Our Randonnee Girl — Guest Blog By Rob


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | March 5, 2009      
Backcountry Skiing

Erin and mom Jenny, on climbing skins in the Wenatchee Mountains

The femur splint, blood clotting packets and dressings in my pack were heavy but in my view essential. As were detailed plans for the nearest helicopter LZ — and the pilot we’d put on retainer. That’s the way daddy-angst works when you take your 9-year-old daughter on her first ski tour.

Our daughter Erin is a mountain girl, having grown up in this mountain town in Washington state, and having gone into the hills with her parents for all of her life. She has backpacked with us since age five. At age eight, we put a backpack on her to slow her down so that her parents could keep up. That did not work, even with a twelve pound load she would take off running up the trail to show us just what she was made of. Last year, Erin broke free of the Ski Hill rope tow in town and went with us to Mission Ridge ski area, where she skied nearly all of the groomers on her first lift day. With all of this, it was obvious (at least to me) that it was time to take her randonee ski touring!

Luckily Erin agreed that a ski tour sounded cool, so a few days ago we climbed and skied a short gentle meadow line that I’d found for her five years ago — I call it Erin’s Run.

Backcountry Skiing

A hot drink at the top, then down.

At the base of the climb was a short part that’s a bit steep, and it had an old icy track from our powder skiing a few days before. Erin slipped a bit here, and walked out of her Silvretta Kidz bindings a few times. Up above on the more mellow part of the climb she did fine. I showed her the basic V-A uphill turn, she renamed it the “Sno Cone/ pizza turn” and had a good time with it. In places I made a new track that was flatter than our old powder-day track, thus better for the little Rando Girl. At the top of the meadow we basked in sunshine and enjoyed lunch with plenty of hot cocoa for Erin.

Erin’s Silvretta Kidz bindings are mounted on her older and shorter 112 cm K2 Luv Bug ski. For skins we used my BD kicker skins, which are 75 cm by 70 mm wide. The skins work well for her skis. I plan to use the kicker skins on her various kid skis until she is full-grown, to save refitting or cutting new skins each year as she grows into new skis.

Backcountry Skiing

On the down, the best skier in the group was Erin.

On the downhill Erin just cranked turns with ease, and threaded the trees like navigating a playground, with more ease than us larger folks. Because of the length of the Erin’s randonnee binding it was mounted an inch forward on the ski, thus giving her a quick and easy-turning ride. I wasn’t sure about the thin glassy ice crust on the old wet powder, but she just turned it, no big deal, no falls.

My backpack is lighter now and the helicopter pilot I had on retainer has been asked to stand down. No more daddy-angst. We’re now looking forward to the next tour with our Randonnee Girl.

(Guest blogger Rob Mullins lives in the Washington Cascades with Randonnee Girl and Mrs. Randonnee.)



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Comments

26 Responses to “Our Randonnee Girl — Guest Blog By Rob”

  1. Allison March 5th, 2009 10:43 am

    Hey Rob,

    What kind of boots did your daughter use? Alpine? I am an adult but have a 5.5 shoe size. From what I can tell the smallest women’s touring boot is a size 22.5 which seems to be the same shell as a 23. That’s about a size too big for me. What kids touring boots are out there? All I know of are the Scarpa Telesaurus – but I’m not a tele-er. At the moment my best option is modifying my alpine boots

  2. Tracie March 5th, 2009 11:09 am

    Rob-

    This post is just making me grin ear-to-ear. Coolest thing ever. Thanks for contributing to the future lady backcountry rippers of the future!

  3. Lou March 5th, 2009 11:28 am

    I smile every time I look at that shot of Rob and Erin having hot drinks, just great!

