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AT Nordic Ski Systems: Discovering the Best of Backcountry Nordic and Alpine Touring Systems Through Hybridization
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Maia Jordan
(maia) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
AT Nordic Ski Systems: Discovering the Best of Backcountry Nordic and Alpine Touring Systems Through Hybridization on 02/18/2014 20:28:39 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

AT Nordic Ski Systems: Discovering the Best of Backcountry Nordic and Alpine Touring Systems Through Hybridization

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: modern BC nordic on 02/18/2014 21:45:15 MST Print View

Good project Ryan.

The latest generation of tech race and race-ish boots are quite amazing. The warmth and waterproofing advantages are enormous, especially for multiday stuff in crappy conditions. My own objections to the system, and continued use of 3 pin bindings and duckbill boots for nordic touring, are twofold. First, the lack of metatarsal bend in the boot and any friction in the binding system results in sub-optimal kick during a diagonal stride. I'd spitball a 30-40% reduction, average, depending on conditions. Obviously, not so relevant when breaking trail. Second, hiking and doing camp chores in plastic boots, even heavily rockered, short BSL race boots, sucks. My favorite routes over on the east side of the divide always seem to feature a decent amount of hiking in wind scoured areas.

Robert Meurant
(rmeurant) - MLife
Then again... on 02/19/2014 03:09:29 MST Print View

Very interesting article; but what can compare with the all-too-occasional grace and elegance of fluent telemarking?

Jim Milstein
(JimSubzero) - M

Locale: New Uraniborg CO
Re: Then again... on 02/19/2014 10:14:07 MST Print View

"but what can compare with the all-too-occasional grace and elegance of fluent telemarking?"

As a longtime fluent, graceful, and elegant backcountry telemarker who just this year switched to Tech gear, at first I asked the same question. I missed the telemark. However, after a few days of skiing yet more gracefully, elegantly, and fluently both uphill and down, I am a convert to this new religion. Lost many pounds from my feet, and can ski much farther without stopping, due to greater efficiency. I hope my life of skiing has been thus extended many years.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
AT Nordic on 02/19/2014 10:17:37 MST Print View

Excellent. I've been pondering something similar, just a bit more powder capable. I'm thinking Voile Vector BC skis (fishscales, 117-94-107, 6 lbs) and up a level for boot stiffness.

Jim Milstein
(JimSubzero) - M

Locale: New Uraniborg CO
Re: re: modern BC nordic on 02/19/2014 10:29:09 MST Print View

"hiking and doing camp chores in plastic boots, even heavily rockered, short BSL race boots, sucks."

I'm using the La Sportiva Sideral boots, lightweight nylon mostly with a little bit of carbon, short rockered soles, freely pivoting cuffs. Super comfortable. Uphill, like comfy house slippers. Downhill, like alpine boots. Walking, like hiking boots. And they're warm. Walking in my old duckbill telemark boots was intolerable, though they were comfortable for skiing.

Dave's point about diagonal stride is valid. Also, the lack of resistance at the toe when in touring mode can be annoying at times in deep snow maneuvers. Not perfect.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Re: re: modern BC nordic on 02/19/2014 10:37:10 MST Print View

James, I have the Siderals as well. A great boot with a perfect fit after I got the sixth toe punched a bit. They walk about as well as a rigid boot could be expected to, but compared to mid-weight fabric/leather jobs, I would not call them comfortable in this respect.

My trip this past weekend had 6 miles of dry hiking and 29 of skiing. Plastics would have worked, but I prefer a flexible sole.

Jim Milstein
(JimSubzero) - M

Locale: New Uraniborg CO
Re: AT Nordic on 02/19/2014 10:38:32 MST Print View

"Excellent. I've been pondering something similar, just a bit more powder capable. I'm thinking Voile Vector BC skis (fishscales, 117-94-107, 6 lbs) and up a level for boot stiffness."

Thumbs up, Dan. I've been thinking of adding the Vector BCs with a set of machine screw inserts so I can transfer bindings from ski to ski. Skins in rolling low angle terrain are a total pain, as Ryan notes. With the Vector BCs you could get down most anything in most any conditions, if you have to.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
AT Nordic Ski Systems: Discovering the Best of Backcountry Nordic and Alpine Touring Systems Through Hybridization on 02/19/2014 11:05:46 MST Print View

+1 on Dave's comment regarding a flexible sole. Granted I'd love to put a bit more grace into my attempts at tele turns but being able to comfortably tour and walk while off ski are more important.

Ryan, why the new terminology, Nordic AT? XCD seems to be the phrase of the times, or at least was two years ago when I was building my setup (Madshus Epoch, 3-pin Rotefella, and Rossi BCX10).

Tim Drescher
(timdcy) - M

Locale: Gore Range
Re: AT Nordic Ski Systems: Discovering the Best of Backcountry Nordic and Alpine Touring Systems Through Hybridization on 02/19/2014 11:49:48 MST Print View

Thanks for sharing your setup with us, Ryan. I’m still trying to strike a good balance with my equipment for at the resort and in the backcountry. I unfortunately need beefy gear due to my style of skiing. I also have feet like a duck, so trying on a wide variety of AT boots is a must for me. The problem is finding them in-stock at retail stores.

“As I get older, I find myself needing steep and deep less and less”
Quite the opposite here. I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of ripping huge powder lines!

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: AT Nordic on 02/19/2014 14:26:52 MST Print View

> With the Vector BCs you could get down most anything in most any conditions, if you have to.

Oh, I can get down anything if I have to. I just might not be upright (or conscious) at the bottom!

