skiing -- how to start without resorts

Tips, tricks, workouts, injury advice.
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OJ Loenneker

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by OJ Loenneker » Wed Feb 03, 2010 8:41 pm

DMT, you should go and check out some of the newer Tele stuff available these days. It's no longer on waxless skis with metal edges or three pin bindings.

Wed are talking serious four buckle plastic boots, step in bindings, tour/ski mode bindings and all that shazam.

I know what you are talking about the older gear from the 90's and stuff, I know my dad used to tour on that kind of stuff, and you are right. That stuff is not ment for big lines or such.

Plus, you know, you can still parallel turn tele skis too. :wink: All the same ski moves you do on AT can be done with free heel bindings.

Anyhow, I was suggesting that the OP would most likely save quite a bit of money starting out with a decent tele set up (and I am not talking about some old three pin deal eaither) than dropping a mountain of cash at some Dynafit set up.

But what do I know, I prefer to ride a Splitboard... :P :P

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OJ Loenneker

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by OJ Loenneker » Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:24 pm

DMT, I get what you are saying, and I agree that Tele is not the end all of skiing. Perhaps that is too why I find my self spending more and more time on my Splitboard than on two planks for the decent.

But for a budget, and if you look at craigslist, there are way more deals on Tele stuff than AT. This is of course just me looking at it from a chap tight wads perspective.

I also have an AT set up, that I got for pretty cheap off Craigslist. But that was a recent aqusition, and really it's more for broke buddies that wanna come out into the BC, I still rock my split.

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by rlshattuck » Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:46 pm

"I shred the bunny" . . . still, after a few years of trying to get better I've really not made it past blues and as for the dream of getting into the backcountry with a pack, hello.

I can relate to the being very broke thing (but it does give one time for backpacking, this lack of work) gotta find a ride, drive four hours to tahoe . . . and then only get to ski for a day before you go home and wait another three weeks to go again.

BUT YOU LIVE IN COLORADO!!!! . . . move to Breckenridge. get a job washing dishes or waiting tables, no commute required, except the free bus, to some great slopes and buy all your gear (except, maybe boots) used.

i've gone a few times with people that said, "oh yeah, I'll give you a few pointers," but as soon as we hit the slopes, gone!!! if you can barely ski, beginning lessons aren't that expensive. Even I can do that. (and I'm almost out the door for some Tahoe snow!)

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by rlshattuck » Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:48 pm

OOPS . . . I think I was in fantasy land again, just thinking about, Breck . . . but you're in the TAHOE area––hit the cheap resorts––boreal, Diamond . . . mid-week/student deals.

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by OJ Loenneker » Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:52 pm

rlshattuck wrote:BUT YOU LIVE IN COLORADO!!!! . . .

Half of Colorado is flat. :wink:

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by thelisa » Wed Feb 03, 2010 10:06 pm

Hi Chase, you will enter into a whole new world of fun exploring the mountains on skis.
My experience as a newbie:
I learned to ski 3 years ago (ok, started learning, still am) knowing I wanted an AT setup from the start. I bought boots, skis, helmet, poles, all at sale prices but still top quality - I was fortunate to have the $$$ although it cleaned me out. I still use all that gear so it was a good investment.

I used resorts for learning, realizing that hiking for every turn in the back country would make for a slooooow process. My BF taught me and I also got a lesson at the resort (not cheap but it was a good investment). By late winter/early spring of that first season I was doing BC tours, skinning up mountains in VT and NH and survival-skiing down 40-degree slopes :roll:

If you practise practise practise you will become competent enough to leave the lifts and head into the BC. It is fun to tour on XC trails to get into semi-back country conditions - you can use ski wax instead of skins for traction and you are earning your turns away from the lifts.

Let us know how it goes.

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by Clydascope » Wed Feb 03, 2010 10:17 pm

I’ve gotta agree with Dingus on this, although my progression was different I ended up in a similar place.

In 1979, at 19 years of age I moved to a resort town in New Hampshire and skied about 75 days, all on downhill gear.

The three winters that followed saw me in Taos, NM where I averaged about 75 days per season, all with downhill gear.

In 1982 I moved to Yosemite Valley and took up telemarking on wooden, fish-scale, edgeless skis with troll three pin bindings and leather lace up boots.

Next were Rossignol Randonee skis with three pin bindings used at Badger Pass Ski Area, maybe 50 days that one season.

In the spring I made a three-day trip out to Mount Hoffman and skied parallel turns the whole way. I never felt solid.

In 1984 I moved Mammoth Lakes where I spent the next 10 seasons working for the resort, half of that time on Ski Patrol.

In 1986 I used a Ramer AT binding setup on some downhill skis for a six day trip across the High Route. We were a group of six skiers and everyone else used tele gear. I was always the first to reach the passes and blew the doors off everyone when it came to skiing. I finally felt solid and could free the heels and climb with skins – it was a revelation.

There was a time when the only employees at Mammoth Mountain able to work on tele gear we two instructors. I worked with the resort administration to allow employees in other departments, like lift crew, hosts, race department and ski patrol, the option of skiing on tele gear. I was a host at the time and was the first non-instructor employee to make tele turns in uniform. In the early 90’s I telemarked about 50+ days per season on the mountain.

After upgrading my AT gear to a modern, lightweight rig I rarely used the tele gear in the backcountry on anything that would rate harder than an intermediate run at a resort. I would still tele at the resort on powder days – there’s nothing quite like a tele turn in powder, it’s one of the coolest sensations ever.

For what it’s worth I have never taken a formal lesson, not that there's anything wrong with that!

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by OOG » Wed Feb 03, 2010 10:27 pm

For what it’s worth I have never taken a formal lesson,

Lessons aren't worth the money. My first ski lesson was a tremendous waste of cash. I paid $40 to stand around and wait for a bunch of middle aged housewives to get their fat asses up after falling. Seriously though, regardless of the resort, a first time ski lesson will teach you three things, how to get on a lift, how to snowplow, and that you should never cross your skis. Two of those three things can be learned just as well by watching this video.
(at around 3:45)

Tele skiing or snowboarding might be a different story, but for alpine skiing, lessons are a waste of money.

Another thing, if you want to get good as quickly as possible, head for the less crowded resorts, even if they don't have as much terrain. At the more crowded resorts you'll spend more time waiting in line for the lifts than skiing. For example the last time I skied at Mt. Ashland I got in 54 runs with 1200 vertical each. Last Time I skied at Mt Bachelor I got 8 runs of about the same vertical and spent most of the day in line.

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by mconnell » Wed Feb 03, 2010 10:54 pm

welle wrote:Teaching yourself to ski is a recipe for disaster.

I learned to ski in my backyard in Colorado. Never had a lesson except from my father who never skied. As for the "disaster", in 40 years of skiing, I broke my thumb once. My brother, who also never had a lesson, was a strong contender for the Olympic ski team but wasn't so lucky avoiding disasters.

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by catullus » Thu Feb 04, 2010 1:01 am

Mmmm lots of great advice in here. I'm a medical student in Aurora, so I can't just move to Breck or Alma unfortunately, although I'd like to.

I think I like thelisa's plan the best. I know I eventually want an AT setup, so I would probably save money in the long run just getting one now, instead of buying a tele setup now and an AT setup later.

I'll take a lesson or two, and hit the resorts for 2 or 3 weekends before hitting some gentle backcountry slopes.

In most sports, I like going up more than going down anyway (mountain biking, climbing, road biking, running), so I figure I'll like going up just as much as going down w/ skiing too.


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