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Author Topic: Flashback - Skiing in Climbing Boots  (Read 12063 times)
Lowell_Skoog
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Flashback - Skiing in Climbing Boots
« on: 03/03/14, 08:32 PM »



Gordy and Lowell Skoog skiing in the North Cascades in May 1986.


I've had this little essay in the back of my mind for a long time. I've been wanting to record my thoughts about skiing in climbing boots, now that I probably won't do it anymore.

For a small number of local skiers, climbing boots were an important part of the backcountry skiing experience during the 1980s and 1990s, before the gear got better and the popularity of the sport exploded.

The notion of deliberately choosing climbing boots for demanding ski tours seems daft today. But it was something we did consciously, and it worked for us. So I've recorded a few words and pictures before they fade from my memory. See the following page:

http://www.alpenglow.org/skiing/climbing-boots/index.html




Kastinger Habeler plastic climbing boots fitted with Ramer ski mountaineering bindings in 1985.

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SKIER-X
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Re: Flashback - Skiing in Climbing Boots
« Reply #1 on: 03/03/14, 09:23 PM »

It's a parallel universe ! I still have my Habler Kastinger boots in service , but not for skiing anymore. I had them mated with
Gertch A.T. bindings, predecessor of Fritche A.T. and a pair of Hexel comps 200cm. It really kept me on my toes, but it's what I could put together at the time. The bindings have a bail in front and would handle a pretty small welt. I still have the whole set-up. Thanks for the flashback.    X
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TN
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Re: Flashback - Skiing in Climbing Boots
« Reply #2 on: 03/03/14, 11:09 PM »

 Smiley  Where'd you get them binders?
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"Slow down!  Let ME break trail!  Save the turns and the steep stuff for the way down.  We'll get there sooner,  ski all day and you'll still be able to stand up after dinner tonight!"  The Trail Nazi
sb
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Re: Flashback - Skiing in Climbing Boots
« Reply #3 on: 03/04/14, 12:57 AM »

Back in the day, say February, 1969, I got a pair of Silvretta touring cable bindings and used them with leather climbing boots.  I bought a pair of oversized Val d'Or Darbellays for the purpose at REI in 1971 ($27, or is that faulty memory?), and found an inner boot elsewhere to cobble together a cheap double boot for winter use. Of course, the ski capabilities of these boots (and the wooden skis that went with them) must have been minimal, but you could hike in them and get down whatever slope by hook or crook.
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: Flashback - Skiing in Climbing Boots
« Reply #4 on: 03/04/14, 08:00 AM »

Smiley  Where'd you get them binders?

Ha!

Thanks for the reminder, Ed.

Those bindings I bought from you went to my wife, Steph. I'm sure they're the ones she's using in the two pictures I included of her.

My original Ramers (and the K2's they were mounted on) went to Gordy after I bought a pair of Ramer Grand Tour skis (with new bindings) in 1987. Gordy started out on a pair of Marker Rotomat TR bindings, which you can see on Lou Dawson's site here:

http://www.wildsnow.com/backcountry-ski-museum/marker-tr-tour/marker-tr.html

Those bindings had real limitations for touring, but they were a start. I don't remember whether you could use climbing boots with them. Gordy actually used our dad's old leather ski boots from the 1960s (lace up? with smooth soles) for the first few years he was alpine touring. There's a picture of those old boots in this trip report:

http://www.turns-all-year.com/skiing_snowboarding/trip_reports/index.php?topic=13294.0
« Last Edit: 03/04/14, 08:07 AM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged
BillK
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Re: Flashback - Skiing in Climbing Boots
« Reply #5 on: 03/04/14, 08:52 AM »

Used a pair of Asolo plastic boots with Ramer Classics on Evolution Pearls for a trip to Mts. Logan and Steele in 1997.  Chose the Ramers for their ability to be repaired easily in the field. 

