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Randito
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PostTue Dec 10, 2019 5:57 pm 
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Cyclopath wrote:
I keep going back and forth on whether it makes sense or not, getting these skis.  My thinking is (1) I'll probably move north from Eastlake next month, putting me further from Cabin Creek, and closer to the MLH, if so I'll have more opportunity to ski backcountry and less for groomers, and (2) groomed trail Nordic might not be possible for a lot of the season, but I can drive to Blewett or Artist Point, and to Harts Pass Road when I'm in the Methow.

These look pretty good for the stated purpose and only $20

https://seattle.craigslist.org/tac/spo/d/gig-harbor-cross-country-skies/7025430255.html
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Cyclopath
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PostTue Dec 10, 2019 7:33 pm 
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Thanks for finding that.  It would be cheaper to buy a set of 3 pin boots and these skis than a whole setup for NNN.  I'll give it some thought and try more boots on.  🙂
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rossb
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PostWed Dec 11, 2019 10:47 am 
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BC boots and bindings are a lot like a cross bike. They have a wide range, but if you own a lot of gear, you find yourself hardly ever using it.

So much depends on your feet. For myself, personally, I haven't found a pair of plastic boots that are really comfortable. Whether A. T. or Telemark, plastic boots are less comfortable than BC, which are less comfortable than Nordic (NNN, SNS). But others find a plastic boot that fits just right and love then.

What is clear, without a doubt, is that plastic boots offer a lot more control than leather or fabric boots. If you are willing to spend the money, A. T. boots are a lot lighter than Telemark boots, and a lot lighter than most BC and three pin boots. Thus you have people who have spent the money, and have found backcountry Nirvana. They have a boot that is light, fairly comfortable, has a good range of motion, and extremely good control. It still isn't as comfortable (or as light) as a regular cross country ski setup (the type you would use on a groomed trail) but man, what a combination. It is like a titanium mountain bike -- sure, you wouldn't want to cruise the Burke Gilman with it -- but you can tackle the terrifying trails of Moab and use the same gear for going around town -- that's pretty cool. It is also very common for people to have a set of cross country ski gear (for groomed, as well as many roads) and A. T., or Randonee gear, but nothing in between.

Which brings me to a couple old jokes about gear:

Q: What is the definition of Randonee?
A: Can't Telemark.

Q: What is the definition of Alpine Touring?
A: Can't pronounce Randonee.

Anyway, there are very few people who use Telemark gear, simply because it a lot heavier than Randonee. I could see a few reasons why you would do so:

1) You find that the boots are just more comfortable. The ability to bend at the metatarsal may make all the difference in the world.

2) You just love the Telemark turn. I get this -- it is elegant and smooth (I wish I could do a good Telemark turn).

3) You can buy bindings that fit both leather three pin and plastic Telemark boots. That is still a rare case, since you would want to have skis that make sense for both. Typically, people who use plastic boots (either Telemark or Randonee) use them with bigger skis -- skis that are bigger are harder to turn with flimsy (leather or fabric) boots. But skis like the ones you mentioned could be used with both (theoretically). With Telemark boots you could handle most backcountry territory (e. g. Artist Point or Paradise area) quite easily (even if you have no idea how to telemark). You could also use those boots with three pin (leather or fabric) boots, and it would be similar to BC boot skiing, if not a little bit better (the binding itself offers a bit more control, but the boots make all the difference).

Anyway, I wouldn't necessarily recommend that, unless you are on a tight budget or find a good deal (EDIT -- like the ones mentioned). You could get some relatively cheap 3 pin boots, a setup like that shown at Craigslist, and ski a lot of the roads as well (if not better) than you would with BC gear. Depending on your foot, that could be very comfortable. Then, when you get more money -- or find yourself wanting more control -- you could get a pair of plastic boots. That is probably the cheapest option.

I would probably approach it from the opposite side. Go with A. T., since there are a lot more boots, and if you are willing to spend the money, you can find some extremely light, relatively comfortable gear. With plastic boots, the limitation becomes your ability to ski, not the gear. (That is theoretically true with all gear, but only a handful of people on the planet can ski a black diamond run in deep snow with cross country gear). Some of the tours are not that far (Artist Point isn't that far) and you will soon find yourself wanting as much control as possible. For example, the road to Artist Point is meaningless after midwinter -- you don't even notice it. You can get down by making lots and lots of traverses, but that is tiring (and you need good kick turn technique). Unless you are really good with flimsy gear, you would find that having plastic boots is a lot more fun.

