General Backcountry Instruction Northeast US

Discussion in 'Backcountry' started by Crank, Jul 8, 2017.

  1. Crank

    Crank Out on the slopes Skier

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    I have some backcountry experience and have skins and AT bindings. I want to get my SO Robin into it but would prefer to find an introductory class that includes gear rental. I know EMS has classes in the White Mountains and I think AMC may have some as well. Does anyone here have any experience, suggestions, recommendations for a good intro to BC course we could take here in NE?
     
  2. Mothertucker

    Mothertucker Sweep Dodger Skier

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  3. Dave Marshak

    Dave Marshak All Time World Champion Skier

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    Look for avalanche courses around Mt Washington and Tuckerman Ravine. Maybe search TGR or timefortuckerman dot com if that is still up.

    dm
     
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  4. neonorchid

    neonorchid Out on the slopes Skier

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    Contact this guy (AMC leader does multi-day backcountry tours with winter camping in New England, he is a telle guy but should point you in the right direction wrt AMC options etc) -
    Ron Gonzalez

    [​IMG]
    [email protected]
    New York, USA
     
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  5. nemesis256

    nemesis256 Kastle Guy Skier

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    I took the intro to backcountry from EMS in North Conway this past winter. It was worth it, they also offer gear rental. The class was slightly customizable, I got some very basic avalanche training, partly only because the other 2 guys I was doing it with were ok with it too. It was far from enough to really be knowledgeable in avalanches though. I'm ok with that though, I stick to trails under the tree line, so far at least.

    The part that might suck is that you'll likely want to make reservations ahead of time, so you won't know what the conditions will be. I was lucky enough to do it the day after we got a few inches of snow.
     


  6. at_nyc

    at_nyc Getting off the lift Pass Pulled

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    Crank, if I read your post right, you want to sent Robin to do some back country stuff like skinning up and skiing down for real?

    If that's what you have in mind, I did exactly that, with AMC. And I can't recommend it high enough. I had a great time!

    New Hampshire chapter typically run 2 workshops each winter, one on January, the second one in February.

    It's too early for the schedule to be up yet. But here's the web site: outdoors.org. Look for: Winter School, by the NH chapter.

    It's done in New Hampshire (duh), in their Cardigan lodge. There's good bc skiing up there. The focus is on the skiing. Avi training is minimal.

    I have my own gear so can't help with rental.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2017
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  7. Crank

    Crank Out on the slopes Skier

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    Thanks all. Not so interested in avalanche training at this point in time. Just getting her skinning so she can decide if she likes it and wants to invest in AT gear. I am sure she will as she loves hiking, mountain biking and skiing untracked snow in the woods. For those of you who are not familiar with NE skiing, there are few places here where avalanche danger looms.

    I had found the EMS and AMC classes online and from what you guys are telling me it sounds like either of those will fit the bill. Pretty sure we could rent gear from EMS if we go the AMC route.
     
  8. Rod9301

    Rod9301 Getting off the lift Skier

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    Am i the only one who doesn't think you need a class to learn how to skin?
     
  9. pais alto

    pais alto me encanta el país alto Skier

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    I had written a skinning primer that went up on epic. It's saved somewhere, let me see if I can find it and post it.

    Edit: Here it is, without the pics I originally included. I should edit it - there's some things in the equipment section that are a little dated but the technique is still relevant:

    Skinning Primer
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    By: Bob Lee and nolo
    Posted 4/7/11 • Last updated 10/30/11 • 1,324 views • 14 comments
    By Bob Lee
    From a previously published article that I wrote; all pictures by me unless noted.

    [​IMG]

    Me in my happy place.

    I’ll take turns pretty much any way that I can get them, but skinning up a hill holds a special place in my heart – skiing down afterwards just seems better somehow. That might be because skinning can take me to a secluded, out-of-the-way place, or because it can be more contemplative and serene than the busy resort scene, or maybe I just get a little endorphin buzz from having some good exercise outdoors in the mountains during the winter.

    I have to confess something here – I used to hate skinning. Hate might be too mild a word to describe my feelings – I loathed it and feared it. I’d always loved backcountry skiing, but skinning seemed like torture and if a slope was slightly steep and the snow was firm enough I was generally happier carrying my skis and hiking uphill on foot. I didn’t care if it was slower.

