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Touring skis vs skiboards in the backcountry

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  • Touring skis vs skiboards in the backcountry

    For those unfamiliar with backcountry skiing, the preferred usage of skis fall into two categories:
    • Narrower skis typically fitted with direct mounted pin bindings. (Specialist versions are typically also used by ski mountaineering racers).
    • Fat powder skis usually mounted with a high performance touring binding which is optimised for downhill power skiing.
    The devil is in the details, but for the purpose of this posting you can assume most backcountry skiers to be using something out of the above two categories. For skibaorers the natuiral tendency would be to see if it is possible to take skiboards into the backcountry and have them adapted for climbing. I've compiled a list of reasons people will prefer touring skis over skiboards and then provide some viewpoints on that.

    Touring skis with step-in bindings are lighter:

    A pair of Spruce Ospreys custom fitted with Tyrolia Ambition bindings weighs in at 3 kg per skiboard, whereas a plain vanilla touring ski with pin tech bindings come to about 1.5kg per ski. Although one is not lifting the whole ski in every move when efficient gliding technique is applied, one should not ignore physics, as the full ski still has to be moved and something that is heavier will expend more energy.

    The weight argument is negated in the case of heavier powder skis with a binding such as the Tyrolia Adrenaline which weights in about 1.2kg per binding. Add the weight of the ski and it exceeds 6kg!

    Longer skis provide more downhill glide:

    This is one point which I believe is a non-issue. Although it is generally assumed that longer skis can go faster becasue they are narrower and have less friction, it is also well known that in most cases a well experienced skiboarder can glide as fast as need. Flat sections are sometimes a concern for skiboarders due to a lack of poles and the need for skating, however in a backcountry context, poles are always used thus eliminating this argument.

    Skiboards have less edge on traverses:

    This is more of an issue in areas where icy conditions are common. The problem is that for side slope traverses, a wide ski will hang out more over the edge. In essence this cause more torque on the inside edge. In addition the deeper side cut could result in a lesser part of the ski actually making contact. In icy conditions, even trying to get the ski flat on the angled slope will slide out as the skin will not provide enough grip.

    The solution is deemed to be crampons, but more field feedback is required for skiboarding. A typical crampon for a step-in binding will be clipped in behind the toe piece. It will drag on glide, but basically engage when weight is applied. The Ambition binding has a neat slot where the bespoke designed crampon fits in. this all works when ascending a hill, but when traversing the crampon will disengage too early making it very difficult for a natural stride. This is unfortunate as this is currently one of the few options that skiboarders have available. I believe the Salomon Guardian has a similar issue.

    Skiboards cannot be used for snow belays:

    Very few tourers really get into situations where building belays are required, so this might be a moot point. Let's consider this situation though. The art of building a good snow anchor with skis require a good knowledge of the strength of a snow pack. There is a lot of torque involved when load is applied and the effectiveness will be determined by how deep the ski can be sunk into the snow and where the rope or sling is tied around the skis. A pair of longboards (Ospreys, Mauraders, Sherpas) should have the potential to provide a decent anchors in the correct snow conditions, provided the tie-in point is the around the centre of the ski

    Another possibility is the use of a buried skiboard perpendicular to another skiboard which might actually prove as effective as a two-axe belay or a T-trench.

    However shorter skiboards should be avoided as they might not provide enough surface resistance.

    Skiboards cannot be used for glacier travel:

    The scope for glacier travel is getting less nowadays and once again few backcountry tourers really have to deal with crevasses in glaciers. Once again considering this point, I am not sure whether it is valid. Firstly there exists no recommended ski length for glacier crossings. A shorter ski might allow not bridge the full width of a crevasse, but then is that much different from glacier travel without skis. THe argument can be made that a longer ski spreads the widght ot the skier more. Many skiboarders will point out that the wider skiboard can do the same.

    There is no conclusive proof that skiboards cannto be used, other than perception. It is better to follow the ski mountaineering safety guidelines and be roped than be concerned about skiboard length.

    The challenges facing backcountry skiboards

    Let's ignore the market size for now as backcountry skiboarding is a microniche and it does not make sense yet for any manufacture to invest in this area. It does not however prevent smaller companies and enthusiasts to be innovative. For this section focus on the technologies that are available or might be required.