  4. Tucker March 5th, 2009 11:41 am

    Please post some additional details on the boots. I also have a nine-year-old girl who’s primed for ski touring… she hiked up to Tuckerman’s Ravine last year (and we’re planning on doing it again this year), and having a touring rig would make things a lot more fun…

  5. Lou March 5th, 2009 11:46 am

    Tucker, with smaller children you can usually just detune a pair of alpine boots and go for it. We did that for years with our son and it worked great. Look for boots that are somewhat minimal to begin with, fit them for comfort, remove any rivets that hold the cuff from moving.

  6. Tucker March 5th, 2009 11:51 am

    Let me see if I’ve got this straight: the Silvretta Pure Kidz binding takes a regular Alpine boot, the modifications are to make the boot more comfortable for skiing? That is no adaptations are required to make the boot fit the binding?

    Lou, since you’ve got the manufacturers’ ear, I for one would buy two dynafit-compatible kids boot in a flash.

  7. Lou March 5th, 2009 12:19 pm

    Tucker, correct, Silvretta Pure Kidz will take a regular alpine boot, as will any other toe jaw style AT binding such as Fritschi, Naxo.

  8. Hansen March 5th, 2009 2:55 pm

    Great post! I agree Lou, how can you not smile seeing those pics. A family enjoying the mountains together, nothing better. Reminds me of when I was a youngin’. Good for you Rob!

  9. Randonnee March 5th, 2009 5:09 pm

    Thanks for the kind comments. Erin says thanks Lou for making her famous!

    Sorry for the delayed response, I have been out tracking a 2000 vert powder line for the second day in a row with two friends!

    Erin toured on the boot that we found to fit her at the local fall Ski Swap. The boot is a Technica TJR. Erin’s boot last season was much smaller and looked more randonnee-friendly, but turned out to be too small for the Kidz binding.. However, she grew and that is a much bigger boot this year. Since I ski in lift boots in Fritsches on lift skis in-area, I knew that such are compatible.I am on the lookout for discounted small-sized randonnee boots for Erin for next year, anticipating growth.

    We just walked for 25 minutes for Erin’s first tour. This week we may go for two runs on two little peaks.

    Rob

  10. Nurse Kato March 5th, 2009 5:51 pm

    Very cool! Way to go Erin!
    I’m lucky enough to be one of Mr. Randonnee Rob’s touring partners and knowing his great passion for the sport it is awesome to see his daughter getting out and tracking it up with him. They are a high quality rando family.
    Only problem I see is that in the years ahead Erin will be lapping us older folks and getting all the stashes for herself.

  11. Dean (deanafit) March 5th, 2009 8:46 pm

    My little boys in estes park , co are psyched to see those fotos. the ski eldora chair lifts, but many of us parents here are looking at the bc opportunities for the kids. we will take this blog to heart! I have some mini skins ready. Many thanks to Lou’s site; it has been invaluable lately for AT info. As my buddy and I did a Radium and Skookum IN GARAGE comparison until 2 am the other night, I can fully say that the bug has bit us. Our kids will reap the bennies. Dean

  12. Mike Traslin March 5th, 2009 9:33 pm

    I love this report,this is awesome!
    It puts it all in perspective!
    The kids are all alright ,what a great way to grow up!

    For the skins maybe some company can send there left over scrap skins!

    Recycle for a good cause!

  13. Lou March 6th, 2009 6:52 am

    Key is to never push when they’re young, just make it fun. At a certain point, some kids respond to a bit of pushing in athletics, but you’ve got to let them find their own motivation first. Also, not every kid is going to enjoy the sports their parent enjoys. That’s important to keep in mind as well. Skiing is life, but life isn’t all skiing.

