Thursday, 28 February 2013

Telemark skiing equipment

Klevstul doing a telemark turn while photographer Christian Løverås saves the moment.

A lot of equipment is needed for doing telemark (note: Telemark with a uppercase "T" means the Telemark county in Norway, telemark with a lowercase "t" means "telemark skiing" aka. "free heel skiing"). The equipment is also quite pricey, so there is a lot to save if you get used equipment in stead of brand new one.

Below is an overview of everything needed (that money can buy, skills you need to acquire another way) for doing telemark. Everything from top to toe should be on this list. So if it's not here you do most likely not need it. Like a GPS watch, or a waterproof pouch for your mobile. It is nice to have, but you do not need it (you do not need to bring your mobile).

I want to make clear that I've not been sponsored by any of the brands mentioned in this post. I've picked my equipment simply based on own experiences and reviews.

One of the most important items for going skiing is without doubt the helmet. People that ski without helmets are plain stupid, and that includes myself as well. Helmets are not all about looks, despite it has become very fashionable. It's important that the helmet fits and is comfortable to wear. I wear the Giro Seam, which is both warm, comfortable and highly adjustable.

I do not like to spend much money on goggles. The reason being is that it takes not more than a few trips in the forest before my goggles are all scratched. At the moment I'm just wearing some el-cheap'o plastic I bought in Japan, called "Axe". The much nicer skiing goggles from Electric, that I am wearing on the pictures attached to this post, are long gone, unfortunately.

Back pack
If you go off-piste skiing you need a back pack. I'm using a snow pack from Dakine, as their packs has got some neat solutions for skiiers, and snowboarders.

Snow shovel & avalanche probe
As well, if you do go off-piste, you need a shovel and a probe. Beware that there is NO point having this equipment if you are not 100% sure on how to use it while being stressed out like hell. I'm no longer doing risky off-piste skiing, so I no longer use this type of equipment. However, I used to have a no-brand (?) 120 cm probe whose bag read "lavinen probe sonde nix" and a the 3D Pro snow shovel from Life Link. I've heard experts saying that you do need a metal shovel in stead of a plastic one, as the plastic ones is no good if the snow is too hard packet.

Back protection
You do not want to injure your back, hence it is wise investing in a back protection as well. I've got the Komperdell airshock vest with kidney belt.

Having a jacket might be a good idea, at least for some. I prefer shell only jackets, like a multi layer Gote-TEX jacket. I've had a jacket from Burton's AK collection for years, and I love it.

Avalanche transceiver
A good beacon, that is easy to operate, is also important when doing off-piste. Before, when I spent more time off-piste, I was using the Tracker DTS.

I hate being cold on my fingers and are using the warmest mittens I've found, the Burton AK Oven Mitt.

Hip protection
It might be wise to protect your hips and tail bone as well. I'm wearing the Komperdell Protector Cross Short while skiing.

I've got the multi layer Gore-TEX pants from Burton's AK collection. Another piece of garment that I really like.

The Leki Spitfire poles are neat, and I do love the possibility to take off your poles in a matter of a second. That is why they are my choice when it comes to skiing poles.

Knee protection
As a telemark skier you need some protection for your knees. Otherwise it is insane to go off-piste, as your knees are doomed to hit a rock or a tree sooner or later. I'm using padded volleyball knee supports from Rehband, that I always wear, also when I'm in the slope. When I go off-piste I wear some kneepads from Black Diamon (the TeleKneesis Kneepad), on top of my Rehband pads. Double protection, because my knees are worth it.

For me there is only one telemark boot, and that is the top of the line model from Crispi, the Crispi Evo NTN (with support for New Telemark Norm bindings). I've tried Scarpa and Garmont, but nothing can compare with these top boots from Crispi. They are simply the best.

NTN, or the New Telemark Norm ftw (for the winter)! I feel truly sorry for everyone that stopped doing telemark before these bindings came on the market, which happened around four-five years ago, well after the 90s telemark boom had ended. It takes some time to get used to the NTN, as the bindings are a lot stiffer, and you actually have more control of your inner ski as well. You can adjust the stiffness though, with different power tubes. The NTN system takes telemark to a new level, and gives the rider a complete new control (it sounds like I'm paid by Rottefella, but I'm actually not). With the NTN bindings Rottefella has managed to make the gap in between telemark and alpine a lot smaller (there still is a hefty gap though). I'm using the Rottefella NTN Freeride, with blue power tubes on my racing skis and green tubes for my off-pist skis.

Without good skis the skiing experience will not become a good one. I used to have three pair of skis, one giant slalom pair for the slopes, one twin tip pair for fooling around, and one pair of fat boards for the powder. At the moment I "only" have two pairs though, but I might have to get back a "play-pair".
My racing skis: Fischer RC4 World Cup Giant Slalom with radius >21m.
My powder skis: Fischer Big Stix 120.

Warm underwear
You do need some warm underwear as well, and some good warm socks, and maybe a neck warmer for those cold days.

Get started!
So what are you waiting for? Telmark skiing is pure awesomeness, and with today's equipment you might experience a revelation.

Frode Klevstul in Hemsedal, Norway (photo: Christian Løverås photography).

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