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Thread: Backcountry skiis/bindings

  1. #1
    Member youngblood's Avatar
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    Backcountry skiis/bindings

    I am in the market for backcountry skiis / bindings. I am interested in accessing mountains this winter by skiing in as a more efficient way of traveling. I want to use my plastic mountaineering boots (Koflach "Degre") so I can also use snowshoes and crampons without having to change boots. I am not looking to "tear it up" on the descents but rather as a way of traveling faster overall. Does anyone have any recommendations for both skiis (lighweight) and a binding set-up that will work well with the Koflachs? Also, when ascending steep terrain, does it make more sense to climb with skins on or to simply take your skiis off and attach them to your pack?

  2. #2
    Senior Member sardog1's Avatar
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    You're probably going to start a brush war with this thread. Lots of strong opinions here about backcountry gear, and even lots of very well-informed opinions, which is a rare thing on the 'Net.

    Assuming that you remain committed to your Koflachs for the reasons you describe, I suggest that you take a look at the Alaska Mountaineering and Hiking backcountry bindings page. They list darn near everything out there, with some useful details. They also recommend the Atomic Chugach skis elsewhere on their site, which is what I will be on next when I get the scratch together, unless I buy the Rainiers instead.

    OK, guys and gals, let 'er rip ....
    sardog1

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    og Drykk og Tørste og det heile, som
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Hillwalker's Avatar
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    Equipment

    Check out Akers Ski in Maine. I got some "bushwhacking skis with universal bindings from them a couple of years ago. The bindings fit my Koflacs, Sorels, and Limmers. I believe the bindings were Berwin Universal. The ski was a wide no-wax ski, but alas without steel edges.

    www.akers-ski.com

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    I have a pair of La Sportiva Makalu’s (the 2 year old version with both toe and heal welts) , can I get a backcountry binding to fit these? The idea of not having to snowshoe in on some of my least favorite trails in order to get to my favorite trails sounds great to me. I know this may be a dumb question, but I thought it was worth asking.

  5. #5
    Moderator David Metsky's Avatar
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    Keep in mind that these boots are not ski boots, and will ski pretty lousy. While it seems that they're all very similar, there's actually quite a bit of difference. Unless you are talking about AT boots, any skiing you do on these setups will be pretty basic.

    The Alpine Trekker binding will take regular alpine ski boots, some AT boots, and some climbing boots. You should try your individual pair of boots at a store to make sure they fit and will work properly.

    -dave-

  6. #6
    Senior Member dave.m's Avatar
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    (edited to add updated link)

    Youngblood,

    IMO, backcountry skiing starts with your boot choice, which is directly tied to the terrain in which you plan on skiing.

    In your case, you have already committed to your plastic mountaineering boots and from what you describe, your intended use is to use the skis for faster approaches and returns for your climbing/peaks oriented goals. So long as you stay very focused on this single use, I think there is a decent rig to meet your needs.

    With respect to skis, I think you want very short and wide skis sometimes called approach skis or firn skis. I'm thinking here of skis in the 120cm to 130cm range max. If wide enough, these will give you decent floatation for climbing and will allow for a power snowplow coming down tight hiking trails. Do NOT expect to rippping it up in the trees or kick and gliding with zip and zest on this set up. The current Karhu Meta and Sweepers are skis I would look to as a start. They have permenant built in skins which make perfect sense for what you describe. You want the grip going up and you want to control speed on descents. Another alternative is to go with a snowblade type of ski. The old Kneisl Bigfoot was a popular ski mountaineering approach/glissade ski while made. Note, a pair of kids skis salvaged from a rental fleet in a 120 cm range may be enough to get you going for only a few dollars.

    With respect to bindings, you want a binding that is going to pivot freely at the toe to accomodate the non-flexing sole of your boots. AT bindings are one option. I've seen pivoting approach bindings in Akers print catalog before too which may be an option. I would NOT suggest the Berwin binding (which I have owned and used) for you. They really require that the boot sole be flexible and are best used with mukluks or pac boots like the Sorels. Even with 1/2 shank leather boots they become very cumbersome to use and an inflexible plastic boot sounds like a recipe for binding failure.

