Jul 282008

Over the last few months Clansi and I have purchased our own ski equipment, and yesterday we had our first opportunity to test it out on the snow. Most of our acquisitions have resulted from surfing end-of-season-sales in the US, which has been the only way to satisfy our specific requirements with our budget.

We have chosen to invest in Alpine Touring (AT), or “Randonee”, gear. The spectacular trip we made to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko last June was enough to get us addicted to backcountry skiing. Since the AT system is essentially identical to downhill gear when the bindings are locked down, we decided to go for good all-round equipment that would suit us both on and off the resort.

I’ve included some details below about our shiny new gear, but first I should assure you that it works wonderfully on the snow.  The snow at Perisher-Blue yesterday was quite good, with only a few icy patches.  After lunch the predicted snow shower came through and freshened up the surface with a centimetre or two of tiny flakes.  Both Clansi and I were happy with how our skis handled the variety of conditions.

The only complaint we had came from our toes.  Both our boots have thermo-liners, which mould to your foot when heated with warm air.  We had our liners thermo-moulded two weeks ago at the local ski shop, and wore thin socks as advised by many online information sources.  Our ski socks are more padded toes, and we both found our toes were uncomfortably compressed.  A re-moulding of the liners should fix this easily.

I ended up buying Garmont Adrenaline boots, which have interchangable soles for Alpine (downhill) bindings or AT bindings.  I am currently using some borrowed (likely to be purchased) Rossignol Scratch Sprayer FS skis with ordinary downhill bindings on them, but have purchased a set of AT bindings that I may put on the skis if I do buy them.  The helmet was the only thing that I didn’t get on sale, but it is more than just a fashion accessory.  On backcountry trips there is no ski-patrol to come and help you in an emergency, and any attempt at prevention is worth it.  Of course, now that I own one I will be wearing it on the resort as well.

With her pink-and-black Salomon Temptress twin-tips, Clansi has far more spectacular skis.  Since the skis came without bindings, she was able to put a set of Damir Freeride Plus AT bindings on them straight away.  The clash of the red bindings with the pink of the Temptresses is the only flaw in an otherwise extremely glamourous set of equipment, and we may colour over the obvious red areas.  Her Scarpa Diva boots are very light and comfortable for touring, but seem to have plenty of strength for driving the skis down challenging slopes.

  3 Responses to “Hitting slopes with Brand new gear”

  1. Glad I was not disspointed when I checked in to see if there were any updates. ??more pictures!!

  2. It looks great. How much time does a person have to spend on cross country skiing to gain some pleasure from the experience. Is a single day on the slopes worth it?

  3. I guess it depends what sort of “Cross Country” skiing, as there are a few quite different meanings of this term.

    Traditional cross country skis are very narrow, and have a “fish scale” pattern on the middle section of their bottom surface. This allows you to grip slightly and push forward, which is helpful for moving on flats and slight up-hills. These sort of skis are typically used on specially groomed tracks that have no steep sections, and are a lot like hiking or jogging. A primary goal of this kind of skiing is simply enjoying the sights. I understand that this sort of skiing is pretty easy to pick up and have fun with.

    The “Alpine Touring” (AT) gear that Clansi and I have purchased is also designed for going cross country, but its focus is more on climbing slopes and then skiing down in a fairly normal alpine downhill fashion. AT skis with skins on can climb much steeper slopes than the narrow cross country skis, and with the skins removed AT skis can ski much harder downhill (they are easier to turn, to start with). We went to Kosciuszko last year on AT skis, and I can assure you that it was thoroughly exhausting (although still fun). I would say that it is harder to “just have fun” with AT skiing if you don’t have much experience.

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