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Skis or snowshoes advise for winter alpine approa

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 im off 11 Sep 2020

Hi.

I asked b4 about this in march b4 all hell descended upon us...so sorry to revisit....

I'm wanting to sort out and probably try to teach myself abit of basic ski touring ability for getting in to routes....mont blanc area.

I want to wear my scarpa phantom boots which I've figured arent best for skiing and not as safe maybe but I dont fancy climbing in clunky ski boots. 

Can people advise on kit and if my plan of teach yourself is reasonable.

I think I need silvretta 500 bindings? Do these come in different sizes? I'm UK size 8.

No idea what skis to attach these too....wide ish?  (Yeah I'm a complete punter with this 😂)

And I assume skins are easy to get.

Carbon walking poles ok?

If theres an archived thread with the answers.....please direct me.

Your experienced advise is very much appretiated. 

How to get going with skiing into routes? Is the jist of it....

Thankyou

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 OwenM 11 Sep 2020
In reply to im off:

If you can't ski already you'll find skiing off piste in climbing boots with a sack full of gear a nightmare.  Take snowshoes. 

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 doz 11 Sep 2020
In reply to im off:

Skiing in is the easy bit

Skiing out with a winter rack on your back...now that's a different story

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 im off 11 Sep 2020
In reply to OwenM:

😂😂😂 hmmm......maybe good advise.

Thanks.

I'm a quick learner mind you.

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 im off 11 Sep 2020
In reply to doz:

I want to do what's gonna be easiest for sure....its the climbing I'm interested in. But I was of the impression even just plodding with skis was easier (once figured it out) than snow shoes....or quicker.

I think I read some andy kirkpatrick blog on skiing into routes saying something like this. 

Pair of snow shoes are defo a cheaper option....or hire...

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 im off 11 Sep 2020
In reply to OwenM:

So if I was to persist in this pursuit.......

What first....go do a ski mountaineering course? 

I'll maybe message a guide for advise.

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In reply to im off:

> Pair of snow shoes are defo a cheaper option....or hire...

Take both. You can put the shoes on when you get fed up with falling over trying to ski. How many times you fall over before swapping will show how fast a learner you are. 

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In reply to im off:

> So if I was to persist in this pursuit.......

> What first....go do a ski mountaineering course? 

> I'll maybe message a guide for advise.

Learn to ski on piste

Learn off piste

Learn with a bag

Learn to ski glaciers and/or roped together

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 im off 11 Sep 2020
In reply to summo:

😂 you've been there? Ta. 

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 ianstevens 11 Sep 2020
In reply to summo:

This. Just get some snowshoes if you want to get going sooner, learn to ski properly if you want what's best in the longterm.

Also... skiing itself is fun. 

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 a crap climber 11 Sep 2020
In reply to im off:

Skiing dowhill in mountaineering boots sounds like a very effective way to break an ankle.

Climbing in skiing boots is easier than skiing in climbing boots. There are some excellent ski-mountaineering boots around (they can be eye wateringly expensive though). I use Atomic backland carbons, I only climb around Scottish IV normally and have used the ski boots up to Scottish III quite happily. I've got a climbing partner who uses Arc'teryx proclines with similar results. I guess if you're climbing harder you may find them more problematic, on e.g. harder mixed routes the limited ankle articulation would probably make life difficult.

If you want to use skis with climbing boots, try some approach skis - they're very short skis with crampon style bindings. They'll be easier going uphill than show shoes. For downhill, don't even bother just take them off. 

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In reply to im off:

> 😂 you've been there? Ta. 

First, moons ago I thought I could ski, just like a large proportion of Brits who holiday ski, then I went off piste and realised I couldn't ski; my technique was poor, I couldn't cope with changing snow condition, even a small rucksack impacted my balance massively etc. Etc. Then I learnt again with some instruction, which involved going right back to basic drills on greens and blue, then building up. Even two years ago I paid for half a days 1to1, mainly spent on blacks and off piste refining things. You can always improve.

Skiing is like climbing, to be proficient you need to put in the hours. 

