Ski Mountaineering & Backcountry Skiing Equipment
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Basic Information and Brief Reviews of Ski & Snowboard Mountaineering Equipment

    Modern ski and snowboard mountaineering equipment makes it possible for any reasonably athletic person to do trips which a few decades ago were possible only for the most hardened climbers and backcountry travelers. Ski mountaineering gear is becoming consistently easier to use and lighter in weight, although perhaps also increasingly expensive. There are many choices these days in ski mountaineering equipment, but the most basic choice is whether to use alpine, nordic, or snowboard gear. Alpine equipment can be either standard downhill skiing gear or specialized alpine touring (randonnee) gear, whereas the only nordic gear suitable for serious ski mountaineering is heavy-duty telemark gear. Telemark gear has long been the standard in the US, although randonnee is rapidly gaining popularity. In Europe, the cradle of the sport, randonnee equipment has been the choice of almost all ski mountaineers for many years. In addition to the two "traditional" choices, snowboards are becoming increasingly popular in the backcountry, and snowboarding is usually the easiest of the three forms to learn for those with no previous skiing experience.
    The best choice of equipment is the type one feels most comfortable using for a given trip, since most ski mountaineering trips can be done on any of the three types of gear. In some difficult snow conditions (breakable crust, partially refrozen slush), alpine skis and snowboards have major advantages over telemark, while for long high-country or icefield traverses telemark is often best. However, the weight difference between alpine and telemark gear has been greatly reduced, although snowboarders still require the additional weight of snowshoes or ascent skis if the snowpack is not well-consolidated. I will concentrate here on alpine touring (randonnee) equipment, since that is what I use and it is the most natural type for those with a downhill skiing background, which is certainly true of the majority of prospective ski mountaineers. Randonnee is also the natural choice for those coming from a mountaineering/climbing background, since randonnee gear can be used with plastic or (very stiff) leather mountaineering boots (see below). There is also now expanded coverage of snowboarding equipment, due to the huge growth of backcountry snowboarding and the available gear over the past several years.

This page was originally created in early 1998. It was last fully updated in December 2000. Many interesting products
have been introduced since then, so hopefully I will have time to update this page again soon.

Sections: Alpine Touring | Figle/Skiboard | Telemark | Snowboard | Avalanche Safety | Lightweight Mtneering | Useful Gadgets | Where to Buy?
Alpine Touring (Randonnee) Equipment

Fritschi Diamir
Alpine Touring Bindings & Adapters:

    The essential element of the alpine touring setup is the binding, which must allow the heel to be freed for uphill travel and yet secure it firmly for downhill skiing, while allowing the protection of releasability in case of a severe fall. A good alpine touring binding such as the Fritschi Diamir (left; info at Black Diamond and also the Swiss Fritschi site) meets all of these goals admirably. This is the most modern randonnee binding available. It consists of a Titanal rail on which the toe-piece and heel-piece are mounted, with the rail attached to the ski by a hinge at the front and a hold-down lever at the rear. It is strong and light, accepts either downhill or randonnee boots, and it releases nearly as well as an alpine binding, both at the toe and heel. In addition, it is a step-in binding allowing hands-free operation, and it has a very tall four-position heel elevator to ease skiing up very steep slopes. It has even been used to ski from the summit of Everest by Hans Kammerlander in 1996! I have used the Fritschi Diamir for four years and have found it to be an excellent binding overall. There is an updated version available since 1999 (the Diamir 2), which includes a strengthened rail and redesigned heel elevators to resolve some durability issues, but unfortunately the heel elevator is now somewhat shorter and has only three positions instead of four.

