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  1. #1
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    Dec 2020
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    A bunch of dumb questions - first touring setup

    Background: novice skier, looking to take an avalanche class next season and slowly, safely start doing some touring. I don't see myself doing anything too gnarly, I'd like to get the hang of it first - but I'm a pretty fit cyclist (road and mtb) and miss the human powered aspect of lift accessed skiing vs a day of riding bikes. Plus getting away from crowds is ideal. Touring has been something I've wanted to do since I started skiing.

    I need to buy a beacon, pack, shovel, probe, etc still - but summer seems like a good time to get a deal on the actual skis / boots.

    I ski mainly in the Sierras. Currently have Wildcat 108s and regular Wildcats that I've yet to mount. I like that the 108s are stable, work in a huge variety of conditions, and ski pretty strong for how forgiving they are.

    Are these too heavy to tour with? I'm guessing the answer is yes and I should seek out a softer / lighter touring ski. Obvious answer seems like a Moment Wildcat 108 Tour - anything else that's similar I should look for?

    Boots / Bindings - since I've never skied a touring binding I'm not terribly well versed in them. It looks like Fritschi Tectons are the only ones with a DIN settings for the toes - if that's true it seems like a safe option. Is there any reason I'd regret these?

    It also looks like if I went with those Fritschis I'd need an AT boot for the heel to work with. Lange XT Free and Tecnica Cochise both fit comfortably but are on the very heavy end of touring boots. Is there any downside to boots like that other than the weight versus a lighter boot?

    Feel free to tell me I'm doing this wrong, should look at different gear entirely, or tell me I'm a jong. Any of the above would be super helpful.

  2. #2
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    you should have no issue with the weight of regular wildcats.
    i am on tectons and love em. you will not regret getting a pair.
    stay away from cochise and xt free. look for something lighter and with more ROM. plenty of options out there.
    what boot do you ski now?
    you don't want no smoke.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pinned View Post
    Background: novice skier,.
    Full stop. Learn to ski first.

  4. #4
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pinned View Post
    Background: novice skier, looking to take an avalanche class next season and slowly, safely start doing some touring. I don't see myself doing anything too gnarly, I'd like to get the hang of it first - but I'm a pretty fit cyclist (road and mtb) and miss the human powered aspect of lift accessed skiing vs a day of riding bikes. Plus getting away from crowds is ideal. Touring has been something I've wanted to do since I started skiing.

    I need to buy a beacon, pack, shovel, probe, etc still - but summer seems like a good time to get a deal on the actual skis / boots.

    I ski mainly in the Sierras. Currently have Wildcat 108s and regular Wildcats that I've yet to mount. I like that the 108s are stable, work in a huge variety of conditions, and ski pretty strong for how forgiving they are.

    Are these too heavy to tour with? I'm guessing the answer is yes and I should seek out a softer / lighter touring ski. Obvious answer seems like a Moment Wildcat 108 Tour - anything else that's similar I should look for?

    Boots / Bindings - since I've never skied a touring binding I'm not terribly well versed in them. It looks like Fritschi Tectons are the only ones with a DIN settings for the toes - if that's true it seems like a safe option. Is there any reason I'd regret these?

    It also looks like if I went with those Fritschis I'd need an AT boot for the heel to work with. Lange XT Free and Tecnica Cochise both fit comfortably but are on the very heavy end of touring boots. Is there any downside to boots like that other than the weight versus a lighter boot?

    Feel free to tell me I'm doing this wrong, should look at different gear entirely, or tell me I'm a jong. Any of the above would be super helpful.
    Your doing it wrong, look at different gear entirely, Jong.


    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2020
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    99
    Quote Originally Posted by stealurface831 View Post
    you should have no issue with the weight of regular wildcats.
    i am on tectons and love em. you will not regret getting a pair.
    stay away from cochise and xt free. look for something lighter and with more ROM. plenty of options out there.
    what boot do you ski now?
    Save weight on the boots rather than skis? The Wildcats aren't crazy heavy or anything. My normal boots are Mach 1s so that's why I tried on the Tecnicas (and Langes).

