Question What light pattern-base ski touring setup - for distance with some turning too?

Dropbear

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Can you please help me out with some ski touring gear options?

I'm interested in buying a pattern-based ski touring set for backcountry trips. It'll be for something approximating:
- 70% lightweight 'easy miles' touring over mild terrain
- 30% freeheel turning down green and blue slopes
So what sort of setup would be good for distance, but with enough precision for some turning, for a person who doesn't know how to telemark, please?


(This touring set won't be used for any serious downhill terrain. My current alpine ski set is very old and outdated, so I'm planning on replacing it all with an AT one-ski quiver set in a year or two.)

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Ski touring plans:
- Covering mostly longer distances on flatter terrain, sometimes on but mostly off trails
- Day and multi-day tours out Perisher, Guthega, or Charlottes, as well as full weeks (or longer) on the Bogong High Plains
- Sometimes carrying a 15-20kg pack, but otherwise just a day pack

My background:
- I'm an alpine skier and snowboarder. I can get around alright on cross country skis, but I've not tried telemarking. While it would be nice to learn to telemark properly, this will probably be my only freeheel setup, so I'm not sure how far I could take my tele skills with gear like this...
- When I've skied on the BHP previously, my main setup was a borrowed AT set with full skins, which was a pain on all the flats. When I spent a day on someone else's hire skis (Madshus Glittertind skis, NNN BC bindings, and lightweight boots), I found them too soft to have any fun on the downhills... But maybe this was because the hire gear was overly sloppy?

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Questions:

Skills:
What kinds of freeheel turning should I be aiming for for these kinds of trips?
I'm wanting to do more than snowplow! Should I be simply approximating alpine parallel turns, or spending some time to learn the foundations of telemarking?

Boots:
- Will leather boots be too soft for turning? Will plastic Scarpa T4s or Scott Excursions be too hefty for longer distances? I'm currently thinking that a leather boot with some extra structure would be good? Perhaps something like the Crispi Svartisen - but don't see this boot or similar alternatives available in Sydney / NSW / Regional VIC shops?

Bindings:
- NNN BC for distances or 75mm for turning? Or something else?
I really don't know my way around all the tele binding options! Voile Switchbacks seem like a good middle-ground option, as long as I can find a good 75mm boot?

Skis:
- I'm currently thinking something like the Madshus Epoch or Rossi BC90, or similar?
Would this be a good option, or something thinner or thicker? What length should I go for for Australian BC conditions, given that I'm 85kg and 185cm?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!
 
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Chaeron

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Madshus Annums mounted with tech bindings such as Dynafit ST 2 Radicals or Marker or ATK bindings in a 185 length are also another option.

The Annums are wider than the Epochs so tour a bit slower but are better on the downhill.

When combined with a light tech boot such as the Tecnica Zero G you can cover a lot of ground quickly and comfortably.

If using a plastic boot ensuring it’s property sized and fitted makes all the difference. These can be very comfortable and really good on the down and up.

Having the option of kicker skins as well as full length skins is also good.

@Untele-whippet @skifree @nfip @Ziggy @snowgum
 

skifree

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To cover ground go Epoch.

Given you ski alpine stick with that unless you really wants to join the gods of telemark.

So go for super light AT binding, (look at ATK) and a super light AT boot, the super light end is lighter than tele by more than enough. Chuck that on a Epoch 185 or 190 if carrying O/N pack and you'll cover distance and feel in control in a familiar way on the way down.

All this kit will transfer to a beefier ski for yo yo trips. So while you'll spend up front you'll save in the longer term.
 

Chaeron

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For the sake of completeness also consider the Fischer S-Bound, along with the madshus Epoch and Voile Vector,

 

pegasusSki

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I also haveVoile Vector BC - but you can get Voile Ultra Vector now.
If you are easy to fit into boots get a really light plastic boot and tech bindings if you have dollars. The Dynafit Speed turns are really light.
I've just honed in on the Marker Alpinists which are great value for money and lighter than Dynafit Rotations.

If you are looking for comfort (and am a hard fit like me) there is still some mileage in a leather boot (they are actually stiffer than the synthetic ones as far as I can tell) and Voile Switchbacks. I like an elevator and a means of easing the tension via a pivot- not a big fan of the overly simple 75mm bindings which can be tiring up places like Stirling.
 

scottski

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I have some Rossi BC80’s. Light touring setup with a Rottefella BC binding plus a Rossignol BC X10 boot. No back strap or rear heal retention. I can Tele in these, not well but can cover it, step turn or roll the edges over a bit will turn them.
Just use these touring out to Kosci from Thredbo or around Perisher and Guthega.
My favourite touring setup if heading out for an overnight is my Karhu Tele setup with skins and an old pair of scarpa T4’s
Everything’s a compromise is one way or the other.
 
