Forum
Buying gear? Please use these links to help 14ers.com:

More info...

Other ways to help...

Touring in Alpine Boots

Info, conditions and gear related to skiing or riding Colorado Peaks, including the 14ers! Ski/Ride Trip Reports
User avatar
Posts: 763
Joined: Tue Dec 12, 2006 2:17 pm
Location: crested butte

Re: Touring in Alpine Boots

Postby gb » Sun Jan 03, 2010 6:36 pm

TomPierce wrote:
But as to the genesis of your post, there's a simple problem that can't be denied. Even the lightest AT set-up (I'll use mine only as an example) is going to be shy of 17 pounds or so. Heck, call it 15. Snowshoes? Mine are Tubbs Mountaineers. Beefy 25" tanks that I love. They have an aggressive claw and heel risers; there's no way anyone would call them featherweight. How much do they weigh? 2 lbs. 5 oz. for each, 4lbs. 10 oz for the pair. Given the excess weight on your feet with AT gear, that probably explains the difference in uphill performance vs. much lighter snowshoes. Hard to stay even going uphill with such a disadvantage.


rando racers' gear is a whole lot lighter than that- a bit over 3lbs (pair) for the skis, a bit under 4lbs (pair) for the boots, just over 1lb (pair) for the bindings, and skins aren't much on the tiny short skis those guys use.

As for more normal AT gear, yes, it is true that it weighs more than snowshoes and hiking boots. However, a key element of skinning is that you rarely lift that weight- it's all about the stride and the glide. Anyone with good skin technique will leave their skis on the ground the whole time except for switchbacks. And the stride on flat ground is much longer than that of a snowshoer. To make an analogy, would you rather pull 4 cinder blocks on a sled over snow, or lift 2 cinder blocks up and down over the same ground? I'd rather pull the sled. Given all the inefficiencies of snowshoes, I have a hard time imagining a snowshoer even remotely keeping up with an experienced skinner. Skis have been around for at least 10,000 years as a mode of winter transportation for good reason. Snowshoers certainly couldn't keep up with skiers at 24 hours of sunlight, even disregarding the downhills.


As for the original question, the weight of alpine boots is an issue, but there are a number of other areas where AT boots are vastly superior. The vibram sole is a huge help on rocky terrain (and for riding snowmobiles for access.) The walk mode is a huge deal for getting a good stride, like I talked about above. Even more important with the walk mode is the ankle dexterity that you can't get with alpine boots- which is important for technical ascents and cramponing snow- the forward lean inherent in alpine boots is tough to deal with on an extended snow climb.

That said, keep in mind that Sean Crossen skied all the 14ers except Capitol with not just alpine boots but also alpine trekkers and atomic alpine bindings, which are really heavy. I stuck with a similar set-up for a long time waiting for an AT boot that I liked before all the newer, stiffer AT boots came out in the last few years. It's tough, but they sure do ski nice on the way down :D

Re: Touring in Alpine Boots

Postby Nelson » Sun Jan 03, 2010 6:41 pm

Hi Guys,

You are on a very important subject and the discussion is very good.

When you buy AT gear you have to make a trade off between weight and skiing performance. When I first began tour I went with Alpine boots heavy fritschis and skis because I wanted to be sure I could ski the steep and gnarly things you have to ski while mountaineering. As I really got into touring I came to realize that you spend the vast majority of your time going uphill and you actually can ski very well in light boots. The weight difference is unbelievable. With a light set up you will do twice as much as with Alpine boots. In situations where you have to mix climb (ice and rock) good AT boots make the difference between doing something or turning around. My buddies say (and I have heard this before) "1 lbs. on the foot is like 5 on the back.

Now I have the following set up:

Goode Skis: 3.8 lbs.
dynafit bindings 1.2 lbs.
Scarpa F1 boots less than 6 lbs.
Total less than 11 lbs.

Skiing in the light boots is different and you have to get use to it but I have regularly been on 50 degree slopes and I can make it work.

Once you start to lighten up I guarantee you will never go back. I speak from experience.

