The Cross Country Ski Tour is a Wonderful Thing
Lately, I’ve talked with several customers who begin our conversation by saying, “My cross country equipment is old, really old. I’ve got those old three pin binding and my boots have those square shaped toes.” I’m thinking to myself that, yes, I believe their gear could be old but the style sure isn’t.
Right about then I hand them the Alpina Alaska 75mm boot, the Crispi Mountain 3-pin boot, and show them our display board mounted with three choices of 3 pin bindings. The surprise on their faces is pretty darn fun. “My gosh, they still make this stuff? I thought it was long gone.”
What comes around goes around and comes back around. At Ski Haus, we’re seeing a nice return to backcountry cross country ski touring. And the news is lots of folks (me included) have returned to the Nordic Norm 75mm soled boot and ageless 3 pin binding system.
I know there are skiers out there who have a longer history on skis than me. I know these folks can tour and turn circles around me until I’m dizzy but my story is not so different than theirs. My first 3 pin set up was a pair of very narrow and very long 215cm Rossignol Randonee XC skis with 3 pin bindings and the venerable Asolo Extreme black leather boot.
My buddies and me skied that gear everywhere, from bumps on Whiteout in the Steamboat Ski Area to long tours off Rabbit Ears and Buffalo Passes. We toured, and hiked, and turned those skis like crazy.
That gear evolved, slowly, until Scarpa came out with the original and aptly named Terminator telemark boots. It didn’t take long for the Terminator to kill the 75mm soled black leather boot market. Tired of our leather boots breaking right about the time they started feeling and skiing their best – the boot’s midsole usually broke right behind the pin holes – skiers flocked to the hard shell telemark boots in droves.
We didn’t realize it at them time but we were paying a weight penalty with those powerful plastic shelled boots and ever widening fat skis. But who cared? We were ripping tight lines, b-lining it to backcountry slopes and harvesting powder like it was nobody’s business.
But something happened along the way. A little light dawned in the minds of many cross country skiers. Why am I skiing all this heavy gear? What happened to my light skis and boots where I could go explore and tour with a nice fluid motion and cover long distance without taking along a ball and chain?
Re-enter the 3 pin set-up. One of my favorite cross country boots is the Alpina Alaska 75. I’ve resurrected a few of my old skinny 205cm skis that are mounted with 3 pin bindings or the old Rotteffella Riva cable bindings. I’m touring fast and light again. I have skis that actually glide after I’ve set my kick. I’m skiing the very same slopes we skied while armored up in plastic and find myself smiling for no other reason than I’ve come full circle.
I’m back to a light ski and boot. I feel like I can tour with a very fluid motion. The equipment isn’t reducing my tour to a shuffle. And when it comes time to make some turns? Easy.
I’ve returned to my skiing roots and it feels really, really good.