    That all changed when I got some mentoring from an accomplished ski mountaineer who taught me about graceful and efficient skinning. These days, while I may not totally love the climb, the tips I got and the things I learned have made it a lot easier to climb steeper slopes…and sometimes it’s even enjoyable. It turns out that skinning is a skill – it isn’t just walking on your skis. To go comfortably up steeper slopes you have to develop a feel for it and know a few tricks. The tricks break down into two categories: equipment and technique.

    [​IMG]

    In the Tetons - the Middle dead ahead

    On the equipment side, I like skins that have both a tip and tail attachment. A tail attachment isn’t strictly necessary – the glue will keep the skins well attached if you’re careful and lucky – but it can serve as insurance if you have a glue failure from age or contamination with snow or spruce needles or dog hair.

    I also like free-pivot bindings for skinning. All modern Alpine Touring (AT) bindings pivot freely at the toe when the heel is released for skinning, but not all telemark bindings have this feature. I’ve skinned for many years and many miles with conventional tele bindings, but once I tried the newer ones that allow you to raise your heel without resistance on the uptrack I became a convert. The free swing makes it much easier to move your skis forward. If you tele, consider giving them a try.

    You’ll want heel lifts. Again, these are built into just about all modern AT bindings, but they’re sometimes sold as “optional” equipment for tele bindings. Heel lifts serve two functions – they provide relief for your calves and Achilles tendons on the uphill and they allow you to pressure the back of the ski while climbing (more on that in a bit).

    Keep your boots loose, especially the top buckles, so that you aren’t fighting them while going up. However, I should mention that keeping the lower buckles more or less tight can help prevent blisters (especially on your heel) by keeping your foot from moving around. I put my boots into the “walk” mode so that I can have a freer stride.

    When going uphill, I like to shorten my adjustable ski poles down quite a bit. This helps keep my hands warm because the blood isn’t draining from raised arms, and it allows me to push instead of pull with my arms. I think we can all agree that push-ups are easier than pull-ups – a little, anyway.

    [​IMG]

    Headed for Sin Nombre in the Sangre de Cristos

    Don’t be overdressed at the start – you should feel a little bit cold at the trailhead. You’re going to warm up quickly when you get moving and if you’re overdressed you’ll get hot and have to stop and take clothes off which leads to you getting cold again, especially since you probably got wet from sweating. And stopping to deal with all this will keep you from developing a steady and efficient pace.

    Now for some technique tips. Once you’re headed up the hill, a steady pace is key. It takes a while to hit your stride, but if you go slow and steady you’ll go much farther and ultimately faster than if you’re huffing and puffing like you’re in a race. If I can hit a mellow groove, it takes me to “my happy place.” Not stopping to fiddle with your clothing is crucial to maintaining a steady pace, like I mentioned above.

    Concentrate on keeping as much contact as possible between your skins and the snow. If your weight is on your edges, you’re more likely to experience some slipping. .

    Push through your heels. This will keep pressure on the back part of your skis, which really, really helps traction, so try to lean back a bit. To help with that, stand up straight and keep your shoulders back. Leaning forward at the waist puts your weight forward and on the tips, which leads to slipping. If you find you are slipping, shift your weight back. This seems very unintuitive, but it works.

    To save energy, slide your skis forward rather than lifting them. If you are right on the edge of traction, giving a micro little “push” down will help set the skins. Stomping doesn’t really work – the little hairs in the skin plush need to be “set” but they can only hold so much. Pick a track that takes advantage of little areas of “lift” like knolls or subtle ribs in the terrain.

    Think about your stride and look at the track you leave – it should be straight and parallel. If your boots/ski/bindings are out of alignment, you’ll almost be herringboning instead of gliding. Skinning is the art of the micro. There may not be that big a difference between 50 steps of good form and 50 steps of bad form, but after a few miles there is a huge difference.

    The last tip for you is to learn the uphill kick turn, where you do a 180 turn by kicking your uphill ski out and around to point the other way, then bring the downhill ski around and it becomes the new uphill ski as you motor on up the slope. Uphill kick turns are more efficient than downhill kick turns – maybe trickier to learn, but worth it.

