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  • Tele Light, Heavy, or In Between: Opinions?

    In the early 90s while on an early summer climb of Mt. Shasta a friend and I had hauled randonnee gear up to our snow camp near Helen Lake, and were up on the very steep slope above camp trying to make some turns on the horrible bathtub-like sun cups, and not having much success or fun, even with lifetimes of alpine skiing experience. As we were standing there some guy came from somewhere above, flying along on what looked like very light, skinny XC gear, just hitting the rims of the sun cups. He as quickly disappeared, leaving me with this image of something that seemed impossible being done at high speed and with such amazing élan. This image would bother me whenever I tried later to turn my damn cross country skis, suggesting I must be a total klutz.

    When I committed to learning free heel skiing and started getting modern tele gear several years ago, this heavy duty approach to learning free heel turns seemed to easily overcome the perpetual problems I had turning with XC gear, progress was being made and my enthusiasm was and still is very high. But still, the image of that guy on Shasta was there somewhere in the background, suggesting an alternative I might be overlooking. A couple of weeks ago in Eugene, while visiting our daughter, I was checking the used book section of the Goodwill store there, mainly for any possible tele-related items, while wife and daughter looked for great finds. The only related book was one by Steve Barnett called Cross Country Downhill, Second Ed., written in 1978. I had downloaded an interview with Barnett from TT a year or so ago, so should have recognized his name. I nearly rejected this book as the title only reminded me of my frustrating 40 year inability to turn those damn skinny skis. Since the book was only $1.25, I took a chance on it, and am very glad I did. His path to back country skiing, through mastery of technique instead of increased technology I find very intriguing. After watching the interview again, and yesterday discovering Craig Dostie’s excellent profile of Barnett on Earn Your Turns, People, I have been thinking more about this seeming split in the tele world. On EYT Forum there seems to be a lot of tele skiers that have gone over to AT, at least part time, and I am reading some comments that suggest others are moving back toward at least somewhat skinnier skis and lighter boots. For me, being the same age as Steve Barnett, it may be too late to acquire the sort of skills he has or to go through the prerequisite lengthy period of crashes to do skinny and light, since I am having trouble enough on my new heavier gear.


    It would be great to see some forum discussion about this apparent divide, and what the future of free heel skiing might be, since the popularity of tele skiing seems diminished some in the past several years.

  • #2
    You should also get Paul Parker's "Free Heel Skiing" from the '80s. . Very good book, amazing photos, I am just perusing it now. It suggests I should be on 215cm (height plus 25 cm) skis!. For tours with a pack, 55cm waisted skis.
    Yes, you could ski with ankle high Alfa boots, and early Rotte rat traps, on skinny Europa 77 skis, (see picture below) but it wasn't easy. Your ankles/feet were constantly twisting inside the boot (if it wasn't soaking wet too). If you had a big open bowl, and were willing to build up speed, you might get the tips to surface, and survive from turn to turn. At least when you crashed, and your foot was twisted 90 degrees to the ski, there was no discomfort, the boot was so flexible.
    I still remember (much later) my first backcountry day trip, in a pair of borrowed Merrills, the Super Comp. Wow, I actually had ankle control with the plastic cuff. Then my first pair of all plastic tele-boots, dark blue T2s. Suddenly I had warm feet, and in wet snow, they never got wet! With the old Super Loops, on my Tua Sumos I could just float through the powder...

    Dropping into a steep, icy chute like the bottom pic would be sheer terror, on this old 1970 light tele gear, at least for me.
    So good luck.
    [IMG] then, Edelweis Bowl, Teton Pass 1976

    [IMG] and now on NTN; Fernie top of Corner Pocket
    Last edited by chamonix; 3 November 2013, 01:18 PM.

