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Ski Gear Basics

Merv in Norway

Skis

Pattern based skis

The skinnier the ski, the better it is suited for day trips on groomed trails.

The fatter the ski, the more it is suited to finding slopes to ski down (generally, telemarking).

The in-between skis are best for multiday, pack-carrying tours, and unprepared trails, i.e. heading off into the backcountry.

The two brands that Bogong carry with pattern bases are Fischer and Madshus.


Smooth based skis

Black Diamond Link 90

BD Link 90

These will be for backcountry telemark/Alpine Tour skiing (with skins), or at the resort.

  • 80–90mm width underfoot
  • 90–100mm underfoot
  • 100+mm underfoot
    • – perfect for Australia
    • – perfect for NZ
    • – perfect for Canada, US, Japan etc.

    The Black Diamond Link 90 is a good one-size-fits-most ski in the sense that it is a suitable size for skiing Australian snow, with the occasional trip to NZ, and OK for a trip to the northern hemisphere every other year.

    Just remember: skinny skis = firm snow; fat skis = powder snow.

    Sidecut

    This is the difference in width between the middle and the tip/tail. Bigger sidecuts are better for turns, but will be more skittish in a straight line. The opposite is true for a shallow sidecut.

    Length

    Choose based on weight only. As a quick calculator: your weight + 100cm ≈ the length of ski you need.

    Bindings

    22 Designs Vice

    22 Designs Vice

    XC/Telemark Bindings:

  • Rottefella NBC bindings are suitable for day trips.
  • Rottefella Super Telemark (“Rat trap”) bindings are suited to both day trips and longer, off track ones.
  • Classic cables (Rottefella Chili) are suited to multi day touring on unprepared trails.
  • Cartridge cables (G3 Targa, Black Diamond O2, 7TM and 22 Designs Vice) are much stiffer and OK for longer tours off track, but also for telemarking in steeper terrain. These can come in ‘tour’ versions (Black Diamond O1, 7TM Tour, 22 Designs Axl) where the entire binding will pivot (from the toe rather than the boot flexing at the ball of the foot) and makes going uphill a lot easier. The problem with cables (especially the cartridge ones) are that they give resistance – you will be fighting the springs with every step.
  •  

    Alpine Touring (AT or Randonee or touring) bindings:

    Dynafit TLT Radical ST

    Dynafit TLT Radical ST

    These operate like a normal downhill bindings, but with the option for releasing the heel so that the binding can pivoting for ‘walking’ – no need to learn how to telemark.

    Brands:

    Dynafit is lightweight, and performs pretty well on the downhills;

    Marker is heavier and is more suited to skiing hard and aggressive on the downhills;

    Silvretta is light and will fit pretty much any boot so is good for mountaineers who want to use skis to access climbs.

    Boots

    Scott Excursion

    Scott Excursion

    The Alpina BC 1550 boots are most suitable for day trips or lightweight trips. The Alfa Quest Advance is a sturdier option, featuring a leather upper and Gore-Tex lining.

    The leather boots (Andrew Claut, Andrew Zenith) are best suited to lightweight trips, but can still be suitable for multiday tours. The Zenith, due to its buckle can handle telemarking on mellow terrain. The fit of leather boots can be more forgiving than plastic boots. They can also be a good option when skiing the shoulder seasons as they will be more suitable for walking between snow patches.

    The telemarking plastics (Scott Excursions, Venus, Syner G) are suited to multi day touring, off piste, and the stiffer (Garmont Elektra and Ener G) ones more for steeper terrain.

    The Alpine Touring range (eg. Dynafit Radical CR, Dynafit ZZERO4, La Sportiva Sideral, Dynafit TLT4) are for those who plan to alpine ski in the backcountry.

    Scenarios

    Our four most common types of ski customers:

    1. Daytripper/Cross-country skiers

    Style: You ski on groomed trails, generally daytripping.

    Locations: Lake Mountain, Mt Stirling, the Baw Baw plateau, Dinner Plain, or Falls Creek XC trails.

