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12/13/2012 7:43 PM
 

I just got picked up as a full time, seasonal employee at a ski resort. Part of my why for applying for the job was to avail myself of more reasonably priced lessons and equipment rental. Sowhere to begin? I am 37 with no previous skiing experience. My overall conditioning is pretty good (I hike, snowshoe, and do yoga and have been working a landscape job through the fall). Since I fancy myself a gentleman of the old school I very much like the idea of Telemark. Is it really easier to begin elsewhere and move to Telemark, or as a total nube who wants to ultimately do Telemark could I begin there?

Looking forward to the replies!

 
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12/13/2012 8:14 PM
 

I assume you can ride the lifts for free whenever you're not working, in which case I'd advise getting a used resort setup and skiing as much as possible on it.  Resort gear will be easiest to learn on, cheap, durable, and the bindings will have the most reliable release (important when you're new and crashing a ton).  The skills and muscle memory will transfer to tele when/if you want to go that route.  After a season on lift skiing you'll have solid skills and enough experience to decide what you want from skiing (backcountry, nordic, ski mountaineering, etc), and can then purchase new gear more intelligently.

 
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12/14/2012 12:27 AM
 

Alpine to modern freeheel is not a difficult transition. Old school Telemark would be the stuff you find in Steve Barnett's books. They require significantly different technique. Skiing steep slopes on 40 mm width double camber skis, three pin bindings and ankle high leather boots is becoming a lost art. I used to do that. Started in '78 and went up until about '89 when I was influenced by Dickie Hall and the move to wider single camber skis and high cut plastic cuff boots. I went back and forth for another ten years. Now, I worry about my age and I use the more sturdy freeheel gear. I've started both my kids on AT gear. The skinny skis are still used for over hill-over dale stuff.

I think mastering the blue groomers at the ski area, on whatever gear, is the best way to get it down fast. You pull off into the ungroomed side margins to get the feel for what off-piste is like.

Spring skiing is what is called "hero snow". Very forgiving and a true delight once the top has corned up enough.

If you can muster it, try starting out with all the different gear, all techniques. I think Madshus Pellestova or Glittertind is probably the closest modern incarnation of what Steve promoted way back when.

 
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12/14/2012 3:14 PM
 

Telemarking is very cool looking, and watching a good telemarker is an amazing thing. I have even strung a few good turns together myself when the conditions were right. That being said I find a standard parallel turn and snow plow turn to be a lot more useful for me.  Part of the issue is my knees. If the run is fast I have trouble bobbing up and down fast enough. Whereas with a standard parallel turn I can throw the edges into it for more control.  I do ski freeheel, but my setup is such that I can drive them just like a downhill rig without a locked heel. The transition from one to the other is not that hard, if you knees will take it.


Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
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12/14/2012 7:10 PM
 

I'm not a horrible skier, but I;ve resigned myselft to the fact I will never be good either. I've tried Tele, standard Alpine, AT, and have even skied blues at Telluride using Hoks and Mountaineering boots (not gracefully though). I think part of my problem, is I have come to detest Alpine gear, I just can't stand the boots. I do like moderate light Tele setups, (Garmont excursion and a Alpina BC ski), and have found that for some reason in the backcountry I'm much better with the Tele gear then Alpine. At a resoirt, I'm better with Alpine but can do ok on the tele gear even skiing it Alpine style.

If you are at a resort, just use all the styles of gear you can before throwing down big bucks, or get a setup at a thrift store or swap. A lot might depend on what you like, for instance I would rather where light tele gear and do what I can do than Alpine gear. I just don't like the boots and the restricted movement.  


http://www.seekoutside.com | sig added by EH... go check out Kevin's stuff!
 
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12/14/2012 8:05 PM
 

I think the biggest thing to understand is that all of those different types of skiing are properly classed as *techniques* that are useful regardless of the gear you choose to use. For the most part all those techniques have evolved into disciplines with ridiculously specialized equipment that is useless for any kind of real travel. Skate skiing is a good technique for crossing hard flat expanses like lakes. A pair of modern skate skis relies almost entirely on a specially machine prepared surface to be able to go. Tele turns are a really good technique for softer deeper stuff and low angle when you are free heel. Modern tele gear relies almost entirely on a ski lift to get the user up to where they can go down because it is too stiff for any other kind of travel. Unless, that is, you get one of the revolutionary (!) new tele bindings that has a free heel mode for touring because tele setups aren't really free heel anymore. The parallel turn is perhaps the easiest way to get down the mountain, but Alpine gear leaves the practitioner stranded and helpless on anything but a downhill pitch that a machine has towed them up. Diagonal stride is a good way to move across most types of rolling terrain, but modern XC skis are nearly useless unless you put them in specially machine cut tracks on groomed XC areas. Ok, I'm exaggerating in each case, but not by a whole lot.

