Which ski for steep downhill narrow trails with a 50 lbm backpack

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JfSki
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2024 8:40 am
Location: Québec, Canada
Ski style: Cross-country backcountry multiday hut to hut with backpack
Favorite Skis: Looking for them
Favorite boots: Alpina Alaska NNNBC

Which ski for steep downhill narrow trails with a 50 lbm backpack

Post by JfSki » Sun Feb 11, 2024 9:13 pm

Hi,

I just registered to this forum as I want to buy a pair of skis and of course I could not come yet to a conclusion.
This community seems to me that it collectively has decades of experience and I am looking forward to benefit from it :D .

Myself:
- Past 15 years experience: recreative race classic and skate cross-country skiing in tracks (Fischer Speedmax)
- Intermediate downhill skier using downhill skis
- 20 years ago approximately 5 mountain trecks with backpack and rental XC BC waxable skis and full lenght skins
- 175 cm / 5' 9" body lenght
- 160 lbm / 73 kg body mass

My intended use for this new pair of skis:
- Between 3 and 10 days mountain trecks hut-to-hut in narrow trails allowing only one skier width, and also forest roads, but no open fields.
- 50 lbm / 23 kg backpack (210 lbm / 96 kg total with body mass)
- Mostly gradual slopes
- Often steep slopes
- Rare flats
- Snow types: unpredictable so all of them: hard, icy, powder, crust, etc ... between -25°C and +10°C
- No downhill with parallel or telemark turns on open terrain, only donwhill in narrow trails using snowplow for controlled speed and direction for safety
- The weight of the backpack and the rare flats seems to indicate I don't aboslutely need to optimize kick and glide
- The most critical design condition the ski must meet is safety in steep downhill narrow trails in which I snowplow

In summary, the decisive question that I have is, what ski characteristic(s) make(s) it easy to control speed and direction in steep downhill narrow trails with the extra mass of a 50 lbm backpack ?

User avatar
JfSki
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2024 8:40 am
Location: Québec, Canada
Ski style: Cross-country backcountry multiday hut to hut with backpack
Favorite Skis: Looking for them
Favorite boots: Alpina Alaska NNNBC

Re: Which ski for steep downhill narrow trails with a 50 lbm backpack

Post by JfSki » Sun Feb 11, 2024 9:34 pm

blitzskier wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2024 12:14 pm
KOMS or smaller lighter HoKS the skins regulate your decent speed automatically without snow plowing ,
https://us-store.altaiskis.com/product/ ... lank-skis/

https://us-store.altaiskis.com/product/kom-ski/
Thanks @blitzskier for this suggestion. I had forgotten about their existence. I actually quickly tried a pair of SkiHoks about 5 years ago and I admit they are an excellent compromise between snowshoeing and BC XC on mostly steep terrain.

For my needs I still need a ski because most of the distance is not steep although there are often steep slopes.



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Chisana
Posts: 157
Joined: Fri Jan 27, 2017 12:13 am
Location: Alaska
Ski style: Sliding on snow
Favorite Skis: EMS Woodies
Favorite boots: Merrell ultras
Occupation: Fisherman

Re: Which ski for steep downhill narrow trails with a 50 lbm backpack

Post by Chisana » Mon Feb 12, 2024 2:22 am

This fall I purchased a used set of fischer e99. Put rottefella st bindings on them . They are 195 cm. and the camber is so soft I can easily squeeze the bases together with one hand. I figured they would be a grab and go ski for occasional use when waxing conditions are difficult. I am 6' and 190# so the skis are definitely not a fit for me........ but dammit I love these skis! I often ski unbroken or previously skied or snowshoe trails with moderate downhills with twists and turns. Survival turns, pole dragging,wedging whatever it takes these skis Excell. Just saying, maybe a shorter metal edged ski with a good sturdy boot might fit the bill



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telerat
Posts: 205
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2020 7:09 am
Location: Middle of Norway
Ski style: Telemark, backcountry nordic and cross country skiing.
Favorite Skis: Any ski suitable for telemark or backcountry skiing, with some side-cut for turning.
Favorite boots: Scarpa plastic telemark. Asolo and Alfa leather boots.

Re: Which ski for steep downhill narrow trails with a 50 lbm backpack

Post by telerat » Mon Feb 12, 2024 6:35 am

I will claim that the boot is the most important piece of gear for performance and comfort, whether downhill, xc and also uphill. Make sure that whatever boot you choose fits well and make sure to test it before going on an extended tour. You state Alpina Alaska NNN-BC as favorite boot; Are you planning to use that or are you open to change?

