Front Range Cross Country Skiing

Info on gear, conditioning, and preparation for hiking/climbing.
Ross M G
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Front Range Cross Country Skiing

Postby Ross M G » Wed Oct 09, 2013 12:20 pm

I want to take up cross country skiing this winter and I'm trying to figure out what sort of skis I should get. I'm not looking to do any big alpine stuff or 14ers; mostly just light touring on local hiking trails. I know most of the resorts require skinny skis that fit into their groomed tracks. That's kind of boring though. I'm hoping there are enough trails on the Front Range that are skiable that some fatter, metal-edged skis make sense.

Does anyone have suggestions on a light touring set up? Recommendations for which trails are fun to ski? I've heard people ski on top of North Table. What about Centennial Cone or Matthew Winters (the flatter trails)? Does JeffCo and other local areas have any restrictions on skiing in their parks? I looked but couldn't find anything.

Thanks for any suggestions!
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madbuck
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Re: Front Range Cross Country Skiing

Postby madbuck » Wed Oct 09, 2013 12:41 pm

This type of bushwhacking skiing is my favourite type of skiing. I do not know of any hiking trails that specifically prohibit skiing, other than some intentionally-signed "snowshoe" vs. "ski" trails in popular winter-use areas (e.g. Eldora, Happy Jack)

I've been happy with Fischer Outtabounds Crowns (waxless), Rossignol ski touring boots, and Voile 3-pin bindings. Regarding the latter, I've had great service with Voile in getting bindings fixed through normal use after 6 years, and it allows for beefier plastic boots for occasional turns.

That setup is kind of the jack-of-much skiing, and master-of-none: slower and less-efficient than skinnier skis on packed snow, and less stable than fatter skis going downhill. But as a quiver-of-one, I've skied to work in it on the roads, and down Quandary, taking them to resorts on occasion. In between, though, is skiing on rolling trails. RMNP is great. Higher elevations (>8k feet) are still better, with better quality snow as well.
Yeah, lower, closer trails work on a few days every year, but the snow either comes down wet and sticky or quickly gets that way the next day, so you gotta be quick and possibly head out while it's still snowing. Have fun!
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rickinco123
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Re: Front Range Cross Country Skiing

Postby rickinco123 » Wed Oct 09, 2013 12:43 pm

I would say waxless base and metal edges are primarily what you should look for.

Check out Gold Gate Canyon State Park. Camp Hale is awesome if you up for a drive.
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beerhiker
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Re: Front Range Cross Country Skiing

Postby beerhiker » Wed Oct 09, 2013 1:38 pm

Im very interested in this also, I do a lot of snowshoeing and the skiers go much faster and can get deeper into backcountry. I do stuff like Brainerd, Peaceful Valley, RMNP, mellow stuff, not looking for steep gotta make turns type of terrain.
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Kruck
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Re: Front Range Cross Country Skiing

Postby Kruck » Thu Oct 10, 2013 8:03 am

Madbuck has a nice pair of skis. Almost anything out of the Fischer "S-bound" series skis well, but they are fatter in the tip than you want if you EVER want to ski anywhere groomed with a quiver of one. That said, S-bound skis pretty much dominate other skinny skis when trail breaking and gradual turning. They are the last stop before getting into the XC fat class like Rossi 110, 125, or big Alpinas.

A great starting point for getting to know yourself on backcountry trails while still keeping the ability to ski groomed places is the Rossi BC65. This ski has been around for awhile and it's pretty tested. Many rental XC fleets are composed of these. 3/4 metal edge, skinny enough for groomed, wide and maneuverable enough for ripping a little. The BC65 will easily get you all over at Brainard; to Lake Helene, sky pond, black lake, etc., at RMNP; and a wealth of other places. However, if you are the first one on the trail after a foot or more of fresh dumpage, be prepared to wallow. If you master a pair of BC65s you will know if you want to eventually move up or down into lighter, faster skis for commonly used trails or slower, beefier skis for exploring. Or, for those of us with the "sickness," both!