    Products:

  • Fischer S-Bound 78 or Madshus Glittertind;
  • Rottefella NBC bindings;
  • Alpina 1550 boots.
  • 2. Multiday/Off-track tourers

    Style: You may still do day trips and may ski on groomed trails from time to time, but could realistically be skiing anywhere there is snow. You may seek out steep slopes for fun when you get to camp and may need to compromise on the ski that suits one aspect of your skiing.

    Locations: Maybe the huts out of Falls Creek on the Bogong High Plains; Feathertop or Bogong; the Jagungal wilderness in NSW; or the Howitt Plains.

    Products:

  • Fisher S-Bound 98, or Madshus Eon or Epoch;
  • Rottefella Chili, Super Telemark bindings; or G3 Targa, Black Diamond O2 bindings;
  • A leather boot (Andrew Claut or Zenith) or Scott Excursion.
  • 3. Backcountry Telemarkers (and very occasionally Alpine Tourers)

    Style: You want to ski steep terrain. You may use them at the resort from time to time (but not regularly). You may be camping out and carrying a pack. You may do long tours from time to time.

    Locations: Bogong, Feathertop, NSW Main Range.

    Products:

  • Fisher S-Bound 98 or 125, or Madshus Epoch or Annum. Generally, we will not put an Alpine Touring binding on a pattern based ski, but sometimes someone will insist – this is okay for the fatter skis (Annum, S-Bound 125);
  • A cartridge-type binding (G3 TargaBlack Diamond O2, 7TM and 22 Designs Vice) and you may consider the ‘tour’ mode ones (Black Diamond O17TM Tour22 Designs Axl);
  • Any plastic boot. (Remember: more buckles = stiffer = better for steeper terrain).
  • 4. Telemarkers and Alpine Touring skiers.

    Style: Almost always steep terrain, and often at the resorts. Sometimes daytrips (‘slackcountry’), sometimes will spend a week somewhere, camped out.

    Locations: Skis Bogong, Feathertop, NSW Main Range.

    Products:

  • Any of the smooth based skis;
  • Any of the cartridge type bindings, or AT bindings. It may be worth asking about DIN settings (releasability) on bindings;
  • A boot with at least three buckles;
  • You will have to buy skins.
  • Buying Tips

  • You should pair a skinny ski with a lightweight boot and binding, and a bigger ski with a heavier boot and binding. It’s best to think of the entire set up when selecting a single component (a big ski and a big boot with a lightweight binding, for instance, is not recommended).

  • The length of the ski is chosen purely on your weight – the ski can’t tell how tall someone is. There are two general rules: weight (kg) + 100 = cm in length of ski; OR the ski is about as tall you are (but +/- 10 or cm depending on if you are tall and lanky/fat a squat/carrying a big backpack a lot of the time).

  • You can use a skin with any ski, even if it has a pattern base. This makes it much easier if you are in icy terrain or have a big ascent ahead of you (think Bogong, Feathertop or the Main Range). Kicker skins are usually most appropriate as they are lighter and more compact, but there is no reason to not go for a bigger ascent skins (which have more surface area) either.

  • Skiers often have multiple uses in mind: daytrips out to Lake Mountain; a few overnighters, including an annual trip to Jagungal for a week; and an annual trip to Mt Bogong to Telemark. If you're one of these people, you'll have to buy three skis, or one that is a compromise. There is no one ski for all occasions.

  • Be familiar with the bindings, and what it is to Telemark vs Alpine Tour. You will need to decide early on whether you want to telemark or AT ski, and this is an important decision to make as it determines the style of skiing you will be doing. It is the equivalent of asking "I want to buy a bike: so should I buy a road bike or a mountain bike?" – they are quite different.

  • Don’t get too caught up. You will see people at Lake mountain with rat trap bindings and leather boots, and I skied for a week across the Jagungal area with a woman on NBC bindings and Alpina boots. She’d tried lots of boots on and none of them fitted right. But the Alpinas did, and so she did big, committing trips with an undercooked boot, but one that fitted. Also, 20 years ago, people skiied big lines on big mountains with leather boots.