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Denali Ski Setup

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Denali Ski Setup

Postby chickentikka » Tue Mar 26, 2013 8:37 am

Can someone walk me through the ski setup? I have La Sportiva Spantiks. Should i just bring a pair of old beater alpine skis with normal alpine bindings (assuming they work with the spantiks)? I could also bring my cross country skis and boots or telemarking gear instead? They are lighter and probably more comfortable than going uphill in my spantiks and regular alpine skis. Might make a nice boot for lower part of the mountain as well?

I've read about silveretta bindings as well as an option. Are they really necessary? I'm assuming the heal lifts which I can imagine is big a bonus.

I did alpine racing my entire life, so I'm a capable skier. I noticed all the guiding companies seem to insist on snow shoes. Is that because they don't trust people on skis?
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Re: Denali Ski Setup

Postby splattski » Tue Mar 26, 2013 1:04 pm

When we were on Denali in 2009, we encountered horrible ski conditions: rock-hard, solid snow/ice that was super lumpy. Skis were not the answer. In fact, you didn't even need snowshoes. It was like extremely rough pavement, both up and down.
I've skied for more than 40 years and found it extremely challenging. Then there is the whole issue of skiing with a rope between your legs and a sled strapped to your hips. Don't get me started.
We used our mountaineering boots and Silvretta 404s. I'm not familiar with any standard alpine binding that will work with mountaineering boots.
I'm also a telemark skier. That would have been no better, plus I do not like climbing with the extended duckbill of tele boots. And carrying multiple pairs of boots would just add to the weight. Uggh.
I supposed AT ski boots might have given more control. But I'm not a fan of hiking in stiff plastics.
If I go back, I'll just use snowshoes. Unless you will have the time and energy to do a bunch of ski days, I'd say keep it simple. Our planned "fun ski down" turned out to be mostly torture and we were being passed by people walking.
Of course, you may get great powder for your descent. Who knows?
Trip report:
http://www.splattski.com/2009/denali/index.html
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Re: Denali Ski Setup

Postby chickentikka » Tue Mar 26, 2013 3:21 pm

Thanks, good food for thought there.

It is interesting because all the trip reports I've read say go with skis. Whereas the guides all say snowshoes.
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Re: Denali Ski Setup

Postby Steve Gruhn » Tue Mar 26, 2013 3:47 pm

Skis are generally faster, but you have to ask yourself whether each member of your rope team is capable of quickly arresting a crevasse fall while skiing downhill. If not, you're better off with snowshoes.
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Re: Denali Ski Setup

Postby chickentikka » Wed Mar 27, 2013 1:55 pm

Should I bring randonne boots and skis separate from my mountaineering boots?
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Re: Denali Ski Setup

Postby mtnjim » Wed Mar 27, 2013 4:01 pm

If you're using skis, I'd recommend just the mountaineering boots with a compatible binding, Silvretta 404 or whatever. There's really no reason to lug 2 pairs of boots along. The flip side is that since you're pulling a sled and not carrying everything on your back, a few more pounds won't make all that much difference. Your call.

Unlike spattski's experience, we had great snow in 2004. I really felt sorry for those all those guys slogging out in snowshoes. Of course, if you're going with a guided group, you'll be doing whatever everyone else is doing and that'll mean snowshoes.

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Re: Denali Ski Setup

Postby swbackcountry » Wed Mar 27, 2013 4:55 pm

chickentikka wrote:Should I bring randonne boots and skis separate from my mountaineering boots?


If you are focussing on skiing, definitely bring ski boots. Unless you are particularly planning to focus on skiing, you will most likely only want skis up to 11 camp. From there, carrying your sled and pack is hard (at times) even just on foot. There ARE good sections to ski on the normal route higher than 11k, but it may be wise to only plan on bringing your skis with you above 11k if you are going to dedicate a day or two to ski those pieces without sleds (for fun). If you are a good skier, I recommend this. If your focus is climbing, not skiing, I wouldn't bother bringing them above 11k.

That said, it IS doable to do the normal route without snowshoes or skis. Is it worth the weight to bring them? probably not. The track will be wanded, packed down, and will have guided traffic 'with snowshoes on' for days that are snowing that will pack down the path for you. Remember that its 24 hour light up there, so you can create a schedule that will help you take advantage of other group's footwork.

Going down on skis is hard with a sled and you will struggle. Be sure to add 'sled brakes' for the descent. Sled brakes are typically made of cordage or rope tied near the front of your sled that you can pull down so a neat loop fits under the sled to drag its speed down. These have knots on them typically.

As a side note, bring less food and fuel than you think you'll need. ALL groups try to dump food on their way out, just ask around as need at the different camps, particularly 14k.
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Re: Denali Ski Setup

Postby splattski » Wed Mar 27, 2013 5:50 pm

There's some nice skiing in this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNNRmxIxvgU
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