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Dropbear

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Thanks everyone for the comments!

Look at Voile pattern based skis. I have his and her Ultra Vector BC at home and love them.
...similar to FB, I have the Vector bc as my preferred touring skis.
I also haveVoile Vector BC - but you can get Voile Ultra Vector now.

There's lots of love for the Voile skis. Is that just for lightness, or for overall quality?

At 90's waists, they're wider than I was anticipating for this setup, so there is the interesting idea about aligning this light touring kit with AT gear, which then leads to a question of boots...
 
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Fozzie Bear

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Thanks everyone for the comments!





There's lots of love for the Voile skis. Is that just for lightness, or for overall quality?

At 90's waists, they're wider than I was anticipating for this setup, so there is the interesting idea about aligning this light touring kit with AT gear, which then leads to a question of boots...
Both lightness and quality. . The Ultra Vectors replaced DPS Wailer 105 So had a lot to live up to for skiability. And my alpine skis are Stocki (2 pair), Black Crow (1 pair) and Kastle (1 pair). If they didnt ski well i wouldn't be keeping them, let alone recommending them.
 
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Dropbear

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So go for super light AT binding, (look at ATK) and a super light AT boot, the super light end is lighter than tele by more than enough. Chuck that on a Epoch 185 or 190 if carrying O/N pack and you'll cover distance and feel in control in a familiar way on the way down.

All this kit will transfer to a beefier ski for yo yo trips. So while you'll spend up front you'll save in the longer term.

Tele does look fun, I just doubt that I can spend the time on it to do it well, given all the other snow things...!

My thinking for my AT kit was that I would get a ski boot that would be a stiffer all-rounder type: for resort, backcountry alpine, and snow kiting. It woundn't necessarily a super-light model, although lightness would be an important consideration. Something like a Scarpa Maesterale, perhaps. (Although I'm not wed to Scarpa as the TX's that I borrowed on my last week-long BHP trip tore up my inside ankle bones pretty bad!) Whatever AT boot fits best is my plan...

But if I had those stiffer AT boots, would I want to take them for a week of gliding on the flats of the BHP? And if I did, wouldn't I wear them out faster so they'd be less use for proper alpine skiing?

Alternatively, if I could justify getting super-light AT boot in addition to a stiffer boot, would it be comfortable enough for extended cross country use on some of these trips?

Those questions had led me down the path of thinking about a dedicated lightweight touring setup in addition to an AT setup, but if the two could be merged using some similar bits of kits then that would be nice. Ultimately, can one AT boot do all these things, and still be a long-lasting solid boot?
 
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Dropbear

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If you are looking for comfort (and am a hard fit like me) there is still some mileage in a leather boot (they are actually stiffer than the synthetic ones as far as I can tell) and Voile Switchbacks. I like an elevator and a means of easing the tension via a pivot- not a big fan of the overly simple 75mm bindings which can be tiring up places like Stirling.
I have some Rossi BC80’s. Light touring setup with a Rottefella BC binding plus a Rossignol BC X10 boot. No back strap or rear heal retention. I can Tele in these, not well but can cover it, step turn or roll the edges over a bit will turn them.

Yes, the Switchback's elevator and easy pivot makes it look a really good option. I'm just not sure what boot to pair that binding with, as there appears to be a lack of stiffer leather boots with 75mm between Sydney and the Vic alps, and I'm nervous about buying boots online...

Alternatively the BC setup seems the lightest option, but I don't know much about freeheel skiing skills. Does anyone have any good tips or videos to share about this, please?
 

Dropbear

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Not really.

Fair enough.

Well I will need a solid AT boot for my main skiing activities, and would be reluctant to take those on a week-long BHP tour across the flats.

So then I'd essentially need a second set of boots for touring... The options would be either a second AT boot in a more lightweight model, or a cross country / tele boot. Given the mildness of terrain, and the cost-effectiveness, the latter looks more favourable...

Which leaves me wondering about leather boots + NNN BC bindings, or leather / plastic boots + Switchbacks? If I could learn how to approximate some fun turns on the NNN BC's, then this would be lighter and faster...
 