Silvretta 404     Two other solid choices are the Silvretta 404 (left), which is THE classic randonnee binding, and the Silvretta Easy-Go, an updated and improved version of 404. These accept nearly any type of downhill, randonnee, or plastic climbing boot on account of their rigid wire toe bail, but they do not offer any release at the toe, only at the heel. New in 2000 are several versions of the Easy-Go series, the 500, 505, and 555. For those who use climbing boots instead of true randonnee boots (see below), the Silvretta 404 and 500 are the best choice, and are nearly identical except for lightweight carbon-fiber rails on the newer 500. The 505 and 555 also have the carbon fiber rails, and offer the convenience of a step-in heel, but because of this may not fit certain climbing boots. The Silvretta SL (no longer made) and the popular Dynafit Tourlite Tech are a different sort of binding from any of the others. They are both extremely lightweight bindings without any hinged bar, with the boot itself being clamped and hinged at the toe by a specialized fitting. These are by far the lightest randonnee bindings available, yet they do lose some ease of use (one must get out of the binding to switch from freeheel to locked heel or vice-versa) and also some skiing stability in order to achieve this. In addition, only randonnee boots with specialized fittings built-in to the toe can be used with them. There are several other bindings on the market, see the Marmot Mountain Works site for more info. Most alpine touring bindings cost about $300 or more.
Alpine Trekker     The cheapest option for a person who owns downhill ski gear is to use an alpine touring adapter. The most popular of these is the Alpine Trekker (left, $180), although there have been a couple of other brands on the market. This adapter fits into your regular alpine ski binding, and then your ski boots clip into it, using a binding system similar to a step-in crampon binding. The adapter is hinged at the toe to allow free-heel uphill travel. For skiing down, you simply remove the adapters, put them in your pack, and ski down as you would at a ski area. I own a set of these adapters, my friends have used them several times and they work quite well. The big disadvantage is that this setup is much heavier (several pounds) than a true alpine touring setup, due to the weight of the adapters and the fact that standard downhill skis and boots are usually much heavier than randonnee skis and boots.
    Many people have emailed me to ask if randonnee (ski mountaineering) boots can be used with these adapters, which would allow for greater comfort during ascents. The answer is unfortunately, NO, because although randonnee boots will fit in the adapter, they will not fit in DIN standard downhill ski bindings. Randonnee boots meet a different DIN standard than downhill ski boots, since they have a rockered (curved) sole while downhill ski boots have a flat sole, and thus randonnee boots will not fit into the toepiece of DIN standard downhill ski bindings. On the other hand, most DIN standard randonnee bindings have an adjustable-height toepiece which can accommodate either randonnee boots or downhill ski boots.

Scarpa Denali Alpine Touring Boots:

      A ski mountaineering boot is a hybrid of a plastic climbing boot and an alpine ski boot. It has the high cuff, lateral stiffness, and buckle closure of a ski boot, with a deep lug sole and an easily removable, lace-up inner boot like a plastic climbing boot. A switch allows the cuff to be locked (stiff flex) for downhill skiing or hinged (soft flex) for uphill skiing or climbing. The Scarpa Denali (left) offers perhaps the best mix of skiing performance and mountaineering capability, although they are somewhat heavy (about 8.5 lbs / 4 kg per pair). Although not the best for hiking, I have hiked in these boots up to 5 miles (each way) with 3000 ft of gain on the approach for several ski trips, without pain. The downhill skiing performance is very good, although not quite as good as my usual four-buckle downhill ski boots. Since 1999 the Denali has been improved by adding a fourth buckle, which should further improve downhill performance. Scarpa also makes several lighter weight models, such as the Lazer, Tambo, and Titan, for those desiring easier touring (or lower cost) at the expense of ultimate downhill performance.
Scarpa Inverno     Other popular randonnee boots geared towards skiing performance include the Nordica TR12 and Raichle Concordia. The TR12 matches the downhill skiing performance of the Scarpa Denali, while the TR10 is a softer version. In addition, several companies offer lighter weight randonnee boots, such as the Dynafit Tourlite Tech series, Dachstein Tour AS, Garmont GSM SL, and Lowa Struktura, which have fewer buckles and softer flex for more comfortable ski touring and hiking. Most randonnee boots cost from $300 to $500. Although standard alpine ski boots can be used for ski mountaineering, randonnee boots offer the advantages of lighter weight, lug sole, and hinged cuff, for greatly increased comfort and climbing capability.
    Another possible choice of boot is a plastic climbing boot such as the Scarpa Inverno/Vega (left) or various models by Koflach and other companies. These are compatible only with randonnee bindings which have a wire toe bail, such as the Silvretta 404 and 500 mentioned above. Plastic climbing boots have far too little ankle support for serious skiing performance, but are a good choice when randonnee skis are being used as approach tools on heavily crevassed glaciers or for winter climbs. However, a friend of mine uses the Scarpa Inverno and Silvretta 404 combination as his standard randonnee setup. He has even skied from the summit of Mount Rainier with that gear, proving that serious ski descents are possible. Plastic climbing boots are also ideal for use with the short figle skis described below. Some skiers also use very stiff leather mountaineering boots (such as Salomon Super Mountain Guide) with randonnee gear, especially for long traverse routes where weight is a major concern. And such boots are perfect for use with the short figle skis.