The Asolos skied very well, except for the fact that there was obviously no room to get in the "back seat".  No problem, just forces you to pay attention to using good technique.  They were light, warm and definitely a good choice for that kind of mountaineering.  A pure AT boot would have been overkill, heavy and not as versatile for the different kinds of climbing we faced.   Nowadays, though, a modern light AT boot may have been just the ticket, although not as versatile as a plastic climbing boot for alpine ice, etc.

Great pics of you and your brother(?) Lowell!  Thanks... 
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mreid
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Re: Flashback - Skiing in Climbing Boots
« Reply #6 on: 03/04/14, 05:01 PM »

Love it!  I remember skiing Muir Snowfield after my first climb in 1985, telemarking in my Ramers and Kastingers, on 205 Atomics.  I didn't even have the heel part of the binding attached.  A couple more friends from B'ham always skied tele with Ramers and their Koflachs.  Fond memories.
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JibberD
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Re: Flashback - Skiing in Climbing Boots
« Reply #7 on: 03/04/14, 07:39 PM »

It's a parallel universe !

Yes, although my parallel universe is the reverse of the post's title, and would read climbing in skiing boots.

Circa 1995 climb to Camp Muir 100% of the way in a pair of Rossignol alpine racing boots. This was my first "backcountry" skiing experience.

Some of us are boneheads, you know. Had a great  day though! Remember it fondly.

Thanks for the post Lowell!
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-Doug O
TN
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Re: Flashback - Skiing in Climbing Boots
« Reply #8 on: 03/04/14, 08:07 PM »

I had my Kastingers back in my Ramer days too but was too scared to ski in them.  I figured my ankle would get torn in a bad fall well before the binding released.  Without an actual upper cuff on the boot,  I figured there would be poor transmission of force into the binding.  I used Scott boots.  No walk mode, but very light and for multi day spring tours I could easily dry the boots out by removing the liner foam and wiping it clean along with the inside of the shell.  That foam did not take on moisture at all!
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"Slow down!  Let ME break trail!  Save the turns and the steep stuff for the way down.  We'll get there sooner,  ski all day and you'll still be able to stand up after dinner tonight!"  The Trail Nazi
TN
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Re: Flashback - Skiing in Climbing Boots
« Reply #9 on: 03/04/14, 10:15 PM »

I used the Marker Rotamat TR also for a while with the Scott boots.  The limited rise worked okay for short climbs but I blistered badly on the first day of a trip with CMH to Stanley Mitchell hut.  The guide blamed it on the boots but I knew it was the binding.  Some tape kept me going and by the end of the week the blister effect was gone.  Somehow, I did a whole week with the limited rise and no heel lifters and no walk mode.  After experiencing the freedom of the TLT6 and Vipec this year, I'd probably cash it in if I was limited by the old gear nowadays!!
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"Slow down!  Let ME break trail!  Save the turns and the steep stuff for the way down.  We'll get there sooner,  ski all day and you'll still be able to stand up after dinner tonight!"  The Trail Nazi
mikerolfs
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Re: Flashback - Skiing in Climbing Boots
« Reply #10 on: 03/05/14, 06:12 AM »

I picked up telemark skiing directly after my first ski trip with Koflach climbing boots, silveretta bindings, and Rossignol ST skis.  The ski experience was so hateful for me that I put those skis in the closet and never took them out again.  The tele set-up that replaced it was lace-up low top leather boots, three pin bindings and K2 KVC 200cm skis!  Ha!  I sure love my modern equipment.

Lowell, you and your brother sure made it look easy.  The photo with the five day pack is amazing.
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TN
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Re: Flashback - Skiing in Climbing Boots
« Reply #11 on: 03/05/14, 08:26 AM »

If skiing in climbing boots helped Gordy learn that "perfectly centered stance" then maybe I missed out.  I've never seen him off balance, even in the worst conditions!  (I believe it was more than the climbing boots!)
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"Slow down!  Let ME break trail!  Save the turns and the steep stuff for the way down.  We'll get there sooner,  ski all day and you'll still be able to stand up after dinner tonight!"  The Trail Nazi
mccallboater
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Re: Flashback - Skiing in Climbing Boots
« Reply #12 on: 03/05/14, 09:03 AM »

I was still using 505's and climbing boots a few years ago, before the arrival of lighter weight AT gear.  This photo is from a Williams Peak climb in the Idaho Sawtooths around 2009.  If the conditions aren't too instructional, it works. 