    I believe the main reason for taking skiboards into the backcountry is that skiboarders have a snowsliding tool that is proven to deal with snow conditions that are anything other groomed pistes. Skiboard tech have improved so much that there is basically a model available for every kind of riding condition - know the terrain and you can select the skiboard you need. Skiboarders know that skiboards do well in powder, have shorter turning radiuses, so do very well in trees. They know that a rocker-camber skiboard can deal well with variable conditions from icy patches to moguls. Yes, they have good reasons to want to experience the same joy of downhill skiing beyond that of ski resorts.

    Bindings:

    Bindings are the major obstacle.

    Currently the only commercial options are to have touring binding direct mounted on
    • any Summit skiboard
    • Spruce Osprey or Sherpa.
    • Eman Goat
    These options work, but due to the direct mounting there is not option to swap the binding out thus foregoing on one of the advantages or a 4x4 / 4x10 insert system. It we could have a removable system such as the Spruce Riser this could be an option.

    Unfortunately the Tyrolia Ambition binding currently used by Spruce is to long to mount on the standard Riser. Spruce originally designed a flat riser specifically to mount this binding on and which could utilize the 4x10 system. Unfortunately this has had some issues in the field due to the the skiboard touching the metal end of the flat riser. The rubber pads that were added afterwards has resolved some of the issue, but Spruce decided to directly the Tyrolia Ambition. (Even though the direct mount works very well, Spruce still considers this as prototypes and it will only be made available to select test pilots).

    Direct mounted bindings also has the potential to affect the flexibility of a skiboard. Whereas with stiffer boards such the Summit Nomad or Summit Marauder it probably is not an issue, something like the Rvl8 Rockered Condor would be badly affected if it was even possible to direct mount a binding onto it.

    A secondary problem with the Spruce Riser is the potential stack height. The lift-and-drag action of moving forward could lead to some instability. However in the short term, experimenting with Pin Tech bindings on a Spruce Risers could be an option.

    Alternatively Bill, a forum member, has done some good experimental work on a flat riser, on which he mounted Fritschi bindings. If this plate can be adapted to used Pin Tech bindings there might quite a bit of potential for saving weight.

    An important point about Pin Tech bindings is that a number of them require fix boot lengths, which is impractical for skibaorders who prefer a binding that is at least adjustable to some degree. Luckily a number of these bindings now come with an adjustable heel rail which has potential..

    Ski crampons:

    A number of bindings have some integrated crampon capability, but some of those have drawbacks as mentioned earlier. A fixed position crampon such as those from Voile might work, but they have no movement.

    Adding a mount for a crampon on top of a Spruce Riser will not work either as the stack height is to high. Therefore a flat riser with space to a Pin Tech-compatible binding will be more suitable, or a dedicated mount hole for something like a Voile or Black Dimaon ski crampon

    References
    Last edited by ysb33r; 12-15-2020, 10:29 AM. Reason: Updates with details about building anchors and crossing glaciers.
    Current: '20 Spruce Slingshot 119s, '20 Spruce Crossbow 115s, '18 Spruce Osprey 132s (touring), '21 Rvl8 SII 104s, '21 Summit Invertigos 118s
    Also: '11 Allz Elaila 94s, '12 Rvl8 Rockered Condor 110s, '15 Spruce Osprey 132s , '18 Spruce Crossbow 115s
    Previous: Gaspo Hot Wax 84s, Mantrax 98s, Summit Nomad 99s, Spruce Yellow 120s, Eman Uprise 104s

  • #2
    All good points ! I do have a touring long ski set up, but I prefer skiboards because I have more fun going down
    I think the current out of the box solution is using the RVL 8 soft boot binding with your skiboard of choice 110 cm or below, availability of new strap on crampons really help, check the sticky post on RVL8 backcountry kit,
    Right now I am using Bills flat riser with Fritschi binding which has crampon attachment with the snowshoe like Blunt XL and love it, if I didn't have that setup I would be probably using my soft boot set up
    I am not a fan of the tech bindings because of the fiddle factor of getting in and out of them in soft snow (albeit newer versions better) and I like to do a lot of side country skinning at ski resorts and like the Fritschi binding better for resort moguls and such
    The only reason I go on my long skis in the backcountry is if we are doing deep pow lin angle slopes where I need more float
    My buddy jeff has Jeff Singer's two plate flat reinforced mount for the Adrenalin binding and loved it, we have done all kinds of stuff including steep icy climbs

