Both Worlds

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Gear
Gear 1204

Leaving the lifts behind doesn't necessarily

require us old alpine dogs to learn telemark tricks. Mount a Fritschi Freeride randonee binding ($335, blackdiamondequipment.com) to last year's fat ski, throw on a climbing skin, and you're ready to begin exploring the backcountry (with common sense and caution, please). The Swiss-made Fritschi accepts either a conventional alpine or lugged (randonee/alpine-touring) boot sole. Free its heel for nordic-style ascents and traverses; lock it down for alpine-style descents. It's lightweight (under five pounds), which is nice on the way up, and its DIN cranks to 12, which is reassuring on the way down.

DECEMBER 2004