Cheers

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Thanks on 02/19/2014 14:33:25 MST Print View

I haven't kept up with Nordic bindings since moving to Nevada in 2004. Interesting AT setup you have. I'll have to read this a few times to understand the combos.

My track skis use NNN bindings and either racing shoes or touring boots.

My BC touring skis are Asnes Combat Combi (Norwegian Army skis) and releasable Voile' bindings W/3 pin heavy duty plates.

BC boots are old Vasque leather W/ vibram soles and SCARPA T3 plastic tele boots.

Tele skis are Atomic TM 22 195 cm and the same Voile' releasable bindings

So far this setup has worked and I don't plan to change unless somebody gives me a pair of NTN releasable bindings. ;o)

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+**++**+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
NOTE: After reading the comments here I noticed that nobody but me has mentioned RELEASABLE BINDINGS!. C'mon, BC skiing ain't like skiing on-piste groomers. Only the true AT bindings have release (or the NTN bindings).
Suffering a torn ACL, tib-fib fracture, etc. 20 miles from the road quickly becomes a big problem for timely evacuation.

Edited by Danepacker on 02/20/2014 11:25:01 MST.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: Re: AT Nordic Ski Systems: Discovering the Best of Backcountry Nordic and Alpine Touring Systems Through Hybridization on 02/19/2014 14:34:41 MST Print View

On cost - the really nasty part is the boots, and with the constant improvement at the top end of the rando race food chain, a fair number of pretty light boots are showing up used, such as Scarpa F1 race, F1 carbon, and even a few Aliens and PDG's. Caveat is that you better be a 26.5, 27 or 27.5 mondo, because that's about all I see out there used. I'm waiting to find some aliens in 29 used - probably won't see them this year.

Ryan - Did you mount your Eons yourself, or did you have a shop do it? I have wondered about binding screw retention at the heels in XCD skis, as I believe they don't have any reinforcing in that area like they often do at the toe.

Edited by paul on 02/19/2014 14:36:18 MST.

Damien Tougas
(dtougas) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Gaspé Peninsula
Race Boots and Comfort on 02/19/2014 14:58:13 MST Print View

I remember looking into the lighter AT race boots some time ago. One major issue I found was that the lighter (i.e. more race-oriented the boot), the narrower and more uncomfortable they were. I have wide feet, and it would seem that race gear manufacturers assume that if you are going to be racing in them, you are probably willing to sacrifice some all-day comfort in exchange for lighter weight. Not only that, but the liners get thinner as well, which means that there is little room, if any to get more space from a thermo-moldable liner.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Inserts on 02/19/2014 16:52:58 MST Print View

"I've been thinking of adding the Vector BCs with a set of machine screw inserts"

Yes inserts are awesome. I put some in my wife's DPS skis and they'll be going in my next pair whenever that is - likely this fall.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Skis on 02/19/2014 16:54:30 MST Print View

Tim, if you want steep and deep capable check out the Voile Charger BC's. They're basically a fishscale version of the Rossi S7's. Pair that up with some Dynafit bindings and decent stiffness boots and you've got a beefy freeride setup that you can still do some big tours with.

Ian Clark
(chindits) - MLife

Locale: Cntrl ROMO
skins and waxless? on 02/19/2014 17:23:43 MST Print View

So any issues with skins not holding on the waxless patterns during steep climbs?

Edited by chindits on 02/19/2014 17:24:50 MST.

. .
(biointegra) - MLife

Locale: Puget Sound
Tele-market on 02/19/2014 17:33:55 MST Print View

Thanks for sharing your setup and progression, Ryan.

To quote Damien's 2013 article: "With the trends in lightweight alpine touring moving toward lighter and more flexible boots, it would be nice to see this theme trickle down more to the Tele market."

Since I learned to ski on downhill tele gear, alpine turns feel really awkward to me, so I am really hoping for tele boots/bindings catching up with skis and AT boots/bindings. Having poked fun at "rando commandos" too much in the past is apparently making me eat snow now.

Damien Tougas
(dtougas) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Gaspé Peninsula
Re: Tele-market on 02/19/2014 18:43:57 MST Print View

Some of that AT technology might soon be trickling down to tele gear. This new telemark binding from ATK looks interesting, although I don't think they are out in the wild yet, so their efficacy remains to be seen...

http://www.earnyourturns.com/15696/atks-newmark-lightest-tele-tech-binding/
http://www.atkrace.it/eng/newmark.html

Steve Duby
(JHypers) - M

Locale: Interior Alaska
Use in the Winter Classic on 02/20/2014 00:02:07 MST Print View

As demonstrated by some, an AT Nordic setup can be lightened even further if you consider some of the "BC Classic" skis on the market, such as the Madshus line (Glittertind & Voss) which features a choice between sintered and waxless bases. I prefer to go with a sintered base for the increased glide performance it provides, but this requires attention to details regarding the snow and temperature trends, which can get complicated if you are out on a multi-day trip in variable snow conditions. Then of course there's the wax you would need to bring along. The problem with using TLT bindings on the Glittertind or Voss rests in the heel piece, which I've heard is too big to mount on these narrow skis (~50mm waist). No heel lock means less weight, but is significantly less secure on the downhill.

But that setup (Glittertind w/ Dynafit toe piece + hacked up TLT boot) has been consistently winning the Alaska Mountain Wilderness Ski Classic for the past few years....although as most of you know, the skier has a lot more influence than the skis themselves. That said, one has to acknowledge the significant touring advantage with an AT Nordic setup.