    Quote Originally Posted by wendigo View Post
    Full stop. Learn to ski first.
    I totally understand where you're coming from and appreciate the words of caution. Not intending to put myself or others into a dangerous situation - I'm pretty humble about learning new things at my age, and I know none of it comes easy. Looking to start next season, but not thinking I'll jump right in or push my luck with difficult terrain or poor conditions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Meadow Skipper View Post
    Get a mentor.
    I have some friends who are much more experienced than I am - but not really into gear. Everyone seems to be on Tele or pin tech bindings.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
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    Ellensburg
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    Just get what you can afford and get out there, man! You'll probably figure out what works and what doesn't with your setup pretty quickly. All the gear you mentioned would make a great setup, but it's on the heavy side for a 100% BC setup in my opinion. If you're really in to it you'll probably end up with a couple different rigs and boots anyway. Oh and go with the tour layup on the WC so you don't get left behind.

    Sent from my BND-L24 using Tapatalk

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    388
    Used is always a good route. If you donít like, you can sell for close to what you paid.
    Boots that fit. And agree with others, would go lighter. Say 1500 ish gram boot is often a good mix of up/down performance.
    Sub 2000 gr ski, lots out there these days, many not even bc specific - like a head kore or elan ripstick. 90-105 waist - more surface area is more drag in the ups, big pow days are rare, and usually avy risk is too high for anything consequential (altho sierras are better I guess).
    Donít sweat the bindings but get something bc specific and mid weight, and not a shift/duke

  9. #9
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    Oct 2003
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    Big in Japan
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    Quote Originally Posted by Meadow Skipper View Post
    Get a mentor.
    Or, simply, a Buddy. Don't do this alone.

    The world is perfect. Appreciate the details.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
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    762
    Quote Originally Posted by Pinned View Post
    Background: novice skier, looking to take an avalanche class next season and slowly, safely start doing some touring. I don't see myself doing anything too gnarly, I'd like to get the hang of it first - but I'm a pretty fit cyclist (road and mtb) and miss the human powered aspect of lift accessed skiing vs a day of riding bikes. Plus getting away from crowds is ideal. Touring has been something I've wanted to do since I started skiing.

    I need to buy a beacon, pack, shovel, probe, etc still - but summer seems like a good time to get a deal on the actual skis / boots.

    I ski mainly in the Sierras. Currently have Wildcat 108s and regular Wildcats that I've yet to mount. I like that the 108s are stable, work in a huge variety of conditions, and ski pretty strong for how forgiving they are.

    Are these too heavy to tour with? I'm guessing the answer is yes and I should seek out a softer / lighter touring ski. Obvious answer seems like a Moment Wildcat 108 Tour - anything else that's similar I should look for?

    Boots / Bindings - since I've never skied a touring binding I'm not terribly well versed in them. It looks like Fritschi Tectons are the only ones with a DIN settings for the toes - if that's true it seems like a safe option. Is there any reason I'd regret these?

    It also looks like if I went with those Fritschis I'd need an AT boot for the heel to work with. Lange XT Free and Tecnica Cochise both fit comfortably but are on the very heavy end of touring boots. Is there any downside to boots like that other than the weight versus a lighter boot?

    Feel free to tell me I'm doing this wrong, should look at different gear entirely, or tell me I'm a jong. Any of the above would be super helpful.
    Like others have said, get a buddy, an experienced one ideally. But if it's not possible just be overly conservative. My first few years of touring I also had a resort pass so when I didn't feel comfortable about the avi conditions I just went to the resort.

    Is this going to be a resort and touring setup or just touring? If just touring I'd go with a touring specific ski like the WC108tour, and a lighter boot than the ones you mentioned. If its a resort and touring setup I think the WC108 with a tecton would be good. A lot of this is personal preference. Performance vs comfort, safety vs weight, durability vs weight, price vs everything, etc. And you won't know until you get out and do it. Do some research, pick one, have fun, adjust

  11. #11
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    Dec 2006
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    You'll get a lot of differing opinions on what is "too heavy" or "too light." The correct answer is really to get on gear similar to the stuff the people you'll be touring with are using. Personally, I tour on heavy-ish skis, light-ish bindings, and medium-ish boots (ON3P BillyGoat 116 Tours or Woodsman 108 tours, G3 Ion LT/Zed or Salomon MTN Pin, Atomic Hawx XTD 130 or Dynafit TLT6P depending on the tour). The stuff you mentioned would be fine - on the heavy side, but fine.

