Jan 4, 2011 at 10:50 pm #1267304
So I'd like to start doing some BC touring with an overnight pack in the Sierras and the southern California area. I've done a little XC touring and some downhill over the years in other parts of the world but the Sierras and backcountry will be new to me.
I found this package online based around the Rossignol BC70 skis. Does this sound like a good way to go in this terrain? (I'm thinking of the ski trails around yosemite for example.) I like the idea of a mixture of on and off trail.
If so would you recommend 3 pin or NNN BC bindings? (I have no gear currently so everything will be new.)Jan 4, 2011 at 10:58 pm #1680623
I've skied in the California backcountry for over thirty years. Go with the 3-pin boots and bindings.
If you were going to stay on groomed tracks, then maybe the NNN stuff.
–B.G.–Jan 4, 2011 at 11:23 pm #1680630
@davidlutzLocale: Bay Area
I bought Alpina 1575 three-pin 75mm boots from ORS.
I got a good price and good service from ORS.
I've had the boots out a couple of times, so far so good!
Can't say about the skis.Jan 5, 2011 at 7:00 am #1680674
I got a similar package from LL Bean a few years ago with the same equipment and NNN BC bindings. I'm a newbie skier and have no idea what the trails near Yosemite are like.
I've been fairly happy with everything. On unbroken trails in deeper snow, the skis could definitely use more floatation. The BC90's would be better in that case. For firmer snow or broken trails, the BC70's are more efficient. My experience is that the skis don't climb well at all. I really need some skins for that.
I think the three pin would be easier to fasten and better for turning.Jan 5, 2011 at 1:32 pm #1680767
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
1> take a good avalanche course AND check online for the avalanche danger level in the area you plan to tour. Then double check the weather forecasts.
2> get good avy gear and know how to use it, exp. the snow study kit
3r> NEVER ski the backcountry without at least 2 other experienced partners
4t> Skis for the Sierras need to be between 195 cm and 170 cm. andhave enough sidecut for good turning B/C the Sierras have more steeps and you need to turn better.**
5>Be prepared to spend an unexpected overnight – i.e carry the right survival gear.
Get "Allen & Mike's Really Cool Backcountry Ski Book". It will be your Bible.
**Check the backcountry skiing websites and Couloiur magazine tele skiers use in the steeps. My TOURING skis are 120 cm. long for ease of making miles. My TURNING backcountry skis are 195 cm long, wider and have a lot of sidecut, all of which helps with turning on the steeps.
Go to "Dave's Nodic Backcountry Skiing Page" for the most complete rundown on ALL types of skis suitable for the backcountry.Jan 5, 2011 at 1:48 pm #1680776
"4t> Skis for the Sierras need to be between 195 cm and 170 cm. andhave enough sidecut for good turning B/C the Sierras have more steeps and you need to tyrn better."
That is an interesting comment considering that you don't know the height or the loaded weight of the original poster.
Tall, solidly built skiers tend to be on 210 or 215 cm. Medium skiers tend to be on 205 cm. Short, skinny skers tend to be on 195 or 200. For lift-served telemarkers, that shortens by 5 or 10.
–B.G.–Jan 5, 2011 at 4:25 pm #1680801
thanks for the feedback all.
1. I have no knowledge of avalanche safety so I guess that's a research project!
2. that backcountry ski book is on my amazon wish list awaiting the next order.
3. I already detected a bias towards 3 pin for backcountry on everything I've read so I guess that decision is confirmed.
4. My weight is 190 + maybe 35lbs for the pack + clothes so probably about 230 pounds. That always puts me on the longest ski of those I've seen. One thing I have noticed is that different skis max out at different lengths so I guess it just depends. I get that wider is better for deep snow. Maybe the BC70s aren't wide enough. I wanted to be able to go on the flats though. MAybe it's a case of they all work it just depends on what floats your boat.Jan 5, 2011 at 7:06 pm #1680843
@bestbuilderLocale: Pacific Northwest
Bob, I can tell by your comment that it may have been a few years since you have purchased skis.
>"Tall, solidly built skiers tend to be on 210 or 215 cm. Medium skiers tend to be on 205 cm. Short, skinny skers tend to be on 195 or 200"<
I used to ski on 207's and 210's and didn't like anything shorter (even in the bumps). Those were the good old days when you could go 50 mph and still have a stable ski. But things are a little different know. Go into a ski shop today and I think you'd be hard pressed to find anything over 195.Jan 5, 2011 at 9:13 pm #1680877
Here's what I use for backcountry touring in the Sierra:
Atomic Rainier skis – metal edge waxless, 88/60/78 width
Garmont Excursion boots – the lightest plastic boots
Voile 3-pin bindings – mine are the 3-pin cables, but I never use the cables.
This setup gets me to a lot of places, and if I was a good skier it would get me almost anywhere. I would not go for a skinnier ski than this unless it was the Madshus Glittertind, which has a good reputation and seems to be an anomaly. I would not go much wider, either. The old Karhu 10th MTN (now reborn as the Madshus Epoch) would be the widest ski I would consider – that ski or others like it would be a better downhill ski than my Rainiers, but heavier and slower on the ups and the flats.
If you plan to stick to really mellow terrain – like snow-covered roads and meadows – then an NNN-BC or Salomon System boot might be okay, but you limit yourself with those bindings, since you can't go for a beefier boot if you find that's what you want. With a 3-pin binding, you can get fairly light boots or something beefier and put them in the same binding.
One thing I really like about plastic boots for multi-day tours – THEY STAY DRY. My old leather boots could stay dry for 1 or 2 days, but then they were wet and stayed that way the rest of the trip. Nice to have warm, dry boots right through the week.Jan 5, 2011 at 9:22 pm #1680880
"Bob, I can tell by your comment that it may have been a few years since you have purchased skis."