I think I would start with the boots. Try on a bunch of boots -- telemark, A. T., 3 pin. Find out which ones seem to be comfortable, and which ones aren't. Although REI doesn't have a lot of selection, they have a great return policy. I have found that some boots seem good enough in the store, then are very painful when I'm on them all day. I wish I could recommend a store that had lots of boots, but you have have to shop around, and maybe even go mail order. Again, that's why a good return policy is worth considering.
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rossb
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PostWed Dec 11, 2019 11:42 am 
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Cyclopath wrote:
On Sunday I drove up to Blewett Pass and skied a couple miles up and down the road that leads toward the Tronsen Ridge TH.  On skinny racing skis, 44/44/41 mm.  I stayed upright, but they were pretty unstable descending on bumpy snow that was chewed up by jeep tires and snowmobile tracks.  Does anyone have an opinion on how 78/61/69 (Fischer Traverse 78) would handle on this kind of terrain?  Is that going to be wide enough to feel stable coming down?

Skis like that could handle just about anything. The limitation becomes the binding. Keep in mind that skis like are more or less what *everyone* used at the lifts not that long ago. They would be more than enough to handle a challenging road. You would probably want a fatter ski for open backcountry skiing, but you wouldn't need it. Fatter skis make skiing deep snow (whether powder or slop) easier and more fun, but with good boots, you can get by with skis that wide.

The super skinny skis (44/44/41) are challenging on most logging roads (I have a very similar pair). You would be fine on groomed trails, or something practically flat (like the mountain loop) but that is about it. Even relatively easy roads (Deer Creek) would be challenging. You don't necessarily need something as wide as that -- something just a bit wider would make all the difference. I do most of my road skiing (and thus about 90% of my skiing) on regular SNS bindings and Fischer Inbound Crown (68-58-64). These have way more control than my super skinny skis, even though the bindings and boots are the same. That means that one option you might consider is simply getting a ski that is a bit wider than what you have, and put the same bindings on it (so you can use the same boots).

The challenge is that you don't want to go too far. It is difficult to control a really big, heavy  ski with regular cross country boots. The skis you mentioned are probably borderline. Of the skis that Fischer makes now, I think I would go with the E99 Crown Xtralite (66-54-61), or the Country Crown (60-52-57). Both would be a big step up in control over what you have, but be fairly easy to use with your current boot.
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Cyclopath
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PostWed Dec 11, 2019 12:16 pm 
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A couple years ago I bought a pair of Madshus Glittertinds, put SNS bindings on them, and used them with my XC boots (Salomon Pilot Escape 7).  It was a disaster.  I couldn't get down what should have been a fun road descent without falling a dozen times.  It was easy enough going up, but I could barely get them on the edges.  It was easier to stop by crashing then by snow plowing.  I think that experience is making me a little gun shy...

All of you have convinced me that randonee gear is the way to go.  I don't really want to spend the money at this point though.  I've been planning to get another set of ultra skinny skis and boots this winter too.  If the snow arrives.  I broke one of mine last year, I can still use it but it won't last long, and I really love the speed involved in a groomed trail.  I did Crystal Springs to Hyak and back a few times last year to see how fast I could make the round trip.
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Malachai Constant
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PostWed Dec 11, 2019 12:32 pm 
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What most are ignoring here is the interaction of conditions and gear. We once skied down from Muir on 3 pin bindings after a dump of a couple feet of power. It was a blast linked tele turns all the way down. A couple years later we did it on boiler plate. It was a disaster and we were lucky to get out alive with steel edged XC skies. It would have been a piece of cake with AT skis which I have used under similar conditions and slopes at Whistler. AT equipment comes into itís own when conditions head south. Wide skis work better in powder and side cuts make all turns easier. Stiff boots help on ice but have little use in powder or slop. Breakable crust responds to AT gear but is a trap to narrow skis. You pay your money and take your chances.

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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Randito
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PostWed Dec 11, 2019 1:01 pm 
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Cyclopath wrote:
I did Crystal Springs to Hyak and back a few times last year to see how fast I could make the round trip

A route, I've enjoyed is looping Lake Keechelus, Unfortunately it does involve a little bit of road walking between the Hyak sno-park and the Gold Creek sno-park and then between where NF-4832 intersects the Kachess Lake road and Crystal Springs.     Road NF-4832 is groomed for snowmobiles, so kick and glide along that works pretty well.   I've usually done this route on New Years day to minimize interaction with snowmobiles. 

I haven't done the route since the new wild life bridge has been constructed -- but it is my understanding that the WSDOT and the WDFW do not want humans to use this bridge so that wildlife will not be intimidated by the presence of humans -- so I'll avoid the temptation to ski over the bridge and minimize the road walking.