    And a last word: Sometimes it might get a little weird. Just press on:

    [​IMG]

    This made sense at the time

    Also:


    FWIW, I disagree with Andrew's advice that the longest stride is the most efficient. I think a shorter-to-mid-range stride is more efficient.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2017
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  10. at_nyc

    at_nyc Getting off the lift Pass Pulled

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    I found side-hilling on icy surface quite tricky.
     
  11. pais alto

    pais alto me encanta el país alto Skier

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    Well, it is, because you're prone to using your edges, but that's not where the skins are. And if you''re rolling your ankles to keep the skins in fuller contact your body positioning as to be pretty perfect to keep maximum traction. And sometimes it's icy enough that all the technique tricks just don't work - then it's time for the equipment solution: ski crampons.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  12. Crank

    Crank Out on the slopes Skier

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    No you are not wrong. However, it's kind of a girl thing. Let me explain, many woman like to get qualified instruction when trying something new. Many women do not like to get that instruction from their SO. (notice I said "qualified" instruction).

    I would like my SO to try and enjoy skinning. She would like to take a course. I would like to make that happen.

    I apologize if anything I said above sounds sexist or politically incorrect - just my opinion.
     
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  13. pais alto

    pais alto me encanta el país alto Skier

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    IMO there is nothing wrong with that thinking.
     
  14. Wilhelmson

    Wilhelmson Getting off the lift Skier

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    A class wouldn't hurt but for practice I'd find a decent used at or touring xc setup and kick around some local hills. Once she gets that down you could check out some cross country at resorts. We were just mountain biking at Waterville; they have some moderate blue xc trails. Bretton Woods has some good xc on the south side and you can hook up with stickney to do some downhill if she's ready. A lift served 12 mile loop on blue xc trails was plenty for me at 5 degrees. Once she has that down amc has various group tours for different levels.

    I plan on taking my kids on some hike up/ski down on Cardigan and Sherbourne and then when they get older we'll see where life lead us.
     
  15. Crank

    Crank Out on the slopes Skier

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    Thanks but she has xc gear and can use it. Has also done some hike to skiing such as Aspen Highlands Bowl. I would call her an advanced skier. She can handle steep terrain and varied snow conditions and nothing really seems to freak her out. Not sure why but she is kind of nervous about the whole skinning thing. She also doesn't want to invest in gear until she knows she will use it. It is kind of expensive when putting together skis, bindings, skins, and back country boots... gotta be talking about 2K?
     
  16. Wilhelmson

    Wilhelmson Getting off the lift Skier

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    Gotcha. I'm in the same boat. After spending $5+ a year I don't need the extra expense to leave the family a few times a year. I bet that dude at amc will give you the correct info.
     
  17. karlo

    karlo Out on the slopes Skier

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    Skifest at the Mountaineer in Keene Valley NY.

    http://backcountrymagazine.com/stories/mountaineer-hosts-12th-annual-skifest/

    That year, 2014, Chris Davenport was the featured speaker, with slideshow. There is an industry pro that is featured each year. There are tours of all levels both days, with rentals available at the Mountaineer. There is also a day of demos, to demo boots and ski/bindings. Plus, an intro to avy hazard seminar is available, rather than an AST class.
     
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  18. ella_g

    ella_g Getting on the lift Skier

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    @Crank you probably know this but there's great touring stuff to be found on geartrade.com. If she likes it but doesn't want to,spend $2k .....
     
  19. Crank

    Crank Out on the slopes Skier

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    I think some friends of mine have been. Sounds like a good possibility. Thanks.

    No I did not know about this site. I have been to OGX in Burlington but I don't think they have their used stuff online. Thanks will check it out.
     
  20. at_nyc

    at_nyc Getting off the lift Pass Pulled

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    2nd that. I went once. There're some mini-clinic too.

    But... need to be aggressive in hoarding them demo gears. Arrive early, find everything of the right size as quickly as possible. Then only give it up in exchange for something else.

    The AMC Winter Workshop at Cardigan Lodge is much more predictable. Once you get in (fills up quickly), the cost includes lodging and meal at Cardigan lodge, which is right next to the skin trail. "Instruction" is actually more of "mentoring". But there's the benefit of trying other people's gear since everyone in the "clinic" are just trying things out.

    I used to go every other year, just to do xc tour in the back country. The location of the lodge is ideal, and cost is so low it's like going for a ski weekend, with a bit of instruction thrown in.
     

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