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Another ski gear question
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Erin McKittrick
(mckittre) - MLife

Locale: Seldovia, Alaska
Ski gear for dummies on 01/10/2007 23:37:15 MST Print View

I know several questions about lightweight skis have been asked here recently. But I'm going to ask another one, partly because I'm too much of a dunce to understand the answers (mostly brand names and abbreviations...). I'm hoping to get some more general suggestions, which I can then apply to what I can manage to find on sale (I'm poor)

What the skis are for: traveling, in rolling terrain (the Alaska Peninsula primarily). A lot of tundra country, I'd guess the snow might be kind of wind packed, but don't know for sure.

My many questions:
When do you need/not need steel edges?
What sort of width do you need for windpacked snow? powder?
How do you figure the length?
What are the pluses/minuses of the different kinds of bindings?

What doesn't work? (any skis you've tried that were too light, or in some other way not useful).

Thanks in advance to whoever puts up with my ignorance here.


Edited by mckittre on 01/10/2007 23:37:45 MST.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
My new B-C skis & surplus Scandanavian mil. skis on 01/11/2007 01:17:55 MST Print View

I just got new Norwegian army skis (Asnes Combi Combat skis) in 210 cm. at a sidecut of 84mm/62mm/74mm (tip, waist, tail widths).
After 10 years as a Nordic Ski Patroller and backcountry (B-C) skier I've found this to be the ideal all around size. These skis are amazingly light and mil. spec. tough. $355. from Neptune Mountaineering in Boulder, CO, they will also make your wallet light.
They have full metal edges which, in the BC, are not only great for hardpack or icy snow but as a protector for the skis when you hit hidden sticks and rocks.
Get Rotefella Telemark or Voile Telemark 3-pin bindings as they are both very heavy duty. Get Scarpa T3 or T4 plastic BC boots too, or at least heavy duty leather boots.
NNNBC bindings are "OK" but I prefer traditional 3-pin HD bindings.
$355. too steep? Asnes & Karhu make similar dimensioned BC skis for less but they won't be as tough as the Combi Combat skis.

Also you can go online & look for Scandanavian (Swedish, Finnish or Norwegian) surplus skis. I think Karhu made some and also Jarvinen and Madshus, to name a few. Plus they come with good cable bindings ans sometimes military poles.

UPDATE: After looking at your site and proposed trip I'd say spend the money on the Asnes Combi Combat skis. You'll need their toughness. Also, so far from help I'd mount the Rottefella or Voile' 3-pin bindings on Voile'release plates in case you get in a bad fall.

Finally, I strongly advise you make and use pulks. Cabela's sells the Jet Sled. Get the smaller size. One for each of you. Skiing with a heavy pack is dangerous.

As a Siera Club member and volunteer worker on local conservation issues I say congratulations on doing a trip with environmental assessing and reporting as a goal. The earth needs many more like you two.

Edited by Danepacker on 01/29/2007 00:12:26 MST.

Eric Parsons
(EricP) - F

Locale: Alaska
Skis on 01/27/2007 13:24:17 MST Print View

I just found your site with your adventure the other day and I was blown away!
I first heard of you and Higs through Sheri and in a log entry at the Aniachack cabin on the coast...

Anyway a few things to think about:
You only really need metal edges if you are traversing or trying to ski down hard packed slopes. I'm not sure how many passes you are going over on your way through the lake clark area but my first thought is that you wouldent need them. Certianly wount need them on the flat northern park of the Peninsula. That being said there are some great new backcountry touring skis available now with metal edges and scales and are nice and light..

I think your binding choice is going to a function of your boot, and the choices available to keep your feet happy on such a long trip. Alot of the light weight versions arent geared towards winter camping where you have removable liners, they are more like insulated hiking boots. You might want to look at the lightest pair of 3-pin plastic telemark/touring boots you can find. This is more for warmth and extended comfort and probably overkill for the skiing.. maybe!?

Bruce .
(3pinner) - F
Re: Ski gear for dummies on 03/17/2007 19:46:45 MDT Print View

I spend a lot of time skiing in the Mid Atlantic. Snow varies from beautiful powder, to good ol' eastern hardpack.
For a wide variety of conditions I have several suggestions:
Metal Edges:
Go for 'em. They are primarily there to help you turn on hard snow (when flying downhill) and it's worth having for when you have to. They aren't absolutely necessary, but don't add much more to the cost of the ski. They are very helpful negotiating icy terrain as well. Good brakes!
Very subjective question. Look for skis that lean toward backcountry travel. In the X/C ski world, they are wider than skis designed for track use, but are not as big as say an alpine or telemark ski. Karhu has a nice line of back country skis that are excellent for deep woods touring & turning.
Another thing to consider is the difference between waxable and waxless skis. Waxable skis have a smooth base. They are considerably faster than waxless skis, but you will need to change the waxes depending on snow & weather conditions. Not a difficult task, short learning curve.
Waxless skis have a pattern cut into the middle part of the ski. A bit slower than waxless, but handles just about any weather/ snow condition (except ice, for that you still need wax or skins to climb) I ski waxless. Just like the convenience of not having to stop & cork on another layer of wax on a tour.
Atomic Ranier - a very lively great touring ski with a waxless base.
Karhu 10th mountain - hugely popular here in WV. waxless base, great climbers and they turn almost as well as my tele skis. Great compromise.
Skis are really something you need to try before you buy
Usually based on the combined weight of you and your pack. They will be longer than skis you would rent at a resort. As an example, I weight about 175 and use a 180 ski for both my tele boards and my xc skis.
For touring, a basic 3 pin binding works well. YOu can also get the 3pin binding with a heel cable that adds a lot of torque for turning. Voile has the nicest combinations (again my opinion only!)

Go with a mid weight plastic boot. Garmont Excursions are a very warm, very versitle boot for just about any conditions.
Good boots are expensive though. Do some research. Try some on if you can, then wait for sales in the summer. or check sites like or
I used leather boots for years (still do sometimes) but have found the plastics to keep my feet warmer & dryer in the long run. But they are hard to get into when frozen!!

Just some basics that I hope will help. I would seek out a good ski shop, one that has a good selection of XC gear & just ask questions.
If you want to get innundated go to and post there, but be aware that most of the posters in the forum are big mountain skiers - you'll be steered more toward heavier gear; not a bad thing at all, but still you need to weigh your needs.

Edit: As you make decisions I would encourage you to take lessons as well, from professional instructors. Shortens the learning curve, and you're heading into some potentially unique hazards on skis that you don't on foot.
Also, there is an increasing amount of women-specific gear out there. Manufactureres are FINALLY catching on!

Edited by 3pinner on 03/17/2007 19:56:02 MDT.