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Alpine Touring, Facts, Opinions and Fiction

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  • Alpine Touring, Facts, Opinions and Fiction

    Back when this Forum was in the start up process, there was a need to replace Telemark Tips, Mitch's site. Early on I think Dostie wanted diversity with all forms of BC touring. I think even so he is a tele guy, his website has a wealth of current info on Alpine Touring and the evolution of that gear. So, he does his job reviewing all the gear AT or tele. Anyway, on paper equal diversity is a great goal for numbers and forum content. However, as we move forward, it is apparent that like the old TTips that tele skiing and the evolution of tele skiing is still way more popular HERE. My call for the reason is that tele skiing is more social and tribal and the group is more apt to hang together. In the AT world, IMO, it is more individual and less tribal. So, no need for gear forums or gatherings. Bottomline, even with diversity here telemark is dominate.

    WTBS, Skiers are moving toward fixed heel Alpine Touring for a number of reasons, but some of the reasons are fact and some reasons are fantasy. So, how about some discussion of what is true and what is false about AT and wither or not to dump tele or add AT or just stay where you are at. I have opinions that I will add later but just others wither they are interested or not to respond and clear the air as to where it is all going.

    Pros for AT:

    Cons for AT:

    Facts/Fiction:

    Who wants to play............
    Last edited by Dostie; 18 March 2019, 07:51 PM.
    "Just say no to groomed snow"

  • #2
    WTBS...is that your favorite TV station, "without the bull ****", or something else?


    As to the subject, IMO (which is shorthand for "the most sensible point of view is..") so much depends on popular culture. Today, we have a culture of achievement, of the end being the goal rather than the journey, and of valuing things that are easy to quantify, such as vert. We also have a culture of domination (or, ranking), where the joy of the sport is not as important as how one ranks compared to others. We are fascinated by top ten lists and bucket lists, and what you "have to see" or "have to do". In that culture, the masses will inevitably gravitate to AT because it makes achievement much more, well, achievable.

    Which is to say you cannot answer your questions based on any universal criteria. It all depends on what people want to do and that depends on popular culture.
    Last edited by Baaahb; 30 November 2017, 10:49 AM.

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    • #3
      Not "fluent" at moment Q, (phone) but quick chime...don't think telers any more sociable, me, im just reliant on here for any real good skinny on tele gear. And get what i need of the new world of at. One thing at suks at is that need to exit bindings to "tour." And it..like even free pivot tele, worse than 3pins for micro terrain adjustments.
      nee, Whiteout

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Baaahb View Post
        WTBS...is that your favorite TV station, "without the bull ****", or something else?


        As to the subject, IMO (which is shorthand for "the most sensible point of view is..") so much depends on popular culture. Today, we have a culture of achievement, of the end being the goal rather than the journey, and of valuing things that are easy to quantify, such as vert. We also have a culture of domination (or, ranking), where the joy of the sport is not as important as how one ranks compared to others. We are fascinated by top ten lists and bucket lists, and what you "have to see" or "have to do". In that culture, the masses will inevitably gravitate to AT because it makes achievement much more, well, achievable.

        Which is to say you cannot answer your questions based on any universal criteria. It all depends on what people want to do and that depends on popular culture.
        Well Baaahb, those are very good points. I guess with my personal thinking pattern, it is mainly about mechanical pro and con and not social. Sure, tele wins that and remembering the fun to be had at big tele clinics and gatherings.
        "Just say no to groomed snow"

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        • #5
          I agree that it seems most of the posts on here are about gear; what we want to see in the future, what we can adapt to our own needs, what we can build ourselves. Most of that comes from the telemarkers -- the ATers pretty much have everything they could want already on the market (an oversimplification, obviously). And, because of the technique, there is less variation required of the equipment compared to telemark, where practitioners have widely different techniques (and thus different gear requirements). For AT gear, it's pretty much just varying degrees of lightness vs. burliness. Like, plot lightness on the y-axis and burliness on the x-axis, and you can find pretty much whatever combination you want, with the price point increasing as you move away from the origin on that 1:1 line.

