DIY BC Tele: Don't Forget the Slopes
February 25, 2011
I've been pushing Singletrack xc skiing a lot this winter. It's the hot new mtbiking version of skiing. We gotta remember that isn't all about roadie-style groomed trails.
Well, I need to push just as hard to remind folks that lift-served skiing holds NOTHING over just skiing out to your own local hilly public terrain and earning your own turns. Find a slope or glade somewhere and ski out to it then turn down it. Then ski back up and do it again. It's as good a way to ski a day away as any.
Maybe this side of skiing is pretty healthy and known-about these days, but who knows, maybe not. I bet there are 1000 more hillsides near where folks live that AREN'T being skied, though, than are.
Maybe pick a valley with a creek at the bottom, for something pretty to look at at the bottom of your runs.
For your uptrack just ski back up the valley as high as you can relative to your chosen ski slopes then add in as many switchbacks as you need to regain the full height. Cut your switchbacks so that you're easily skiing up them, not herringboning the whole time. Watch the steepness, anyway. Take 'er easy.
For gear, it's all relative. Regular classic boots and touring skis are fine for some kinds of snows and slopes. The bigger and beefier you go the more terrain you can take on vertically, but the slower and shorter you'll tend to wander horizontally.
I'm partial right now to my old Asolo Extreme leather tele boots. I bumped the steeps in those years ago. They still seem fine for anything but the extreme stuff. They're easy to ski and walk in. Like hiking boots, pretty much. You could tour for miles in them looking for your sweet turny slopes.
For skis you can still slap on kickwax and wander quite a ways with a ski that's 100+ mm wide in the tip.
Today's style of short soft wide hourglass shaped ski (170-190cm long?) will let you enjoy a lot of homestyle slopes. Try before ya buy. Probably a lot of downhill skis (especially older ones) can be converted to BC use. It seems like the shapes are converging with tele just as fat as alpine -- the key thing to roaming out to a hill then skiing back up once you go down is THE FREE HEEL. Heck, even AT alpine gear frees the heel for the scooth out and uptrack up then locks down again for the parallel-alpine descent. In fact, quite a few free-heelers are gettin' sloppy with their tele and using what's called "telellel' technique. Who cares, as along as it works and you're having fun!
Here in the Midwest we don't need skins. The hills are small so kickwax is fine. Glidewax is, too -- this is often "low angle powder" so you want nice gliding skis. Now, you might get braggy about your Rockies because of my "small" mention above, well, size is relative, baby. And a pitch is a pitch. You can maybe do a big 2000-foot Rockies drop twice in a day, while you can do a 200-foot Michigan drop a couple dozen times, easily -- getting in twice as much vertical, if that's your scene. Basically, around here we take an intense minute "poofing" our way down then a few mellow minutes going up. It all adds up to fun.
I'm inclined to say that adjustable poles are the way to go. I like a proper pole SO MUCH on an uphill. Doing the "hip push" a lot of times gets tiresome. Why not make it REAL skiing with a good pole length? Some dudes use a full-length XC pole that they then grab onto some cork tape wrapped halfway for the turns back down.
It's amazing to ski without crowds or noise. (OR EXPENSE!) And the "lift" back up hardly takes any longer than a chair. Besides, I just love staring at the snow, all those crystals, and the little trail details on the ski back up. The steepness slows ya down so you see the little things.
Skiing DIY BC tele gives us the best of both worlds: you get the kick'n'glide on the way up and the zoomy swoosh on the way down.
Set up your own lunch/snack/party hangout. Invite friends. Manage your terrain. (Don't litter, duh.) Strategically move deadfall in the autumn to open up your lines for the snow season.
Then when the big snow flies play hooky and seize the donut and head out.
There's no grooming so the best skiing comes as it pleases. (Wider skis and beefier boots expand your range of enjoyable snow conditions.)
It's also fun to manage your stash. Start at one end and "mind your margins" and ski each next run over about 12". Nest your turns, why not. That way there's plenty for everyone. For hours. Plan your flow with the way the shade moves around your glade.
It's like good trout fishing: probably best not to talk about location specifics. Let folks find their own.
I've recently been privileged to do a wide variety of slope-style skiing. From a high-end resort to a deluxe neighborhood skill hill to a generic trash-bump. ...To a lovely morning out in the woods with a couple pals doing our own thing.
What kind of skiing do you think won out?
You got it!
Lunch stop. Skier at bottom of hill.
Not a photo of an uptrack. Not "G" off to the right.
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