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Before ski lifts, before even battery-powered heated underwear, there was telemark skiing. Vanquished to near-obscurity by Alpine skiing in the early 1900s, telemark is enjoying a resounding resurgence among jaded Alpine skiers, and younger enthusiasts drawn to its free-heel, go-anywhere possibilities. Weighing a meager 3,280 grams per pair (180 cm long), Atomic's new Beta TM 18 is both light and lively, and has a plump, curvaceous figure perfect for responsive turns in deep powder.

When pressed, it'll even cut a jig on hardpack, or pick a path through moguls, though not with the same enthusiasm. But that's OK, because if you're going to try telemark, you're going to want as much soft snow as possible: first, because you'll probably fall a lot at the outset, but more importantly, because there is quite simply no greater feeling then carving a smooth telemark turn through a deep blanket of powder, except, maybe, having new batteries in your underwear.

(800) 881-3138 or
Serious powder junkies know that the deepest, fluffiest, downright powderiest snow doesn’t always fall conveniently on lift-accessed terrain. And even when it does, the race to first tracks has only one winner, and that’s the sorry sap who’s been up since dawn, staking his lift-line claim. If you’re not willing to go to such extremes, check out Burton’s SPLT 165, which quite literally splits down the middle, morphing into a pair of “skis” that make accessing remote (read: untracked) backcountry terrain a simple — if sweaty — affair.

In ski mode, the SPLT 165 glides across the snow with admirable grace, and once the climb begins in earnest, strapping a pair of climbing “skins” to the bases makes it relatively easy to gain precious vertical. The SPLT 165 doesn’t disappoint when you point its nose downhill. In fact, it carves and glides with such precision that you’re likely to forget all about its split personality. Kind of like you’ve forgotten all about those ski lifts.