    Comment


    • #3
      These discussions can be spirited. In essence, though, I think you'll hear a lot of "do what you like." I think in learning any dynamic skill there needs to be some success and some challenge. Lightening up for resort tele can be a challenge. Skiing variable conditions on tele can be challenging. Snapping off some turns in hero conditions in the backcountry on light gear can be a challenge. Long days on either XC or AT has been one of my favorite challenges lately. A little more technical climbing is on the itinerary for this season. Keep it fresh and keep it fun. You seem to have a knack for looking for a bargain and there are certainly a lot of them out there in the ski world. Don't mind the "tension" concerning gear choices. That has a lot to do with justifying purchases and little to do with what's fun or not. I wouldn't necessarily believe that the popularity of tele is diminished either. Simply put, there has been a gluttony of gear in every market and those rediscovering tele seem to mostly be buying used. My anecdotal eyes have seen many parents of small children on 5 to 10 year old boots that look nearly new. Retail numbers and the buzz on the internet or magazines does not always reflect the reality of what happens at trailheads and ski areas around the world. I predict the future will hold more of the same.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by chamonix View Post
        You should also get Paul Parker's "Free Heel Skiing". Very good book, just perusing now. It suggests I should be on 215cm (height plus 25 cm) skis!. For tours with a pack, 55cm waisted skis.
        Yes, you could ski with ankle high Alfa boots, and early Rotte rat traps, on skinny Europa 77 skis, (see picture below) but it wasn't easy. Your ankles/feet were constantly twisting inside the boot (if it wasn't soaking wet too). If you had a big open bowl, and were willing to build up speed, you might get the tips to surface, and survive from turn to turn. At least when you crashed, and your foot was twisted 90 degrees to the ski, there was no discomfort, the boot was so flexible.
        I still remember my first backcountry day trip, in a pair of borrowed Merrills, the Super Comp. Wow, I actually had ankle control with the plastic cuff. Then my first pair of all plastic tele-boots, dark blue T2s. Suddenly I had warm feet, and in wet snow, they never got wet! With the old Super Loops, on my Tua Sumos I could just float through the powder...
        So good luck
        [IMG] then, Edelweis Bowl, Teton Pass 1976

        [IMG] and now on NTN; Fernie top of Corner Pocket
        Nice photos, and great sensible comments on the downside of skinny and light. Paul Parker's book Freeheel Skiing has been my main source of instruction and year around bedtime reading to feed my tele stoke for the last year . I think his tips are very good, and it is surprising that neither Tele Tips nor this forum has mentioned him, that I have seen. The safety aspect of the flexible light tele boots may be one of the more attractive things about this type of tele, which at the same time would give a feeling of total helplessness for turning if I were to return to them and skinny skis. That's not likely to happen for me, but it would be good to find out how others do going back to relatively light and skinny.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Hindfoot View Post
          In the early 90s while on an early summer climb of Mt. Shasta a friend and I had hauled randonnee gear up to our snow camp near Helen Lake, and were up on the very steep slope above camp trying to make some turns on the horrible bathtub-like sun cups, and not having much success or fun, even with lifetimes of alpine skiing experience. As we were standing there some guy came from somewhere above, flying along on what looked like very light, skinny XC gear, just hitting the rims of the sun cups. He as quickly disappeared, leaving me with this image of something that seemed impossible being done at high speed and with such amazing élan. This image would bother me whenever I tried later to turn my damn cross country skis, suggesting I must be a total klutz.

          When I committed to learning free heel skiing and started getting modern tele gear several years ago, this heavy duty approach to learning free heel turns seemed to easily overcome the perpetual problems I had turning with XC gear, progress was being made and my enthusiasm was and still is very high. But still, the image of that guy on Shasta was there somewhere in the background, suggesting an alternative I might be overlooking. A couple of weeks ago in Eugene, while visiting our daughter, I was checking the used book section of the Goodwill store there, mainly for any possible tele-related items, while wife and daughter looked for great finds. The only related book was one by Steve Barnett called Cross Country Downhill, Second Ed., written in 1978. I had downloaded an interview with Barnett from TT a year or so ago, so should have recognized his name. I nearly rejected this book as the title only reminded me of my frustrating 40 year inability to turn those damn skinny skis. Since the book was only $1.25, I took a chance on it, and am very glad I did. His path to back country skiing, through mastery of technique instead of increased technology I find very intriguing. After watching the interview again, and yesterday discovering Craig Dostie’s excellent profile of Barnett on Earn Your Turns, People, I have been thinking more about this seeming split in the tele world. On EYT Forum there seems to be a lot of tele skiers that have gone over to AT, at least part time, and I am reading some comments that suggest others are moving back toward at least somewhat skinnier skis and lighter boots. For me, being the same age as Steve Barnett, it may be too late to acquire the sort of skills he has or to go through the prerequisite lengthy period of crashes to do skinny and light, since I am having trouble enough on my new heavier gear.