My first thought was AT boots and bindings with a suitable ski, as heavy pack and steep narrow trails will challenge any but the very best skiers. I know some (good/great) skiers here in Norway are using AT equipment for long distance tours, often with pulk, but it would probably help even more with a heavy backpack. Others use Scarpa T4 for extra support and with a Voile 3-pin cable or Hardwire 3-pin, or possibly Rottefella 3-pin with cable, it can have even more support/performance on downhills.

Alaska BC is among the most supportive NNN-BC boots, so depending on what you call steep it can be sufficient.

You say narrow tracks; are those machine prepared, or by you and/or others in or out of your party? If you can use a wider ski, it will give more float, but will require a more supportive boot to control them. Depending on snow and inclination, a scaled ski can work well, but it sound as you need full length skins anyways for at least parts of your tours. Short/kicker skins sounds like a good option for you to have too.

If snowplowing (and zigzag?) is all you plan on doing downhill, a narrow ski like Fischer Transnordic 66/E99, Outback 66, Åsnes Gamme, Amundsen or Ousland may be the best option. They will sink in deep powder/loose snow, so a wider ski might be an good option. Fischer Traverse 78 or Excursion 88 (if still available), Åsnes Combat Nato (x2) or Ingstad, or something similar can be an option. There are also light AT skis that will help on the downhills, but does not sound like what you are after.

I hope this helps instead of adding alternatives and confusion. Good luck.



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Montana St Alum
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Re: Which ski for steep downhill narrow trails with a 50 lbm backpack

Post by Montana St Alum » Mon Feb 12, 2024 10:01 am

I'm inclined to agree that the boot and boot-binding interface might be the more important factors to consider in this situation. That's a lot of weight, and at a high CG.



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Capercaillie
Posts: 147
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2022 1:35 pm
Location: western Canada
Ski style: trying not to fall too much
Favorite Skis: Alpina 1500T
Favorite boots: Alfa Horizon, Crispi Nordland

Re: Which ski for steep downhill narrow trails with a 50 lbm backpack

Post by Capercaillie » Mon Feb 12, 2024 11:48 am

Last season I did a lot of single-track hiking and mountain bike trail skiing, including a few overnight trips with a ~14kg pack in Jasper NP.

A lot of it was on new 205cm Fischer Transnordic 66 (previously called the E99), which a few people have mentioned. I definitely do NOT recommend the TN66 for this kind of skiing, and I really tried to make mine work. The tips are too soft, the ski is very resistant to pivoting, it tracks so straight you will have trouble finishing turns in sticky snow, and there is something off about the weight distribution (I think maybe the tips are too light) that makes them difficult for side-stepping, herringbone, and bushwhacking. I think it is a ski narrowly specialized to expedition-style skiing (flat hardpack and ice). Probably why Fischer renamed it the Transnordic.

What did work really well were 195cm Åsnes Ingstads. They have a good balance of stability, turnability, and tracking. They are supposed to be XC skis for deeper snow, but surprisingly I found them to work really well on ice-covered singletrack as well.

In terms of equipment, I think after skis, the backpack makes the most significant difference for this kind of tour. And a pack that works well for heavy loads while hiking will probably not work for skiing. Definitely avoid any packs with a suspension that puts the pack away from your back: Osprey, Mountain Hardwear AMG (I made the mistake of buying this), Arcteryx Bora with the swiveling hip belt, etc. I am planning to upgrade to the 70L Cold Cold World pack because their 50L one skis so well. But the best and least expensive way is to lighten the pack by figuring out what you can leave out.

The most important thing is technique. Snowplowing pitches you forward and off-balance with a large pack, and is tiring. Learn to ski in a very compact, upright telemark stance with a lot of weight on the rear foot (the heel down on the ski if possible). This gives you fore-aft stability with minimal effort, and the ability to dial in turn radius to match the trail by varying the front ski angle and spread. Keeping balanced with continual lead changes (smoothly striding down the trail) and fore-aft spread adjustment will do more for your balance than sitting in a static snowplow and hoping for "support" from boots ever will. There are a lot of reasons not to do this kind of skiing with AT boots and bindings; not being able to use this technique is probably the biggest one.



