Freeride and Ski Touring.
So close but so different. Two wonderful and exciting activities. Let’s see how they are similar and how they differ.
Ski touring is a movement in a snowy landscape, not just a descent downhill. The essence of ski touring is to make a tour in winter nature, climb a peak or ridge and ski down. In winter conditions, skis are often the only ones that provide mobility. We can’t get anywhere on foot in deep snow, and snowshoeing is slow. For a touring skier, ascent is as important as descent. The climb with touring skis is a pleasure in itself. In addition, it is a very healthy form of moving.The step uphill is elegant, similar to that of cross-country skiing. Both the legs and the arms are loaded, as well as the whole body. Finally, there are no vibrations and loads on the skeleton, as in normal running. And finally, it’s time to go down! Powder, spring snow or hard ground, it doesn’t matter, as long as it’s good skiing. It’s true, the descent can be strenuous in demanding snow conditions. Of course, depending on how well we master the skiing technique. Poorer skiers have to wait for the right snow conditions or plan a tour near the groomed ski slopes or even on them. In this case descend into the valley on a ski piste is easy, relaxing and safe.
Freeride is pure skiing. The essence of freeride skiing is riding down deep snow. Freerides have a different imperative as touring skiers. For them, the descent is only important, preferably as long as possible. And also in as deep powder as possible. If there is a rock jump in between, even better. The ascent is in the second plan, the cable car is welcome, but the climb on skis is also OK. Heli ski is an option too, why not. But if there is no other way, if the slope is too steep, then skis on the back and crampons on the boots … Freeride skiing also differs from touring skiing in the way it is driven. The turns are longer, the speeds are higher, jumps are welcome.
The difference between Ski touring equipment and Freeride equipment
Ski touring equipment should be as light as possible. But light skis are generally quite useless on hard, ragged surfaces. With advanced technology and materials, this problem is largely solvable. This is also where the difference in quality between individual models and brands becomes apparent. Let’s look at some concrete examples. Carbon allows the light ski to function well even on hard ground.
The larger width allows the ski to float better in the powder. Rocker makes it easier to make a turn. Recommended ski width under the foot is 85 – 100 mm, recommended ski length in relation to body height is -15 cm. As an example of the best skis in the ski touring segment, we can cite the Movement Alp Tracks series. As for the other equipment, it is as follows. The boots are lighter and more comfortable, the sole also has rubber like hiking boots. Modern pin bindings are significantly lighter than classic bindings. Touring bindings allow walking upwards, so that the heel releases and rises and then fixes again when descending. An important part of the bindings are crampons, which allows you to walk on a hard surface. An indispensable part of the equipment are touring skins, which prevent the skis from slipping down. Without them, climbing is impossible.
Freeride equipment follows the characteristics of touring equipment, but with important differences. In freeride, weight is not the first thing, driving characteristics and functionality in general are more important. The skis are wider and longer, the boots are more ski-oriented, the bindings are adapted to a greater load. There is no difference in skins. Recommended ski width under the foot is 100 – 115 mm, recommended ski length in relation to body height is +10 cm. As an example of the best skis in the ski touring segment, we can cite the Movement Go series.
Avalanche equipment – airbag and avalanche trio
This is equipment that protects us from landslides or before their consequences. An airbag is integrated in the backpack. We activate it when we are caught in an avalanche and two air balloons keep us on the surface of the avalanche. The classic avalanche trio (beacon, probe and shovel) helps to detect the backfill. The avalanche beacon makes it possible to find the location of the victim under the landslide. To define the position of the buried person even more precisely with a probe, and to dig it out with a shovel.
Ski touring insurance
We advise specialist mountaineering insurance for ski touring. Tourist insurance covers only travel and skiing on groomed ski slopes or you are insured up to a height of 3000 m. PZS card or with membership in PZS you are also accidentally insured in the mountains up to a height of 6500 m. The insurance is also suitable for the needs of touring skiing. For truly carefree ski touring, we recommend insurance via the Alpenverein. More about Alpenverein …