For the past 11 years I have been on telemark bindings exclusively. It took awhile, but I became relatively proficient at it, and genuinely enjoyed the turns. It was fun in the backcountry, too, though I had heard that AT was lighter and more efficient. While I’m not one of those tele-extremists who evangelize the ‘soul’ of the telemark turn and see AT as the ‘dark side’, I’d gotten to a point where I figured I was fine with the gear I had.
Over the past few years we’ve gone out on longer and more challenging tours. In a few instances – think steep and very firm – I found myself wondering if having a fixed heel would be advantageous. Nils, who already obtained an AT set-up a few years ago, thought so, and did his utmost to convince me. Stubbornly I refused, primarily because I haven’t alpine skied in years, and I knew it would be ugly.
Ultimately he won the campaign to convince me, and today I set out on the skin track with my own Dynafit set up; Garmont Luster boots and Dynafit bindings on a beloved pair of Karhu Berthas that boast a bit of a derby touch with pink studded leashes. Boots without a bellow, even in walk mode, felt decidedly stiff, and the loosey goosey free pivot on the toe provided way more range of motion than any of my telemark bindings. And it was far lighter than my typical set up, which meant that I was moving faster on the uptrack than I ever have. I won’t lie – passing dudes on the uphill is quite fun.
The down part was a bit less so. While the snow was boot top powder for the first half of the descent, forcing a telemark skier to make parallel turns without much of a warm up run makes for some hilarity. My inner punter skier was in full force for most of it, though I did remember to weight both feet and angulate occasionally.
Since this set up was originally intended for spring conditions, namely that firm snow that eventually softens, it’s unlikely I’ll be bringing this out on a powder day. So I’m still a telemark skier, albeit one who owns an AT set up.