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If you are doing any skinning a free pivot touring mode is a must (BD01, Axl, targa ascent, switchback…). Boots are pretty dependent on how you ski, the fit and your skis. I preferred a softer boot for learning, but also was driving a light midfat for my 1st tele setup.Glad I committed to learning to tele a few years back; even though there were many times I swore it was the stupidest way to ski ever. Picking up the technique on groomers doesn’t take long but the transition from groomers to soft snow can be really frustrating without good technique.