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Is there any harm in skiing downhill without the heels engaged with AT bindings?

Discussion in 'Backcountry' started by plazzo, Jul 22, 2019.

  1. plazzo

    plazzo Hard Yards

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    Hi everyone, I have my first set of AT boots and bindings (Fischer S bounds skis with Fritschi tecton bindings) and am enjoying the stability and ease of skiing - only 5 days so far. Most of the time when descending rolling slopes while touring I am not bothering with changing from walk mode to ski mode as they are so easy to ski, and I am used to three pin gear, but it occurred to me that maybe this is subjecting those little toe pieces to more stress than they are designed for. Any thoughts about this? Cheers Adrian.
     
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  2. skifree

    skifree grey Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    I am thinking it only means you don’t have release at the toe on the down hill by not taking them out of walk mode. Which is a valuable technique on some slopes.

    Not sure what you are or aren’t doing with the heel.
     
  3. Rick Ross Da Boss

    Rick Ross Da Boss One of Us

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    I do the same with tectons on my set, do wonder myself aswell. There not designed the same as a Tele so I go carefully. Will be interesting to see the other opinions here.
     
  4. Chaeron

    Chaeron One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    If the toes are in ski mode and you can consequently come out of the bindings you’d be OK.

    If they’re locked into tour mode you could do a knee.

    Depends on the relative steepness of the terrain - scooting down a gentle incline knowing you’re heading straight up after and thereby you’re doing it to avoid a needless transition - no issue.

    In this context one isn’t necessarily stressing the binding - depends on the amount of lateral force. The knee is more likely to go before the binding i.m.o.

    However - any serious turning IS going to stress the binding, which isn’t designed to release in tour mode.

    However, as stated, I wouldn’t be concerned about the binding - but the knee. Bindings are cheaper than knee surgery AFAIK.

    Ending up in an unattractive snowplough because you’re locked in at the heel and you’re gathering speed with 10kg plus on your back isn’t as enjoyable as first anticipated.

    This is exactly why tele bindings with patterned bases still rule on rolling hills - the best of both worlds. And I say this as a non-tele skier (so far).

    You might be missing your 3-pins - triumph of technique over technology....
     
  5. Outdoors

    Outdoors Hard Yards

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    Others will talk about the disadvantages but I am going to focus on the advantages As a telemarker for 30 years I switched to AT last winter along with my brother for our 2nd AAWT winter traverse. Partly it was to save weight and partly it was to trial a different system and work out the advantages and disadvantages of AT for ourselves. To be honest we hated locking our heels in and did so less than a handful of times over the 7 weeks. Because we are used to both paralleling and teleing on XCD gear with our packs on we found we could ski everything we wanted to without the heels locked in. Having our heels free enabled us to scoot around trees, etc and across flat sections and then continue downhill again when possible. For us it worked really well on the AAWT. In fact we found it extremely frustrating and time consuming locking our heels down and having to escape the system after doing so in order to transition to ‘touring’ mode. We also had a lot of issues with the snow balling up on our heel pieces - much more than we have ever experienced with our various tele setups. My personal preference is to remove my AT heels and put my tele heel risers on my two AT setups. Sacrilege I know... That is until companies start making decent ultralight tele-touring boats with tech attachments. Interested to know how many others prefer not locking their AT heels down.
     
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  6. skifree

    skifree grey Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Meidjo or Lynx might be your new best friends.
     
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  7. Boodwah

    Boodwah One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    This. sounds like you're now ready to graduate to tele.
     
  8. skifree

    skifree grey Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Maybe.
     
  9. Chaeron

    Chaeron One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Great to hear!

    Absolutely agree for rolling terrain, not comfortable risking that on steeps.

    As a non-tele skier on tech bindings I have found myself starting to bend the knee and staying in touring mode when covering distance -to the degree that I’ve actively considered eating more scroggin and taking up tele... for my patterned bases. May even switch from Annums to Epochs - go the narrower ski.
     
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  10. Team Weasel

    Team Weasel One of Us

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    I don't mind the odd skinned ski down something moderate...hopefully when no one else is watching. I'm a fan of skimo race gear for traverses / long days / rollers. Tip notches for ripping skins make transitions super fast.