Nelson

User avatar
Posts: 790
Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2008 6:07 pm
Location: The High Country

Re: Touring in Alpine Boots

Postby RoanMtnMan » Mon Jan 04, 2010 12:52 am

gb wrote:
rando racers' gear is a whole lot lighter than that- a bit over 3lbs (pair) for the skis, a bit under 4lbs (pair) for the boots, just over 1lb (pair) for the bindings, and skins aren't much on the tiny short skis those guys use.

As for more normal AT gear, yes, it is true that it weighs more than snowshoes and hiking boots. However, a key element of skinning is that you rarely lift that weight- it's all about the stride and the glide. Anyone with good skin technique will leave their skis on the ground the whole time except for switchbacks. And the stride on flat ground is much longer than that of a snowshoer. To make an analogy, would you rather pull 4 cinder blocks on a sled over snow, or lift 2 cinder blocks up and down over the same ground? I'd rather pull the sled. Given all the inefficiencies of snowshoes, I have a hard time imagining a snowshoer even remotely keeping up with an experienced skinner. Skis have been around for at least 10,000 years as a mode of winter transportation for good reason. Snowshoers certainly couldn't keep up with skiers at 24 hours of sunlight, even disregarding the downhills.


As for the original question, the weight of alpine boots is an issue, but there are a number of other areas where AT boots are vastly superior. The vibram sole is a huge help on rocky terrain (and for riding snowmobiles for access.) The walk mode is a huge deal for getting a good stride, like I talked about above. Even more important with the walk mode is the ankle dexterity that you can't get with alpine boots- which is important for technical ascents and cramponing snow- the forward lean inherent in alpine boots is tough to deal with on an extended snow climb.

That said, keep in mind that Sean Crossen skied all the 14ers except Capitol with not just alpine boots but also alpine trekkers and atomic alpine bindings, which are really heavy. I stuck with a similar set-up for a long time waiting for an AT boot that I liked before all the newer, stiffer AT boots came out in the last few years. It's tough, but they sure do ski nice on the way down :D


+1 on gb's post, just well stated. Notes: not very many people have good skinning technique, it sounds easier than it is (clomp clomp is not a good sound). I can honestly say that I rarely see it performed in a totally efficient manner, from myself or others. However when you get it, you really move.

Additionally, I know several folks who tour a lot with alpine boots (because they are anal ex-ski racers) and have few issues on the up. If you want maximum performance on the up, pay for it. If you don't want to shell out the bucks or give up a small amount of downhill performance, then deal with the weight. But whatever you do, don't degenerate to snowshoes.
Always follow the 7 P's. Proper Planning & Preparation, Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.

"An adventure is misery and discomfort, relived in the safety of reminiscence.” --Marco Polo

www.CalebWrayPhotography.com

User avatar
Posts: 1544
Joined: Wed Jun 13, 2007 6:33 pm
Location: Arvada, CO

Re: Touring in Alpine Boots

Postby coloradokevin » Mon Jan 04, 2010 3:12 am

I'm glad to see how many different ideas are being thrown around in this thread, particularly since there is such a broad range of equipment available for AT skiing these days. Some of this stuff really looks as beefy as anything you'd ever see at any resort, while other kits are built to minimalist standards for the travelers who really like to rack up the miles.

I think that, at least in theory, we are all probably seeking the 'Holy Grail' of skiing equipment: Lightweight flexible boots that let us fly up the mountain with ease, which in turn then lock down with a rigidity of race boots for a screaming good time on the descent. Unfortunately, reality seems to bring a lot of compromise. As such, my little experiment in frugality has currently provided me with a resort-style ski setup for the descent, at the cost of a great deal of expended energy on the climbs. As this thread would suggest, I don't believe that I'd like to continue using this extremely heavy equipment in the backcountry for very much longer.

If I take an honest look at my skiing style, I believe that I would probably find the most benefit in an extremely lightweight setup. For starters, while I do consider myself to be a reasonably competent skier, I also don't see myself shooting down 50 degree couloirs on skis; nor will I be jumping off any kind of significant cliff, at least not intentionally. For resort days I normally find myself happily skiing on Blue or Black terrain, and I only rarely ski the double-diamond lines. I don't believe that I have any need for a DIN setting range of 75-200, as I typically ski without pre-release issues with my DIN dialed between a 6 and 7 (surely that doesn't sound manly enough in today's world, but my skis stay on my feet when they should, and come off when they should).