I'd agree with everyone else who has said to get as much exposure to all the different types as you can. Learn each of the different techniques on the equipment most geared for each technique. Then try those techniques on the equipment that is optimized for other techniques. You can cut tele turns on skate skis, skate on alpine skis, and parallel turn on tele skis. Then decide how you want to travel and get the equipment most geared for that.

Like Kevin, I like a general purpose rig that is lightweight, has releasable bindings, free heel, and accomodates mountaineering boots. Relatively short and fat, metal edges, waxless bases, and kicker skins when I need them. As far as the techniques I use -- For cross country, I'm almost always diagonal striding, but find a good reason to skate once every other year. For downhill, parallel turns are physically the easiest and I feel the most comfortable with them, but I'm always working on tele turns because they rule in some conditions and just feel cool.


We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
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12/15/2012 3:56 PM
 

evanhill wrote

Then try those techniques on the equipment that is optimized for other techniques. You can cut tele turns on skate skis, skate on alpine skis, and parallel turn on tele skis. Then decide how you want to travel and get the equipment most geared for that.

But is skiing not like languages and martial arts? That is, if you know one well the next is easier to pick up, but if you start a new one before mastering the previous you get a double muddle.

 
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12/16/2012 6:36 PM
 

 That skills, I've heard argued both ways. For me, it's primarily not a challenge of changing styles as much as it is changing terrain. Dust and crust, combined with ice I find difficult. If I am on one type of terrain, it seems much easier. Learning how to stop well, is of utmost importance, and if you can stop gracefully it's bonus points. Mien don't always end gracefully :)


http://www.seekoutside.com | sig added by EH... go check out Kevin's stuff!
 
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12/17/2012 11:46 AM
 

If there is a short answer to the question, what would I not be able to do with a pair of Altai Hoks with universal bindings that I would be able to do with a pair of skis requiring an investment in new footwear?

 
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12/17/2012 12:21 PM
 
  • Ski more difficult terrain
  • edge as well in icier conditions
  • glide as well on XC type terrrain
  • make quicker more abrupt turns and stop
  • go faster
  • float better in lots of powder

What can you do better in HOKS 

  • Self power up moderate hills
  • Access tighter spots like dense tree cover
  • Take your skis off easily and hike in regular footwear

 


http://www.seekoutside.com | sig added by EH... go check out Kevin's stuff!
 
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12/17/2012 12:25 PM
 

Timateo wrote
 

If there is a short answer to the question, what would I not be able to do with a pair of Altai Hoks with universal bindings that I would be able to do with a pair of skis requiring an investment in new footwear?

 

Great way to pose the question. First, I'll assume we're talking about the ~150 long Hoks and not the shorter ones. You would want the 150s. I find 130s too stubby for good stability, particularly on the downhill. Here's what you couldn't do:

  • Have the flexibility of going without kicker skins on rolling terrain and in sticky snow conditions
  • Have a releasable binding to save blowing out your knees if you have a bad wreck for whatever reason
  • Maybe not be able to "cut an edge in" as aggressively as other bindings due to slop in the universal binding and boot combination. I don't know that for a fact though as I haven't skied those particular bindings. I'm also not using very stiff boots these days myself and trying to rely more on finesse and body english to keep my edges where they get good purchase, so that part of it isn't mandatory.

You really could do a lot worse for general travel than having the permanently attached kicker skins. I often wish I had taken time to put on the kicker skins in my pack. I guess if they were permanently attached, I would find myself often wishing I could take them off. As long as you aren't skiing aggressively, the other stuff may not be that big of a deal either.


We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
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12/17/2012 1:57 PM
 

Most here are talking about using skis as a backcountry travel devise. Its a lot different conversation than you would have on a site like TAY or some other skiing fourm. What you guys are running is more of a cross country/touring setup, not an AT setup by modern standards. So is it travel or fun? I know the backcountry travel on skis can be fun but thats not what I mean. Do you deliberately skin 2000 ft up to a bowl to make runs and turns downhill style? Thats what modern AT/Randonee gear is for. I dont think something like Evan's setup would cut it for stuff like that. Its more of a backcountry travel setup not an AT setup. My point is it depends on what you want to do, if you want to go for the more extreme aspect of ski touring then you need gear like real heavier ski boots and AT bindings like Dynafits, etc. Anyways I am not an expert I am just stating what I have learned over the last few years getting a ski kit togather.  If I am going to just travel I will take snowshoes especially with a pulk. If I want to have fun I grab my AT setup and get some turns in!

 
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12/17/2012 7:43 PM
 

Wes raises a very good distinction and something you should pay attention to.