    Sent from my moto g(6) play using Tapatalk

    Boards :
    Blunt Xl, DLP, Spliff, Condor, Rockered Condor , Slingshot, Sherpa, Icelantic Shaman
    Boots
    K2 BFC 100 Grip walk sole , Dynafit CR Radical AT boot, Ride Insano Snowboard boots
    Bindings:
    Zero Pro Non release Binding
    Modified Receptor Backcountry Bindings (Bill Version and Slow Version)
    Spruce Riser with Attack 14 GW /AT binding
    Custom Risers with Fritschi Backcountry Bindings (Jeff Singer version 1, Bill version)
    Rocker and Sbol Soft Boot Bindings.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by jjue View Post
      I am not a fan of the tech bindings because of the fiddle factor of getting in and out of them in soft snow (albeit newer versions better)
      You mean like you have to:
      • Push hard down to get the click in and them stamp hard to get the heel to lock
      • Pull up hard to get the heel to release again?
      We were in soft snow between the trees and someone's pins released. I had to lay on the ground with my Ospreys attached to my feet, whilst trying to get said person's boot liagned so that the pins would click.

      What I gather from someone who deals a lot in backcountry gear is that those bindings have improved a lot, especially since the Dynafit patent expired.

      Originally posted by jjue View Post
      and like the Fritschi binding better for resort moguls and such
      Do you find that the pin bindings are not as responsive to turn?
      Current: '20 Spruce Slingshot 119s, '20 Spruce Crossbow 115s, '18 Spruce Osprey 132s (touring), '21 Rvl8 SII 104s, '21 Summit Invertigos 118s
      Also: '11 Allz Elaila 94s, '12 Rvl8 Rockered Condor 110s, '15 Spruce Osprey 132s , '18 Spruce Crossbow 115s
      Previous: Gaspo Hot Wax 84s, Mantrax 98s, Summit Nomad 99s, Spruce Yellow 120s, Eman Uprise 104s

      Comment


      • #4
        Yes , that exact issue with tech bindings you describe , also the pins in the front fit into two tiny holes that can get ice in them and snow and it sometimes is hard to get the pins aligned into the tiny holes in the boot especially in soft snow .
        The problem with tech bindings is that the boot is held in the binding by four tiny pins , this is fine for soft backcountry snow but in firm moguls and bumpy resort snow the pins can prerelease and pop out of the little holes that they are held in . I had this happen to me on a steep icy slope going over a mogul at mammoth and was not fun . Some skiers prevent this from happening by locking the front pins in a non release setting , which is the way you climb in them so you don't accidently step out of the binding . I started doing this at the resort but this just obviates the release safety factor.
        You will notice that there are some new tech bindings that have alpine type heels and also even some that have an alpine type toe that fits over the front of pins to attach for the descent to make a stronger resort type attachment.
        I used dynafit bindings for a time and thought it would make me a super man but it didn't , ha ha . I didn't to seem to be less tired out climbing but maybe that is just because I get tired out easily !!!I They do save a lot of weight.
        Boards :
        Blunt Xl, DLP, Spliff, Condor, Rockered Condor , Slingshot, Sherpa, Icelantic Shaman
        Boots
        K2 BFC 100 Grip walk sole , Dynafit CR Radical AT boot, Ride Insano Snowboard boots
        Bindings:
        Zero Pro Non release Binding
        Modified Receptor Backcountry Bindings (Bill Version and Slow Version)
        Spruce Riser with Attack 14 GW /AT binding
        Custom Risers with Fritschi Backcountry Bindings (Jeff Singer version 1, Bill version)
        Rocker and Sbol Soft Boot Bindings.

        Comment


        • #5
          I've updated the posting with details on glacier travel and building snow achors
          Current: '20 Spruce Slingshot 119s, '20 Spruce Crossbow 115s, '18 Spruce Osprey 132s (touring), '21 Rvl8 SII 104s, '21 Summit Invertigos 118s
          Also: '11 Allz Elaila 94s, '12 Rvl8 Rockered Condor 110s, '15 Spruce Osprey 132s , '18 Spruce Crossbow 115s
          Previous: Gaspo Hot Wax 84s, Mantrax 98s, Summit Nomad 99s, Spruce Yellow 120s, Eman Uprise 104s

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by ysb33r View Post
            I've updated the posting with details on glacier travel and building snow achors
            Thanks! I agree with all the points you made.

