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skiing -- how to start without resorts

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skiing -- how to start without resorts

Postby catullus » Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:05 pm

Hi guys,

I'm a climber in Colorado, and I want to start skiing, and I'm looking for some advice for how to get into it.

I realize that I could probably learn fastest by going to resorts, but I'm poor, and I figure that skiing existed before resorts, so it must be possible to learn how to ski without paying for lift tickets. (Also, I just like the solitude of the backcountry).

As I'm already a climber who enjoys the mountains in the winter months, I'm looking more towards eventually getting into ski-mountaineering and alpine touring and not pure downhill / resort-style skiing.

What kind of (used) skis, boots, and bindings should I buy? Do I need ski boots or can I use my mountaineering boots? Where are some gentle areas in Colorado I can try out first?

(Yes, I've taken Avy 1, have shovel, probe, beacon, and am committed to continuing my avalanche education).

Thanks,
Chase
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Postby welle » Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:10 pm

Get a part-time job at a ski resort. Teaching yourself to ski is a recipe for disaster. On East Coast, they have all sorts of beginner packages that include lift tix, rentals and lessons that are just over $100 for 3 days, some even throw in season passes at the end. Would you rather pay that or medical bills and impede your climbing? Usually, lower mountain (bunny slope) lift tix are cheaper or free if you want to hike up. I would still pay for lessons unless you have a friend that is willing to teach you, even then it does not compare to qualified instruction.
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Postby Autoxfil » Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:53 pm

Used rental gear should be $150 or less (boots, skiis, bindings) for some gear with lots of life left. Call around, I'm sure that stuff is everywhere in CO. Heck, I bet you can find decent stuff for free if you look hard enough.

Shaped skiis are nice to start out on, but any downhill setup will work to start.

There are lots of cheap lift tickets if you shop around and go on odd hours, to less-popular resorts, etc.
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I tried it.

Postby oldandslow » Wed Feb 03, 2010 12:59 am

In 1947 I started skiing using the walk up-slide down-fall down technique. It was not at all satisfactory. The idea to get used rental gear is a very good one. By all means get short shaped skis. They will make learning very much easier. There are definitely some deals out there.. The ski biz has not been good the past several years and some resorts like Mt. Bachelor where I ski have cheap packages for new skiers.
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Postby catullus » Wed Feb 03, 2010 3:18 am

Ok. You guys have convinced me that I should get my start on a resort.

But, I'd like to buy skis and bindings that I can use in the backcountry too (going uphill). Should I try to find used AT bindings or another kind of binding system? What about the ski width? I'm 6'4" and weight 178 lbs.

Also -- my mountaineering boots have a heel welt but not a toe welt. It seems from my googling that this means I'll have to get ski boots too -- is that the case and if so, do I really have to get AT-specific boots (they seem to be more expensive) or not?

Also, any recommendations on specific lift ticket deals for beginners in Colorado would be great.

Thanks,
Chase
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Learnign to ski

Postby Tim Stich » Wed Feb 03, 2010 3:59 am

Most ski resorts suck you in with cheap lessons and equipment rentals. I think I paid a whopping $45 at Winter Park for a lesson with skis and boots included. Definitely go do something like that. But be careful! I strained my MCL wrecking at the base at the end of the day when I was tired.
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Postby welle » Wed Feb 03, 2010 5:36 pm

I would not rush into getting a backcountry equipment right away. By no means I'm an expert, since I snowboard, but I think similar rules apply. Like Dingus said you need to learn how to handle a variety of terrain and snow conditions from icy crust to deep powder first in a more controlled resort environment. For steeper terrain and icy conditions you will need more aggressive setup, however, this won't be as much fun to learn on. Rent first, then get some used middle of the road set up with more forgiving flex.

My understanding is the learning curve in skiing is a shape of a long flat plateau: you get to get up and go on bunny hills and easy blues pretty fast, but it takes a while to become an all-mountain expert. I would give myself at least 1-2 seasons at resorts (and that's very optimistic, IMO, assuming you spend a lot of days on the slopes and take a lot of instruction mid-way). Then you have to decide what rocks your world - bumps, trees, powder or icy steeps - and then get your BC setup.

Here is a good reference article on which skis to get for AT: http://www.telemarkski.com/html/how_AT_select_ski.html
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Postby splattski » Wed Feb 03, 2010 6:10 pm

Here's another great resource for learning about gear:

http://cascadeclimbers.com/ski-board/ski-intro
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Postby Autoxfil » Wed Feb 03, 2010 7:00 pm

AT gear is crazy expensive compared to alpine stuff. You will also be skiing the resort for a while before you are ready for the backcountry anyway, so it's much more cost-effective to buy skiis for the resort now and kill them over the next couple seasons, then buy AT gear.

For resorts something like a 170 length and 75 underfoot will
be easy to use for someone of your size. Don't sweat the details, just err on the short side and buy cheap. Don't worry about boot features, just get something comfortable and cheap.
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Postby OJ Loenneker » Wed Feb 03, 2010 7:58 pm

If you are inclined, sometimes used tele gear goes for much less than AT equipment. Probably because people want to tele, but then buy the stuff, and realize that they like their alpine ski better, and sell off the tele stuff.

I got my first tele set up for $75 off craigslist (Salomon Super Mountains, Rotafella Chili with TRP release, and a pair of Garmont Libero boots.) and that is what I learned on. So, keep an eye out for the used stuff.
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