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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    San Diego
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    175

    Japan Newbie Touring Set-up Thoughts

    Hi Tech Talk,

    I'm heading to Japan in 2018 for a 11 day trip that includes a good deal of guided touring (day trips) in addition to resort skiing. Needless to say, I'm pumped.

    Regarding the touring part, I've got a quiver of skis with alpine binders on them, however no dedicated touring set up.

    I'd like to put some touring bindings on a pair of skis I already own for the trip and would prefer not buying a new pair, just not sure which would be best.

    Here's what I own (i ski mammoth mtn. on the regular):

    194 Praxis Freeride Stock Stiff flex (no bindings yet, 1 old mount, picked up on gear swap this summer)
    193 Blizzard Gunsmoke (mounted with look pivot)
    193 Blizzard Bodacious (mounted with look pivot)
    192 Moment Belafonte (daily driver, mounted with look pivot)
    190 Moment Bibby Pro (too many mounts not sure if they can take another, least fav ski of the bunch)

    I'm gravitating towards re-mounting the Gunsmokes as they are 114 underfoot and the best of the bunch for tight tree skiing in pow.

    I'm pretty green when it comes to touring but will be doing an Avi course and getting out in the backcountry multiple times before the trip with some experienced folks.

    I'm 6' 190 lbs., pretty strong & fast skier. Physically I can move around at altitude well so not too worried if touring skis are not super light weight.

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    The High 12 Hill
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    3,267
    You're likely going to struggle with kickturns on those long skis in deep pow of Japan. It is the most common struggle I saw with the novice touring partners of the group I was in when I went. Practice, practice, practice. Also, work on your transitions. It sucks having to wait for people lollygagging with their skins.

    If you have to take something you already own, take those gunsmokes. They will work for you just fine. I skied 117 automatics there. Might consider bringing a narrow ski as well if there is a deficit of new snow. I did. Didn't use them, but was insurance.

    If you don't already have a well fitting touring boot, get one, and break it in well. Blisters are trip wreckers. Especially if you're planning to tour multiple days straight. Iron out all the wrinkles ahead of time, and you will have a great trip.


    Also, pay attention to your guide and how they set a skin track. Ask questions. Sponge all the knowledge you can. When they are digging quick test pits, don't fuck off and bs with the people around you. Watch what they are doing and looking for. It is an opportunity to rapidly learn from knowledgeable partners.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    San Diego
    Posts
    175
    Right on, thanks for the tips NW_Skier. I'm not dead set on skiing long alpine specific skis in Japan and if I can find a good pair of used shorter ones that fit the bill before the trip, I'll be on something different. Definitely will have touring boots broken in before hand as well.

    Hear you loud and clear on the sponging of knowledge bit, I've got lot's to learn and take in..

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    northern BC
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    I took 184 Lotus 120 / Verts / Vulcans for on and off piste and I would take the same setup again

    even the onpiste is all gona be pretty soft so I wouldn't bother with alpine & BC setups

    If you are gona be carrying it up hill you might want whatever you take to be on the lighter side
    Last edited by XXX-er; 09-24-2017 at 12:11 PM.
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    SW Idaho
    Posts
    690
    Japan is typically always pow loaded in Hokkaido during late December and January, so bringing a fatty quiver of one skis would work.

    However, if you're skiing Honshu at all, or Hokkaido in Feb. or March you should have a backup pair of sticks or that can carve or deal with variable conditions. Japan can get a week of sunny weather / high pressure in February and March, and that's less fun with wider skis...

    Otherwise, NW Skier is pretty spot on with his recs.

    Maybe consider Beast 16 bindings if you have the time to practice with them. It will take time.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
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    Seattle
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    Quote Originally Posted by NW_SKIER View Post
    You're going to struggle with kickturns
    FIFY



    Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
    Quote Originally Posted by Downbound Train View Post
    And there will come a day when our ancestors look back...........

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
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    Quote Originally Posted by PNWbrit View Post
    FIFY



    Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
    So true

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    San Diego
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    Agreed on the kickturn comments.. Any thoughts on other skis that would fit the bill and perform better in deep powder ?

    Sent from my SM-G955U using TGR Forums mobile app

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Juxtaposition
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    It is entirely possible to get up a lot of terrain without doing kick turns to change direction. If your guide is making you do kick turns, ask him why...