          It would be great to see some forum discussion about this apparent divide, and what the future of free heel skiing might be, since the popularity of tele skiing seems diminished some in the past several years.
          I split between Tele and AT with tele full time early season. The early season I start on my 68 underfoot till the coverage gets good enough for my 96 underfoot tele gear. So, I guess I am middle of the road as far to size. I was on bigger, stronger, faster tele gear till it got to the point that I didn't want to tour with it anymore and at the same time I was somewhat peaked resort tele skiing and wanted to go in a different direction. This year I have three days so far and on my 68 fishscales and to be honest, I can't wait to get off them. My 96's ski well and I can have fun reguardless of the conditions or the tour I choose(hopefully). The conditions need to be cooperative or I flail on my 68's. Now, I don't like to flail so I will stick to what is easier for me and save my energy for the up. I guess for someone who has a lot of time and wants a challenge and want to ski difficult terrain on skinny's more power to them, not me. I don't see skiers here on skinnies or at the resort either so they are out there but maybe more on the nordic aspects. On the other end big tele gear owns steep deep terrain if you are man enough to climb with 20 some odd pounds on your feet. Good for resort powder just don't have too many twisting falls. IMO
          "Just say no to groomed snow"

          Comment


          • #6
            IMO, the split between those who prefer skinny gear to those who prefer heavy plastic is based more on the terrain and experience they are seeking; there are very few out there trying to push skinnier gear to steeper slopes and extremely few doing so on no-metal-edge skis. I am by no means expert but for me the quest for the holy grail means be able to ski fast a 35 degree slope on leather boots and 90 mm skis, with turns.

            IMO, those pushing light gear deepest into the mountains are on skate equipment, in the spring, on corn snow. Amazing what some of these guys can do.

            Comment


            • #7
              As far as Paul Parker recommending the length of skis based on a skier's height, I think you must have an older edition of Free Heel Skiing. In my third edition he says "a ski does not know how tall you are" so weight is the primary determiner of ski length. This 3rd ed. is not all that current though, published in 2001, the gear he discusses is pretty out of date. Still good tips in this book, that have helped me.

              Comment


              • #8
                When Paul parker stated that he built skis that he wanted to ski.......and he was getting older.......and the skis way bigger and heavier.......started thinkin GEEZER gear......you know the kinda gear the Kingdom Tele Boys should be skiing on......You want thrill...go light skinny camber....everything is thrilling.....steep, deep....crusty....dust on crust you name it....it's always special and leaves one with a big smile......Figure pretty soon someone will say skinnies are for golf courses....Seen some pretty good thrilling shots there also...Teleman

                Comment


                • #9
                  Almost all tele-skiers know the advantages and compromises they make when they chose either light or heavy gear. Those that don't recognize the benefits of either choice in certain situations are gear zealots...

                  Heavy gear helps you resist and manage the greater force applied to you by gravity, but it is restrictive and exhaustingly heavy by comparison to light gear when the skier has to generate the force to move himself along.

                  Light gear is unrestrictive and allows you to generate force more efficiently. It allows you to move faster with less effort. Light gear isn't stiff enough to allow you to resist as much force applied to you by gravity as heavy gear.

                  Simply put,... When you are resisting force (gravity), heavy gear gives you much greater leverage. When you are generating force, light gear gives you much greater efficiency.

                  Every permutation of nordic gear is out there being used, trying to get the advantage of Both ends of the spectrum. I am looking at assembling a ski rig with an XCD hybrid ski and NTN freedom (inserts) so I'll have the ability to kick and glide on some trails and still do some light meadowskipping, all on scarpa tx boots. I am not sure the boots are light enough to make kick and glide enjoyable, but that's the lightest boot I have in the NTN platform. I have seen guys with dynafit bindings on XCD rigs and wondered how well that works, even though I don't alpine ski.

                  I think once the holy grail of tele bindings has been achieved (and proven) on multiple platforms, (meaning duckbill, duckbutt, and TTS) I think the next innovation for tele will be a hybrid boot that has more range of motion when the cuff is unlocked, and is superlight so it's "kick and glide" is greatly improved. That boot will also still be able to be buckled up and be powerful working against gravity on the downhill. It's definately the direction that AT boot development has gone in. I wonder if tele-boot manufacturers will see any potential profit to follow the path of AT boot evolution. I think a modernized excursion could be a pretty cool boot in an NTN and TTS platform to extend the downhill performance of XCD without losing any of it's efficiency...


