A Short Ski Tour in the Upper Truckee Basin- Trip Report

Discussion about winter adventure sports in the Sierra Nevada mountains including but not limited to; winter backpacking and camping, mountaineering, downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, etc.
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Harlen
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Re: A Short Ski Tour in the Upper Truckee Basin- Trip Report

Post by Harlen » Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:04 am

Yes Davela and Phil, it really was wonderful to be back in there; however, I really was "quietly cursing my decision to take the downhill tele set-up- giant plastic boots, and short heavy BD skis with stiff Hammerhead bindings..."

I decided that this was the last time I will use such a heavy, uncomfortable set-up for anything other than up and back down BC ski slopes. I am now dead set on either buying into the "amazing world of AT gear," and spending the big pile of money to get there, or turning my sore back on downhill speed, and deciding that I am old enough to ski traverse, and boot down passes- passing on the thrill and exhilaration part of BC travel. Note that I do intend to embark on more multi-pass, ski-mountaineering trips, like the Sierra High Route. (and check out Maverick's topic "Sweet Ski Tour Kings Canyon" below in the "Similar Topics" section- I really want to do that trip:- Echo to Lamarck Col.)

I really don't know which way to go. As Paul says, I use the skis mainly to get into the mountains, not the other way around, but for a cool $1,000, I could lock down my heels, and have a blast on the downhills, and more stability and warmth. But I really wonder if the AT boots are all that much more comfortable than the big old plastic tele boots? Whereas, I am dead sure that my old leather boots feel great, and are suitable for lightweight 3 pin, or tele bindings??

Does anyone out there have ideas or opinions regarding this question of AT vs 3 pin/tele gear? I'd appreciate advice before I empty the boys college fund.
Last edited by Harlen on Sun Feb 10, 2019 1:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.








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paul
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Re: A Short Ski Tour in the Upper Truckee Basin- Trip Report

Post by paul » Sun Feb 10, 2019 10:35 am

I have thoughts, rather than opinions, since I have yet to put my feet in any of the light AT boots.
Firstly, I think skis are skis, and you can put any binding on any ski. My eye is only on the lightest metal-edged waxless skis, since they suit what I want to do. Drooling over Voile Objective BC's at the moment.
Secondly, I have heard from one guy I have toured with that the really light AT boots - as in the race or near-race sorts - do indeed have drastically increased range of motion at the ankle compared to any tele boot. Enough so that in his words, "I tried a super light verging-skimo AT boot at Alpenglow and was amazed by their walkability. Range of motion and enough rocker made you forget bellows."
So I am intrigued - but not yet intrigued enough to spend those big bucks, when in addition I would need new bindings as well.
The thing that I keep wondering about is how are they on the flats, and on the gentle uphills, without that bellows flex. My friend's comment above speaks directly to that.
Which is why I continue to search for a pair of Scarpa F1 Race boots in my size - so far to no avail. They are light (in their day the king of the skimo race podiums) AT boots with a bellows. I'd have to get tech bindings, but if I can find a pair of these for 2-300 then I can probably get used bindings and the whole bundle could be within reach.
The important point here is that it's not just a question of AT versus tele, it's a question of the very lightest AT boots versus tele. It's the innovations driven by the skimo race gear that have brought down the weight, and greatly increased the ankle range of motion and thus walkability (or in our case think mainly flat-tour-ability). So it's only the AT boots at the low end of the weight spectrum that are suitable. Unfortunately, these boots are at the top end of the price spectrum! So your cool 1K is not enough - that will just cover the boots - unless you can find used. Which you can if you wear a 26.5, 27 or 27.5 mondo. I am cursed with big feet, and 29 or 29.5 in these boots is practically mythical.

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Re: A Short Ski Tour in the Upper Truckee Basin- Trip Report

Post by paul » Sun Feb 10, 2019 10:50 am

I should add that there is tele gear and tele gear. What I am on now is the lightest plastic boots (Garmont Excursions, modified some and in the process of modding further), 3-pins with no cable, and the lightest metal edge skis I could find when I got them (Atomic Rainier - cross between a n XC ski and downhill). So I expect my gear is lighter and more flexible than what you have, while still being "tele", although most folks would not look at my skis and think tele skis, as they are not as clearly downhill oriented.
And, I am also tempted by going the other direction and switching to NNN-BC, getting the beefiest boots that fit those bindings, and dealing with the downhills as they come. After all, in terms of time it's probably 90% up and flat and mellow downhill on my tours, maybe even 95%. So I should be optimizing for that, right? The two limitations on that are that there are no plastic boots for those bindings, and I am so sold on the plastic boots and thermofit foam liners for multi-day trips; and the possible reliability issues with the bindings.
Too damn many options, and too little money or time to try them all out.

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Re: A Short Ski Tour in the Upper Truckee Basin- Trip Report

Post by Harlen » Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:04 pm

Thank you Paul. The points you bring up are exactly the things I need to consider carefully. Considering what you say about the expense of the right light AT boots, and the rest, I think I may try the next tour this winter with my lightweight set-up- the leather boots on 3 pins, mounted on the Karhu 160cm Lookout skis. I'll know a lot more after that. I'm glad you mentioned "going in the other direction" Paul. At least one friend went with NNNBC and good boots, and Lizzie and I use that gear for trips to Badger Ridge, Rock Creek, and in the Tahoe area- like this trip documented above, but we've never done a trip like your trans-Sierra with that gear. NNNBC bindings seem like they could break and become useless, whereas if the 3 pin bindings failed, I think I could wire and strap some sort of fix. Also, my lightweight NNNBC boots are cold, and have failed on me 3 times!
Thanks again, Ian.

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Re: A Short Ski Tour in the Upper Truckee Basin- Trip Report

Post by paul » Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:53 pm

I do wonder about the NNN-BC boot/binding reliability, but I have never really heard of a failure.
This site has a lot of discussion by guys who ski those boots pretty hard:
http://telemarktalk.com/index.php
On there' I have seen discussion of toe-bars developing some play, and old boots delaminating, but I don't recall any broken binding stories. ANd I do worry about the cold.wet issues with those boot, but on that site you can find a thread about frankenboots using an Alpina Alaska boot, sized, up, with an aftermarket thermo-liner. An intriguing idea.
I would say I could have done my Trans-Sierra on gear like that with only a bit more walking down. Already I end up walking down some stuff because I'm just not that good a skier on any gear.
I have even pondered whether I could make my own all-metal copy of the NNN-BC binding to make it bulletproof. My son is in his first year of mechanical engineering at college, he might need a project.......
Used to have some of those Lookouts; I like my Rainiers a lot better. Friend of mine has a pair he'd like to sell, with 3-pins on them. 180's, good shape.

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