I have a few theories on gear that take time to prove one way or the other.
The same conversations I am having now remind me of the conversations from a few years back on leashless tools. It is easier to climb leashless. With a well designed leashless tool you'll climb harder, be able to wear less clothing, stay warmer and have more fun in any condition by comparison. Took me just 3 days to be 100% convinced of that. And years before it has become common knowledge in our community.
Skiing? From the ongoing survey I get two distinct comments. "More skiing" or "no skiing". And surprisingly it is almost a 50/50 split. Skiing is so much a part of my own alpinism and growth in the mountains and in the sport. My apologies, but you'll continue to see skiing as a major topic of discussion at Cold Thistle.
So here is the long term ski project we've just started that I am very excited about.
I am convinced that modern, upright stance, AT boots are easier to ski in, easier to walk in and and simply more fun to use. I *think* it will be gear easier to learn on as well as long as a lift is involved to give you the time on snow going down hill. And not wasting that time/energy earning your turns for the first season or two. Took me longer than 3 days to come to that conclusion. And I may yet be mistaken. I know what the newest gear has done for my own skiing. And my "ultimate" gear selection does not exist, yet. But it gets closer every year.
BITD (early '80s) my partner and I have some of the earliest imported plastic, Vibram soled ski mountaineering boots. They were most effective for the early predawn bomb runs while working patrol. Not good enough imo for full on lift skiing. But Larry used his to good effect most days and was a lot more comfortable in his boots going up and down a lift tower or stringing fence than I was in my downhill boots.
My partner today and beta tester in this madness, hasn't skied in a few years. And even she admits she was never much more than a beginner when she did ski regularly.
The plan is to start at one of the local NW ski areas with a season's full of lessons. And then eventually ski off the Midi ( may be not this year and more my plan than hers ;) all on the same gear we have here.
Obviously I had some influence on the gear choices. But with literally any option available for ski/boots and bindings (including full blown downhill gear) I did not choose the gear. She did. And for the most part knowing full well the limitations of her choices. How those choices pan out over time will be an interesting project to relate here on the blog.
Some other's thoughts on the same question. Ours is NOT the popular opinion.
Boots defined much of what was chosen here. Her thought was an easier to walk in boot the priority. That choice had nothing to do with back country skiing. Weird as that might sound when you start comparing prices. Simply having a rubber sole and heavily rockered boot made her confidence soar. Elevated confidence just by walking to and from the lift is a good start. I can attest to the comfort and support a good AT can offer if fit well. And just how well they can ski.
Her first choice was a TLT6 or TLT5 Mtn. Having the chance to ski both both and knowing the extra support with so little drop in performance walking and hiking ability I suggested the One PX as a better option. The One's up right stance stance in Dynafit bindings is better than some of the comparable boots from other brands. And because of that the ONE is also one of my favorites for pushing fat skis while riding a lift. The added long term durability of the One PX over the lwt TLT5/6 made the decision for this project much easier. I might buy a new pair of boots every season or two with little thought to the expense. She won't.
So the boot choice defined the binding style. She thought the added confidence of the boot soles and all day comfort would more than made up for the public's "fiddle factor" impression of a tech binding. We'll see if that continues to be her impression as the snow falls and lessons begin.
Skis? This was really the most difficult pick of all the gear once the boots were sorted. Even the boots were a easy choice by fit and known performance once the style of boot was decided on. But skis.....they are so much of the sport. The ski's design will make a difference on every turn in every snow condition, each time she gets off a lift. These are rockered tip and tail with a progressive flex. Good mix of camber under foot and a 5 point side cut technology. Mid fat at 98mm under foot. Pretty much an ultra modern ski design I could live with as a quiver of one.
Praxis Le Petite
Dynafit TLT Radical ST
Boot? Dynafit woman's One PX
A solid performer on the lift and in the backcountry.
Helped that it is also one of my all time favorite boots.
More to come. All it takes now is some snow!
Happy Praxis girl!