n. ski touring - traveling from point to point, using skis with alpine touring bindings or telemark skis.
Alpine touring bindings release at the heel and hinge at the toe when skinning up hills or on the flat, then lock down when going downhill to become like a regular alpine binding, while telemark skis are permanently free at the heel and use a different style of downhill skiing.
Which style to use is mostly a matter of personal preference yet generates a Mac/PC type of brand loyalty amongst its followers.
Ski touring is distinguished from cross country skiing by the equipment and style. Ski touring is done on heavier equipment suited to skiing down hill while XC skiing is more of a (mostly) flat land activity done on light skinny skis with soft boots.
Uphill progress is made by attaching climbing skins to the base of the ski and moving forward with a gliding motion. The skins have synthetic fur which slides well forward but not backwards. Think of trying to stroke a cat the wrong way.
The skins are sticky one side and furry on the other. The glue is able to be used many times before it needs to be replenished. The skins grip snow well but when there is ice, a ski crampon may be required which travels up and down with the motion of the binding.
For all but the smallest of downhill’s the pair of skins are removed, stuck to each other and stored.
Ski Tourers use skis which are generally 10-20cm shorter than the pair that they might use for lift skiing. This is to give slower speeds and greater control when skiing on difficult ground with a pack.
Fritschi, Silvretta and Dynafit are the key players in the binding market. Fritschi and Silvretta make a conventionally styled step-in binding with a heel release while Dynafit makes very light system which uses a proprietary boot system to become part of the binding.
Ski touring will take you away from the lifts, crowds and noise of a commercial field, giving you access to the best snow and views but also exposes you to avalanche danger and the possibility of not being able to escape from the weather. Always take a buddy ,an avalanche transceiver and a snow shovel at the very least.