    Outside resorts: any pow ski you feel comfortable on will be fine in Japan. Stiff chargers are not really necessary, even in Hakuba.

    In some places and at some times, not everything is pow, so recommend against skis that struggle in variable or on hard surfaces.

    For what its worth, I have skied 100's and 100's of pow days outside resort in Japan on Praxis GPOs, with reverse camber moulding.
    Life is not lift served.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    northern BC
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    Quote Originally Posted by neck beard View Post
    It is entirely possible to get up a lot of terrain without doing kick turns to change direction. If your guide is making you do kick turns, ask him why....
    Yup, Kick turns are usually made by you or yer buddy cuz you don't set a track very well or you had to follow a poorly set one

    I've skied a week with a guide at dezaiko lodge and only had to do 1 kick turn and i could tell buddy felt really bad about it ... you should never do any kick turns with a guide
    Last edited by XXX-er; 09-24-2017 at 03:59 PM.
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Seattle
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    Quote Originally Posted by XXX-er View Post
    You should never do any kick turns with a guide
    Rolls eyes....


    Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
    Quote Originally Posted by Downbound Train View Post
    And there will come a day when our ancestors look back...........

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Land of the Long Flat Vowel
    Posts
    607
    I have about 50 days of Japan touring behind me, late Jan or early to mid Feb. I have always brought 110mm skis as a backup, but never used them. Protests every day - and no kick turns :-)

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    San Diego
    Posts
    175
    More info:

    Trip is Feb. 3 - 13 and here are the main parts of the itinerary -

    - Ski Kokusai or Kiroro
    - Ski Niseko Area (Rusutsu, Annupuri, Moiwa, Gran Hirafu, Hanazono) - Stay at Negula
    - Ski Furano Area (Tomamu, Furano) Stay at North Country
    - Ski Teine - Stay in Sapporo

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    cordova,AK
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    2,202
    I kick turn
    Click image for larger version. 

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    from that itinerary does not look like much touring. just pick up some trekkers.
    last couple of trips I went with DPS 112 and 120. the 120's were a little much for rice field skipping
    off your knees Louie

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Calgary
    Posts
    43
    I've ridden on Protest for my last 6 trips to Hokkaido. They've been excellent. The perfect Japow ski. I ride with a lot of boarders and in deep snow you'll need some serious float to keep up. Especially in some zones that flatten out at the near the base. My first trip in 2001 was on some Movements with a 90 cm waist they were too skinny to keep up with anyone.

    I've always ridden Japan with Low Tech bindings. Soft snow rarely needs anything more, but I'm smaller than you. If I was buying new I'd try out the new elastic bindings (i.e. tecton, beast etc.).

    Get some practice days in before the trip. Make sure to have some level of fitness so that you can enjoy it more. Sounds like a great trip.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Juxtaposition
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    Protests, or wide softer big floaters, for that kind of lower angle deep dry snow. If nothing else they will give you more carry over flats. And they roar when it is steep.

    As for kick turns, my personal preference is actually for super fast and easy downhill kick turns. They are done in seconds with little effort, and longer skis are not much of an issue. But most dudes think they look ghey.

    Up hill kick turns are a backcountry right of passage man! Like ripping your skin in one long fast rip so the sticky 185cm bastards get all tangled in the wind and get pow all over the glue.
    Life is not lift served.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    SW Idaho
    Posts
    690
    IMO Beast 16s + your gunsmokes + BD skins should set you up.

    Unless you are planning a very big day on Mt Yotei or some sort of long traverse, that rig would be badass.

    What company are you going with? BD tours? Hokkaido Backcountry Club? Whiteroom? Rising Sun guides?

    Just my 2 cents

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    874
    196 Praxis Protest > 193 Gunsmoke in any and all conditions

    Kingpin 13 > Beast 16 (yes I know Beast 16 are dirt cheap right now, but there is a reason, they suck and are heavy)