  14. Randonnee March 6th, 2009 8:22 am

    We picked a warm sunny day to keep it fun. Lots of hot cocoa has always accompanied ski trips with Erin. Our approach for this tour incorporated snowmobiles on a groomed snowmobile route. Erin screamed with glee when we did a little hillclimb on the snowmobile- twice… : )}

    Now that Erin is a 4th Grader, skiing is in competition with soccer, basketball, ice skating lessons, Choir, Destination Imagination, and all other sort of play and social activities. Erin goes along skiing because she enjoys the mountains and she knows that her daddy likes to randonnee ski a lot…

  15. Geordie Romer | Leavenworth WA March 6th, 2009 8:30 am

    That’s great to see kids really take to the outdoors. My folks took me on my first backpacking trip at 6 months on the Olympic coast and we always were touring around Mt. Rainier in the winter – though more on nordic gear than AT. I guess it’s not surprising I ended up as a backcountry ranger as my first real job out of college. Congrats to all involved – sounds like everyone is having a blast.

  16. Bryce March 6th, 2009 11:39 am

    Great post. I’ve got two daughters, 6 and 4. I’ll be trying this with them in a couple of years, I hope.

    I’m already thinking about it a little, and as fast as they grow, I might just get them some of BCA’s Alpine Trekker Jrs (new this fall) so they can grow with them and attach to rental skis. But rental boots might not be the best way to make touring fun and comfortable, so I’ll probably spring for those.

  17. Chet Roe March 6th, 2009 12:59 pm

    anyone off the top of their head know what size boots the Silvaretta Pure kids binding will fit?….anyone know where they might be available in Colorado? any sense of how flexible in the cuff a kids downhill boot needs to be for touring in these…..my 12 year old is in a four buckle kids boot that seems fairly stiff…(without having it in front of me I think it is a mondo 24 size)…..thanks, CTR

  18. North.Bend March 6th, 2009 1:46 pm

    Rob,

    Well done! The kid’s are alright!

    I am shocked though. No Dynafits on her? And secondly…there will be a point when refuses to have her picture taken with you until the Captain America helmet comes off.

    I toured with my son on my back last week on some gentle slopes. Best ski day I have had this year.

    Hope your enjoying our new pow (joking. it never snows in WA)

    -NB.

  19. Randonnee March 6th, 2009 7:19 pm

    Chet asked-“what size boots the Silvretta Pure kids binding will fit?”

    We found that the minimum boot sole length for the Silvretta Kidz binding was 265mm. We had to wait one season, last year her boot sole was 251mm.

    Best, Rob

  20. Randonnee March 6th, 2009 7:34 pm

    Hey North.Bend,

    Skiing with your kid on the back is cool. When Erin was a baby I nordic skated with her and she would fall asleep in the carrier on my back on a 9k loop. We have that on video.

    One day in 2000 Jenny and I were training for the Haute Route when Erin was a toddler. We took her in the carrier on my back in her winter suit up about 1000 vert on randonnee skis, she fell asleep. At the top, I took the carrier off so that I could remove my skins. After I sat her carrier on the snow, she woke up, saw that she was up on a cold mountain and started screaming-crying, nothing would sooth her. I skied down that 1000 vert saying’ It’s ok sweetie etc., the screamimg did not stop until she was back in the Jeep with the heater warming it up.

    Yea, we got a nice shot of snow in the Wenatchee Mountains. We have been skiing the same 2200 vert run for three days high above town here. It keeps snowing a little and drifting our skin track in by the next day. We are going to try to track it up again tomorrow… : )}

  21. Randonnee March 6th, 2009 8:14 pm

    Bryce,

    In my town, all sort of kids’ ski gear gets passed around through the local Winter Sports Club fall Ski Swap. It is a very popular and growing event. We get boots for Erin there inexpensively. You could check in your area for a similar event.

    Best, Rob

  22. Idratherbeplaying February 1st, 2011 2:04 pm

    Our kids AT with us.

    We found that rear entry ski boots were very comfortable for them touring (open them up when going up and lock in when down), also Secura-fix makes kids sized snap in’s for standard alpine skis. They are lighter than the trekkers and go smaller. Be careful though, they also make adult sizes (as we learned in purchasing a second set abroad for our eldest -oops!).