I've done the route both clockwise and counter clockwise -- clockwise is my preference.   Road NF-4832 descends steeply towards the Gold Creek sno-park and after 16+ miles of skiing, skiing down that section with "rubber legs" was a little too exciting on 44mm skis.  Also better to get the snowmobile section over early in the morning.
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rossb
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PostWed Dec 11, 2019 1:36 pm 
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Cyclopath wrote:
A couple years ago I bought a pair of Madshus Glittertinds, put SNS bindings on them, and used them with my XC boots (Salomon Pilot Escape 7).  It was a disaster.  I couldn't get down what should have been a fun road descent without falling a dozen times.  It was easy enough going up, but I could barely get them on the edges.  It was easier to stop by crashing then by snow plowing.  I think that experience is making me a little gun shy...

All of you have convinced me that randonee gear is the way to go.  I don't really want to spend the money at this point though.  I've been planning to get another set of ultra skinny skis and boots this winter too.  If the snow arrives.  I broke one of mine last year, I can still use it but it won't last long, and I really love the speed involved in a groomed trail.  I did Crystal Springs to Hyak and back a few times last year to see how fast I could make the round trip.

A full Randonee setup costs a lot. You can probably find good deals here and there, but if you start ogling the super lightweight setups (and who doesn't) then it can cost you a bundle. That is why I would seriously consider another pair of skis for your boots. The skis you have are super skinny. You had trouble with Glittertinds, but those are much wider. Your experience is exactly what I was talking about. I've experienced exactly what you mention (although with BC boots and bigger skis) which is why I mentioned it earlier.

But something like the Country Crown, for example, would be a lot easier to manage, while still offering a significant improvement in terms of control. It is a tricky thing with regards to skiing on regular cross country skis. Too much sidecut, width or weight and you can't control the thing with those flimsy boots. But with totally straight skis (like you have) nothing happens when you put the ski on edge. You can't easily initiate a turn -- everything is step turn (unless you want to do and old school Telemark).  I've gone from a totally straight ski to one with decent sidecut and loved it. For what its worth my wife did the same thing, and had the same experience. That is probably the cheapest, fastest way to improve your ability to handle a road, as it would not require new boots.
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nordique
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PostWed Dec 11, 2019 5:18 pm 
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Wow, 550 miles of track skiing, in one winter!  I didn't start skiing until I could afford it, and that unfortunately wasn't until after I'd had my right tibia shattered into more pieces than could be counted--from knee to ankle.  After the surgery, I was told that if I broke that tibia again, it would never knit and I'd need amputation.  So I took up nordic skiing and, soon, nordic ski racing, first in New England, then in the Canadian Rockies for two winters (200 ski days in two years). In the Canadian Rockies, I began riding the lifts, to try downhill on very skinny skis.  In that forgiving snow, I was able to mimic what downhill skiers were doing, though more slowly.  When I moved to Seattle, in the 1970's, I competed in mass start and ski association racing, and had good luck in getting some good placings.  When I started working at UW, I went looking for books in the UW library on skiing--and found a cache of books on skiing, from the 1930's to 1950's--just like the skiing I was doing.  I eventually fell in with a group of nordic skiers who, in  the late 1970's were reviving the telemark turn.  I remember Steve Barnett suggesting that I teach him how to nordic ski while he'd teach me telemark.  On our very light gear, we did many runs up to and down Muir, many days at ski areas, as well as day trips up and down the Sulphide Glacier on Shuksan and up to Steamboat Prow on Mt Rainier.  We also staged telemark parties at Stevens Pass after the area  shut down in the spring.  SO much fun!  Some of us also competed in telemark slalom competitions, in Washington, Oregon, and BC.  Photos from those days here:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/nordique/collections/72157594587372706/
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Randito
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PostWed Dec 11, 2019 5:51 pm 
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^ Cool Photos!
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Cyclopath
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PostWed Dec 11, 2019 10:28 pm 
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RandyHiker wrote:
A route, I've enjoyed is looping Lake Keechelus, Unfortunately it does involve a little bit of road walking between the Hyak sno-park and the Gold Creek sno-park and then between where NF-4832 intersects the Kachess Lake road and Crystal Springs.     Road NF-4832 is groomed for snowmobiles, so kick and glide along that works pretty well.   I've usually done this route on New Years day to minimize interaction with snowmobiles. 

I haven't done the route since the new wild life bridge has been constructed -- but it is my understanding that the WSDOT and the WDFW do not want humans to use this bridge so that wildlife will not be intimidated by the presence of humans -- so I'll avoid the temptation to ski over the bridge and minimize the road walking.

