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Alpine Touring in the East?

Alpine Touring in the East?

Alpine Touring in the east? Get your head straight J, it's not a thing. Or is it...

What are we talking about

Alpine and Nordic skiing both have a sub discipline called touring. Backcountry or side country refers to where we are skiing and touring refers to how we get there. Backcountry skiing can be accessed via lifts while ski touring gains us access to backcountry to find off the beaten freshie and adventure. 

1“Ski touring combines elements of Nordic and alpine skiing and embraces such sub-disciplines as Telemark and randonnée. A defining characteristic is that the skier's heels are "free" – i.e. not bound to the skis – in order to allow a natural gliding motion while traversing and ascending terrain which may range from perfectly flat to extremely steep.”

 

Where does this happen

Typically this sport is done in large mountainous terrain. Here in Canada, the Rockies attract Alpinists and Mountaineers. Deep powder, flowing snow, powder face shots, and steep descents in untouched frozen glory are what some of us dream of. So you’re not in the Rockies? Fortunately for us in Ontario, we have great terrain that lends itself to the same feeling, yet shorter and less snow to what the Rockies have to offer. Do we let our lack of elevation and depth of powder extinguish our need for adventure, heck no. We venture beyond the busy lift lines, the exorbitant cost of lift tickets, and the pinball wizard feeling descents to enjoy our backyard with a few good friends. 

 

Why??

Ok, I get it, why would you spend time, effort and money on touring gear in Ontario? Isn’t this a waste? I get the same question from customers and staff alike. Here’s a few good reasons for Alpine or Nordic Ski Touring:

 

  1. Fitness! Yes, touring is not easy. Similar to snowshoeing or hiking, Ski Touring helps keep you active. Some don’t like gyms or prefer to mix up the fitness regime with outdoor activities.
  2. Adventure. Ski Touring gains you access to areas that are inaccessible in other seasons. Explore more of where you live.
  3. Being with friends. Like chairlift conversations, touring gives you a lengthier opportunity to chat and build memories over various terrain challenges. 
  4. Preparing for a bigger challenge. Just because we live in Ontario doesn’t mean we don’t travel. Many folks who tour in Ontario are simply getting themselves ready for a trip to bigger terrain. Being familiar with your gear, the ins and outs of setting up your skis, boots, and even clothing layers is critical if you want to enjoy your time in big mountains. Being prepared will reduce anxiety, increase confidence, and enhance the experience.



J's Gear pick

For Ontario, I prefer a setup that I can use both for touring and for straight on Alpine Skiing on resort. Instead of adding yet another ski to my quiver, I’ve opted for a slick combination that is far more comfortable and versatile than a dedicated tour ski. 

Alpine ski touring specific skis are amazing for the climb. Lightweight, nimble, and fast. Riding this same ski on tightpacked corduroy can be a challenge. Skis constructed to be light for touring are not ideal for resort skiing where heavier construction and stiff reinforcement material are key to holding edge and loading the skis. Typically touring skis are also much wider than what we’d be riding while on piste. 

Touring bindings, ‘tech’ bindings are also lighter and have different attachment mechanisms than your typical Alpine frame binding. Personally I’m not going to hammer down hard packed groomers with a tech binding. I feel more comfortable with a traditional frame binding. 

So here’s the million dollar question, what setup can do both Alpine Ski Touring and Alpine skiing with confidence? 

 

Here’s my Ski Touring & Resort setup:

Ski: Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition

Binding: Tyrolia Ambition 12 AT Ski Bindings

Skins: G3 Escapist

Poles: Elan Tour Carbon Rod

Boots: K2 Mindbender 130

Backpack: Dakine Mission Pro 25L

 

The Ripstick 96 Black edition gives the lightweight versatility for the climbs that my legs appreciate but have plenty of stiffness to shred groomers. Using carbon rods, Elan has perfected the ratio of weight and versatility. Matching the Ripstick 96 with a frame ski binding that doubles as a tour binding provides confidence for speed and pop while allowing the heel to disengage for efficient climbing. Pairing this combo with the K2 Mindbender 130 boot gives the option for walk mode, comfort for days, and stiffness to control. This trifecta completes everything I need for resort skiing, however adding the items below completes the package for Alpine Touring. 

G3 Escapist skins custom cut to my skis, comes with everything you need to set up and enjoy touring with skins. The Elan poles are super lightweight and durable. They have extended grips so you’ve got many hand positions for off camber hiking. Keeping all my gear on my back with comfort and ease of access is the Dakine Mission Pro 25L. This pack has all the storage I need to enjoy my day in the trees. 

 

Come by the shop and have a chat with us about Alpine and Nordic Ski Touring! We’d love to hear about your adventures or dreams of future adventures. 

 

Keep the tips up. Happy touring, 

J

 

Photo Cred: Elan Sports

1. Wikipedia contributors. (2022, October 12). Ski touring. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 00:52, December 6, 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ski_touring&oldid=1115631290

2. Wikipedia contributors. (2022, November 6). Ski binding. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 00:53, December 6, 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ski_binding&oldid=1120249878

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