About 15 months. I am about 5'7", and I ski on 200cm. Previously, when I carried a heavier load, it was 203cm.
My tallest friends are on 210 and 215. If the ski shops don't have much over 195, then I would look for another ski shop. The original poster had asked about backcountry skis, not resort skis or skis for the bumps.
–B.G.–Jan 5, 2011 at 9:28 pm #1680883
"MAybe it's a case of they all work it just depends on what floats your boat."
Long and wide gives you more floatation on snow, and that means it supports more weight. If you are on heavy snow, you may not need so much floatation. On powder snow, you need lots of floatation to avoid sinking in.
Long gets you more gliding capability, like more miles of trail. Shorter and wider gets you better steep turning. More sidecut gets you better turning.
–B.G.–Jan 5, 2011 at 10:16 pm #1680902
@davecLocale: Crown of the Continent
Theron, I think that package is a good place to start. I'd get the 3 pin option, as that boot/binding are more durable/reliable (NNN toe bars pull out) and will give a bit more control.
You'll be able to find plenty of avy-safe terrain to play in, and especially once the spring comes and you have miles of sunny, hard, high altitude snow, the sky will be the limit. Once you've got a season or two under your belt, you may be obsessed, in which case you'll be able to think about swapping out gear or getting another setup.
My more turn oriented backcountry skis range in length from 140-185 cm. I'm 5'11" and weight 160ish. Bob and Eric have rather old school perspectives (which is neither bad nor good).Jan 6, 2011 at 7:54 am #1680977
@owareLocale: Steptoe Butte
What kind of skiing do you want to do?
a I have friends who do 50 mile days on hard spring snow using skating gear. The conditions and routes need to be near perfect.
b The Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue, who ski in all conditions, in all terrain, at night mostly, with 20 pounds packs and have to ski fast enough to catch up with lost skiers once they find their tracks, use short fat skis that look like snow boards, heavy plastic boots, heel lifts, cable bindings, and skins cut to the width of the skis. They
can climb anything, ski down anything, in any snow. A percentage of them are now using
Randonee gear which has lightened to the point it is similar to the telemark stuff. The advantage is you can lock the heel down for tough conditions.
c A bit of everything, http://www.buzzillions.com/reviews/fischer-boundless-crown-backcountry-touring-skis-waxless-reviews. Compromises, but fun. Just put them on
The model you suggested would be more of the third catagory.Jan 6, 2011 at 10:11 am #1681019
I agree with other folks, I would steer towards three pin, just because you have a lot more variety. I use a NNN BC boot with Atomic Rainiers, and regret that choice. The boots aren't bad, but they don't seem to fit my feet really well. Since there aren't many NNN BC boots, I'm kind of stuck. If I had three pin, I would experiment more. Plus, if I wanted to get a much heavier boot, I could. The main thing, though, is that I would start with the boot. If you go to the store and find that the NNN BC (or SNS BC) boot fits really well, then go for it.
Regardless of what you get, it is unlikely to be your only pair of skis. The terrain and the conditions are just too varied to rely on one pair of skis (I say that not having skied in the Sierras, but having hiked in them). I ski in the Cascades (which has terrain that is even more varied) but I think the general rules apply. Having different sets of gear (matching skis and boots) allows you to pick the right gear for the terrain and the conditions. I have the following:
1) Really skinny, long, light skis paired with SNS boots for groomed or very light backcountry.
2) Fischer Outbound Crown (no metal edges, 10 mm sidecut, decent flotation, fairly short for Nordic) and the same boots for light touring under good conditions.
3) Atomic Rainier (metal edges, more sidecut) and NNN BC boots for tougher back country and icy conditions.
I stop there, but my brother starts there. I wish I could remember what gear he has, but as you can imagine, he has heavier boots, along with curvier skis. I simply don't attempt a lot of things he does (or I just slop my way down the hill while he carves his way elegantly).
If you haven't already, I would try and find copies of Ski Tours in the Sierra Nevada by Marcus Libkind. Just the cover of Volume 1 (Lake Tahoe) had me salivating. That is my kind of skiing (moderate grade, no road). I think the books are out of print (although you may be able to find copies somewhere) but he has basically copied all of the information on his website.Jan 6, 2011 at 12:31 pm #1681072
Okay I'm sold on the 3 pin.
I definitely am in the 'just go out and have fun' category. It's at least a 2 hour drive to anywhere with snow from LA so I'm looking for something that will be fun for exploring and can make the best of whatever I find when I get there.
I notice a lot of people seem to have skis in at least one class wider than the BC70s (70/60/65). More like the BC90 or Atomic Rainiers that are around 88/60/78. I was worried that the wider skis would be a struggle on the flat but maybe that should be less of a concern for a relative beginner than downhill and deep snow (especially if carrying a pack).Jan 6, 2011 at 1:37 pm #1681099
I think a ski like the Rainier make for a good step up above a ski like BC70. It has enough sidecut to make turning easier, but it is still pretty good for the flats. I've taken it on a few groomed runs, as has my brother, and we both consider it a very good compromise ski. You can get a pretty good glide going with it.Jan 7, 2011 at 9:54 am #1681420
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Yer keerect, I don't know the height & weight of the OP so I gave a range of lengths. And I didn't say 210 cm skis B/C I was specifically referring to STEEP Sierra Neveda skiing. I have 210 cm Asnes Norwegian Army skis (bought new) with little sidecut for rolling country touring but I also have Atomic TM 22 tele skis W/lots of sidecut for the steeps. I'm aware of the difference but advised the OP to get easier turning skis more suited to the Sierras.
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