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Question for Colorado Backcountry Skiers
Can the colorado backcountry, or backcountry in general, be enjoyed without a touring set up? Is there enough sidecountry or boot pack-able terrain in summit county to make the investment worth while? I plan on taking avy classes and skiing with more experienced bc skiers but I can't decide if the time invested would be worth it without a touring setup.
If we combined them and took the homosexuality of dumbledore and that massive staff of gandalf, we would have a force to be reckoned with - God
backpack - $100
shovel - $60
probe - $80
transciever - $400
skis - $700
bindings - $350
General extras to have in pack - $50-$200
Say $1800 to ski back country. Exchange bindings for AT bindings (guardian/duke) add $100. Add skins, $150. You are looking at $250 extra to have a touring set up versus a boot packing set up. Well worth it.
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
Every thing on this list you can find used in Colorado for cheap. The only thing I wouldn't skimp on is Transceiver. Buy New and practice alot with it.
You could probably find this entire set up for less than $1000 easy.
Also hit up TGR website. I sure there is someone selling good used at gear.
I think it depends on what months you hope to. Because in/after May is when most people ski the steep lines. And by that time the snow is usually consolidated and easy enough to walk on the trails.
You probably don't need AT bindings and boots. There is some decent lift-accessed side country in most resorts that you can take the lift up, go out a gate and boot pack to the goods. This is my preferred method because I get to ski real alpine equipment which is still better than AT gear for downhill skiing. You can always go get started at the top of Loveland Pass. It's high and wind swept, so there is a lot of decent terrain that you can walk in your boots to.
However, don't think about doing that without a beacon, shovel and probe and more importantly, how to use them. If you are in Colorado, you should definitely take a avy course and get out of bounds. It's great exercise and you can find better terrain than in bounds.
Another good place is Berthoud Pass. The more you go to sidecountry areas, the more you will want to get further and higher, at which point you will probably want to get AT bindings and skins.
i have no idea what the snowpack is usually like in colorado but touring is 1000 times more enjoyable on a proper setup.
if you don't have the money or the interest to throw down on at boots and tech bindings you should at the least invest in some mfd plates and good skins.
if you haven't spent time on a touring setup i'd say go bootpack some sidecountry with your current gear and then rent a proper setup for a day just so you can see how much easier the right gear makes everything on the ascent. bootpacking is super tiring, and as the old saying goes a pound on your feet is ten on your back; even if you go with a heavier, resort focused setup you'll still be able to go much further, higher, and faster on skins then you'd ever be able to just bootpacking.
How much experience do you have on modern AT bindings?
Besides the extra parts that can potentially break, modern AT (non tech) bindings perform just as good as normal downhill bindings across the board. I haven't used a normal downhill binding in about 5 years besides on my park set up and I have full confidence in charging my hardest in all conditions.
Well I've owned Naxos, Dukes and now I have the AAAdrenalins. So to answer your question, I have a pretty decent amount of experience with modern AT bindings. You are correct that they have gotten much, much better in the last few years. however, nothing compares to my FKS downhill bindings that sit super flat to the ski with no heel slop. there are just fewer moving parts which equals complete power transfer from the boot to the binding to the ski.
Perhaps you are right. It's been years since I've skied on anything besides Dukes and Dynafit's so maybe I just forget what it's like on a pair of good downhill bindings. That being said, I don't think I've ever been skiing inbounds on my Dukes and disliked their performance.
Around these parts I see a lot of people skiing inbounds with a Dynafit set up. I think they are crazy - but I can't see myself switching back to a non AT set up in the foreseeable future. Well, I guess that's not entirely true, I've been following the progress of the CAST system and it does look like it could be a step in the right direction.
I think a lot of it depends on your terrain. I happen to have amazing sidecountry that I can access by a 15 minute boot pack. There are some fellows who will skin up instead of the bootpack, but I've found that it's a wash by the time they have to put their skins on and off. Other places don't have as much access to out of bounds terrain. If I was there, I would definitely use my skis with Adrenalins much more often, and if I only had one setup, it would be AT, instead of alpine.
You are correct that the AT bindings are getting very good though. I just like to be flat to the ski when I don't have to skin out to a zone.
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