By G.D. Maxwell
There are only two kinds of skiers on the mountain who dont want new equipment: those who have it and I wouldnt entirely rule them out and those who are about to give the sport up. Everyone else, if theyre truthful with themselves for just a moment, wants new skis.
Its not a matter of greed or insatiable want. Its the nature of the beast. New skis, new boots, just look better, especially when so many people lined up around you are in em or on em. And getting closer to the heart of the matter, new skis and new boots certainly have the power to make you a better skier. Its a fact. Isnt it?
But with the dizzying array of skis and boots out there I dare you to wade through any of the popular ski magazines gear guide and not get confused and bewildered and the vast and varied terrain of our local ski hills, which skis? Which boots? Which bindings?
Now is the time to think outside the box, my friend. Well, if not outside the box, at least outside the inside. Look beyond the ropes to the great out-of-bounds.
The minute you begin to look at the near backcountry around Whistler and Blackcomb, as soon as you venture out into, and especially beyond, Flute backcountrylite land, one thing becomes abundantly clear. What you're wearing unless youre wearing touring gear is meant to go in one direction only: downhill.
Problem is, most of whats on the other side of the rope runs uphill before you get to the lesser-tracked downhill.
Until recently, that meant you either didnt go, you were a freeheeler or hardcore tourer, or you stuffed some Alpine Trekkers into your downhill bindings on your downhill skis and schlepped uphill in the whole outfit wearing your downhill boots. Been there, done that.
Frankly, if that last setup describes your relationship with the backcountry, you know it sucks. Works? You bet. Works well, see previous comment. Compared to any gear even remotely touring in nature, that setup means youre lifting six or seven pounds more than you need to each and every step you take, giving a whole new, masochistic meaning to the phrase "earn your turns."
But who wants to invest the bucks in touring gear you can only use touring?
Good question. Wrong question but good question. Heres why. The newest generations of skis, boots and bindings designed for touring are equally at home yo-yoing in-bounds. Unless youre a diehard gate crasher, unless you think any boot other than a Doberman is for wimps, unless whats on the other side of the ropes holds zero interest for you, chances are you can ski 100 per cent of the time on modern touring gear in-bounds or out, uphill or down.