Randonee is very popular in Europe for accessing off piste terrain. These skies are great for ridge crossing and other ascents that are not too steep.
Telemark skiing, as Mitch and some of the others who do it will attest, takes time to learn and perfect. The advantage of telemark is that it is closer to Nordic skiing (lighter boots, and skis) and therefore easier to get around on flat and uphill surfaces. Between Telemark and Nordic skis are so-called backcountry Nordic (wide Nordic skis with full metal edges). With backcountry Nordic, you get more stopping power on a traditional snow plow turn or if you know how to do it, you can execute a tele turn.
If you are looking to get into any of these disciplines, head out to White Grass and demo different equipment. In my opinion, Randonee is overkill for WV, but people do it. Randonee is more for someone interested in accessing back country terrain far away from a main ski area in the West or the Alps. The skis seems best suited for flat and downhill. Going uphill (using climbing skins) with heavy Randonee gear looks like hard work.
PS I found this definition on a learning site
"On radical terrain and demanding snow conditions lightweight nordic equipment becomes very difficult to use effectively. The additional support of alpine touring equipment can allow skiers to enjoy descents that would otherwise be too difficult. The first day's objective will be to adapt your alpine skiing technique to conditions we encounter in the backcountry. We'll also cover the use of climbing skins and skiing in the trees. Our goal for the second day will be to climb and ski one of the open slide tracks in the 'High Peaks'. This course is for advanced skiers who can comfortably ski 'most difficult' trails at an alpine (downhill) ski area."
[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 01-29-2003).]