    As mentioned above, you need to learn to ski first. In a resort. Nobody likes to hear this but it's the reality. If you can't ski competently, you are a liability to yourself and to your partners. Backcountry conditions are inherently variable, terrain is variable and unmanicured, even minor injuries can become very serious when in the winter backcountry, and winter nights are very long and very cold. Furthermore, it's just not a good environment to improve your skiing because you just don't get enough repetitions in a day. You can get more downhill skiing in one hour at the resort than you can in a full day in the backcountry. I'm not telling you that you can't go for mellow tours next year, but you NEED to spend time at the resort too. I generally recommend that you be at least an advanced downhill skier (comfortably able to ski black ungroomed runs) before seriously starting to tour.

    Avy classes - take a free awareness class first, use your touring gear to skin in a controlled environment first (like uphill at a resort), THEN take a Level 1 class. You will get much more out of it that way.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2020
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    99
    Quote Originally Posted by adrenalated View Post
    You'll get a lot of differing opinions on what is "too heavy" or "too light." The correct answer is really to get on gear similar to the stuff the people you'll be touring with are using. Personally, I tour on heavy-ish skis, light-ish bindings, and medium-ish boots (ON3P BillyGoat 116 Tours or Woodsman 108 tours, G3 Ion LT/Zed or Salomon MTN Pin, Atomic Hawx XTD 130 or Dynafit TLT6P depending on the tour). The stuff you mentioned would be fine - on the heavy side, but fine.

    As mentioned above, you need to learn to ski first. In a resort. Nobody likes to hear this but it's the reality. If you can't ski competently, you are a liability to yourself and to your partners. Backcountry conditions are inherently variable, terrain is variable and unmanicured, even minor injuries can become very serious when in the winter backcountry, and winter nights are very long and very cold. Furthermore, it's just not a good environment to improve your skiing because you just don't get enough repetitions in a day. You can get more downhill skiing in one hour at the resort than you can in a full day in the backcountry. I'm not telling you that you can't go for mellow tours next year, but you NEED to spend time at the resort too. I generally recommend that you be at least an advanced downhill skier (comfortably able to ski black ungroomed runs) before seriously starting to tour.

    Avy classes - take a free awareness class first, use your touring gear to skin in a controlled environment first (like uphill at a resort), THEN take a Level 1 class. You will get much more out of it that way.
    Perhaps novice was the wrong descriptor - I'd rather be conservative than overstate my skills. Most of what I ski in the resort is trees, ungroomed, etc. I've skied mostly Mammoth and Squaw/Alpine, but also all of the resorts in the Cottonwoods - I am confident skiing blacks in any of those places. I need some work skiing very narrow stuff, and could use some more time in deep powder (it's definitely easier in UT than CA) to be better at it. I don't know how all that translates into a rating of my skills but I know I'm not as fast or experienced as the friends I've been skiing with.

    But my intention with touring is mainly to get some exercise and switch things up - not looking to use the backcountry to progress my skiing or replace resort skiing. So, mellow touring I guess.

    I appreciate everyone's replies - super helpful input and I'll adjust what I'm looking for a bit and see if I can find a good used setup to get me going!

  13. #13
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    Aug 2020
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    597
    Tell us what kind of MTB you ride and what kind of trails you ride and we can give you the AT ski equivalent

  14. #14
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    May 2011
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    I own both the WC 108 and WC 108 tour. You'll be fine on the regular wildcats... the binding matters a heck of a lot more. Tectons are great.

    I use Cochise Pro 130's and they're not *that* heavy for touring... but keep in mind if I didn't just want a one boot quiver for my fucked up feet (dialing in one boot is hard enough) I would definitely go lighter.

    I gathered you were just being modest when you called yourself a novice skier. If you're comfortable doing regular laps on, say, Granite Chief, you'll be fine in the BC, especially keeping it mellow. Plenty of options around here for that.
    I ski 135 degree chutes switch to the road.

  15. #15
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    Don't go too light. It requires better technique and/ or better snow to enjoy a light set up. Sounds like your fitness is better than your skill right now. Ultra light bindings ski fine, but won't release as reliably as Vipecs or Tectons. For skis and boots mass just matters.