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freeski
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Re: Flashback - Skiing in Climbing Boots
« Reply #13 on: 03/05/14, 09:33 AM »

My first climb to ski spire gulch, now called spire gulley, was with my ski area alpine gear. Then i fell in with the wrong crowd and went with a releaseable 3 pin set-up. In a good fall, the bail would pop off of the binding or the boot pin holes would rip out. I came to my senses many years and too many crashes  later and switched to AT gear. I started to get first tracks and remember a friend telling me that he liked me better when i  was a tele-skier.
« Last Edit: 03/05/14, 09:37 AM by freeskiguy » Logged

"I'm not making love to anyones wishes, only for that light I see." Cat Stevens
all mtn
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Re: Flashback - Skiing in Climbing Boots
« Reply #14 on: 03/05/14, 06:59 PM »

Similar to the 70's Sierra 3-Pin skiers; Allan Bard, Tom Cox, John Moynier. And they went all over the range.
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weezer
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Re: Flashback - Skiing in Climbing Boots
« Reply #15 on: 03/05/14, 07:35 PM »

I had  rr rock boots, sivrettas, and  Anas with 1/2 metal edges. A few years back I took them for a ride at Stevens pass. I found myself looking hard at the blue vrs green trail signs. than my Wife Told me to put them away before I had a heart attack, tying to ski . They might be on Jake's ski fence now?
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MW88888888
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Re: Flashback - Skiing in Climbing Boots
« Reply #16 on: 03/05/14, 08:29 PM »

I snowboard in La Sportiva leather climbing boots to this day (my current pair is about - golly- ten years old now) - so this doesn't seem such a stretch.  Quite reasonable considering, and one of the reasons I always liked alpine with my snowboard/climbing boot set up - could transition to crampons at the drop of an icy scottish gulley.

And yes, back in the early 90s I even tried snowboarding in those plastic climbing boots (asolos actually) you have in those funky ski bindings!  Oh yes, the memories!
« Last Edit: 03/05/14, 08:33 PM by MW88888888 » Logged
freeski
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Re: Flashback - Skiing in Climbing Boots
« Reply #17 on: 03/06/14, 11:10 AM »

Hey sb,why did you guys decide to revive the tele turn? I remember some of the alpine skiers at mission ridge giving me flack for skiing on ''x-county'' skis on the hill. Some said the turns where too round, like i was in their way. Good tool for early explorations into the mission sc.
« Last Edit: 03/06/14, 11:13 AM by freeskiguy » Logged

"I'm not making love to anyones wishes, only for that light I see." Cat Stevens
Pete A
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Re: Flashback - Skiing in Climbing Boots
« Reply #18 on: 03/06/14, 11:28 AM »

I did a trip to Denali back in 2003, right when light AT boots were starting to come around-  i opted for using TLT4's for the whole trip while some in the group skinned up in AT boots and carried Koflachs and others opted for Silvrettas and Koflachs for all the climbing and skiing.
   
Due to an out of control German on the fixed lines sliding crampons first into the legs of one of our team members, after our climb we had to carry all of our buddies gear from 14k back down to 7k.  Watching those poor guys try to control a full sled and a 60lb pack through thousands of feet of breakable crust was horrible- it was amazing no one tore apart their knees or ankles.    Skiing in climbing boots has its limits and i think we found those limits on that trip Wink
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Joedabaker
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Re: Flashback - Skiing in Climbing Boots
« Reply #19 on: 03/06/14, 11:56 AM »

That picture of you and Gordy is classic IMO!