In a backcountry setting I could picture myself happily skiing peaks like Quandary or Elbert, but you couldn't pay me enough to try dropping in on one the 'Bells with a set of skis! On the other hand, I generally like to travel far into the backcountry, and would like to be able to ski terrain similar to my resort-based blues/blacks while out in the wilderness.

Once again, while my current setup would allow for any of the downhill skiing I wish to do, the weight penalty is keeping me from reaching some more distant destinations. But, having never skied with a truly lightweight rando boot (Scarpa F1 or F3, Dynafit Zzero's, et al), I can't honestly say if I would be disappointed by their alleged lack of support when compared with other beefier (and heavier) AT boots.

User avatar
Posts: 193
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2009 4:33 am
Location: Co. Springs

Re: Touring in Alpine Boots

Postby pnolans » Mon Jan 04, 2010 6:23 am

RoanMtnMan wrote: ....
Notes: not very many people have good skinning technique, it sounds easier than it is (clomp clomp is not a good sound). I can honestly say that I rarely see it performed in a totally efficient manner, from myself or others. However when you get it, you really move.


I've done some skinning just once, a few years ago..... isn't it just the basically xc skiiing techinque? That's what I did when I tried it, and it seemed to
work fine.
"Hey Queen Isabella,
stay away from that fella
He'll just get you into trouble, you know"
Common Sense John Prine

User avatar
Posts: 600
Joined: Tue May 08, 2007 4:06 pm
Location: Galt's Gulch

Re: Touring in Alpine Boots

Postby Ken Gross » Mon Jan 04, 2010 8:24 am

pnolans wrote:
RoanMtnMan wrote: ....
Notes: not very many people have good skinning technique, it sounds easier than it is (clomp clomp is not a good sound). I can honestly say that I rarely see it performed in a totally efficient manner, from myself or others. However when you get it, you really move.


I've done some skinning just once, a few years ago..... isn't it just the basically xc skiiing techinque? That's what I did when I tried it, and it seemed to
work fine.


+1, not that hard to skin efficiently, just takes a little practice. I have been out with a few never-evers and it seems that those with Nordic experience pick it up quickly. And those without tend to lift their skis more initially. The observant who want to keep up, usually emulate the more experienced pretty quick regardless of their background.

IMO one of the better compromise boots for light weight, efficiency, and decent skiing performance is the Dynafit Zzero Boot. Paired up with Dynafit bindings mounted on a semi-light ski around 84-97mm at the waist, and you have a setup that will do most anything reasonably well.
"Democracy is 2 wolves and a lamb discussing what's for dinner. Liberty is a well armed lamb willing to contest the majority decision." Benjamin Franklin 1755

User avatar
Posts: 763
Joined: Tue Dec 12, 2006 2:17 pm
Location: crested butte

Re: Touring in Alpine Boots

Postby gb » Mon Jan 04, 2010 9:22 am

I think I had bad technique for a long time. then again, I probably spent the first 5 years on trekkers and alpine boots and another 5 in fritchis and alpine boots, both set-ups probably lead to bad technique. Even now I find it hard when I'm on my Dukes (not my normal set-up). good entry on the subject: http://straightchuter.com/2009/01/death-by-a-thousand-missteps/

User avatar
Posts: 193
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2009 4:33 am
Location: Co. Springs

Re: Touring in Alpine Boots

Postby pnolans » Mon Jan 04, 2010 9:39 am

Ken Gross wrote:
pnolans wrote:
RoanMtnMan wrote: ....
Notes: not very many people have good skinning technique, it sounds easier than it is (clomp clomp is not a good sound). I can honestly say that I rarely see it performed in a totally efficient manner, from myself or others. However when you get it, you really move.


I've done some skinning just once, a few years ago..... isn't it just the basically xc skiiing techinque? That's what I did when I tried it, and it seemed to
work fine.


+1, not that hard to skin efficiently, just takes a little practice. I have been out with a few never-evers and it seems that those with Nordic experience pick it up quickly. And those without tend to lift their skis more initially. The observant who want to keep up, usually emulate the more experienced pretty quick regardless of their background.