                  *Snowgods..... anytime you are ready... thank you...
                  Last edited by tele.skier; 4 November 2013, 09:00 AM.
                  the fall line is your friend.... resistance is futile

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Speaking of Paul Parker, I seem to remember he had a lot to do with the deisgn of some TUA skis, like the Sumos I skied for years. Later he went to G3 to help develop their early skis, with "Joy Ride" technology and set up their production in Tunisia (I think). Moving my ski quiver from the Tuas to the G3 skis; Rapid Transits, Zenoxides, Tonics and later Manhattans it seemed there was a thread in all these skis of the Paul Parker legacy. He also helped develop the Radium AT boot and later the Prophet NTN boot too.

                    I may be wrong about all this
                    Last edited by chamonix; 4 November 2013, 09:47 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by tele.skier View Post
                      Almost all tele-skiers know the advantages and compromises they make when they chose either light or heavy gear. Those that don't recognize the benefits of either choice in certain situations are gear zealots...

                      Heavy gear helps you resist and manage the greater force applied to you by gravity, but it is restrictive and exhaustingly heavy by comparison to light gear when the skier has to generate the force to move himself along.

                      Light gear is unrestrictive and allows you to generate force more efficiently. It allows you to move faster with less effort. Light gear isn't stiff enough to allow you to resist as much force applied to you by gravity as heavy gear.

                      Simply put,... When you are resisting force (gravity), heavy gear gives you much greater leverage. When you are generating force, light gear gives you much greater efficiency.

                      Every permutation of nordic gear is out there being used, trying to get the advantage of Both ends of the spectrum. I am looking at assembling a ski rig with an XCD hybrid ski and NTN freedom (inserts) so I'll have the ability to kick and glide on some trails and still do some light meadowskipping, all on scarpa tx boots. I am not sure the boots are light enough to make kick and glide enjoyable, but that's the lightest boot I have in the NTN platform. I have seen guys with dynafit bindings on XCD rigs and wondered how well that works, even though I don't alpine ski.

                      I think once the holy grail of tele bindings has been achieved (and proven) on multiple platforms, (meaning duckbill, duckbutt, and TTS) I think the next innovation for tele will be a hybrid boot that has more range of motion when the cuff is unlocked, and is superlight so it's "kick and glide" is greatly improved. That boot will also still be able to be buckled up and be powerful working against gravity on the downhill. It's definately the direction that AT boot development has gone in. I wonder if tele-boot manufacturers will see any potential profit to follow the path of AT boot evolution. I think a modernized excursion could be a pretty cool boot in an NTN and TTS platform to extend the downhill performance of XCD without losing any of it's efficiency...


                      *Snowgods..... anytime you are ready... thank you...
                      Thanks TS, for the concise summation of the tele predicament, so to speak, though its essentials are a common conflict in the entire physical world. This is just the sort of information I, as a relative telenewb with a lifetime of alpine ski experience, was hoping to get. How likely is it that gear manufacturers are going to pursue developments towards that holy grail, when their sales research seems to be saying that tele is washed up and AT is the new big thing? While the holy grail is being sought let's not forget about a reliable, light-weight release thrown in to the package. The risk to my old bones and connective tissue is a main reason for a renewed interest in light gear, since the current state of release conflicts with my standards of weight and performance. Meanwhile, I will continue with my HHs, Liberty Helices, and Garmont Voodoos and try not to fall backwards.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by chamonix View Post
                        Speaking of Paul Parker, I seem to remember he had a lot to do with the deisgn of some TUA skis, like the Sumos I skied for years. Later he went to G3 to help develop their early skis, with "Joy Ride" technology and set up their production in Tunisia (I think). Moving my ski quiver from the Tuas to the G3 skis; Rapid Transits, Zenoxides, Tonics and later Manhattans it seemed there was a thread in all these skis of the Paul Parker legacy. He also helped develop the Radium AT boot and later the Prophet NTN boot too.


                        I may be wrong about all this
                        That's pretty interesting. Didn't know PP worked with G3. Do you know if he also helped develop the Voodoo for Garmont? Looking at the Voodoo and Prophet, they seem identical except for the soles.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I think there needs to be a understanding that there is a huge difference between new school skinny and old school skinny. Nordic/XC skiers pushing the touring boundaries like in the vid ^^ are on stiff carbon boots and skis that are dialed in plus being on Spring type snow that is predictable and firm. Old schoolers on leather shoes and E99's are having a tougher time of it and are limited. I can't see where any leather boot would be a "holy grail" and the limits compared to plastic.

