Backcountry Skiing (as described in WIKIPEDIA) is skiing in a sparsely inhabited rural region over ungroomed and unmarked slopes or pistes, including skiing in unmarked or unpatrolled areas either within the ski resort’s boundaries or in the backcountry, frequently amongst trees (“glade skiing”), usually in pursuit of fresh fallen snow, known as powder snow. More important, the land and the snow pack are not monitored, patrolled, or maintained. Fixed mechanical means of ascent such as ski lifts are typically not present, but may be used to gain initial altitude. Backcountry skiing, also known as ski touring or ski mountaineering, can involve single or multi-day trips through snow camping or the use of mountain huts where available.
Here at Anything Technical we stock a wide range of equipment suitable for Backcountry Skiing, including bindings, skis, ski boots, skins and accessories. Click Here » The choice is wide and varied and we use all our combined knowledge and experience to guide customers into making the right choices.
Touring bindings differ greatly from standard Alpine bindings in that the heel can be either free for climbing, with the binding pivoting at the toe to allow the skier to walk uphill using a climbing skin or crampon, or locked down for downhill skiing. There is a wide variation in the type of binding available, ranging from Dynafit for lighter, longer tours to Marker Freeride bindings for the occasional foray off-piste. As importers of Fritschi we offer their range of touring and freeride bindings which provide options for all types of backcountry skiing.
Fritschi Tecton Brand New in 2017, The Fritschi Tecton 12 effortlessly bridges the gap from multi-day touring to Free Touring. Featuring the now classic Vipec EVO pin toe but with a revolutionary alpine style heel hold-down which interfaces with the rear pin recess to provide fantastic torsional strength. It is unique in that it is the first ever Tech Norm Touring Binding System to offer a fully calibrated toe release of up to DIN 12 which conforms to ISO standards. This gives the binding a massive advantage compared to conventional pin systems which have a non-adjustable release. The Tecton features a brake which locks in the up position when walking, and an extremely easy to use 3 step walk level adjustment. Switching from ski to walk and vise versa is a simple operation and doesn’t necessitate removing the boot from the binding.
Fritschi Vipec EVO has continued to evolve and now has the Safety Tech Ski Touring Binding down to a fine art. With a much improved toe assembly which is much easier to engage and a more effective frontal release coupled with an emergency climbing release. It is unique in that it is the first ever Tech Norm Touring Binding System to offer a fully calibrated toe release of up to DIN 12 which conforms to ISO standards. This gives the binding a massive advantage compared to conventional pin systems which have a non-adjustable release. The EVO also features a brake which locks in the up position when walking, and an extremely easy to use 3 step walk level adjustment. Switching from ski to walk and vise versa is a simple operation and doesn’t necessitate removing the boot from the binding.
Fritschi Xenic This a very recent addition to the Fritschi pin binding range and is made from high-tech materials to keep it light in weight but incredibly stable, it features a compact design which is comfortable but provides superb downhill performance and all in a package that weighs in at 280 grams per unit (without brake). The Xenic 10 is the first pin binding with jaws that open and close laterally whereas other pin binding jaws open by rotating around an axis.
Fritschi Freeride Pro, a Freeride binding with exceptional on piste handling capabilities. The Freeride Pro was completely re-designed in 2011/12 with a wider, more stable and torsion resistant front plate, better integration between heel and PTC plate, and a higher and more stable end piece.
Fritschi Eagle, a touring binding which will still give a high level of on piste performance for the lighter or less aggressive skier. New 3 years ago, the Eagles unique toe design gives a more natural roll-off on the toe assembly due to its optimally placed, sprung rotation point.
Fritschi Scout The Scout is the perfect tool for either occasional or multi-day ski tourers. Light and versatile, it gives excellent power transmission when used on piste by lighter or less aggressive skiers, but is light enough to be the perfect touring binding for those considering doing the classics such as the Haute Route. The Scout is fully compatible with ISO standard 9523 touring ski boots and ISO standard 5355 alpine ski boots and gives an identical calibrated release with both norms, unlike some competitor products. Supplied with a 90mm brake
Backcountry skis vary greatly in design depending on intended use. Some skis are lighter in construction and narrower for longer, multi-day tours such as the Haute Route. Others are heavier and wider and are aimed at skiers who want to stay close to resort but want to access terrain not served by resort lift systems. The one thing they invariably have in common is a flat top to enable the ski to be mounted with the skiers binding of choice, be it alpine, Freeride or touring. Our featured ski brands are usually Black Crows, Rossignol, Nordica, Dynafit and Atomic but this changes on a seasonal basis.
Good fitting boots can make your holiday, trip or expedition either the best thing in the world or your worst nightmare. Whilst there is probably no such thing as a bad boot these days if it isn’t fitted properly or the wrong choice is made you can ruin your feet in the first few hours of skiing. With over 100 years combined knowledge and experience we can help provide the correct advice on choosing and then fitting the right boot. Types of boot vary in much the same way as skis and bindings and great care is needed in selecting the right kind of boot for the type of skiing you intend to do. Touring boots tend to be lightweight in construction with super efficient walk modes, 2 or 3 buckles and a bonded Vibram type mountaineering sole and are only suitable for use in conjunction with touring bindings such as Fritschi pin or Alu-bar. Some boots have integrated mounting points for tech bindings, one of the lightest touring bindings available. Freeride boots are heavier and stiffer as they have to combine off-piste flexibility with on-piste stiffness to offer all round performance. They will still have an efficient walk mode but will have 3 or 4 clips and a wider power strap and some will have interchangeable sole units to enable skiers to switch between alpine and touring bindings. As stockists of Scott, Dynafit and Scarpa we can be sure of offering the right boot for the type of skiing you want to do.
Skins attach to the base of the ski and provide purchase whilst climbing and as with all your other equipment the right choice is very important. The skin attaches at the ski tip by means of a bale and is held in place under the ski by a multi-tack adhesive. Some types of skin (camlock) also attach at the tail and incorporate a tensioner to help stop the skin wiping off whilst climbing. Fibre choice is also important when selecting your skins. Synthetic, nylon skins are tough and hard wearing but don’t glide well and are also prone to collect snow and ball up. Mohair skins glide superbly well and are less tiring to drag but don’t wear particularly well so most skiers opt for a mix of both. When sizing a skin for width one has to remember that the skin has to be kept clear of your edges. Most skins are now trim to fit and are supplied with a trimming kit which is fairly straightforward to use but we can do it for you if required. We are importers and stockists of Colltex skins from Switzerland which are available in 110mm, 120mm, 130mm and 140mm widths and cater for even the more excessively wide skis now available.
Backcountry Skiing can be dangerous!
The importance of carrying the right accessories and knowing how to use them can never be underestimated. The right equipment can help you find and rescue trapped skiers in the crucial first few minutes after an avalanche. Transceivers, probes and shovels should be mandatory for any excursion off-piste, be it a serious multi-day expedition or a brief foray in powder in sight of the resort. The chances of a skier surviving an avalanche depend on them being found and dug out within the first 15 minutes of being buried. (Swiss Avalanche Research Centre at Davos) Assuming you can contact the rescue services immediately they can still take an average time (in France) of 45 minutes to get to the scene, this means the trapped skiers are almost solely dependent on you.
The more skills you can obtain the safer and more enjoyable your off-piste experiences will be. Outdoor Activity centres such as Glenmore Lodge or Plas Y Brenin offer a wide range of courses aimed at improving your knowledge and skills whilst travelling in the mountains in all conditions.