IMO one of the better compromise boots for light weight, efficiency, and decent skiing performance is the Dynafit Zzero Boot. Paired up with Dynafit bindings mounted on a semi-light ski around 84-97mm at the waist, and you have a setup that will do most anything reasonably well.


I'll have to take a look at these. I really want to get into AT .
"Hey Queen Isabella,
stay away from that fella
He'll just get you into trouble, you know"
Common Sense John Prine

User avatar
Posts: 1856
Joined: Sun May 20, 2007 8:30 pm
Location: Golden

Re: Touring in Alpine Boots

Postby Carl » Mon Jan 04, 2010 9:55 am

Sorry if this has been covered...make sure you buy a Dynafit compatible boot.

lordhelmut wrote:And yes, it is night and day, my Endorphins are a lot lighter, more comfortable and have vibram soles, which more or less saved my life on Snowmass last season, or atleast made climbing on exposed rock a lot easier. Anyways, goodluck finding what you want.


Things brings up a good point. AT boots make skinning more enjoyable. AT boots make hiking/climbing a whole lot more feasible, manageable, and safer. Your average day of backcountry skiing may just involve skinning, but skiing peaks (14ers, 13ers, etc) is often going to start with some hiking. Skiiing Snowmass with Lordhelmut began with a 4 mile hike and ended with a scramble. Couldn't have imagined that with alpine boots. Hell of a trip btw Brian, among the most memorable.

User avatar
Posts: 1544
Joined: Wed Jun 13, 2007 6:33 pm
Location: Arvada, CO

Re: Touring in Alpine Boots

Postby coloradokevin » Mon Jan 04, 2010 11:38 am

Wesley wrote:Sorry if this has been covered...make sure you buy a Dynafit compatible boot.


Dynafit compatibility was already one of my purchase criteria, and I don't even own a Dynafit binding yet... The Dynafit bindings just looks so lightweight and efficient that I don't think I couldn't eventually try them (though I do hear that they are trickier to use).

User avatar
Posts: 244
Joined: Tue Dec 25, 2007 7:32 pm
Location: Monument, CO

Re: Touring in Alpine Boots

Postby bckcntryskr » Mon Jan 04, 2010 1:29 pm

I like to ski the "gnarlier" lines. I have tried "lightweight" gear and the performance is to "noodely" for my taste. My current setup is about 20 #'s.

If you want the performance on the downhill and still have to "slog" through a long approach, try Kicker skins. They weigh about 10 ounces and with proper technique, you will feel like you are floating up the grade. Just to be clear, I usually carry a full set of skins for when it gets steep. Kickers do not do the steeps. They are however perfect for long jeep road approaches.

I have hade success with kick wax as well on typical jeep road approaches, making for very efficient strides. There is a wide range of waxes to choose from. There are temprature, moisture and aging considerations to account for, when applying kick wax. I have found that kick wax does cause a "dragging" feeling on the downhill performance.
Did I mention that "I hate postholing"

User avatar
Posts: 790
Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2008 6:07 pm
Location: The High Country

Re: Touring in Alpine Boots

Postby RoanMtnMan » Mon Jan 04, 2010 3:21 pm

gb wrote:I think I had bad technique for a long time. then again, I probably spent the first 5 years on trekkers and alpine boots and another 5 in fritchis and alpine boots, both set-ups probably lead to bad technique. Even now I find it hard when I'm on my Dukes (not my normal set-up). good entry on the subject: http://straightchuter.com/2009/01/death-by-a-thousand-missteps/


Who is this Andrew McLean guy? Is he qualified to assess this sort of thing? :lol:

After my first few days on skins, I thought it was easy and I had pretty much mastered it. Now I laugh at my naivety. After being out with true professionals, like mountain guides and people that ski mountaineer for a living, I have learned I was analogous to the person that skis a black diamond at a resort and thinks they are an expert skier. I mean there are people out there that think about things like this:

http://straightchuter.com/2009/12/skinning-over-timber/#comments
Always follow the 7 P's. Proper Planning & Preparation, Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.

"An adventure is misery and discomfort, relived in the safety of reminiscence.” --Marco Polo

www.CalebWrayPhotography.com

PreviousNext

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests