Nothing opens up a mountain - particularly the backcountry - more than telemark gear.

Free-heeling gives a person free range to explore snow-covered terrain more expansively than does fixed-heel Alpine gear or snowboards. The technique - the origins of which date back to the early days of the previous millennium - are simple, pure, and exquisitely graceful.

The place to be is at [R299R, Northstar] Sunday, April 5 if you would like to learn how to telemark - or simply brush up on your technique.

The resort is offering a one-day Telemark Camp, wherein campers can learn, improve or perfect their technique in a relaxed atmosphere (i.e., the clinic's approach is dictated by the needs of the student and class ratios are less than 6 to 1).

Beginners will focus on proper stance, weight distribution and how to get down an easy slope; intermediates will focus on correcting bad habits and how to properly use the inside (or rear) ski, and advanced free-heelers will concentrate on negotiating any slope under any condition.

The fee for the Telemark Camp is $139, which gives you four hours of instruction, video analysis, an all-day all-mountain lift ticket, use of demo equipment, and lunch voucher. The clinic fee is $119 for those who already have a lift pass.