    If you're skiing heels unlocked, Tecton is probably the best binding for it. Still has a release value in touring mode (more so for avalanches than impromptu tele skiing, but at least it'll probably release when you need it to, and before any damage occurs to the binding itself).
     
  11. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver One of Us

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    No real issue apart from the obvious locking toe etc.

    There is or should I say has been discussion on the level of torque on the toe piece, not so much from a binding failure more so from the binding ski interface. Ie ripping your toe pieces out of the ski.

    The fixing positions aren’t designed for level of torque a Tele turns exerts on the ski. However in saying that they are generally wider mount points these days and more durable, so they can take it. Or at least until they don’t.
     
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  12. Red_switch

    Red_switch Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: 30 Day

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    As a snowboarder who has seen a few mates RIP bindings off skis in various ways, I've often wondered about the relative merits of our different approaches to mounting.
     
  13. Goski

    Goski Addicted

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    Think about using leashes if using AT skis with brakes but not locking heels in because if the toe releases it otherwise could be bye bye AT ski. The brake won't deploy when yhe heel is in walk mode.
     
  14. Chaeron

    Chaeron One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Rear entry is no good - as far as ski boots are concerned....
     
  15. Goski

    Goski Addicted

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    Note that I've had minimal AT skiing after being on xc touring and progressively heavier tele gear for all my ski days until last season so I'll watch this thread with interest and learn.
    I'll be trying AT some more but NTN Meidjo, Lynx or even Outlaw X (which isn't that heavy and has a good range of movement for touring) are looking attractive too.
     
  16. Goski

    Goski Addicted

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    @snowgum might let me have a go on his shiny new Ourlaw Xs and Rustler 9 skis when he gets back from time skiing in NZ....??? I'll need to get some NTN boots in my size first.
     
  17. Goski

    Goski Addicted

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    Rear entry might be better for those not as flexible as they used to be.....
     
  18. Goski

    Goski Addicted

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    Better to rip out a toe piece than a ligament but good point. Too much torque on an AT toe piece without heels locked to make a breakage or a rip out in a remote location could mean a very slow rest of trip.
     
  19. Goski

    Goski Addicted

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    Go on, give tele a go
    Find a mate to lend you a setup or hire. I still haven't tried NTN but I'm very tempted to compare it to my duckbill gear.
     
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  20. plazzo

    plazzo Hard Yards

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    Thanks everyone, that is such useful information.

    It sounds like there have been lots of kilometres skied this way by better skiers than me without any problems.

    I hadn't really worried about the toe not releasing as I am kind of used to that with cross country gear but thinking about it properly - my old gear had a natural flexibility in the boot and binding which meant that I never have really hurt myself in a fall - shouldn't take the chance with this more rigid gear - so I will change to ski mode. And that means its more likely to release without brakes - so I will have that in mind too.

    I anticipate that for most of the day I will ski the ups and downs with just the toes and save the heels for good long descents or if I am worried about falling/conditions. I was getting really annoyed about fiddling with the binding at the bottom of slopes - getting the snow out of it and so on so it re-engaged walk mode properly.

    While researching this I found out there is a particular issue with the Fritschi Tectron pre 2019 models - if you fall in walk mode then the boot can get damaged as it gets forcefully pushed against the binding, caving the toe in. They have fixed this for later models, but it might be of relevance to some of you. Cheers.
    https://www.wildsnow.com/25582/fritschi-evo-tecton-toe-change-2018/
     
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  21. CarveMan

    CarveMan Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    I was going to post about the toe caving in but see you have read about it already.
     
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  22. skifree

    skifree grey Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    I can let you try my ntn set up if you can find ntn boots in the small sole size. NSW.
     
  23. Goski

    Goski Addicted

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    I'm thinking that being in ski mode i.e. not locked out and adding a leash will give you toe releasability on a Fritschi toe on those easier down sections you want to avoid doing a transition for. In case of an unexpected entanglement, brain fade or simply getting a ski stuck in a rut causing a fall etc. Then you'll not be hiking down somewhere to find the runaway ski.
    You'd still need to think about the risk of pre-release. I have no idea how likely the pin towers would do that without heels locked in.
    On leather tele boots and BD Riva cables or similar the chances were we'd twist out before damage was done in a fall to ligaments and bones.
     