    Also, skins with good, healthy glue on them work well if you just cut the tail attachments off . This will allow you to re-use the skins as the skis grow as tails can easily go up to a foot without skin coverage if need be (just don’t get the glue wet). The above set up allows us to have one set of gear (ok, 2 different boots as they prefer front buckle in the resort)) for both BC and Alpine as they grow through gear SO quickly.

    We also found believe it or not, the secura-fixes were a lot easier (less fuddly) for the kids to manage getting into and out of than the Silvretta’s.

    Sm Sized diamirs can also be altered. NOTE: though you can alter bindings to go smaller, be mindful of the DIN settings. You don’t want them tearing any acl’s or breaking tib/fibs at such a formative age!

    Hope this helps.

    Both our girls have been touring with us since 6 & 7 years old, in safe terrain. We won’t take them anywhere exposed until they a) can do a good, quick beacon search, b) are learning to route find and assess terrain c) are strong enough to shovel in the event of something unfortunate happening and d) have a clear respect/understanding of tree wells, even though they are keen and able to do more.

    They are too precious to expose to too much too quickly.

    Happy turns!

  23. Peter February 17th, 2011 11:40 am

    What is the best backcountry ski setup for a 10 year old. He skies inbounds on a 140cm ski and preferrably we would want to use his downhill boots.

    Any recommendations on skis, bindings and skins?

    Thanks,

    Peter

  24. Lou February 17th, 2011 1:03 pm

    Peter, what I’d do is get the same exact ski he uses inbounds and mount them with either Fritschi or Silvretta Pure. Use his alpine boots, and get the skins you can find the best deal on.

    If he ends up liking the sport, upgrade gradually, starting with whatever causes the most problems (probably the boots).

  25. John S February 17th, 2011 1:09 pm

    Touring can be tough with kids. My 11 yr old daughter is an excellent resort skier, but has a case of mad-pow disease and want the fresh line skiing of the backcountry. I bit the bullet and bought her a pair of 157cm G3 Viva skis, Dynafit TLT ST bindings and Scarpa Gea boots. The Dynafits were invested in because of the need to keep everything as light as possible. This helps immensely with the uphill part of the day.

    The 157’s are a little long for her, but she can ski them with confidence, and they won’t need to be replaced any time soon. If your child is a good skier, think about going a bit long on the ski length so you won’t have to buy skis constantly.

    Boots are awful. Thanks to the Dynafit bindings, I had to go with a compatible boot, and now the cost goes up. While you can buy skis a little long, buying boots way too big is going to cause problems in the short term. Luckily for us, she’s had a foot size growth spurt, and is wearing a 24.5 ski boot. As mine are only 26.0 (in ski-mountaineering) or 25.5 (performance fit), I am hoping her size will be fairly stable for a bit. God, let’s have two seasons (or more!) out of those boots!!

    Now, for someone that wants to use their child’s alpine boots, I’d go with a Silvretta Kids binding or find a used Freeride. Personally, I’d stay away from the Trekker, as it means your child is lugging a serious amount of weight on their feet. Do that if budget constraints preclude anything but.

    Be prepared for the possibility of copious amounts of whining. My munchkin is a pretty robust kid (she summitted her first technical mountaineering peak last summer, a big effort) but she still finds the skinning up a drag. Keep the forst trips short and make sure the skiing is good. We did some out of bounds skiing this winter that worked well. Minimal skinning for maximum pow!!

  26. Alin April 24th, 2014 11:23 pm

    Wow… how didn’t I find this post yet?
    So, after few successful seasons of hiking, backpacking, scrambling and black diamonds with our 9 years old boy, we are finally gearing up for the first AT season.
    For boots probably we will get some Salomon Quest Access, for skis some twin tips (140-145), but the big question is: what bindings?
    Diamir would be my first choice, but can the DIN be tunned-down? For a ~60 lb. kid, isn’t DIN 3 (or 4) a bit too much?
    I can’t fin’d Silvretta Kidz available anymore.
    Great post, I hope the topping it’s not buried too deep now 🙂

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