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What's better in the back-country; AT, Tele or Split Boarding?
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TOPIC: What's better in the back-country; AT, Tele or Split Boarding?
#227
What's better in the back-country; AT, Tele or Split Boarding? 5 Years, 3 Months ago  
This may seem like a rhetorical question because it is so obvious (I'm a telemarker so I'm going to say telemarking), but I think some of the random subtleties get lost. I want to start a discussion and I figured this topic would likely solicit at least some response.

Here goes my rant:

Telemark is awesome for the things that no one cares about, but are really, really important in the back-country. Modern telemark bindings have the option between a free pivot which saves a massive amount of energy, and locked down but still flexible mode which allows for skating, side steeping and side hilling. You will never hear anyone say "I bungled that awesome powder slope, but man did I kick *ss on the 10 km of rolling, icy, bob sled track back to the car". Telemarking is not quite as good in the steep and deep as AT and sometimes even split boards, but the fact is that the majority of back-country skiing is not steep and deep, but rather icy and rolling. This means that telemarkers actually have an overall better time because they get to and from the fun slopes with less effort. Even if the telemarker has to put more effort into the turns, the fact that turns are about 10% of the day means that the telemarker wins overall.

This is where split boarding and telemarking head in very different directions. Split boarding is all about those few awesome turns where telemarking is about going places and maybe getting a few turns on the way. Telemarkers have few technical limitations (physical is a different matter), they can skate, climb hills with the best of them (free pivot mode), traverse side slopes, step-up hills without changing modes (much more difficult in AT), use wax, use skins, wear
crampons (can snowboard boots?), walk (flexible toe is way more comfy than AT), carry heavy packs (I'll assume pulling a snowboard turn with a 50 lb pack is really tough), switch modes without taking skiis off (unlike Dinafits), etc. Split boarders and telemarkers have different goals, which means someone isn't going to be happy at the end of the day. AT skiers swing either way so are harder to stereotype.

Split boarders often site that they are really fit and can go fast uphill and have relatively fast transitions. I think someone who is fast uphill with a transition slower than mine is an ideal ski partner. They break trail all the way up, but are easy to scoop because they take too long to get ready. Be warned!

The real test of a split boarder/ATer being compatible with a telemarker is if they think the ski out of something like the Stanley Mitchell Hut (22 km with about 2/3 on a rolling road) in 4 hours carrying a 50 lb pack and a 5 km skate race at the end sounds sorta fun. Another test is if the split boarder thinks carrying crampons on all trips isn't a problem, just in case there is something higher, even if the crampons didn't get used the last 10 times out (If you go skiing with the new climbing chair, do not forget crampons and ice axe, no matter what he says the nature of the trip is).

The only tracks anyone can lay claim to are the ones they can look back at. Go further, go faster, Telemark!
Matthew Breakey
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