Tua Excalibur MX
Whippet Poles Alpine Touring Skis:

    A randonnee ski is a versatile, lightweight alpine ski, designed for performance across the vast range of snow conditions likely to be encountered in the backcountry. It is typically shorter than a standard alpine ski, available in lengths of 160 cm to 190 cm, with a softer flex pattern and slightly more width for flotation. The Tua Excalibur MX (above) is a classic example, performing quite well on anything from ski area hardpack to powder to spring crud. Following the industry-wide shaped-ski revolution, Tua has now come out with a variety of wider shaped ski designs based on the classic Excalibur, including the Mito, Sumo, and Helium. Other popular brands of randonnee skis include the Atomic Tour Guide series, Black Diamond Arc series, Fischer Tour Extreme, and Volkl Mountain series. Dynafit also makes a series of lightweight skis, one of which is designed to be used only with its lightweight binding system. Finally, for the ultimate in lightweight randonnee skis, the custom skis used by Davo Karnicar to ski from the summit of Mount Everest in October 2000 are available for a limited time from the manufacturer, Elan Skis.
    Standard alpine skis can also be used for ski mountaineering, and a variety of so-called "mid-fat" and "cross ride" skis are popular with backcountry skiers. However, many high-performance models are too stiff for comfort in backcountry snow, and too heavy during long ski ascents or climbs on foot. Most randonnee skis also have holes drilled in the tips and tails (and sealed to prevent water entry into the ski), to allow the skis to be lashed together along with additional poles and a shovel blade to form an emergency rescue sled. Prices for randonnee skis are typically in the $400 to $500 range, which surprisingly is quite a bit cheaper than comparable downhill skis. But not as cheap as simply mounting randonnee bindings on an old pair of alpine skis, which is also a popular course of action for many.

Adjustable Poles with Self-Arrest Grips:

    Adjustable ski poles are a big advantage for ski mountaineering, since it is much more efficient to have a longer pole when touring or skiing uphill than when skiing downhill. Most adjustable poles such as those from Leki and Life-Link use a twist-lock system, which works adequately but is prone to accidental loosening and to freezing tight in cold, wet conditions. Far superior is Black Diamond's Flicklock system (left), which uses a plastic clamping lever to allow instant adjustment and secure locking. The lower sections of the BD Adjustable Probe poles screw together to form a 6 foot long avalanche probe. The upper sections shown here are the BD Whippet self arrest grips. The pick of the Whippet is similar to that of a ice axe, and can be used for self arrest in quite firm snow conditions. The pick is mounted on a skewer which locks into the grip and shaft of the pole, and it is easily removed (about 30 seconds), to avoid impaling oneself in a fall when one is in terrain not requiring self arrest. As shown on the left pole, it is replaced by a "dummy" skewer which holds the strap, but does not have a pick. The cheapest way to acquire this setup is to buy the two Whippet upper shafts (sold separately), and then special order a male/female pair of the Adjustable Probe Pole lower shafts. Several other self-arrest grips are available (including the Life-Link Claw), but the Black Diamond Whippet is the most effective of them and the only one whose "sharp-end" can be easily removed when not needed.

Ascension Skins
Snake Skins
Climbing Skins:

    Climbing skins provide traction while skiing uphill. Originally made of sealskin many years ago, most skins are now made of nylon or mohair. One side of the skin has hairs which grip the snow in one direction (backward), while slipping easily in the other (forward), to provide both good traction and (some) glide. The other side is coated with an adhesive which grips the ski base in order to secure the skins. This allows the skins to be removed and reattached hundreds of times, with minimal loss of adhesion. A metal loop at the ski tip and a metal hook at the tail provide added security. Skins are available in a variety of widths and with several attachment systems. For optimal traction, the skin should cover as much of the plastic ski base as possible while leaving the metal edge completely uncovered for adequate grip on traverses. This means buying them about 6 mm narrower than the ski waist, although some people (especially those using highly shaped skis) buy wider skins and then trim the waist portion to the proper width. (Life-Link also now makes skins pre-cut to fit various shaped skis.)
    The two standard types of skins typically available are nylon and mohair. In general, nylon skins are more durable and retain less water than mohair, while mohair provides somewhat better glide -- overall, most ski mountaineers choose nylon skins. A fine choice for most ski mountaineering trips are the Ascension Skins now sold by Black Diamond (upper left), in a 60-64 mm width with the TTP or "Euro" attachment system (far left, with a stretchy rubber tip loop and fixed tail hook). This attachment system is superior to the standard method (near left, which uses a metal tip loop and no tail hook), since the skin is less likely to peel off accidentally under a lateral load (such as while traversing). However, it is a good idea to carry a spare rubber tip loop on longer trips, in case of possible breakage. Other good choices of skins are similar models made by Pomoca, Colltex, and G3.
    A very different type of skins are Voile Snake Skins (lower left), which are made of plastic with grooves cut in the bottom. The Snake Skin is stretched tight along the ski, which raises small "scales" to provide traction. The Snake Skin is strap-on, with no glue. Its advantages include freedom from icing and low maintenance, at the expense of poorer uphill traction and much diminished traversing ability relative to nylon skins. Snake Skins cost about half as much as most good nylon skins ($50 vs. $100), and are best suited for "yo-yo" type ski runs instead of serious ski mountaineering ascents.