    Id say sell the Bibby, Gunsmokes and Belefonte, and pick up a pair of used 196 or 192 Protests. There is a reason why you never hear anything about about them on here, and Blister did a 2394827598723 review about how they are the perfect pow ski. If you dont believe me, go read the review, its an ode to how every other pow ski is trying to be the Protest and cant be. I have 193 Gunsmokes and they almost never come out because I grab my Protests or 193/203 Shiros first. The Gunsmoke is a good ski, but its not anywhere near the same category as the Protests. Ive never skied steep trees so fast and confidently as I can in the Protests. My roomate snow boards and usually walks away from be in mellow pow fields, not with the Protests, I keep up just fine. 4 people have commented saying they love their Protests, they are that awesome.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    1,043
    skibrd isn't lying to you. Protest's are awesome pow skis. You need a pair but you just don't know it yet.
    That being said if I were in your shoes I would find some cheap frame bindings (duke, adrenaline, guardian, etc.) and mount them up on the gunsmoke's. Add in some skins and they'll handle the inbounds/side country just fine.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    The High 12 Hill
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    Yep^^

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Squamish BC.
    Posts
    652

    Japan Newbie Touring Set-up Thoughts

    Having just done the trip last year that you are going to do, here are my suggestions. Travel with one pair of skis. When you arrive in Narita airport, spend $20 to have them shipped by Black Cat directly to your first accommodation and save yourself the extreme agony of having to roll your skis and luggage together through the Tokyo subway/rail system with stairs escalators and crowds. Each extra pair of skis doubles your agony and you won't have room for them on the guided tour anyways because they are usually road trips in a van with 6 or 7 people and all their gear.

    Japan can be epic, but like everywhere else, there are periods of no snow. I was there for three weeks last January and it hardly snowed at all on Hokkaido. Bring a ski in the 110 to 115 range that is good on packed, variable and deep snow, and not to heavy because some of the tours are big. We climbed Mt Yotei, an iconic 2000 metre Volcano, which was bulletproof ice on top and deeper soft snow down lower with areas of breakable crust in between. It was a big climb and like other tours on Hokkaido, lighter skis made a big difference, combined with a versatile profile.

    Don't go over 4kg a pair. Don't even consider frame bindings if you're trip is mostly touring. I ski Dynafits at the resort for mixed in bounds/backcountry trips and they've fine and far lighter.

    I ski DPS Wailer 112 P3's and, despite being Poo Pooed by the super heroes of TGR, I've found them to be a near perfect powder touring ski over 5 seasons with enough float, edge grip and dampness to handle most backcountry conditions and still be good for mixed resort use on Hokkaido type road trips. They've been great in waist deep to bullet proof.

    My buddy had Volkl BMT 122's, a very under rated backcountry ski, which out performed my Wailers while being the same weight and significantly wider. They floated better in the only waist deep we got in Myoko on the Main Island and held an edge better at speed on hard pack, surprisingly, at 122mm vs 112, coming back through the resorts on Hokkaido from the backcountry.

    Big, heavy, fat set ups with frame bindings will ski better at the resort in average conditions, but in classic Japow, the advantage would not be that much greater than a good powder touring ski like the DPS, Volkl BMT etc. and the lighter set ups will far more pleasant to tour with.

    Just my 2 cents having been there and done that.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    northern BC
    Posts
    13,948
    yeah they ship skis everywhere and its dead reliable
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Swiss alps
    Posts
    259
    I ski gunsmokes with dynafit beasts and would definately take that set up to japan if i were to go there.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Sweden
    Posts
    89
    With the amount of snow japan gets, the amount of creeks in some places and how steep it is close to the creeks, I highly recommend touring binders on all skis.
    I've been in a few situations in Japan that would have impossible to boot pack out of, it's just too much snow and no bottom =)

    I think that off piste skiing shouldn't be done without touring binders anyway, if someone get's hurt or get in to an avalanche it's a question about life and death in my mind and time matters a lot!

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    874
    Quote Originally Posted by LawndartGustav View Post
    With the amount of snow japan gets, the amount of creeks in some places and how steep it is close to the creeks, I highly recommend touring binders on all skis.
    I've been in a few situations in Japan that would have impossible to boot pack out of, it's just too much snow and no bottom =)

    I think that off piste skiing shouldn't be done without touring binders anyway, if someone get's hurt or get in to an avalanche it's a question about life and death in my mind and time matters a lot!
    When I took avi 1, my instructor said he always travels out of bounds (from the resort) on touring bindings and carries skins. I feel CAST is perfect for this. Toss the skins, and toes in your backpack at the start of the season, and dont stress about being able to get out of a tough spot, or up to your buddies if they have issues above you. I prefer touring on my Kingpins, but for the piece of mind, the weight penalty of CAST is totally worth it.

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