    Here is a link to a commercial page with a review of approach skis and bindings.
    http://pistehors.com/backcountry/wik.../Approach-Skis
    Last edited by dave.m; 11-21-2005 at 10:09 AM.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Remix's Avatar
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    Easy Go 500's will take the Koflach's. Most of the experts here are down on them though. There is one set on Ebay. They are 349-399 new---very pricey. Make sure you understand that the older models don't have the carbon railings and are a little heavier if you are going to bid on them.

  8. #8
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    i'm in the same situation as you and i started this thread on neice.com, i figured some like minded ice climbers have been in the same situation as well. i was right and for around $30 you can put something together for getting out to the hills.

    http://neice.com/ubbthreads/showflat...0&page=0#11024

  9. #9
    Senior Member spencer's Avatar
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    I'm not an expert but I'm down on the Easy Go 500/koflach combo. Don't waste your money... the boots won't turn a ski beyond a noodle.

    if you want to buy an AT boot, then the Easy Gos are great, although heavier than other AT-dedicated options.

    I have a pair of Easy Gos that I'll part with for way less than the new price (and they are darn near new) if I haven't scared you away...

    spencer

  10. #10
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    How do Berwins work?

    I looked at a picture of the Berwins online. They look like the front end gets screwed to the ski and then the rest of it sort of flexes up with your boot when you step. Is this why they don't work with rigid boots? Because they will break at the front of the binding instead of bend?

  11. #11
    Senior Member dave.m's Avatar
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    TomD,

    You have it exactly correct. If you are familiar with the old Voile plate binding which was an added on plastic strip that went under 3 pin bindings, you have the same idea with Berwyn, minus the pins. For boots like Sorels and mukluks, you need to add rigidity. But I found with a semi-rigid boot, you had some flexibility until you hit the limit of hte boot and then, wammo, the whole thing seized up. Gave me horrible heel blisters. A fully rigid boot would be a breaker for sure.

    NOTE:Will Steger used these to cross Antarctica with mukluks, so it is a durable binding. Just not with plastic climbing boots.
    - Dave (a.k.a. pinnah)

    " Power corrupts. Absolute power is kind of neat." - John Lehman, US Secretary of the Navy 1981-1987
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  12. #12
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    Berwins

    Thanks Dave, I suppose that's where the warnings on the old ones came from-sounds like at some point the plastic would just flex one time too many and snap. A simple idea, that's for sure and I don't mean that in a bad way.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Hillwalker's Avatar
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    Outbacks with Berwin bindings

    I had this combination for two years and agree that they were allright for just getting around faster than snowshoes, but not very efficient on downhills. More tree arrests than decent turns. I took them through the Hancock Notch-Cedar Brook-Lincoln Woods, thru ski and did a lot of crashing from the HOL on Cedar Brook trail to Wilderness Trail intersection. The very next trip out, one of the bindings pulled out of the ski at the start. The bindings didn't fail, the mounting did. Now I carefully avoid foam core skis. I wore my Sorels for this trip, but need to say that this pair are very well fitted, with little movement of the foot inside the boot.

    This season I am going to try a new pair of outback type of skis with a solid three pin Tele binding and my old Merrill Double-Double Leather Tele boots. The boots are warm, and hike pretty well. I may continue lugging my snowshoes along depending on my intents and the terrain.

    I have skiied pretty much every year since 1947, so I'm pretty comfortable doing survival turns on ancient equipment. I also have been one of Dickie Hall's pin-heads for about 7 years. "Tele Rules"

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    Berwin/Sherpa bindings and Mukluks

    Quote Originally Posted by Hillwalker
    The very next trip out, one of the bindings pulled out of the ski at the start. The bindings didn't fail, the mounting did. Now I carefully avoid foam core skis. I wore my Sorels for this trip... "
    Hillwalker--
    I got the Berwin bindings and some Madshus Voss skis from Akers-ski.com; the bindings were secured with steel inserts in the skis and you demount the bindings with 1/4-20 machine screws. This scheme works well with the Steger Mukluks and no signs of failure sofar. Ski control is so-so at best, probably you are a much more skilled skier than I am. For lightweight warm foot comfort and the option to switch off to snowshoes the system is hard to beat.
    Walt

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