            Sent from my moto g(6) play using Tapatalk

            Boards :
            Blunt Xl, DLP, Spliff, Condor, Rockered Condor , Slingshot, Sherpa, Icelantic Shaman
            Boots
            K2 BFC 100 Grip walk sole , Dynafit CR Radical AT boot, Ride Insano Snowboard boots
            Bindings:
            Zero Pro Non release Binding
            Modified Receptor Backcountry Bindings (Bill Version and Slow Version)
            Spruce Riser with Attack 14 GW /AT binding
            Custom Risers with Fritschi Backcountry Bindings (Jeff Singer version 1, Bill version)
            Rocker and Sbol Soft Boot Bindings.

            Comment


            • #7
              I use SecureFix in a Spruce Riser Salomon 610. The double stacked height doesn't bother me that much. I think I would be fine with the Spruce Riser and Salomon Shift tbh.

              I think we are lacking in asymmetrical skiboards for touring. The new slingshot looks great, and the Bluemoris powder skiboards would be interesting also.
              Fox-Trotting - Thrifty Wanderlust & Adventures

              Skiboard Magazine

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Roussel View Post
                I use SecureFix
                What is SecureFix?
                Current: '20 Spruce Slingshot 119s, '20 Spruce Crossbow 115s, '18 Spruce Osprey 132s (touring), '21 Rvl8 SII 104s, '21 Summit Invertigos 118s
                Also: '11 Allz Elaila 94s, '12 Rvl8 Rockered Condor 110s, '15 Spruce Osprey 132s , '18 Spruce Crossbow 115s
                Previous: Gaspo Hot Wax 84s, Mantrax 98s, Summit Nomad 99s, Spruce Yellow 120s, Eman Uprise 104s

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by ysb33r View Post

                  What is SecureFix?
                  Securafix was an adapter that you could put into a regular ski binding to tour with . I used to own one but I did not like the added stack height and the extra weight.
                  https://www.wildsnow.com/backcountry...g-ski-adapter/

                  The SecuraFix is no longer sold but there is a modern version of the same idea called Daymaker alpine touring adapter.
                  https://www.daymakertouring.com/prod...uring-adapters

                  The problem is these adapters on top of a release binding on top of a spruce riser really raise you pretty high off the board .Roussel seems to manage ok though.
                  Boards :
                  Blunt Xl, DLP, Spliff, Condor, Rockered Condor , Slingshot, Sherpa, Icelantic Shaman
                  Boots
                  K2 BFC 100 Grip walk sole , Dynafit CR Radical AT boot, Ride Insano Snowboard boots
                  Bindings:
                  Zero Pro Non release Binding
                  Modified Receptor Backcountry Bindings (Bill Version and Slow Version)
                  Spruce Riser with Attack 14 GW /AT binding
                  Custom Risers with Fritschi Backcountry Bindings (Jeff Singer version 1, Bill version)
                  Rocker and Sbol Soft Boot Bindings.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I think he wanted to say Secura Fix / Daymakers Adapters



                    Something like this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvVtNRBtC5g

                    Duotone II Rage
                    Salomon SPK

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Has anyone tried putting Daymakers in a non-release binding?

                      Sent from my Mi Note 10 Pro using Tapatalk

                      Current: '20 Spruce Slingshot 119s, '20 Spruce Crossbow 115s, '18 Spruce Osprey 132s (touring), '21 Rvl8 SII 104s, '21 Summit Invertigos 118s
                      Also: '11 Allz Elaila 94s, '12 Rvl8 Rockered Condor 110s, '15 Spruce Osprey 132s , '18 Spruce Crossbow 115s
                      Previous: Gaspo Hot Wax 84s, Mantrax 98s, Summit Nomad 99s, Spruce Yellow 120s, Eman Uprise 104s

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ysb33r View Post
                        Has anyone tried putting Daymakers in a non-release binding?

                        Sent from my Mi Note 10 Pro using Tapatalk
                        i doesn't work because the toe clamp needs to rest on the top of the boot to be locked in. Possibly a custom work around.
                        Fox-Trotting - Thrifty Wanderlust & Adventures

                        Skiboard Magazine

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The original flat riser that Jeff did, did have some problems but I think it is a good starting point for anyone looking at making a riser. For me there are two issues to be solved
                          • Fitting a crampon
                          • The protruding screws
                          The rubber at the back and front have the screws coming through. This causes dents when the boards flex a lot such as coming off a jump. Not that on touring one is expecting to do a lot of jump, but even a small jump terrain level shift can cause this. A thicker piece of rubber might be a good enough solution.

