Help me pick some new XC/BC Ski gear

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New member
Dec 15, 2007
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West Roxbury, MA
All I got for Christmas was a bathroom scale and an umbrella. As such, I feel entitled to buy some gear. I'm a pretty good telemark skier, but I want to get some skis that are XC-oriented, so I can ski some more rolling terrain without having to put skins on and off. I was kind of thinking of like the Bue Hills in the recent storm as one example, on down to the golf-course near my house. I'd also hope to someday do some touring and put some miles on my skis, which would just seem uncomfortable in my current heavy telemark boots, and impractical with skins.

So, what should I get? My biggest question is should I go with an NNN binding, or a 3-pin telemark binding. I kind of like the idea of these, but would that work well on gentler terrain (e.g., the golf course?) But, all the boots (at least on the REI page ) that are compatible look pretty burly, and I wonder if they'd be cumbersome on gentler terrain.

Alternatively, if I went with NNN bindings, like this, would I be able to do a telemark turn if Ullr should grace the Blue Hills with enough snow?

For skis I was thinking of something like this: fish scales on the base and full-metal edges.

For boots I definitely want something flexible that I could spend all day hiking/skiing in, but that choice seems driven by the bindings.

What skis do you use for tele now? Do you ski lift served tele? If you are riding a modern ski there, you might be disappointed in the downhill performance of a skinny, straight sided ski (even on "gentle" downhills).

For lift served right now I am skiing K2 Pinnacle 95, profile 132-95-115.

For "downhill" backcountry (like moderate glades) I'm On Madshus Annum, profile 109-78-95, and they seem pretty lightweight and skinny, but they turn well.

Maybe I'm just not a great skier, but I would only use those skinny Salomons on a groomed XC trail.
Oh thanks. I'm typically tele skiing on old High Society free rides; i forget the exact dimensions but probably about 120 100 110 more or less. It's an alpine ski on which I've stuck a pair of hammerhead bindings; I mostly use them for lift-served, but from time to time I'll slap skins on and hike something. But the point is the downhill if I'm doing that. So I take your point that the Salomons might be a disappointment turning downhill. But I'm looking to get into some more XC style of skiing. (I have no idea if by XC skiing into some backcountry I'm technically 'touring' ...) Do you put skins on those Madshius skis? or do they have scales on them? And can you kick and glide on gentle terrain in them?
Are there any stores in the Boston area that sell this stuff? I feel like I'd benefit from going to look at it.
20 years ago my backcountry/telemark skis and associated equipment were getting shorter and wider. I was missing the speed and glide of touring and just plain old efficient travel on snow as a sliding snowshoe (xc ski) being more pleasant than snowshoes.

I picked up a pair of Atomic Telemark Country skis that are now my precious favorites. The graphic is blurred but I think I'm reading and remember them as 68-54-58 and 196 cm. They have served well as a bridge between light telemark and touring. They have full metal edge, so for low/light snow depth, I bought a pair of corresponding Karhu Rendezvous as a similar cut and length but without the edges to catch rocks. But- I don't ski on either of these so much anymore, as I now prefer any junks I find for free that are 205+ and skinny and fast. I have been noting that the curl of the tip of the ski has a lot to do with riding up on deep snow as opposed to ski width- with older traditional skis having much longer/curled ski tips. I'm 5'10" and 165 lbs.
I enjoy the challenge of making these skis turn, and how they pick up speed so quickly is awesome. Such an odd turning technique as telemark was developed to make the boards that don't like to turn-to turn!
I have a couple of pairs of leather Asolo boots (3-pin) that are rather light and comfortable for touring and stiff enough to force the skis, but I did pick up a pair of these....... an older version to keep in my truck for when need presented, but now use them regularly as casual knockers. Either I mentioned would be suitable for what you describe. I have stayed with 3 pin as I really ski with the bottom of my feet sensing the feel of the ski against the snow, and flexing of the metatarsals for control. I never liked the higher from the ski feel of newer binding systems but never gave it much of a chance. That binding you show is my favorite- it can handle a lot more than golf courses and is significantly better in my opinion than a Voile, as the side walls are a bit larger.
I don't think you are making any bad choices from what you were thinking. You may want metal edges for that challenging changing snow in Southern New England that often goes to boilerplate.
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The Madshus Annum (it used to be the Karhu XCD Guide before Madshus bought Karhu) has full metal edges and fishscales, and is "single camber" so it's pretty easy to turn. I have skins for it also, which I have used occasionally. They kick and glide OK on gentle terrain, but they are a bit wide for some tracks. (I have narrower BC skis for our local Jackrabbit Trail, and even skinnier ones for the XC resort tracks.)

I too started tele on long skinny skis (about 25 years ago). But I've gotten spoiled by the modern shaped skis. So kind of the opposite of Andrew, I like my skis to be easy to turn, and not to pick up speed too quickly. I have hit enough trees for this go around, and I'm too old to enjoy hitting a tree now...
So, what should I get? My biggest question is should I go with an NNN binding, or a 3-pin telemark binding. I kind of like the idea of these, but would that work well on gentler terrain (e.g., the golf course?) But, all the boots (at least on the REI page ) that are compatible look pretty burly, and I wonder if they'd be cumbersome on gentler terrain.
Rottefella Super-Tele bindings have been my standard binding for many years for both BC and XC. I recommend them.

All of my skis (including Tele) use 75mm bindings (up to heavy Tele cable bindings) and my boots are also all 75mm (up to plastic Tele boots) so I can mix and match as needed.

I also have skins in a variety of widths so I can use them with any of my sets of skis. (The skins are straight edge.) Kicker skins can also be useful in some situations.

Note also that the bottoms of all modern skis are made from similar plastics and (trad) XC grip and glide waxes can be used on them. (Even waxless skis can sometimes be improved with grip wax...) On one Tele route with a long but easy approach and exit, I use XC waxes for entry and exit, skins for the ascent, and whatever wax is left from the approach for the descent. (The grip wax will glide well enough on the descent and will get scraped off as you go.)

It's pretty difficult to make tele turns in NNN-BC. Not impossible, but NNN-BC is best for touring, not turning. But it's a pretty good match for the skis you mentioned as that ski won't really turn very much. Not enough side cut to turn except on groomed slopes or hero snow.

If you really want to tour, get touring gear like you have listed. NNN-BC is perfect for your needs. I wouldn't go with 75mm unless you expect to earn your turns. You can definitely tour on 75mm Super Tele bindings with lighter boots but they're harder to find these days.
I second Dave’s advice. And I’ll add that if most of your tele experience is with burly boots on skis that are 100 underfoot, trying to turn a narrower ski with a lighter boot—even a 3-pin boot—could well feel like a very different sport.

The best do-it-all ski profile is probably 90-70-80, like the old Fischer Outtabounds. (I wish I had those rather than my slightly more shaped Rebounds.) Paired with that Rottefella binding (or a Voile cable) and a sturdy leather 3-pin boot, it’s darn versatile. Of course, my Rebounds and leather 3-pin boots mostly collect dust, because versatility usually loses out to my heavy tele setup for bc turns, or to my light xc skis for the nordic center.