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Alpine Touring Skis

Alpine Touring Skis

Here at Telemark Pyrenees we stock a huge range of skis that are can be used for alpine ski touring. Many of these skis have been designed specifically for ski touring, while others are alpine models that lend themselves well to being used for touring. Advances in ski design and materials in the last few years mean that many alpine skis weigh much less than previous models, so can be considered for touring. Some of these "alpine crossover" skis weigh only a little more than the dedicated touring models, but offer superior downhill perfomance.

Ski touring has evolved and now encompasses a wide range of different skiing styles and adventures. Sidecountry skiers only venture a short distance from the resort and usually prefer performance downhill skis. Ski Mountaineers want to climb and descend as many vertical metres as possible and count every gram: uphill performance is as important as the downhill. Backcountry skiers covering long distances will want a lightweight mid-fat ski that climbs well and skis well in most snow conditions, from ice to powder. Ski touring has always been a great way to keep fit and the latest trend is "resort - fitness touring" where skiers skin up the pistes or (better) next to them, then ski back down the pistes. These skiers want a lightweight ski for efficient uphill combined with a medium-stiff flex for skiing down on the hardpack.

To help you choose which models best suit your skiing style and touring itineries we have listed our skis in four "Touring Categories": Race, Efficient, Free-Tour and Fat.

Narrow short skis designed for skimo (SKI MOuntaineering) use and fitness training, when fitness means climbing as fast as possible. These skis are designed to be as light as possible. The international Skimo regulations specify a minimum length of 160 cm for men and 150 cm for women, and since every gram counts, race skis are usually these lengths, or maybe a few cm longer for additional stability / skiability. Climbing with these is fantastic, the minimal weight helps the metres fall away and the narrow sidecut helps them grip well in icy conditions. While Skimo competitors manage to ski these skis well in all snow conditions, it has to be said that these are not the easiest skis offpiste; the narrow width limits float while the short length reduces directional stability. Choose these skis if you're racing or a performance fitness fanatic timing each outing. They can also be a good choice for fitness skiers who will be skiing down resort slopes, the minimal weight makes them good fun on the piste....up to a certain speed!!

Wider than race skis, Efficient skis have a waist of 70-85 mm, are lightweight and can be considered the latest generation of "traditional" touring skis. These skis are generally touring specific models with medium flex and medium radius sidecuts. Modern ski design and materials enable the manufacturers to build touring skis that are robust, that ski well and very light. The relatively narrow width means these  skis tend to be very versatile, gripping well on ice and coping well in deep snow. If you're looking for ski for covering long distances, for a ski that will not be tiring when climbing since it's still light, then take a look at the efficient skis. These skis are also a good choice for small and lighter skiers who may find the wider models too heavy for pleasant climbing. We spend most of the day skinning so you need this to be fun.

Advances in ski construction and materials means that ski widths that would once have been hopelessly heavy for touring can now be made with weights that allow their use in the backcountry. We call skis with waists between 85-100 mm  "Free-Tour" skis., the backcountry equivalent of free-ride. These skis generally weigh a little more than the efficient series models but offer superior soft and deep snow performance. More width makes these more stable with better floatation in fresh and spring snow. Many of these skis are alpine models that also tour well, or high performance touring skis, and the downhill performance of many of these is superior to the lighter models. Free-tour skis are the best choice for skiers who are prepared to work a little more on the uphill, for skiers looking for downhill performance in all the snow conditions we find in the backcountry. 

You guessed!! These skis have waists over 100 mm, loads of float and are the skis you see in just about all the offpiste / backcountry ski videaos. Excellent fun when conditions are right, fat skis are definately the way to go if you're lucky enough to only ski powder, and are either un-naturally strong or will only be climbing relatively short routes. While fat skis make skiing deep snow much easier, they tend to be harder work on ice, so are not the most versatile backcountry tools. These skis are also a great choice for lift-assisted side-country tours and heliskiiing. Nice to have a pair or two if you're lucky enough to have a "quiver" of skis.....

Other considerations:

When skinning you need a ski that will be short enough for you to easily make kick-turns when climbing.
This generally means that the ski should not be longer than your height, and probably about 10 cm shorter. (Yoga helps if you're determined to use longer skis).
Skis with progressive tips tend to be longer and one needs to take this  into account when deciding which length to choose.
If you'll be skiing a lot of powder go for longer skis, if you'll be spending most of the time on ice and / or steep couloirs then choose a shorter ski.

When touring it's important that the group has a more or less similar level of fitness and endurance. However there are always differences and the choice of gear can help mitigate these.
Do you usually ski with skiers who are stronger than you? If so then try and save a few grams using a lighter ski, it'll make the trip more fun for you.
Always waiting for the others to catch up? Then you've a margin of effort to play with and can use a wider ski without losing speed over the day.

We've listed our alpine touring boots using the same "Touring Category" choices: Race, Efficient and Free-Tour (for boots "Fat" is the same as "Free-Tour").
Try to have a coherent set-up with boots of the same category as the skis.
Skimo race boots are generally too flimsy for driving wider skis, and stiff 130 flex boots are overkill on narrow touring skis.

We hope this information is useful for you. Should you like some suggestions or help selecting the best model for your needs, please get in touch. We're here to help!! 

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