Dropbear

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Also, can anyone please tell me any rules of thumb for touring ski length? (I'm 85kg and 185cm)

Would these rules be the same of different for narrower skis (eg Epochs, S-Bound, Rossi BC's, etc) verses wider skis (eg Ultra Vectors etc)?
 

Fozzie Bear

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Also, can anyone please tell me any rules of thumb for touring ski length? (I'm 85kg and 185cm)

Would these rules be the same of different for narrower skis (eg Epochs, S-Bound, Rossi BC's, etc) verses wider skis (eg Ultra Vectors etc)?

Probably about right (FWIF I'm same/same). No rule as such but a longer ski will be more stable at speed. Longer is a PITA when kick turns are called for. Shortest ski I have is a 178cm race ski. Most are 185-188 cm
 

Telemark Phat

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Fair enough.

Well I will need a solid AT boot for my main skiing activities, and would be reluctant to take those on a week-long BHP tour across the flats.

So then I'd essentially need a second set of boots for touring... The options would be either a second AT boot in a more lightweight model, or a cross country / tele boot. Given the mildness of terrain, and the cost-effectiveness, the latter looks more favourable...

Which leaves me wondering about leather boots + NNN BC bindings, or leather / plastic boots + Switchbacks? If I could learn how to approximate some fun turns on the NNN BC's, then this would be lighter and faster...
If overnighting plastic.
 

Dropbear

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Possibly the Technica G Zero? What I have started to do is tour with the boot tongue removed from my Atomic Backland Carbon. As comfortable on the flat and up as a pair of slippers.

Yeah they look very nice. And whether it's that model or not, my main AT boot will be something performancy like that, rather than a nimble skimo speed slipper! So if I go for an AT boot like that, I'll have to get that first and then decide if I can take it on flatter tours...


Thanks! Yes, I'm pretty confident that a pattern base ski is needed for these kinds of trips - they're the sort of trips where skins aren't necessary.

The only other possible alternative I'm aware of are full-length Fisher Profoil (plastic scale) skins. Does anyone use these? I tried them out briefly and found that they're great in rolling terrain. But they seem really hard to come by - either in shops or online. What's the go?

If overnighting plastic.

For dryness compared to leather boots? Interesting point, cheers!
 

Fozzie Bear

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Thanks! Yes, I'm pretty confident that a pattern base ski is needed for these kinds of trips - they're the sort of trips where skins aren't necessary.

Didn't use skins last year with the Ulta Vector, but did use ski crampons on on plenty of occasions, particularly first thing before any thaw.

And boot wise, i have used the Atomic Backland Carbon probably more than 90% of the time. The only reason why i would look at the Technica G Zero is that the Atomic Backland i have isnt compatible with the Shift bindings on a pair of Black Crow skis i picked up last year.
 

art

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I tried the Fisher profile skins.
Loved the idea and worked well for the first climb.
Took them off and noticed that they hadn't stuck perfectly at the edges and had a bit of snow build up under the edges.
Went to put them on for the second climb and could not get them to stick.
Back home I did some experiments side by side with normal skins and basically the smallest amount of moisture and they didn't stick where as normal skins are more forgiving.
I think part of the issue is they are stiff but not perfectly flat so the glue isn't able to adhere over the whole ski base.
In short dont bother.

If looking at the lighter voile skis (might have been the objective) look at the thread and videos on here by the Oates guys who did the AAWT in winter a couple of years ago. They had good things to say.
 

AT&TeleMike

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A friend told me recently that he is a skier. Not necessarily in either Tele or AT camps. This rings true and I am the same. The best approach is to rid yourself of any bias and if you can afford it, have both Tele and AT setups. This will give you more options with regards to equipment that best meets your intentions for the day. Of course you need to be proficient in the operation of both setups.

Whilst I absolutely love my smooth base Vectors especially on the steep downhill runs, they are restrictive in some important aspects. One aspect is having to skin as soon as the angle starts to go up thus resulting in many more transitions (a skill that in my observation most Australian backcountry companions flounder with somewhat). The other aspect is the inability to use xc skiing techniques apart fron skating with this setup.

My pattern base Annum tele skis require much less transitions obviously because of the scales. Less transitions and faffing translates to a considerable time saving over the whole day. Annums are not a wow ski but are an excellent general purpose ski in nearly all situations. Also my experience has proven that being able to tele gives you a bigger toolbox of techniques to adapt to variable snow conditions. Pattern base tele skis also have the considerable advantage of being able to use xc skiing techniques over rolling terrain.