    Sent from my Pixel 3a using Tapatalk

  16. #16
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    Mar 2019
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pinned View Post
    Background: novice skier, looking to take an avalanche class next season and slowly, safely start doing some touring.
    Couple of things that many novice backcountry skiers completely graze over:

    You're more likely to hurt yourself in the backcountry than get caught in a slide. Therefore you should save some money on the avy and bc gear, and do the following:

    1. Get a season pass at your local hill, and get more consistent on your skis. If you cant ski the terrain in the resort consistently and safely, then there's no way in hell you should out in the backcountry. It take a long, long, long time for SAR to get to folks.

    2. Take some lessons on proper ski technique, or a get a friend willing to give you feedback.

    3. Take a wilderness first aid course. Like I said, more likely to deal with an injury than a slide, but even if you've got folks in a slide you now have a trauma patient that you'll need to stabilize.
    "Poop is funny" - Frank Reynolds

  17. #17
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    Dec 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pinned View Post
    I need to buy a beacon, pack, shovel, probe, etc still - but summer seems like a good time to get a deal on the actual skis / boots.

    I ski mainly in the Sierras. Currently have Wildcat 108s and regular Wildcats that I've yet to mount. I like that the 108s are stable, work in a huge variety of conditions, and ski pretty strong for how forgiving they are.

    Are these too heavy to tour with? I'm guessing the answer is yes and I should seek out a softer / lighter touring ski. Obvious answer seems like a Moment Wildcat 108 Tour - anything else that's similar I should look for?

    Boots / Bindings - since I've never skied a touring binding I'm not terribly well versed in them. It looks like Fritschi Tectons are the only ones with a DIN settings for the toes - if that's true it seems like a safe option. Is there any reason I'd regret these?

    It also looks like if I went with those Fritschis I'd need an AT boot for the heel to work with. Lange XT Free and Tecnica Cochise both fit comfortably but are on the very heavy end of touring boots. Is there any downside to boots like that other than the weight versus a lighter boot?
    No question is a dumb one if you don't know the answer, but some of these questions can't be answered until you actually have some touring experience.

    These include all of the "are these too heavy" questions, as they are dependent on factors like how fit you are, how ambitious your trips are, how fast your companions are, how skilled/balanced a skier you are, etc.

    As a general rule, lighter is always better going uphill and almost always worse going downhill - if you see someone really ripping on ultralight gear in variable snow, you can bet they are a very very good skier. Where you stand in this spectrum is very personal, and plenty of people change their mind about what is too heavy or too light every season.

    If you have no idea of your own preferences, "mid weight" is usually a good place to start. I'd say Wildcat Tour over regular Wildcat, Tecton is fine (though the fact that it is ISO 13992-certified and releases at the toe doesn't mean you won't get injured), probably shoot for something in the 1300-1500 gram range for boots (Tecnica Zero G series, Scarpa Maestrale/RS, Atomic Hawx XTD series). Zero G fit is almost identical to Cochise.

    If you can, maintain an alpine setup for "training" and get as many miles in the "sidecountry" as you can, practice on those narrow chutes and powder there to learn how to ski those conditions; it will be harder on lighter touring gear.

    With regard to avy gear (and touring gear in general), supply vs demand (especially in in COVID times) means they don't really go on sale much if at all . . . but there are always exceptions.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    705
    I went through a similar progression. I started skiing 10 years ago and started BC skiing just a few years later. This was my first season that I only toured and never got on a lift. It was great.

    My biggest advice is donít expect to nail your ideal gear choices the first time. Youíll have to figure out whatís right for you. So to that end itís better to do it cheaply or buy stuff with high resale value. Tectons and WC tours both have great resale value so thatís a great setup. If youíre not into either the skis or the bindings youíll be able to flip them here or on Craigslist easily without taking a huge hit.

    Donít be afraid to lean a little heavy, especially boots. Thereís all kinds of funky snow youíll encounter in the backcountry that you never see in the resort, and having heavier gear will help you negotiate it. This is especially true in the beginning as the less experience you have touring the more often youíll go to the wrong places for good snow.

    People will tell you that XTFrees/Cochises/similar class boots are too heavy, but as a first touring boot for a not amazing skier I think thatís a better place to start. I loved skiing in my XT130 Freetours and they werenít excessively heavy when I was doing 2000í-3000í days. Now that Iím at least a pretty good skier and usually tour at least 4000í at a time, I wouldnít want to have a boot that heavy, but they will help you a lot as a novice skier.

