This month's Ski Magazine had an article entitled, "The AT Boom" by Joe Cutts.
I realized that perhaps many of you have never heard of AT (or Alpine Touring) skiing.
I thought to educate you.
Quickly, hereis the anatomy of an AT setup:
now, AT bindings are different than regular alpine bindings and telemark bindings. The AT bindings are a mixture of the two, actually. Your boot stays clicked in at all times (unlike the Telemark binding, where the heal raises with each step and only the toe is in the binding). It is an awesome way to travel on the mountain because when you want to hike, you just unclick the BINDING from the ski (the boot stays in completely) and you can lift your heel and hike and when you're ready to charge down, you just click the binding back onto the ski and you're stuck in and can charge really hard with great control.Boots:
There are a few really key features on an AT boot. One, is obviously its compatibility with the AT binding, but it also has the ability to rotate forward in the walking mode. This makes hiking up mountains much easier, when the boot can pivot with you. Then you are able to synch it up nice and tight and stable for your ride down the mountain - nothing flimsy.
if you're going to bother hiking in the back country then you might as well have a ski that can ride through powder. Something fat. These would be my personal choice. Keep the skinnies on the resort for cutting in the crud.
The yellow piece is called a "skin". Skins secure to the front and back of your skis (you measure them to fit exactly) and they are super duper sticky on the bottom. These enable your skis to move forward but not backward because it has a gazillion tiny little fibers pointing backward. They are amazing. You hike with them on and then take them off on your way down.
Doons and I usually venture into the untouched land once a week. So if I tell you that we had a blast skiing, don't always picture us tearing up the groomers at the resort - we are only there half of the time. AT skiing is SO FUN and is not for the faint of heart. We will hike for hours for one nice long run down the mountain in fresh-untracked snow. I'm still learning to navigate through the trees (and have the bruises to prove it) and unfortunately I'm not much of a powder whore yet. This is the best way to get to parts of the mountain where no one has skied. It's so fun and beautiful to be alone in the wild snow country. Of course, we bring water (eating snow just doesn't do it for me) and you have to be very careful to check avalanche conditions and travel carefully if you're skiing outside of the resorts.
As always, we are very careful. But we mostly have a lot of fun. And when we're in the backcountry, Duvick gets to ski with us. He LOVES to ski - he has such long legs and a strong chest, he's the best snow dog ever.