I'm not running the Hoks myself, in part so that I have gear that I could skin up and ski down on if I wanted to. Versatility. It does require much stiffer boots though. I've got a pair that I used to use for lift served skiing until I started getting enough skill to do the same runs on much lighter boots. Can't ski dowhhill nearly as aggressively on the lighter boots. "Gingerly" is the term that comes to mind.


We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
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12/17/2012 8:49 PM
 

The thing with AT gear it is almost just like the setup you would use just for downhill at a ski resort. For someone like the OP thats gets free lift tickets this is a good thing. Whenever he feels like heading for the backcounrty for some touring all you need is skins. It works great for both if you have the right gear.

 I just picked up some new Scarpa AT boots last week. These boots are so much more comfortable and easy to tour in. I hiked in them for 2 miles and it was not that bad. Although I paid a price for all this, AT gear is spendy! Next might be some Dynafit bindings but I need to do more research. I am riding the train to Whitefish, MT for 3-4 days this Christmas to ski at the resort. First time riding a lift in 10 years, it is definitely going to help sharpen my skills for the backcountry. 

 
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12/17/2012 9:42 PM
 

Ski gear is quite specialized, and unless you're proflicient and searching ski swaps all of it is pretty darn expensive.  Best to get a decent idea of what you want to do before buying.  Of course, if you get hooked you'll end up with half a dozen pairs in the garage.

It should also mentioned that skiing is freaking hard, much more complex to learn than something like mountain biking or rock climbing.

 
New Post
12/26/2012 12:53 PM
 
WEG wrote
Whenever he feels like heading for the backcounrty for some touring all you need is skins. It works great for both if you have the right gear.
 
I would point out that if you (the original poster) are planning to ski backcountry (Alpine Touring "AT", as Wes described in one of his earlier posts on this thread), then in addition to skins, you'll need a beacon, probe, and shovel at a minimum. And learn to use them. Snow stability / weather / terrain evaluation/route finding is really important if you're in areas where avalanches are possible. I don’t know where you are located, but a quick google search will yield classes, lectures, websites, etc. on avalanche awareness and how to travel safely in the backcountry during the winter. Also, if you want to get into Alpine Touring, find a good partner, or three. I do a lot of solo backcountry travel throughout the year (spring, summer, fall), but unless I’m in near zero risk avalanche terrain, I never backcountry ski without at least one partner. The risks are just too severe. Your partners need to be educated about avalanches, snow stability, etc., etc., as well.
 
Here is the Colorado Avalanche Information Center website – there are similar groups in most areas where avalanches occur:
 
With regards to your original question about whether having resort skiing skills will translate to telemark skiing, I think it does. I’m not a bomber skier, but I ski everything at the resort and often seek out black and double black diamond runs. I bought a tele setup a couple years ago and have messed around with it a little bit. Knowing how to make parallel turns, how to stop, etc. on an alpine setup translates well to a telemark setup. The difference is learning the tele turn, but you can always revert to the alpine skiing skills to get you through the day. I don’t know if it would really be that much harder to start out on teles from scratch or not – you’re going to have a learning curve whether you start with teles, alpine, or AT setup regardless, so if you are really drawn to telemarking, I’m sure you could start there and be fine. That said, I think telemarking is probably the hardest type of downhill skiing there is, so the learning curve will probably be steeper. One other thing – if you want to get into backcountry skiing (alpine touring), I would seriously consider whether telemark is the platform you want. The reason I say that is that most (although maybe not all – I’m not sure) telemark bindings do not release upon a fall and/or when caught in an avalanche. The reason that is important is that if you’re caught in a slide, if your skis don’t come off, they serve as anchors in the snow and pull you down (instead of hopefully being able to stay close to the surface). At a minimum, never have your leashes connected while telemarking in the backcountry so that should your ski come off in a slide, you’re not tethered to it.
 
Whatever you decide, best of luck, and be safe!
 
New Post
12/26/2012 1:14 PM
 

Thanks Westy. Great information. This in particular caught my eye:

At a minimum, never have your leashes connected while telemarking in the backcountry so that should your ski come off in a slide, you’re not tethered to it.

The AT bindings that we use have leashes instead of ski brakes. Good call to take them off in anything sketchy. I also agree that any skiing system you want to use in a backcountry setting must be releasable. Even a very small hill with a pack or full pulk behind could give you a serious injury if you aren't in releasable bindings. Try getting out of the backcountry with a twisted knee... probably doable, not fun.


We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
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5/12/2013 2:12 PM
 

 So after surviving a season of snowmaking and with all limbs and teeth intact while also managing to stick my toe in the alpine skiing water , I think I know what I would like for next winter. 

I want to kick and glide rather than slog and stomp, and while I am not looking to ski Tucks, I do need something to get me downhill in the Northeast safely. So I am looking for a “Nordic/light touring” set-up, right?

 
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