but still don't really grasp the implications of width, sidecut, and stiffness for someone with my skill level. The Fischer 78 crown/skin vs the 88 crown/skin seem like strong contenders but I don't know how to choose. With any ski, what length?

Thanks in advance for any advice!
The Fischer 88 or 78 are probably not bad choices (the 78 will be lighter and faster).
You could probably go with something like the Gamme or Ousland if you want to get comfortable with skins and wax. There's the Nansen and Ingstad which come in waxless. Its probably best to follow the manufacturer sizing charts. Subtract cm if you want better turning/grip or adding you want more flotation.





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Musk Ox
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Re: Help me choose a first Nordic ski!

Post by Musk Ox » Thu May 13, 2021 4:08 am

Four-metre-long Åsnes Combat NATOs with Voile Switchback bindings modified for Alpina Alaskas with XPlore pins, baked top and bottom in Swix Polar and all wrapped like a sausage in 45mm nylon X-Skins.
ᚠᚨᚱ ᚾᛟᚱᚦ ᛊᚲᛁᛖᚱ wrote:
Wed May 12, 2021 9:40 pm
You could probably go with something like the Gamme or Ousland if you want to get comfortable with skins and wax. There's the Nansen and Ingstad which come in waxless. Its probably best to follow the manufacturer sizing charts. Subtract cm if you want better turning/grip or adding you want more flotation.
Failing that, I'm inclined to agree with @ᚠᚨᚱ ᚾᛟᚱᚦ ᛊᚲᛁᛖᚱ here. I think that the Åsnes Nansen sounds like a very good option. They are easy to control, very good in poor snow, and 'flattering' to those of us with technique on the, um, sub-Scandinavian level.

They’re very popular when I live, practically the default ‘mountain ski’ with the Åsnes Ingstad. Everyone on this forum seems to dislike the waxless pattern for hills, though. I use waxable ones with X-Skins in poor snow and hilly country and think they’re great. Others can weigh in on the equivalent Fischers or whatever (109s?).

And these might be good? https://madshus.com/en-no/p/panorama-m6 ... transition





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ᚠᚨᚱ ᚾᛟᚱᚦ ᛊᚲᛁᛖᚱ
Posts: 100
Joined: Tue Dec 29, 2020 6:37 pm
Location: Alaska, Mat-Su Burough
Ski style: Mixed xcountry offtrack/bc
Favorite Skis: Asnes NATO BC so far
Favorite boots: Still searching

Re: Help me choose a first Nordic ski!

Post by ᚠᚨᚱ ᚾᛟᚱᚦ ᛊᚲᛁᛖᚱ » Thu May 13, 2021 12:25 pm

Musk Ox wrote:
Thu May 13, 2021 4:08 am
And these might be good? https://madshus.com/en-no/p/panorama-m6 ... transition
That's a hella cheap ski





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samuel_clemens
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Re: Help me choose a first Nordic ski!

Post by samuel_clemens » Fri May 14, 2021 5:26 pm

Many thanks all. I'll check out the Madshus and Nansen skis. Thanks!





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Musk Ox
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Re: Help me choose a first Nordic ski!

Post by Musk Ox » Sat May 15, 2021 12:36 pm

samuel_clemens wrote:
Fri May 14, 2021 5:26 pm
Many thanks all. I'll check out the Madshus and Nansen skis. Thanks!
Look at the Ingstad, too. Åsnes are about to release a new ski called the Otto Sverdrup which may or may not be the best ski ever made by any company ever (it is not yet available and no one has seen one) but it doesn't come in waxless. I think. The X-Skins are very good in poor snow conditions, though, and you can wax when it's good.





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エイダン.シダル
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Re: Help me choose a first Nordic ski!

Post by エイダン.シダル » Sat May 15, 2021 8:19 pm

Bravo on doing that tour on those skis. I almost bought a pair as 'forest skis' for short jaunts.

I hate 'waxless' skis. They're poorly named, and in any conditions I've skied in Ontario, Québéc, and the Adirondacks, the scale patterns I've used grip worse than grip wax at its best, or skins. YMMV in the West, or with a raised-pattern 'waxless': I don't have that experience. I think we can agree that 'waxless' glides slow.

I'm upgrading to Åsnes Otto Sverdrup, next winter.
Whichever Åsnes skis someone might choose, the X-skin system solves so many niggling problems. Perfect conditions for grip wax: do that. Marginal conditions for wax: use the Mohair X-skins. Same with moderate, sustained climbs. Steep climbs: I can use nylon, full-length skins I already have. Skis that can do EVERYTHING better than a single pair of 'waxless', or wax skis? Sign me up!

But which Åsnes? North Americans buy skis like they buy their vehicles: they buy the heavy, overbuilt choice, for the outlying scenario they face 5% of the time. We forget we can rent trucks, or telemark/AT skis for that.





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Re: Help me choose a first Nordic ski!

Post by Rodbelan » Sun May 16, 2021 5:53 am

Musk Ox wrote:
Thu May 13, 2021 4:08 am
And these might be good? https://madshus.com/en-no/p/panorama-m6 ... transition
I bought the M62 this winter... These aren't good... There are the best I've seen in such a package... Turn, glide, it does everything good.
É y fa ty fret? On é ty ben dun ti cotton waté?
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