    Finally as far as safety goes, read the tremper book, take your avy1 and youíll be in a solid place to know how to avoid sketchy terrain/conditions and at least know how to do a companion rescue. The hard part that comes after that is learning how to manage problems and ski more adventurous things (relatively) safely. (Aiare 1 is essentially ďthis is what avalanche terrain is, donít go thereĒ.) That comes mostly from a lot of experience/personal observation and mentors.

    Have fun, you sound like the kind of person who will really enjoy it.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2020
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    Truckee
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    To add to gregL's point: what is the end goal for you? Do you want to ski long volcano routes in the spring? Eastside couloirs in in variable conditions? Short roadside tours in the Tahoe area when there's new snow? Inbounds uphill laps for fitness? All of these situations are going to be more or less fun depending on the type of gear you have.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2021
    Posts
    115
    Pinned seems like a fine skier. Sheesh.

    I 100% agree with jorion and gregL. If you nail your first touring setup, it will be by chance only. So I would look for a used ski, maybe a used boot if you have a good used market where you live. Maybe buy something between now and the fall, test it until you identify what different thing you want, and then look for or buy that.

    One big trend in endurance sports is cyclists and runners getting into "skimo" racing or resort uphilling for many of the exact same reasons you listed. If you live near a resort (vs. maybe living in SF or something like that), you might find that such a setup is a lot of fun to have. Lots of times, you can resort uphill at night, too, which gives you a lot more time flexibility vs. true bc skiing (e.g. going on weekdays).

    If I were you, I'd look for avy gear right now. I'm seeing 30-40% discounts on brand new gear in my local market. Personally, I think all beacons are the same if you read the manual and practice using it.

    I think Benneke's question about what kind of biking you do is really clever if you feel like answering.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    Many places will rent you a touring setup. I did that for my Avy 1 class, and for a few other tours early on. It's a low-risk way to get into it (still gotta buy or borrow the safety stuff obviously).

    I've done a super heavy setup, and a couple mid-to-lightweight. I wouldn't count grams too much, but really heavy setups are a pain in the ass.

    I had cochise boots that I used for 90% inbound and 10% touring. They are fine for that and for quick laps, but a rockered sole definitely gives you some efficiency on longer days. That more than the weight IMO.

  22. #22
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    Mar 2008
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    northern BC
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    boots that fit are THE most important thing, you want a 1300-1500 gram boot , any more than that is too heavy any less will ski like poo, something like a scarpa maestrale/ technica ZGTP/ Dynafit hoji

    a light 100-110 ski with early rise

    some kind of pin binding, brakes will make yer life easier

    no telling how supply will be this year but you definalty don't wana scrimp on boots, the rest of it doesnt need to be new
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

  23. #23
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    Mar 2019
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    Quote Originally Posted by XXX-er View Post
    boots that fit are THE most important thing, you want a 1300-1500 gram boot , any more than that is too heavy any less will ski like poo, something like a scarpa maestrale/ technica ZGTP/ Dynafit hoji
    I would disagree with the statement that weight is the be-all-end-all.

    ROM in the walk mode is way more important than weight. The hoji free is significantly heavier than the mtn explore, but the ROM in walk mode is larger, allowing you to be more efficient on your strides. Also going to ski way better than the even the MTN Lab.
    "Poop is funny" - Frank Reynolds

  24. #24
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    May 2011
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    Quote Originally Posted by CirqueScaler View Post
    If you nail your first touring setup, it will be by chance only.
    Or more likely he'll get into it and decide that multiple touring setups are the way to go. Which is the real answer. :-)
    I ski 135 degree chutes switch to the road.

  25. #25
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    Oct 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pinned View Post
    Save weight on the boots rather than skis? The Wildcats aren't crazy heavy or anything. My normal boots are Mach 1s so that's why I tried on the Tecnicas (and Langes).
    Maybe dont take advice from a teenager in the Carolinas about touring.

    I second the get a mentor, things are best learned from someone else with experience.
    Samuel L. Jackson as Jules Winnfield: Oh, I'm sorry. Did I break your concentration?

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