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  24. art

    art One of Us

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    Im not sure if this is true for all tech bindings but my experience is that with the toes in ski mode and free heals you will release with very little effort such that you cant really ski like that.

    Try it on the bench/carpet at home and i think you will see how easy it is to pop the boot out.
     
  25. Goski

    Goski Addicted

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    In that case the skier might have to crank up the release setting on the toes to just use the toe-pieces in ski mode.....then remember to back it off again when locking heels, which may well defeat the intent of saving time by not transitioning. The Fritsch at least has some side shift in ski mode to accommodate some side-loading but that wouldn't be ideal for touring. Time for some experimenting methinks @plazzo Let us know how you go, good luck mate.
     
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  26. Snow Blowey

    Snow Blowey Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    I accidently had a few runs in my tectons fixed at the toe only. It was in fresh snow a couple of Thursdays ago. I was wondering why skiing felt so lose. Started the day skiing three run with the velcro buckle of my boots undone. Then folloed that up with toe in only AT bindings. Didn't break anything.
     
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  27. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver One of Us

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    Solid technique.
     
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  28. skifree

    skifree grey Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Not staying in the back seat?

    Any attempt to apply forward pressure would be summersault territory, no?

    Disclaimer I can’t ski alpine.
     
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  29. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver One of Us

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    I was thinking nice and relaxed and centred above the ski. You may be right. Flat terrain???
     
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  30. Snow Blowey

    Snow Blowey Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    I skied alot of aggressive alpine downhill using my NTN and never lost it forward with the exception of coming to a stop for a breather and hitting something that stopped a ski. I think you can put forward pressure on the boot with levering the heel off the ground. In fresh too much forward means sunken tips. Then over handlebars.
     
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  31. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver One of Us

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    Would Skifree's comments above be considered slander or personal attack etc. Perhaps you should report him to the mod squad.:D
     
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  32. telecrag

    telecrag Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Some ski manufacturers will not warranty a ski, if it has a tele binding on it. Would the same not apply in this case?
     
  33. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver One of Us

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    Not DPS. We love the Tele fraternity.
     
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  34. Snow Blowey

    Snow Blowey Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    It's got nothing to do with the binding damaging the ski. They just know teleskiers suck so bad they are more likely to break skis.
     
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  35. telecrag

    telecrag Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Gotten over it then?
     
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  36. Snow Blowey

    Snow Blowey Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Well I can't pay out on AT anymore.
     
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  37. telecrag

    telecrag Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    haha. They say that as they are making skis lighter, with no metal sheet for the binding, that with all the force on teh front, the binding can pull out easy. But to me it makes no sense.
     
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  38. skifree

    skifree grey Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Today’s testing found that with the binding in tour mode, so pins only as per OP, it was not good to do much more than stay on the traverse. Anything fancy like a turn felt like an accident about to happen. But the snow was ankle deep. The track above is while in tele mode. The track in research mode was too embarrassing.
     
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  39. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver One of Us

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    The chinese made skis only have alfoil in them anyway, so what's the difference.

    They need to shove some of the stuff they put into their swimmers to beef 'em up.
     
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  40. skifree

    skifree grey Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    My testing so far says no metal no problem, I can’t remember a binding pulling out of any of my dps’s.
     
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  41. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver One of Us

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    Carbon fibre grabs a hold of the screws like nobodies business.

    I couldn't believe the first pair I mounted. Thinking something was wrong with the drill. I had to up the torque from the standard setting.
     
  42. nfip

    nfip Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    yeah saw that the other day... of sorts.
    dreaming of a necessary purchase for upcoming bc expedition of sorts.
    ATTENTION: Voile V6 BC Skis mounted with quiver killers are not covered under Voile factory warranty.
    https://www.voile.com/voile-v6-bc-skis.html
     
  43. telecrag

    telecrag Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Sounds like such a crock hey. And if a tele binding was going to pull out, why wouldnt an alpine?
     
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  44. Goski

    Goski Addicted

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    Boo Voile.....boooo
     
  45. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver One of Us

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    Telemark skiers have much stronger quads from genuflecting everywhere. Like gorilla legs applying all that force. Plus they have to account for the extra weight from their granola stash.