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 im off 11 Sep 2020
In reply to summo:

Brill. Thanks for this. And all the other replies. Got alot to go on now. I'll get on some courses and stick to snow shoeing for now.

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 spidermac 11 Sep 2020
In reply to summo:

Started off in the same boat wanting to get into alpine routes in winter - seemed like a bit of a dark art trying to find out what people do. Have spent a LOT of time in the last 12 years learning to ski to be able to ski into routes with a big sac - not something I`d reccomend for beginner  skiers - big sac; tired; offpiste changeable conditions, maybe poor vis!!! Had a trip to Alaksa skiing with climbing boots & fritchi bindings - unless u are a very good skier u won`t be doing much skiing except shuffling along the flat or skinning uphill. So afraid the choice is snowshoes or invest the time & money needed to become better at skiing.

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 CathS 11 Sep 2020
In reply to im off:

It takes most people a few weeks to learn to ski with moderate proficiency on piste.   Skiing off-piste is a whole different ball game.

One ski instructor had a good quote about learning to ski off-piste: 'there is no escalator, you have to climb the stairs like everyone else'.

You might also have the revelation whilst learning to ski that it is more fun than winter climbing!

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 OwenM 11 Sep 2020
In reply to im off:

You have to learn to walk before you try running. Start on piste, get good at it, not just surviving. How long this takes really depends on how often you go. If it's one week a year it's going to take a long time.  If you live near to some hills with skiing you'll progress much quicker, it's all down to putting the hours in. 

When you're good on piste try off piste and the learning curve starts all over again. Nothing good comes easy.

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 adam06 12 Sep 2020

I have a pair of stc snow ventures for sale if your interested i.n buying them. They are a cross between touring skis and snow blades. So basically very short touring skis. Can sell them for £120 including the skins and postage. Let me know if your interested and i'll dig them out and send photos. They will work with ski boots and mountaineering boots... You can even get a "soft boot" attachment for hiking boots.. but that's probably a bit dangerous for any steep downhill in my mind.

A video about them:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Mg6_yPoEdI&

Post edited at 10:51
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In reply to im off:

I’d say skiing is much better and safer as it’s much faster and small crevasses are less of an issue. However you do need to be able to ski in control, otherwise it won’t be safe at all...

Climbing in ski touring boots isn’t that bad actually. You get used to it and whilst they are obviously heavier and perhaps less precise, I’ve found they are fine even on relatively hard (for me) routes - I’ve done tech 6 and 7 in them. Having said that, if a route is sustained with lots of pitches at 6 and 7 I’d opt for skiing in and changing into climbing boots. Same for big north faces which are technically easy(ish) but require you to move fast (eg the Ginat - but then logistics there get complicated as it’s up and over!).

Then again, it depends. For example, last season there wasn’t much snow in January so there were tracks into routes like Beyond Good and Evil and Fil a Plomb and people were just walking in in their boots (no snow shoes). Then later on after snow people were turning back even in snow shoes!

Snow shoes are an option for things off the VB but that would generally require one or two hut stays. Not a bad thing in itself, just don’t expect to be up and down in a day, which you can do with skis.

Get a second hand ski touring set up and learn to ski (take lessons or find a friend to teach you). Get your own custom moulded boots if you can. I use Scarpa Maestrales which are a good all rounder - there is lighter stuff available but it’s harder to ski. I reckon most climbers can get to a passable level of skiing after a few weeks (as in being able to ski in control albeit slowly and not falling over when that isn’t an option).

Skiing off piste on often less than perfect snow and with a climbing pack is not easy and you do need to ski in control given there are hidden crevasses and drops. If you can ski the VB in a passable way without a heavy sack, that should be a good starting point. Make sure you finish in daylight though as skiing by head torch is obviously harder and you need to know the terrain fairly well. 

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In reply to im off:

> So if I was to persist in this pursuit.......

> What first....go do a ski mountaineering course? 

Go do a week of piste skiing. Skinning up is pretty easy as you say (there is a knack to kick turns but you can practise that after someone has shown you how to do it). It’s the skiing down which is the hard bit and does take time to learn. 

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