I've done the route both clockwise and counter clockwise -- clockwise is my preference.   Road NF-4832 descends steeply towards the Gold Creek sno-park and after 16+ miles of skiing, skiing down that section with "rubber legs" was a little too exciting on 44mm skis.  Also better to get the snowmobile section over early in the morning.

This sounds like a fantastic loop!  Are randonee boots ok to walk in, or do you bring shoes?

I did the MCT from Mazama to Winthrop, there are a few places you have to take your skis off and run across 20.  It's worth it for a good day on the trail.
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Randito
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PostWed Dec 11, 2019 11:36 pm 
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Cyclopath wrote:
Are randonee boots ok to walk in, or do you bring shoes?

Randonee Race boots walk pretty well, far better than more typical AT boots. 

But this route is all on groomed snow.   So I do it on classic XC ski gear.   

The Patrol Route from Snoqualmie to Stampede pass roughly along the PCT is a good route for a randonee race setup.

The traverse from Swauk Pass to old Blewett Pass is another.
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Cyclopath
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PostThu Dec 12, 2019 10:04 am 
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nordique wrote:
Wow, 550 miles of track skiing, in one winter!  I didn't start skiing until I could afford it, and that unfortunately wasn't until after I'd had my right tibia shattered into more pieces than could be counted--from knee to ankle.  After the surgery, I was told that if I broke that tibia again, it would never knit and I'd need amputation.  So I took up nordic skiing and, soon, nordic ski racing, first in New England, then in the Canadian Rockies for two winters (200 ski days in two years). In the Canadian Rockies, I began riding the lifts, to try downhill on very skinny skis.  In that forgiving snow, I was able to mimic what downhill skiers were doing, though more slowly.  When I moved to Seattle, in the 1970's, I competed in mass start and ski association racing, and had good luck in getting some good placings.  When I started working at UW, I went looking for books in the UW library on skiing--and found a cache of books on skiing, from the 1930's to 1950's--just like the skiing I was doing.  I eventually fell in with a group of nordic skiers who, in  the late 1970's were reviving the telemark turn.  I remember Steve Barnett suggesting that I teach him how to nordic ski while he'd teach me telemark.  On our very light gear, we did many runs up to and down Muir, many days at ski areas, as well as day trips up and down the Sulphide Glacier on Shuksan and up to Steamboat Prow on Mt Rainier.  We also staged telemark parties at Stevens Pass after the area  shut down in the spring.  SO much fun!  Some of us also competed in telemark slalom competitions, in Washington, Oregon, and BC.  Photos from those days here:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/nordique/collections/72157594587372706/

I enjoyed the photos a lot, thanks for sharing them.

How dangerous is it to ski on a glacier?  I'm guessing less than climbing, if you do it in the winter when the snow bridges are ten feet think and much stronger, and you're distributing your weight over the whole ski?

It looks like some of the people in your parties too some daring descents though!
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Cyclopath
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PostThu Dec 12, 2019 10:12 am 
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This is probably a question for my podiatrist, but maybe someone in here has some insight.  It looks like randonee gear has you pivot your entire foot around the tip of the boot, vs Nordic pivoting under the ball of your foot like when you walk.

Any thoughts on which will put less stressed on my peronarus brevis tendons?  l injured them last summer, I'm shocked I'm not 100% better by now, the doctor said it could take up to a year, and that you heal more slowly when you're not 20 or even 30 anymore.  ("Time wounds all heels" as Heinlein put it.)

The skinny skis and SNS boots didn't hurt me last weekend, and turning and slowing out your weight on the inside of your feet which is lucky for me.

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Randito
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PostThu Dec 12, 2019 10:58 am 
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IDK, that is certainly a question for your foot doctor.   

I do know that the fitting process of plastic telemark boots is more involved than it is for Alpine/Randonee boots -- the flex zone for the metatarsals is something that boot fitters sometimes have to take extra steps to get a comfortable fit.

Glacier skiing isn't without risk of a crevasse fall. 

The fatality cases I know of involved skiers jonesing for turns during the October/November/December time frame and skied on a glacier with recent snow fall -- that covered and hid crevasses, but not strongly enough to support their weight.

Once the glacier has received enough snow to fill in the crevasses and/or strongly bridge the crevasses there is less risk.   So February->June are favorable times for travel.

A typical protocol on an active glacier is to ascend roped up and descend unroped along the ascent route. 

On more static glaciers many folks (including myself) will ascend and descend unroped -- and usually dispense with carrying the extra weight of crevasse rescue gear -- at least on glaciers that I have already skied multiple times and are very familiar with their crevasse fields from observing the glacier in late fall conditions.

The Sulphide glacier doesn't fit into that category for me -- it is larger and more active and I haven't visited it enough to become complacent.
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