          Also, there's less room for home tinkering and/or building of gear with AT, because the bindings have to release. Not really any debating that one, whereas telemark bindings don't necessarily need to release. And so, since telemark skiers CAN tinker, they do. And then this mindset bleeds over to other pieces of gear. And that's why we talk about all of it on message boards more than AT skiers do.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Charley White View Post
            One thing at suks at is that need to exit bindings to "tour." And it..like even free pivot tele, worse than 3pins for micro terrain adjustments.
            Kinda gets to the point that there is more to tech AT skiing than "training wheels" or "fiddling". So, go out with someone who is well experienced with the gear and you will find they deal with transitions and move foreword in a efficient manner. As good as tele, in a word yes. Unless you add Fat fishscales then total advantage goes to scales either Tele or Tech.
            "Just say no to groomed snow"

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            • #7
              However much i suk at tech toe transitions, having to exit a binding to change mode will forever be a con for everybody. (Shoulda said tech i/o at) I, like many, consider it a small price for the pros. And, Bobby you too right.
              nee, Whiteout

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              • #8
                One thing at suks at is that need to exit bindings to "tour."
                Well, on an AT setup, to go from skinning mode, to ski down, I don't have to exit my bindings. I can rip skins (at least my BD mix skins) and turn my Speed turn or Vertical heel piece, to ski mode, with a ski pole. So pin toe binding stays engaged. Transition from skiing down, to skinning up, I do have to take my skis off. But all my friends on teles seem to take their skis off too, to reapply skins. I am not flexible enough to put skins back on my AT or Tele skis, without taking my skis off first. I don't think many AT skiers do this either, except for Rando Racers.

                Pros for AT : Lighter boots, with more ROM in walk mode; lighter bindings (Meidjo is getting close); I don't have to take knee pads on and off at each transition, as I only wear Knee Pads for tele descents. Better edge control, (in my case) on scary steep terrain. Nearly frictionless free pivot for climbing, and higher heel lifters. Easier to put crampons on AT boots as opposed to duckbill tele boots. Easier to kick steps with AT boots versus 75mm duckbill toes.
                Cons for AT; Well I worry about a forward fall, say digging in a ski tip and not getting a heel release. On teles you always have a forward release; you flop forward. My feet get colder on a really cold day because ball of foot isn't flexing like with Teles..Possible pre-release and crash on hard icy snow that occurred with Verticals a few times.(I hope my new IONS will cure this issue).

                Pros for Tele: a beautiful turn on the way down, especially in powder or on a creamy layer of corn snow on a firm base. In rolling terrain, easier to traverse. I do a lot of traversing; say at a resort like Fernie, and appreciate Teles there. I don't have to worry about a pre-release on teles either, because they don't release. I have had a pre-release on AT gear, skiing hard, chattery resort ice.
                Cons for tele, Heavier boots, less ROM of cuff in walk mode. Transitions (for me) are slower; I am always taking knee pads on and off. On to ski down, off to skin up.


                regarding your other statement,
                tele skiing and the evolution of tele skiing is still way more popular HERE
                I think we , tele skiers, gravitated here because we wanted to re-create our Tele Tips community again. I mean, what other forum would put up with his endless blather about Telemark, TX Pro versus TX, blah blah blah..this and that
                Last edited by chamonix; 30 November 2017, 05:50 PM.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by bobbytooslow View Post
                  I agree that it seems most of the posts on here are about gear; what we want to see in the future, what we can adapt to our own needs, what we can build ourselves.
                  ...there's less room for home tinkering and/or building of gear with AT, because the bindings have to release. Not really any debating that one, whereas telemark bindings don't necessarily need to release. And so, since telemark skiers CAN tinker, they do. And then this mindset bleeds over to other pieces of gear. And that's why we talk about all of it on message boards more than AT skiers do.
                  Nailed it!


                  Originally posted by chamonix
                  ... Transition from skiing down, to skinning up, I do have to take my skis off. But all my friends on teles seem to take their skis off too, to reapply skins. I am not flexible enough to put skins back on my AT or Tele skis, without taking my skis off first. I don't think many AT skiers do this either, except for Rando Racers.
                  As for putting skins back on without taking skis off; I've seen it live once. A free pivot is essential to do this; he used Switchbacks. It is NOT a matter of flexibility but about technique and balance. Someday I'll ski with that guy again and capture it on vid.

                  ain't no turn like tele!