Quick breakdown:
BC65 et. al.: Eldora (groomed), Brainard, some RMNP; fast on flat; climb so-so; no steep; little fresh pow
S-Bound et. al: most RMNP, Brainard; medium in flat; some steep; climb good; some fresh pow
BC125 et. al.: all RMNP, places no one goes; agonizing in flat; steep OK; climb great; any fresh pow
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uwe
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Re: Front Range Cross Country Skiing

Postby uwe » Fri Oct 11, 2013 8:07 am

I always thought renting first, buying second was a good strategy.
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beerhiker
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Re: Front Range Cross Country Skiing

Postby beerhiker » Fri Oct 11, 2013 9:10 am

Great info Kruck.
Who rents these type of skis in Boulder, my guess is Neptune or REI?
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Kruck
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Re: Front Range Cross Country Skiing

Postby Kruck » Fri Oct 11, 2013 9:16 am

Rei, Neptune almost surely do. If you are in the Longmont area, and bike and hike still exists, check them out.
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madbuck
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Re: Front Range Cross Country Skiing

Postby madbuck » Fri Oct 11, 2013 9:44 am

Good summary above, Kruck.
Yeah, my wife has BC65's, and I also have a pair of 125's. Jax does some rentals as well.
At Eldora, Happy Jack, Mineral Belt Trail, et. al, I'll use the far edge of the groomed trail (or untracked/snowshoe side) rather than the tracks, and it's still a nice change of pace vs. breaking trail. Nowhere close to zipping around in spandex, but it's a nice way to enjoy all of the trails (groomed and ungroomed) before deciding if you want to commit to groomed/racing; downhill/powder (of which there are much better setups and expert suggestions in other threads); or stick to bushwhacking tours.
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SchralpTheGnar
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Re: Front Range Cross Country Skiing

Postby SchralpTheGnar » Fri Oct 11, 2013 9:58 am

Get some volkl katanas with marker dukes, you won't regret it
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HuskyRunner
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Re: Front Range Cross Country Skiing

Postby HuskyRunner » Fri Oct 11, 2013 2:24 pm

Check out these people: ORS Cross Country Skis http://www.orscrosscountryskisdirect.com/all-cross-country-skis-packages-sets.html, lots of good info on the site as well as some decent prices on packages you can use for comparison if nothing else.

We've given up our ski passes for on trail and off trail touring and skijoring with our pups. For the type of terrain we've been doing we have Fischer BCX boots, really warm and give us enough control for the stuff we do but still light enough for decent kick and glide.
Madshus Eon skis, think these are the old Karhu 10th skis that Madshus is now producing. Ski is really good for packed and unpacked rolling terrain and floats well in powder but it's way too light for the packed and choppy stuff even though it does have metal edges
Voille 3 pin cable (spring) bindings, for the terrain we typically do, again with dogs, we don't use the cables much but I would be inclined to step up to the Voile cartridge binding if I were buying new bindings.

This setup has worked well for us for several years, we break trail well, ski packed trails well (better than heavier tele setups and skinnier nordic setups) and gentle slopes with powder are a blast. If you're looking for steeper backcountry skiing I wouldn't suggest this setup though, you may be able to sample a little bit of that but it's no way near the best choice for that (we also have AT, alpine/resort setups, and nordic setups). Nice thing about this setup is it's light enough that we can cover up to 20 or so miles in a day and still beefy enough to handle some not so ideal conditions. After using a touring setup for the past 6 years I'll never go back to using snow shoes, skiing is so, so, so much nicer!
"I made up my mind not to care so much about the destination, and simply enjoy the journey." David Archuleta
"And if they get out there they see, son of a bitch, this is a beautiful planet." Jim Whittaker
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timstich
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Re: Front Range Cross Country Skiing

Postby timstich » Sun Oct 13, 2013 9:09 pm

My first pair of used cross country skis were something made my Elan and had an NNN binding. I later tried a two buckle tele boot that I again got used. That boot caused horrible blisters. Since then I have gotten a NNN BC boot made by Alpina and run Kharu 10th Mountain skis. That setup has been really nice for me. I also use kick skins as opposed to just relying on the fish scales. That lets me climb much steeper hills without problems and you can of course remove them on the way down.

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