I snowboard in La Sportiva leather climbing boots to this day (my current pair is about - golly- ten years old now) - so this doesn't seem such a stretch. 

Fill me in? Not sure of the context? as on balancing snowboarding and skiing boots are way different. A softer snowboard boot is pretty standard heck they used to use Sorrel boots which is a about as soft as chewing gum. But using a climbing boot to ski is a whole other story!
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MW88888888
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Re: Flashback - Skiing in Climbing Boots
« Reply #20 on: 03/07/14, 06:13 PM »

Ok, when I was growing up in Vermont in the 70s, I used to ski with my sister's skis in the cow pasture in my leather hiking boots. That's where I learned how awesome ski boots were.

Snowboarding today in leather hiking boots is not very common.  As in, this is not a flashback for me.  That was the context.

Try it and tell me it's so different fom skiing, especially on an icy traverse.  You clearly know you are not snowboarding in "snowboard boots" with calf support.

I used to snowboard in sorrels, so I also know what that is like, and you should try THAT to see how similar to soft snowboard boots!
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kuharicm
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Re: Flashback - Skiing in Climbing Boots
« Reply #21 on: 03/07/14, 06:35 PM »

Great essay! Thanks Lowell! - Matt
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Joedabaker
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Re: Flashback - Skiing in Climbing Boots
« Reply #22 on: 03/07/14, 07:44 PM »

Ok, when I was growing up in Vermont in the 70s, I used to ski with my sister's skis in the cow pasture in my leather hiking boots. That's where I learned how awesome ski boots were.

Snowboarding today in leather hiking boots is not very common.  As in, this is not a flashback for me.  That was the context.

Try it and tell me it's so different fom skiing, especially on an icy traverse.  You clearly know you are not snowboarding in "snowboard boots" with calf support.

I used to snowboard in sorrels, so I also know what that is like, and you should try THAT to see how similar to soft snowboard boots!

Thanks for the clarification. Me Being a non-snowboarder, but supportive of the methods.
I often think that snowboarding must be something very special. I am always in awe at the extreme efforts that borders go through to tour on a board. Miles of postholing, those who don't like splitters are packing approach skis or snowshoes and boarding down,  Splitboards slipping out on steeper terrain it's a solid effort for what I visually quantify as two or three turns to the bottom. Not that it means much from a non-boarder but I totally respect the effort that is above and beyond that of a skiers simple efforts....as long as my skin track is not booted, then I get slightly steamed and lose all respect!

Other stuff....I can relate, same era similar upbringing on gear although mine was army surplus gear my dad rented out of his hardware store.
If I had a gun to my head choice I would rather be on a solid pair of mountaineering boots than those sloppy leather tele boots I used to use or the army surplus leathers.
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MW88888888
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Re: Flashback - Skiing in Climbing Boots
« Reply #23 on: 03/07/14, 08:10 PM »

You got it, joe - for long tours I so prefer skis as they are the right tool for up/down/up/down/flat/up/down.  But for the down mtn ski in variable crap - snowboard.

Wild thread drift.  Thanks for the photos and memories, Lowell.  They are great.
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TN
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Re: Flashback - Skiing in Climbing Boots
« Reply #24 on: 03/08/14, 09:21 PM »

Now I'm reminded of the Army troops I saw at Crystal back in the '70s.  Doing R&R not training, they had their regular army fatigue boots in Ramer bindings on long white HEAD skis.  I think they were 210s.  A few may have had a white Ramer ski.  Only the Captain had actual ski boots.  These were mostly "inner city" type guys, it was their first skiing experience.  Watching them try to wedge those long skis with a boot that gave them little more control than flip flops was pretty comical! Can't imagine that binding ever releasing with that setup.  Hope they all went "home" with ankles intact!
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"Slow down!  Let ME break trail!  Save the turns and the steep stuff for the way down.  We'll get there sooner,  ski all day and you'll still be able to stand up after dinner tonight!"  The Trail Nazi
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