Therefore my conclusion is that if you want to cover alot of distance over variable terrain with some downhill runs, I suggest a pattern base tele ski will be better suited to your needs. If you are going to be climbing more or less straight out the door and your emphasis is more on the down, then I think a smooth base AT setup is better.

Of course either setup can be adapted to almost any terrain or conditions if the operator has the skills and experience.
 

Chaeron

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I use the Annum with light AT, boots AT bindings and ‘pseudo-Tele’ on mild terrain with the heel unlocked, and lock in the heel for steeper stuff.

I’m trialling some ATK ‘frankenbindings’ on the Annums - light Race heels and World Cup race toes - no brakes. Complemented by kicker skins and ski crampons.

Have put inserts in the Annums so I can alternate between the lighter bindings and beefier ones.

No single boot, ski or binding or climbing aid covers it all…..
 

Kletterer

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Im thinking of making some narrow (Thong) skins for my smooth base Hypervectors on rolling terrain. Anyone else tried it ?
 

Fozzie Bear

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Therefore my conclusion is that if you want to cover alot of distance over variable terrain with some downhill runs, I suggest a pattern base tele ski will be better suited to your needs. If you are going to be climbing more or less straight out the door and your emphasis is more on the down, then I think a smooth base AT setup is better.

No love for a patterned based AT set up?
 

snowgum

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No love for a patterned based AT set up?
BTW: a mate of mine is now set up for AT on Hypervector BC (so light!) with Shifts and ‘a’ Salomon AT boot. He has full length BD skins for icy days. So at Charlotte we’ll be directly comparing AT & Tele/XC travel performance on similar pattern skis. Both phantomed - you probably the saga last year, all too well? :eek: Then the big Vic lockdown hit and that was that!:oops::rolleyes:

So this year’s ski testing will be 12 months in the making, well more, planning since ~ May 2020.

Oh and we have two more lads joining us, they could be on either T3 and skinny Morottos, Scarpa TXPro & tele ski on skins, or AT with a ‘flexible’ Alpine boot and frame bindings?

Talk about ‘Dad’s Army’! We might be strung out over several km as we test all our new gear! ;)
 

AT&TeleMike

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No love for a patterned based AT set up?
I have not used a pattern based AT setup but think it would probably be quite versatile in the Australian backcountry. This setup would require less transitions which is an advantage. A skilled operator could apply some xc skiing techniques but not as effectively as a pattern based tele ski. Probably a good setup so there is some love there!
 

AT&TeleMike

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Im thinking of making some narrow (Thong) skins for my smooth base Hypervectors on rolling terrain. Anyone else tried it ?
Mid July is usually quite icy so I think ski crampons (which you probably don't have) might be useful for steeper climbs in icy conditions on thong skins. Otherwise boot packing (with crampons on hard ice). I reckon full length fat skins covering as much of your ski base will be better. Although you will have less glide, you will get better traction on icy surfaces especially when climbing. The fact that you get better traction means you will use less energy trying to maintain traction and inevitably be more efficient over the whole day. My experience suggests northerly aspects are more likely to offer better and possibly even excellent aussie snow during July. From Charlottes Pass you drop down the other side to the Snowy River and then you will be climbing up to Club Lake, Kunama, etc anyway.
 
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Fozzie Bear

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@Old School Mike indeed it is very versatile. As mentioned, used this set up last winter (Ultra Vector BC, Dynafit Rotation 12 & Atomic Backland Carbon). Used ski crampons when icy. Didn't use skins once, though they were in the pack. You can get some very efficient kick and glide happening.

IMG_4341.JPG


Would love to give tele another try when tele offers some decent boots (without @Boodwah home hacks). Last time was on skinny patterned based x-c skis back in 1982 no snow year.
 

pegasusSki

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Yes, the Switchback's elevator and easy pivot makes it look a really good option. I'm just not sure what boot to pair that binding with, as there appears to be a lack of stiffer leather boots with 75mm between Sydney and the Vic alps, and I'm nervous about buying boots online...

Alternatively the BC setup seems the lightest option, but I don't know much about freeheel skiing skills. Does anyone have any good tips or videos to share about this, please?
you are where I am at then, glacially!! about to pull a trigger on ebay leather boots -which are cheap enough to take a punt on
 

pegasusSki

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Has anyone here skied the voile objective bc? Vs the ultravector bc? Is it too light for our refrozen chattery conditions? Does it hold an edge well ?
search for the trip that the Oates brothers did of the AAWT - they did weeks of skiing on Objectives - also skiing them surprisingly short for turns and maneuvering (presumably).