Ski Crampons Ski Crampons (Harscheisen):

    In some situations, the snow is too firm and steep for skins alone to provide the necessary traction. Ski crampons provide an added degree of safety on steep, icy traverses and also allow one to ski straight uphill more steeply in slippery conditions. Ski crampons are available as an accessory for most randonnee bindings, including the Fritschi Diamir (left) and the Silvretta 404 and Easy-Go series. These ski crampons usually attach to the hinged portion of the binding, thus releasing from the snow to allow forward motion when the heel is raised. Longer teeth are typically better, since they will penetrate the snow even when the heel elevators are in use. (Note that the Fritschi crampon shown at left is the original version, and the teeth have unfortunately been shortened a bit on the current version.) Ski crampons are also available for the Alpine Trekker touring adapter and for direct attachment to the ski topskin (useful for telemarkers), although these types are fixed in place and do not swing up with the heel. All types of ski crampons simply snap into place within seconds, and are easily removable when not needed. I bring ski crampons along with me on nearly every trip since they weigh little, and when the skinning conditions become tricky (firm or icy, such as nearly every spring morning), they are truly indispensable.

Sections: Alpine Touring | Figle/Skiboard | Telemark | Snowboard | Avalanche Safety | Lightweight Mtneering | Useful Gadgets | Where to Buy?
Snowblade Bigfoot
Figle Skis and Skiboards:

    Figle skis and skiboards are very short, wide alpine skis which have become increasingly popular in Europe over the past several years, with a wide range of brands and types available. One of the originators of this trend is the Kneissl Big Foot (left), now available in several models ($150-$250). This is a 63 cm long, metal-edged ski, with the edge wrapping around the back of the ski in a semi-circle. It comes with a binding very similar to a step-in crampon binding (i.e. rigid wire toe bail and adjustable heel lever), which accepts any downhill, randonnee, plastic climbing, or step-in crampon-compatible leather mountaineering boot. The Big Foots weigh only 3 lbs (1.4 kg) per pair, so they are ideal for trips with very long approaches for relatively short ski runs (late summer hikes which cross snowfields, for example, or perhaps even for skiing on remote desert volcanoes in the Andes). Since I always use trekking poles on any hike, and my usual stiff leather mountaineering boots are step-in crampon-compatible, carrying the Big Foots is a small burden for the big reward of being able to ski a snowfield during a hike/climb instead of sliding down on my butt! Due to their very short length, however, skiing on Big Foots with a full pack may result in repeated face-planting if the snow is heavily sun-cupped or sastrugied, so it is best to shed the pack for the ski run if possible.
    A new skiboard introduced during the 1997-98 season is the Salomon Snowblade (far left), which is a 90 cm cap ski with a binding similar to the new Big Foots (wire bail at heel, lever at toe). This appears to be a considerably more high-tech ski than the Big Foot, with superior skiing performance. However, it is longer, bulkier, and heavier than the Big Foot, possibly reducing its usefulness for those trips mentioned above where the Big Foot shines. Since the Salomon Snowblade hit the market, numerous other companies have also developed similar 90-100 cm skiboards. For fun, check out this page from the Europa Ski Lodge store which has photos of many different models of skiboards.