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corlay
Posts: 135
Joined: Wed Nov 17, 2021 6:13 pm
Location: central NY
Ski style: Woodland XC-BC tours
Favorite Skis: Asnes Gamme 54, Fischer Transnordic 66, Fischer Traverse 78; Madshus Birke Beiner, Peltonen METSA
Favorite boots: Crispi Norland Hook BC, Fischer BC Grand Tour

Re: Which ski for steep downhill narrow trails with a 50 lbm backpack

Post by corlay » Mon Feb 12, 2024 2:09 pm

Capercaillie wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2024 11:48 am

A lot of it was on new 205cm Fischer Transnordic 66 (previously called the E99), which a few people have mentioned. I definitely do NOT recommend the TN66 for this kind of skiing, and I really tried to make mine work. The tips are too soft, the ski is very resistant to pivoting, it tracks so straight you will have trouble finishing turns in sticky snow, and there is something off about the weight distribution (I think maybe the tips are too light) that makes them difficult for side-stepping, herringbone, and bushwhacking. I think it is a ski narrowly specialized to expedition-style skiing (flat hardpack and ice). Probably why Fischer renamed it the Transnordic.
because of COVID and a factory fire, since the 2020 model, this ski has gone through several permutations since.
Which year model ski is yourTN66? and which base?



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Capercaillie
Posts: 147
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2022 1:35 pm
Location: western Canada
Ski style: trying not to fall too much
Favorite Skis: Alpina 1500T
Favorite boots: Alfa Horizon, Crispi Nordland

Re: Which ski for steep downhill narrow trails with a 50 lbm backpack

Post by Capercaillie » Mon Feb 12, 2024 7:52 pm

corlay wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2024 2:09 pm
because of COVID and a factory fire, since the 2020 model, this ski has gone through several permutations since.
Which year model ski is yourTN66? and which base?
2022-2023 season wax base made in Czechia.

This is what really confused me. These skis are very little like what people describe the E99 being. But if you look at the specs, the Åsnes Ousland is very close to the TN66, and the description of the Ousland from Åsnes' marketing matches what I found good in the TN66. Which is why I think the TN66 is meant to be a polar/nordic expedition ski. But Fischer's marketing material is (as usual) useless on this topic.



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JfSki
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2024 8:40 am
Location: Québec, Canada
Ski style: Cross-country backcountry multiday hut to hut with backpack
Favorite Skis: Looking for them
Favorite boots: Alpina Alaska NNNBC

Re: Which ski for steep downhill narrow trails with a 50 lbm backpack

Post by JfSki » Mon Feb 12, 2024 11:11 pm

First of all, a big thanks to all of you for all your suggestions.

@Chisana what you describe of the E99 echoes what I have read also about this model and interestingly now this model (TN66) might have changed according to the observations of @Capercaillie. I was not too sure whether a straighter ski would be better at snowplowing than a ski with more sidecut. If I understand well, @telerat and @Capercaillie , your suggestions seem to tend towards skis with more sidecut.

I have long (46), narrow and thin feet, so boots in general have too much volume for me. I tried in the shop Rossi's, Fischer's and Alpina, and the one with the least volume and thus more support was the Alaska. I totally agree with @telerat and @Montana St Alum that boot/binding is critical in controling the ski, especially in such an incomfortable and high-CG, not ergonomic position as the snowplow. And I agree with @telerat that AT boots feel more safe snowplowing with a heavy backpack as I toured with them in the past. However, they are too much tiring for me in climbs with the added weight of the backpack in narrow unprepared trails.

I agree with @Capercaillie that the pack must be as close to the body as possible. I currently have a Gregory Whitney 95, which is so far the most comfortable and conforming to the body I hiked/skied with.

What I find really interesting is @Capercaillie 's suggestion to use the telemark technique. This is something I never though could be useful in steep narrow trails. As I was never really interested in descending open snowfields, telemark never came to my mind as an option. I can see from your description that it would certainly lower the CG and potentially also result in a less risky fall. I am wondering though that it would require good leg strenght to do this technique with a heavy pack. Given the trail steepness and narrowness, I am wondering whether the telemark technique could be performed also with skins ? I would guess that the telemark technique would also benefit from skis with larger sidecut ?

I will certainly search this forum and see if I can learn the technique. I admit that I would find it awesome to be able to perform such descents with a technique that as more to do with skiing than survival !



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wooley12
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Re: Which ski for steep downhill narrow trails with a 50 lbm backpack

Post by wooley12 » Tue Feb 13, 2024 1:25 am

poledrag.jpeg



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