                          Click image for larger version

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                          Another issue is the lip that run the length of the riser and points upwards. This prevents sometime like the Voile crampon from being mounted on the riser. I think the riser is low enough to have enough engagement of the crampon's teeth into ice. The lip might also prevent some bindings to be mounted. I have not measured the width required for say the Fritschi Tecton 12 / Viper 10,, but it could be an issue. The lip could also prevent the crampon from the Fritschi from being connected correctly.
                          Current: '20 Spruce Slingshot 119s, '20 Spruce Crossbow 115s, '18 Spruce Osprey 132s (touring), '21 Rvl8 SII 104s, '21 Summit Invertigos 118s
                          Also: '11 Allz Elaila 94s, '12 Rvl8 Rockered Condor 110s, '15 Spruce Osprey 132s , '18 Spruce Crossbow 115s
                          Previous: Gaspo Hot Wax 84s, Mantrax 98s, Summit Nomad 99s, Spruce Yellow 120s, Eman Uprise 104s

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I cam up with some measurements (1mm).

                            The standard Spruce Riser (2021) is 535mm and the plastic plate is 234mm. There is just under 480mm distance between the furthest mounting holes. On the Tyrolia bindings that Spruce utilises toe piece distance is 56mm and heel piece is 95mm. Four sets of mounting holes are required for the toe piece and three sets for the heel piece.

                            If we consider the Fritschi Teton12 and Vipec 12 models (they use exactly the same mounting pattern) the toe piece have mounting holes 65mm apart and in the heel piece they are 60mm apart. The heel piece has 25mm of adjustability on the rail. The toe piece is complicated by the fact that the rear set of mounting holes are offset inward by 2mm from the front set of holes.

                            If one considers the Salomon/Atomic Shift MNC 13 bindings, the toe piece need five mounting holes. The distance between the front mounting and the rear pair of mounting holes is 135.5mm. The heel piece require four mounting holes where the distance between the front and rear pair is 68.5mm. More clarity can be obtained from this non-official template.

                            What is the implications for a riser?

                            In the case of the Fritschi bindings one can definitely get away with something that is shorter than the Spruce Riser. Working out the placement of the drilled holes is definitely complicated by the toe piece screws.

                            The MNC will required less complex drilling, but the riser will need to be just as long as the standard Spruce Riser. Given that ideally one would like to have a Riser that is about half that of Spruce, some engineering will be required.
                            Current: '20 Spruce Slingshot 119s, '20 Spruce Crossbow 115s, '18 Spruce Osprey 132s (touring), '21 Rvl8 SII 104s, '21 Summit Invertigos 118s
                            Also: '11 Allz Elaila 94s, '12 Rvl8 Rockered Condor 110s, '15 Spruce Osprey 132s , '18 Spruce Crossbow 115s
                            Previous: Gaspo Hot Wax 84s, Mantrax 98s, Summit Nomad 99s, Spruce Yellow 120s, Eman Uprise 104s

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ysb33r View Post
                              If one considers the Salomon/Atomic Shift MNC 13 bindings, the toe piece need five mounting holes. The distance between the front mounting and the rear pair of mounting holes is 135.5mm. The heel piece require four mounting holes where the distance between the front and rear pair is 68.5mm. More clarity can be obtained from this non-official template.
                              By some further measurements I think that the Slide be a non-starter for any boot length under 300m (Roughly Mond 27/28 depending on brand). The rear screws of the toe piece will overlap with the 10x4. For boards accepting 4x4, 260mm will still work.
                              Current: '20 Spruce Slingshot 119s, '20 Spruce Crossbow 115s, '18 Spruce Osprey 132s (touring), '21 Rvl8 SII 104s, '21 Summit Invertigos 118s
                              Also: '11 Allz Elaila 94s, '12 Rvl8 Rockered Condor 110s, '15 Spruce Osprey 132s , '18 Spruce Crossbow 115s
                              Previous: Gaspo Hot Wax 84s, Mantrax 98s, Summit Nomad 99s, Spruce Yellow 120s, Eman Uprise 104s

                              Comment

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