Grimper Skis     Several people have emailed me to ask about the possibility of using skiboards for ascents. Unfortunately, most skiboards come with fixed bindings (i.e. no free-heel capability), and thus they can not be used for ski ascents. However, some of them are becoming available with simple randonnee bindings, such as the Kong Grimper (lower left). Another option is to remove the fixed binding from the skiboard (down to a completely flat surface) and mount a randonnee binding such as the Silvretta 404 or 500 mentioned above. Older Silvretta models (the 300 and 400) can sometimes be found at a deep discount (try Marmot Mtn Works), and these are often used with skiboards by winter climbers (for approach skis) or snowboarders (for ascent skis, see also below). Note that any standard skins of the appropriate width will work well with these short skiboards, since the skins are designed to trimmed to the proper length.

Sections: Alpine Touring | Figle/Skiboard | Telemark | Snowboard | Avalanche Safety | Lightweight Mtneering | Useful Gadgets | Where to Buy?
Telemark Equipment

BD Riva

Voile 3-pin Cable


Telemark Skis and Bindings:

    Strictly, the telemark is a turn which can be made using any type of free-heel (nordic) ski equipment. In general use, telemark equipment refers to heavy-duty nordic gear suitable for backcountry ski descents. Telemark skis are often quite similar to alpine skis, and in fact many people simply mount tele bindings on old alpine skis. Telemark skis are usually softer flexing, since a free-heel skier has much less leverage to flex the ski than a fixed-heel skier. Many of the major ski manufacturers produce telemark skis, including Atomic, Rossignol, K2, and Tua, along with backcountry gear manufacturers such as Black Diamond. In addition to models intended for telemarking, skis intended as randonnee models often are ideal for aggressive telemark skiers.
    Traditional telemark bindings are very simple and inexpensive (about $80-$150) compared to alpine touring bindings. The two basic types are three-pin, which clamps down the extended toe of the boot, and cable, which uses a cable around the heel to hold the boot into the toe-piece. Cable bindings such as the Black Diamond Riva (top left), Voile Cable, and G3 Targa have long been the choice of most serious telemarkers, since they provide the greatest degree of stability and control for downhill skiing, and provide a more rugged attachment than three-pin alone. Cables can be used to supplement three-pin systems for an added margin of security and power on descents (Voile 3-Pin Cable, middle left), while allowing easier touring with the cable removed. Most telemark bindings have no release mechanism in the event of a fall, although falls on tele gear produce less severe forces on the legs than with alpine bindings since the heel is free. Several companies have developed releasable tele bindings, foremost among them the Voile CRB Cable, although these systems are not very widely used. For 2000, Voile has also introduced its new V-Cam heelpiece (middle left), which allows step-in entry and can be retro-fitted to older Voile bindings. Heel lifters can be added as an accessory to most tele bindings to ease leg strain during steep ski ascents.
    But by far the most revolutionary development in the history of telemark bindings is the Skyhoy (lower left), a joint project of Black Diamond and Fritschi introduced in 1999. This sophisticated binding finally brings all the advantages of randonnee bindings to the telemark world, with step-in convenience, reliable release, and torsional rigidity for edging power. It also carries the alpine disadvantages of extra weight and greater cost, since it weighs nearly 4 lbs (1.8 kg) and retails for $330. The Skyhoy can also take its own accessory ski brakes and ski crampons, with the brakes useful for lift-served skiing and the crampons nearly essential for serious ski mountaineering trips. This radical and innovative product is sure to cause a revolution among serious telemarkers over the next few years.

Scarpa T2
Telemark Boots:

    Telemark boots can be made of either leather (similar to mountaineering boots), or plastic (similar to randonnee or plastic climbing boots). While many still use the "traditional" leather type, which are usually lighter and less expensive, more and more telemarkers are switching to plastic boots for their superior warmth, waterproofness, and skiing performance. The most popular plastic tele boots are the Scarpa Terminator series, especially the T2 (left) which has gained very wide acceptance by a broad range of telemarkers. Other major manufacturers of tele boots include Asolo, Crispi, and Garmont. Most leather tele boots cost $200-$300, while plastics are typically $300-$500. The taller and stiffer plastic tele boots are often designed for on-piste telemark racers, while the softer and lighter models a step below are much better suited for backcountry use.

    This has been only a brief overview of telemark gear, since there are many other sites dedicated to telemarking and telemark gear. Visit Yahoo:Recreation:Sports:Skiing_Snow:Telemark for a list of sites with more telemark information.