I found NNN-BC useless for any downhill narrow track with a pack on skinny metal edges. I confess these were skinnier than Eons or Epochs. But super comfy.

What no one will tell you is that plastic boots may hurt you in some way. They are plastic boots. I'm hard to fit, I have to grimace somewhat.
There are people with great fit and light boots who can do the Falls-Hotham crossing in a day but not moi.

I think starting with uber light AT and seeing how you go is the first thing, but only if you have money and there's no guarantee of a perfect fit. Or hire in NSW. Only Stirling VIC hires Annums and not the lightest AT boots and Kingpins -quite heavy actually.
 

pegasusSki

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Thanks everyone for the comments!





There's lots of love for the Voile skis. Is that just for lightness, or for overall quality?

At 90's waists, they're wider than I was anticipating for this setup, so there is the interesting idea about aligning this light touring kit with AT gear, which then leads to a question of boots...
My Vector BC climbed better than Annums. I sound like @Ziggy now lol ! Basically Voile make really cool, light skis following the current trend to a fatter waist /ski.
 

snowgum

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search for the trip that the Oates brothers did of the AAWT - they did weeks of skiing on Objectives - also skiing them surprisingly short for turns and maneuvering (presumably).



I found NNN-BC useless for any downhill narrow track with a pack on skinny metal edges. I confess these were skinnier than Eons or Epochs. But super comfy.

What no one will tell you is that plastic boots may hurt you in some way. They are plastic boots. I'm hard to fit, I have to grimace somewhat.
There are people with great fit and light boots who can do the Falls-Hotham crossing in a day but not moi.

I think starting with uber light AT and seeing how you go is the first thing, but only if you have money and there's no guarantee of a perfect fit. Or hire in NSW. Only Stirling VIC hires Annums and not the lightest AT boots and Kingpins -quite heavy actually.
Howdy, trick feet aren’t easy to fix. Short of amputation and some say that’s not a solution either!

I trust you’ve done the moulded footbed thing to death? Good ski retailers can fit most feet.

You’ve tried Excursions and T3 then too? I love my Ex’s they’re not perfect but kill any leather boot or other Placcy boot for comfort. I have even taken them to Scotland as my light touring and lifts option - did OK on easy Blues on soft spring snow.

Problem is 1-2 days trial on rentals with packed liners won’t be the same as your own heat-moulded pair with your moulded footbeds?

And then as you note, a lot of control also arises from the chosen ski and binding. Most 22D stuff is heavy (except the Lynx) but lasts and turns well. (I am 3 weeks from testing my Axls on UVs for the first time - so watch this space! ;) )

Oh and short and wide skis with rocker works well when doing survival turns in tight trees terrain. I’ve found Mrs SG’s 170cm K2 Talkbacks and Hardwires work well in such terrain (Synegy or Excursions plus kickers) such as the Twins.

Good luck. :thumbs:
 

pegasusSki

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Howdy, trick feet aren’t easy to fix. Short of amputation and some say that’s not a solution either!

I trust you’ve done the moulded footbed thing to death? Good ski retailers can fit most feet.

You’ve tried Excursions and T3 then too? I love my Ex’s they’re not perfect but kill any leather boot or other Placcy boot for comfort. I have even taken them to Scotland as my light touring and lifts option - did OK on easy Blues on soft spring snow.

Problem is 1-2 days trial on rentals with packed liners won’t be the same as your own heat-moulded pair with your moulded footbeds?

And then as you note, a lot of control also arises from the chosen ski and binding. Most 22D stuff is heavy (except the Lynx) but lasts and turns well. (I am 3 weeks from testing my Axls on UVs for the first time - so watch this space! ;) )

Oh and short and wide skis with rocker works well when doing survival turns in tight trees terrain. I’ve found Mrs SG’s 170cm K2 Talkbacks and Hardwires work well in such terrain (Synegy or Excursions plus kickers) such as the Twins.

Good luck. :thumbs:
yup I have moulded footbeds which are hard infact, not a jelly like thing....I have an insert under them to help with climbing. I have weak feet that spasm and hurt after about an hr - on downhill sections I have to stop every few hundred of metres to recuperate - this season I will invest in a thin pair of socks - this is my next chance - to date I have used older wooly "ski" "fun" socks which are neither thick nor thin (as far as I can tell). I need someone to remind which brand to get.
 
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