It is neither more nor less than the ski of the origins of sliding. For more than 5000 years, men have cultivated the joys of snow, looking for a simple and practical way to get up and down mountain terrain.
With the invention of the stopwatch and the bib, skiing split into two main families: Nordic disciplines, and Alpine disciplines. The Nordic ski touring has long suffered the evolution of cross-country skiing through a material too thin and too light to be able to consider the pleasure of making beautiful turns in the descents.
In the last few years the equipment has evolved a lot, and you can find skis with scales in the shops, with generous rib lines. In mid-fat mode, we now find Nordic touring skis, with a nice rocker, 118 in the tip, 94 in the runner and 109 in the tail. Except for the scales, we are not so much in the cross-country ski category. As for the bindings, a telemark mount will do the trick, because yes, Nordic backcountry skiing differs from alpine touring by cultivating the pleasures of free heel.
As for shoes, a nice pair of old school leather telemark shoes will do the trick. Essential for precision, a micrometric buckle on the instep and one on the collar. For a practice in more committed terrain, a telemark boot with a plastic shell can be formidable in descent. The important thing is to keep a natural roll of the foot when climbing and to remain concrete in torsion to be able to carve downhill.
The Nordic version of backcountry skiing is still a touring activity, as in alpine ski touring, the pleasure of going downhill cannot be bought, but is earned with a little effort. On the other hand, the Nordic version differs from the Alpine version, because there is no need to manipulate the equipment to switch from the ascent to the descent, and that is a real freedom. Another distinction: the natural rolling of the foot, nature has provided us with joints in the toes and in the ankles that are naturally used in Nordic hiking, unlike a pivot mount, with a rigid shoe. As a result, for the same weight on the scale, a Nordic touring equipment seems lighter to bring to the summit than an alpine touring equipment.
As for the playground, we like to play on the freedom of not having to peel and unpeel, which gives a little less monotony in the day than a dry climb, for a single descent. It is one of the pleasures of the Nordic walking to be able to appreciate the glide in micro reliefs: three beautiful curves a compression a jump, and one connects on a rise of 20m before going to pose 5 or 6 turns in the following declivity, it is a concept which one can hardly envisage in alpine walking. Afterwards, as in alpine touring, we appreciate the pleasure of being outside, in terrain free of skiers' tracks, where the relationship with the mountain is different from that of the developed terrain. Nordic hiking is above all calm, landscape, preserved environments and sliding. For a real vacation flavour, we avoid making our clients sweat unnecessarily and we offer nice little breaks, in a hut or in front of a beautiful panorama if the sun is shining, with the best local products in solid and liquid versions in our bag.
The Nordic backcountry is for everyone, with an alpine background there are some adjustments to be made to become serene in descent with a free heel fix and a lighter shoe. As far as attitudes are concerned, it's a bit comparable to alpine skiing in powder: you don't pull on the tongues of the boots to avoid stepping on them and eating the powder, in Nordic touring if you push your shins on the tongues of the boots you eat your tips. With a background experience, everything becomes easier. And for a complete beginner, it's often easier to discover backcountry skiing, because you feel less trapped than with heels locked like in alpine skiing, and you are radically more stable than on cross-country skis. On the downhill side, we are on telemark equipment, which also allows us to do snowploughing, stemming, parallel turns with skidded lines, cut turns, and if we don't have such a wide repertoire, conversion traverses.
The Nordic backcountry can be declined in 1000 and one way, it can be contemplative, sportive, playful. It's a good way to go get bread and croissants at the village bakery, as well as a good way to go and isolate yourself on the high plateaus of the Vercors, in the suspended glacial valleys of the Maurienne or in the lost combes of the Jura. You can put them on in front of the garage, to go sliding down all the slopes that make your eyes glaze over. You can take the shovel out into the neighbor's field and set up a kick where you won't have to put on and take off your shoes between two jumps. With a lot of freedom and a little imagination, nature quickly becomes a magnificent snowpark.
Over the last 4 years, sales of Nordic touring skis have increased by more than 30% each year. In the sections of alpine clubs, the number of proposed outings is increasing, with some sections where Nordic touring tends to exceed alpine touring. We observe an evolution of the expectations of the clientele attending the ski resorts: with a demand for soft, calm, contemplative, authentic activities... Nordic ski touring remains an unknown activity for the general public, because too few professionals try to develop it.
To practice Nordic backcountry skiing, there is only one address, ESI Evasions Nordiques, a school located in the magnificent Jura mountains!
An extraordinary experience awaits you on http://www.evasionsnordiques.com
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