Freeride Touring is a new term in the ski industry that brings two classic ski disciplines together. It is a combination of ski touring and freeride skiing. Instead of lifts, manpower is used to get up the mountain to be able to ride down in untracked or extreme terrain, or perhaps even some tree runs in deep powder.
Here at Snowbusters freeride touring is what we love the most. Whether we are heading up from the parking lot, or using our skins to get away from crowds in the resort, the freedom of touring works in our favor.
Since the explosion in popularity of freeride skiing, resorts become tracked out within hours of opening. Not to fear, however. Armed with a pair of touring skis and boots, there are always fresh tracks to be found.
Our team is outfitted with the knowledge and equipment for all levels of touring and descents. At minimum freeride touring requires skis with climbing skins and touring bindings, touring ski boots, and telescopic ski poles. More importantly, we are outfitted with avalanche safety equipment. Additionally, if the conditions call for it, ice axes, crampons, harnesses, rope, and an abseil device may also come in handy.
Similar to golf clubs, different types of skis are useful in different situations. If the purpose of the tour is to move quickly up and down in moderate terrain, as in classic ski touring, a light, shorter and skinnier ski is a great option. One is able to move quickly and the demands of the terrain do not require a high performance ski.
However, the requirements change for freeride touring. Extreme descents require gear that can handle it. A quality freeride touring ski optimizes for performance and weight – a tricky balance, but one that many brands have mastered. The latest technology involves using carbon in the construction to reduce the weight of the ski without compromising stability and performance.
When it comes to choosing freeride skis, here are some guidelines. The skis should be about 100mm – 120mm underfoot and a little bit taller than the skier.
As far as our ski preferences, the Snowbusters team rides DOWN. This family-owned brand, founded by Gregor Down, is an American company based in Switzerland. A small business ourselves, we appreciate working with other small, passionate brands. Plus, DOWN skis fit the bill when it comes to weight, performance, and cost. The choice was easy.
While skis are an important piece of the equation, we must also address boot selection. The same logic of ski selection can be applied to choosing boots as well. For freeride ski touring, we are looking for stiff, high performance boots. However, they are not as heavy as the boots you might wear when skiing in bounds at a resort. Again, we are looking for lightness optimized with performance. Note that a boot for freeride ski touring will be heavier than a traditional touring boot.
More important the performance or the weight, is the fit of the boot. We speak from experience when we say that the fit of your boot can make or break your skiing experience. Make sure to give yourself time to try on a lot of different boots to get the fit right. Additionally, it may be fruitful to be flexible about the cost. Having a boot that fits well is sincerely worth it. Here are some tips and guidelines when it comes to boot selection.
flex index between 100 – 130
Compatible with pin bindings
Recommendations: Technica Zero G Tour Pro, Dalbello LUPO 130 C. For ladies, Dynafit comes highly recommended.
Now that we have addressed skis and boots, it is time to discuss bindings. There are two types to be considered: pin binding and frame bindings. In either case, the bindings must be specific to touring. Generally, pin bindings will be much lighter than frame bindings. However, frame bindings provide stability and safety that pin bindings cannot offer.
Bindings should be chosen with the style of riding in mind. For regular freeride touring with lots of uphill mileage, or skiing couloirs in powder, a more robust set of pin bindings will work very well. Some of us from the Snowbusters team use the ATK FREERIDER 14, but there are plenty of options on the market.
If your riding style involves big uphill days and even bigger cliff drops, there are options for you as well. The Salomon S/LAB SHIFT MNC 13 is a hybrid binding providing the uphill comfort and functionality of a pin bindings with the security of a frame binding. These are a great option if getting air and skiing aggressively are parts of your riding repertoire.
For more advice on ski equipment or freeride touring, send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org. We are more than happy to assist you with your questions.
If you are ready for an awesome trip, check out the list FREERIDE TOURING adventures we offer here at Snowbusters: