I'm talking about backcountry skiing, not track skiing, which is a lot different. I would agree that track skiing isn't too hard to learn the basics. I took an afternoon class in Yosemite on track skis, but found them hard to turn and not suitable for what I wanted to do, which is backcountry winter camping. Off track travel requires either snowshoes or backcountry skis, which resemble downhill or telemark skis much more than the skinny track skis.
My skis are Atomic Rainiers which are a shaped, metal edge ski with an 80-60-70 profile; they look nothing like a track ski. Also, even though I have the fishscale, waxless bottoms, I use climbing skins as well, even on moderate slopes because I get so much more traction. Plus, I am not just walking or skiing- I am towing a sled, which is a whole different experience. Skiing even on a packed road with a sled behind you takes more attention than snowshoeing. The skins make towing the sled much easier. You can telemark on my skis in the right conditions, but my skiing skills aren't there yet to do that.
I still think snowshoeing is easier just because it's more like walking than any kind of skiing. As long as you don't trip over your own feet, not much to it.
I'm not trying to discourage anyone from trying either one, but for skiing, I'd say taking a lesson or two would be worth it. If you can get to a XC ski area where they have tracks cut, rent skis and give lessons, that would be ideal. XC skiing is like bowling-you need special shoes and those go with the skis when you rent them.
Edited by TomD (09/20/09 03:57 PM)
Don't get me started, you know how I get.