                          Interesting article in the latest edition of Backcountry magazine talking about Skimo and those guys doubling their BC vert powder skiing on skinnies as compared to skiers on trad BC rigs. Of course the article was based out of Utah so for me skinnies on light dry snow seems doable, on Tahoe crust and wind pack not so much atleast at my skill level.

                          For me the holy grail would be: 180 Vector BC/TTS/Skins and TX boots. For strickly day in day out BC touring at my level.
                          "Just say no to groomed snow"

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by tele.skier View Post
                            Almost all tele-skiers know the advantages and compromises they make when they chose either light or heavy gear. Those that don't recognize the benefits of either choice in certain situations are gear zealots...

                            Heavy gear helps you resist and manage the greater force applied to you by gravity, but it is restrictive and exhaustingly heavy by comparison to light gear when the skier has to generate the force to move himself along.

                            Light gear is unrestrictive and allows you to generate force more efficiently. It allows you to move faster with less effort. Light gear isn't stiff enough to allow you to resist as much force applied to you by gravity as heavy gear.

                            Simply put,... When you are resisting force (gravity), heavy gear gives you much greater leverage. When you are generating force, light gear gives you much greater efficiency.

                            Every permutation of nordic gear is out there being used, trying to get the advantage of Both ends of the spectrum. I am looking at assembling a ski rig with an XCD hybrid ski and NTN freedom (inserts) so I'll have the ability to kick and glide on some trails and still do some light meadowskipping, all on scarpa tx boots. I am not sure the boots are light enough to make kick and glide enjoyable, but that's the lightest boot I have in the NTN platform. I have seen guys with dynafit bindings on XCD rigs and wondered how well that works, even though I don't alpine ski.

                            I think once the holy grail of tele bindings has been achieved (and proven) on multiple platforms, (meaning duckbill, duckbutt, and TTS) I think the next innovation for tele will be a hybrid boot that has more range of motion when the cuff is unlocked, and is superlight so it's "kick and glide" is greatly improved. That boot will also still be able to be buckled up and be powerful working against gravity on the downhill. It's definately the direction that AT boot development has gone in. I wonder if tele-boot manufacturers will see any potential profit to follow the path of AT boot evolution. I think a modernized excursion could be a pretty cool boot in an NTN and TTS platform to extend the downhill performance of XCD without losing any of it's efficiency...


                            *Snowgods..... anytime you are ready... thank you...
                            Thanks TS, for the concise summation of the tele predicament, so to speak, though its essentials are a common conflict in the entire physical world. This is just the sort of information I, as a relative telenewb with a lifetime of alpine ski experience, was hoping to get. How likely is it that gear manufacturers are going to pursue developments towards that holy grail, when their sales research seems to be saying that tele is washed up and AT is the new big thing? While the holy grail is being sought let's not forget about a reliable, light-weight release thrown in to the package. The risk to my old bones and connective tissue is a main reason for a renewed interest in light gear, since the current state of release conflicts with my standards of weight and performance. Meanwhile, I will continue with my HHs, Liberty Helices, and Garmont Voodoos and try not to fall backwards.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Hindfoot View Post
                              Thanks TS, for the concise summation of the tele predicament, so to speak, though its essentials are a common conflict in the entire physical world. This is just the sort of information I, as a relative telenewb with a lifetime of alpine ski experience, was hoping to get. How likely is it that gear manufacturers are going to pursue developments towards that holy grail, when their sales research seems to be saying that tele is washed up and AT is the new big thing? While the holy grail is being sought let's not forget about a reliable, light-weight release thrown in to the package. The risk to my old bones and connective tissue is a main reason for a renewed interest in light gear, since the current state of release conflicts with my standards of weight and performance. Meanwhile, I will continue with my HHs, Liberty Helices, and Garmont Voodoos and try not to fall backwards.
                              There is a big difference between tele boots and bindings as compared to fixed heel. Because tele gear is mechanical, it has to be made stronger and more burly or it will break. In the recent evolution, there has been a lot of broken gear along the way and massive warantee issues. So, the solution is to make the gear bomber. Bomber is good as it is reliable, Bomber is bad as it HEAVY. Bad atleast for climbing but owns the down, pick your poison or stick to the resorts.

                              I surely don't buy the arguement that if I ski light flimsy gear somehow I will be safe. I prefer to be on burly gear either tele or fixed heel as with the stability I don't fall unless I ski at the upper end of my margins. I don't ski at the upper end of my margins as I don't like to crash and break things............
                              Last edited by Quadzilla; 4 November 2013, 10:46 AM.
                              "Just say no to groomed snow"

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