Sections: Alpine Touring | Figle/Skiboard | Telemark | Snowboard | Avalanche Safety | Lightweight Mtneering | Useful Gadgets | Where to Buy?
Snowboard Mountaineering Equipment

Split Decision
Split Decision 2000

Backcountry Snowboards (Splitboards):

    The popularity of snowboards in the backcountry has been skyrocketing the past few years, in parallel with the vast growth of snowboarding at lift-served areas. Snowboards are an ideal tool for backcountry descents, since their large width provides floatation in a variety of difficult conditions, from heavy powder to breakable crust to wet spring glop. The usual stumbling blocks for backcountry snowboarders are the access and ascent, with standard techniques (other than simply hiking) including snowshoeing and using short alpine touring skis (typically 90-130 cm). However, both of these methods carry a severe weight penalty, as the snowboard must be carried on the pack during the ascent and the snowshoes or short skis carried during the descent.
    The Voile Split Decision (below) provides an ingenious solution to this problem. This consists of two specially shaped skis which latch together to form a snowboard. The bindings are mounted parallel to the skis in touring mode, behaving as alpine touring bindings (left), while they are mounted across the board in snowboard mode, helping to lock the two halves together. The Split Decision comes with special wide skins which allow very steep ascents. After some initial quality problems, the board now gets very favorable reviews from those who have used it. The complete board comes in lengths from 159 to 182 cm, at a cost of $650, and includes special extra-wide skins ("Tractor Skins") which provide lots of traction for ascents. A separate Split Kit is available, which contains the joining hardware needed to convert any old snowboard into a split model, for those who can't afford the high cost of the full setup.
    The Split Decision has been redesigned this year to be much more symmetrical end-to end and also eliminate the gap between the two halves (below right). A lightweight plate binding is also available from Voile for those planning to use plastic climbing, randonnee, or even telemark boots with the Split Decision (left). Also new this year from Voile is a longer, swallowtail version of the splitboard designed for deep powder snow. Planned for next season (2001-2002) is a ski crampon, which would help fill a serious need for many snowboard mountaineers. I believe that Burton is also coming out with its own splitboard model sometime in 2001.

Split Decision Split Decision 2000
Denali Snowshoes Clicker Skis
Snowshoes, Ascent Skis, and other Accessories:

    Backcountry snowboarders who choose not to use splitboards, either for cost or high-end performance reasons (a splitboard can never be quite as torsionally rigid as a single snowboard), will typically require some means of assistance for the ascent. While the well-consolidated snowpack of late spring and summer can easily be walked upon without sinking in, during winter and early spring snowshoes or ascent skis will be necessary to avoid the exhaustion of "post-holing" through deep snow. Snowshoes are the most common ascent aid used by backcountry snowboarders, since they are simple and require no additional skills to use. Good choices for such use are the new generation of plastic snowshoes such as the MSR Denali series (upper left), which are very lightweight and very inexpensive compared with traditional snowshoes. The advanced plastics are nearly indestructible, and the compact size doesn't get in the way once stored on the pack during the descent. However, in very light powder snow, the compact size may not provide adequate flotation, although extension tails are available to help somewhat.
    Ascent skis offer the advantage of more rapid movement than snowshoes, especially on relatively flat or gently sloped terrain, yet they are still short enough to be stowed easily on the pack during descents. Numerous choices for ascent skis are now becoming available, depending on the type of snowboard boot one is using. For those using plastic climbing or randonnee boots, one option is simply to mount a randonnee binding on a figle ski or skiboard, as mentioned above in the Figle/Skiboard section. K2 has also developed some ascent skis for those using its Clicker binding system (lower left), along with Clicker-compatible crampons.
    Regardless of whether one chooses to ascend via splitboard, ascent ski, or snowshoe, an important item for every backcountry snowboarder is a pair of adjustable ski poles (see info above in the "Alpine Touring" section). These provide essential support during the ascents, and can then be collapsed to a minimal length for easy carrying on one's pack during the descent. In addition, poles can often be useful even during the descent, if there are any flat sections or very short uphills during the runout back to the trailhead. Snowboarding with poles takes some practice at first, but it sure beats having to take one foot out of the binding repeatedly, or even giving up the descent and simply walking the rest of the way back to the car.

Sections: Alpine Touring | Figle/Skiboard | Telemark | Snowboard | Avalanche Safety | Lightweight Mtneering | Useful Gadgets | Where to Buy?
Essential Avalanche Safety Gear

Lightweight Mountaineering Gear

Useful Gadgets

Where to Buy?

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Amar Andalkar   Seattle, WA, USA   <About the Author / Contact Me>
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Last modified Wednesday, January 15, 2003