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(Anonymous)
January 28, 2003
Reached Bear Rocks on 1-26 using alpine touring gear. Although there was little snow along Jordan Run Road, rapidly accumulating snow drifts (and underlying ice layer) prevented my 4WD w/chains from driving more than a third of the way up the FSR. Used climbing skins to ascend to Bear Rocks in about two hours. Massive drifts, many easily 20 feet deep, on top the plateau; other spots windswept to bare ground. Previous ascent during MLK weekend was very similar. Starting on the FSR just a bit above Laneville (with just a couple inches of snow), skinned up to the Picnic Area where 6 foot drifts were common, and then beyond to the scenic overlook, ascent taking about 3 hours. Lock the bindings down and cruise back in 45 minutes! Randonee rules.
JohnL
January 28, 2003
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,516 posts
Dumb question. How does alpine touring gear differ from a) standard alpine gear and from b) tele gear?
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
January 29, 2003
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,922 posts
A Randonee (Alpine Touring) binding looks and acts a lot more like an Alpine ski binding on the downhill. You can lock the heel down on descents, making it easier to ski than a freeheel tele ski. However, on uphill ascents, you can release the heel--making it more like a tele or nordic ski. An Alpine Touring boot is also softer and more suitable for freeheel action than a downhill boot, but not as flexible as a tele boot.

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.

JohnL
January 29, 2003
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,516 posts
Thanks John. Once the heels are locked in, how similar is the skiing technique to that used in off-piste skiing with standard alpine equipment?
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
January 29, 2003
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,922 posts
I've never skied Randonee but an article in Ski Canada says it is nearly the same technique. The article claims that Randonee is the easiest way for traditional Alpine skiers to gain access to the backcountry.

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).]

(Anonymous)
January 29, 2003
ok, I'll add some additional randonee thoughts. First, alpine touring rigs are indeed a bit overkill for WVA. They are more suitable for ski mountaineering (think Alaska, Alps, etc.) and are considerably more expensive than tele rigs. On the other hand, I can tour and do lift serviced skiing with the same toys. Don't beleive that this setup is heavy and cumbersome, it is equal to or lighter than a lot of downhill gear, and skinning uphill is not a heinous slog.
Climbing skins are a crucial component, and allow the skier to climb up(for example) ANY terrain feature you would find on resort slopes. Randonee is french for "can't telemark"!!
JimK - DCSki Columnist
January 29, 2003
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,715 posts
I find this discussion real interesting. (Johnfmh, a tutorial on the range of skiing techniques sounds like a good story idea, or have you already done something on it that I missed?) I'm fairly capable at normal downhill and cross country, but have never tried telemark. Sounds like Randonee would be the one for me if I ever wanted to combine my downhill and x-country habits into one toy.
Gerard: I assume a randonee ski is quite similar to a regular downhill ski in size, dimensions, edges? Does it also have a smooth bottom, i.e. no fish scales? Hence, the need for skins? Are modern skins made of synthetic material and are they easy to use and pack away? With regards to the softer randonee boot, did I see something recently that indicated certain regular downhill boots are going in that direction??
(Anonymous)
January 30, 2003
Randonee(=alpine touring=AT)bindings can be mounted to "downhill" skis but perhaps a bit lighter, wider ski, e.g. a touring ski(NOT a cross-country ski or skinny ski) or even a telemark ski is desireable, all would have metal edges; these skis would never have fish scales, they are flat. Skins are critical and are fairly easy to use, typically a synthetic material; skins have an adhesive that sticks to the ski (no effect on wax or base) but allows the user to put on/take off the skins maybe hundreds of times. Skins are flexible and fold away, carried easily. Touring boots are mostly plastic ski double boots (most big leather or plastic mountaineering boots also fit the binding)that compromise between the rigid support you want for descents vs. touring comfort. Rob a bank to get set up.....skins=$100, bindings=$250, boots=$250, skis=?
JohnL
January 31, 2003
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,516 posts
Unfortunately, I'm an experienced bank robber. All the sports I love seem to be very gear intensive.
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