Raquette Skis

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 Sanfairyanne 29 Apr 2020

I'm looking for a challenge. I turn 50 next year and I really want to push myself to do something tough and memorable before I'm a decrepit old man. 20 Years ago I hiked the GR10 across the French Pyrenees. I'm now wondering if it would be possible to complete the HRP but in winter (The HRP follows the Pyrenees but typically stays higher).

Assuming the world is no longer in lock-down in 2021 I'm looking at either snow shoeing or using raquette skis. Raquette skis are entirely new to me. I read some info' and they appear to be a good combination because they allow you to use hiking boots and appear to be a cross between a snow shoe and a ski.

I'm struggling to find much information about these type of skis. Is there an English name for them? It seems 'raquette' is a French term. I wonder if anyone on the forum has experience using these. Are they practical for wearing for 6-8 hours a day. What should I know about these skis, are there some obvious questions I am not thinking to ask?

Many thanks in advance. 

 tlouth7 29 Apr 2020
In reply to Sanfairyanne:

It seems they are called skishoes

I wonder if they are the best or worst of both worlds.

 Trangia 29 Apr 2020
In reply to tlouth7:

There was a phase, about 20/30 years ago when some people where using "big feet". These were in effect very short skis. Whist they were very easy to turn, and required very little practice to use, they were not as fast as normal downhill skis - at that time, pre carvers - the "in" skis were Giant Slalem (GS) skis which were fast and normally skied with the feet close together and parallel. Big feet were also a bit unstable at speed. Were "big feet" Raquettes?

 Doug 29 Apr 2020
In reply to Sanfairyanne:

I've seen them for hire & sale quite often here in the French Alps but never seen a pair being used - makes me a little suspicious. I suspect they are OK for going uphill but pretty dreadful for going downhill - skiing downhill with skins still on isn't fun & even downhill on fishscale skis isn't as good as 'normal' skis.

I have a couple of books describing traverses of the Pyrenees on ski (in French) but have never heard of anyone doing it on snowshoes - would be possible but much slower.

In reply to Sanfairyanne:

I have a pair of Rossignol Free Ventures, they're a 99 cm mini ski that takes a mountaineering boot or a ski boot or a ski touring boot, with removable skins and harscheisen, and a binding that can be locked down for downhill, or free for uphill, with riser too.

Mountaineering boots work extremely well with them as snowshoes and pretty well for skinning up. Skiing down in mountaineering boots is very challenging though.

Ski touring boots work extremely well with them snowshoeing, skinning up and downhill.

I have used them this season for munro ski touring, with great descents.

Might be worth a punt. There are some for sale in Aviemore.

In reply to Sanfairyanne:

Never heard the French term before, but a quick google suggests that they are talking OAC/Skinbased's short skis, which oddly is part of the 'outdoor sports empire' coming out Kangasala central Finland - a slightly bizarre place of origin!

I actually climbed with an American chap  a couple of summers ago when I was last there - my wife's family are Kangasala people. He had met a Finn and ended up there trying to find a job, a similar situation to the one I had found myself in 20 years earlier! Alan was working in OACs factory making the ski. Interestingly, a very positively for conservative Finland, OAC have taken on a number of asylum seekers to work for them as well - so if you do use OAC skis, they have probably been made by an American and a bunch of Syrian engineers in small town in the middle of nowhere in Finland!

Most people seem to go for the universal binding that you can use with a hiking boot of some description. It does seem that you can parallel them, but in their advertising people seem to tele turn them more. Have you telemarked skied at all?

When I lived in Finland I looked at getting a pair (I think they were still Karhu back then, but same basic design) but they were really quite expensive. I ended up getting Marquette Backcountry "ski-shoes", because mainly, even with import duties from the State's, they were still cheaper and were pre-drilled to take telemark bindings, which I already had. They are heavy but indestructible. I haven't tried OAC skinbased skis to compare, but my impression is they glide much better than the Marquettes. I've used them with plastic telemark boots although I think they were talking about making a universal binding for them as well. I can tele turn mine a bit, but to be honest it easier to get them to parallel.

 Doug 29 Apr 2020
In reply to TobyA:

I assumed he meant something like these

edit to add - they include OAC skis, just a little further down the page

Post edited at 17:31

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