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                  • #10
                    Not much for tele compared to AT.

                    1. You dont have to switch between tour and skimode on tele, which in low-angled and rolling terrain is a big advantage, especially with fish-scaled skis.
                    2. Skating, free heel and a slight resistane is superior
                    3. 3-pins is faster in transitions than 2-pins
                    4. A light Tele set-up is waayy cheaper than a light AT (although I admit that I would happily buy a 1500$ superlight carbon tele boot...)
                    5. The sense of freedom with a free heel...

                    BTW. I have not seen any post in any thread here that even mentions splitboarding? In a direct comparision with AT they even suffer more than tele does...although as a tele skier I have an understanding why they do it.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Dostie View Post
                      As for putting skins back on without taking skis off; I've seen it live once. A free pivot is essential to do this; he used Switchbacks. It is NOT a matter of flexibility but about technique and balance. Someday I'll ski with that guy again and capture it on vid.
                      There is videos on youtube with the technique, it is also doable with 3-pins if you have short skis (with a slightly different technique). It is slow technique but it have some obvious advantages if you are out in the middle deep powder. I think light equipment also helps.

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                      • #12
                        Some thoughts I have: First and primary to me is that tech AT and Dynafit specifically is releasable and is reasonably predictable releasing at slow speeds. I have used this stuff for close to 10 years and have had situations where I have needed to release and the bindings never let me down. My wife has had situations too with same outcome. OK, IMO, tech AT gear sucks resort skiing, just too light duty, not predictable at resort speed both control and reliable release at speed. So, doable, yeah, performance NO. Other things as well but it always makes me smile when others say they are dumping tele and going to AT because it is easier, whereas once they get the gear they quickly find out it is not easy and takes a lot of practice to get comfortable. So, IMO, AT might be faster on the up as compared but certainly no easy button................
                        "Just say no to groomed snow"

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                        • #13
                          For me the most efficient in transitions by far is TTS. Tour to ski mode, rip skins, skis on, engage heel lever flip it up and ski down. I don’t apply skins with skis on but in some situations it’s doable and worth the effort. I also don’t rip skins, skis on in steep terrain. In those situations it’s one ski off at a time and rip skin, ski back on and repeat the other side. I am pretty efficient at the transitions with low tech AT gear also; tour to ski ripping skins and ski to tour for some contouring/ shuffling without skins and not taking skis off. It takes some practice and knowing the nuances of each binding but it can be learned fairly easily as long as you have decent balance.

                          Other than that I’d have to agree that iBjorn’s list of tele/ AT comparisons is pretty much spot on IMHO.

                          Split boarding is cool for boarders to travel in the BC but skiers are usually waiting on them in transitions. Snow boarders can and the best BC boarders will almost always be faster than than skiers in the downs. I have a visual that plays in my head sometimes of watching my friend a Simon absolutely crush the Tempter House couloir (Bear Creek lowers/ Telluride, tellurideoffiste.com) in deep snow conditions while I was getting ready to enter it from the second safety. I’ve not seen many skiers move through terrain like this that fast or with that precision.
                          Function in disaster, finish in style.

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                          • #14
                            Split boarding is big around here and I would say as popular as tech AT and actually changing the dynamics of numbers at the TH's and numbers on the ski track. I think the reasons are that snow boarding generally is gaining popularity again and the split technology is at a point where a split board is a very good tool for climbing up and skiing down. For me and others a good thing as now no more post holed ski tracks.
                            "Just say no to groomed snow"

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                            • #15
                              Interesting Tech AT climbing abilities is that most of the tech bindings is designed around climbing a skin track that is a Europe angle determined by tours and guides. This angle is pretty low compared to maybe West skin track angles so the bindings don't have a tall climbing bale. I think the reason is that probably in Europe the guided tours and trails are long whereas the West are steep and shorter? So, just because you just got a full on tech AT setup you may be disappointed when trying to go straight up. Want to go straight up? IMO, hard to beat a setup with Voile X2's and that big bale. Of course you need the strength and determination to climb straight up. But if the skin track is already there and straight up you can do it or break your own skin track.
                              Euro track
                              Click image for larger version

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                              "Just say no to groomed snow"

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