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Steep Terrain Kick Turn

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Have spent a fair number of hours with Kris Erickson ski touring now and he really likes to help with technique - back in Chamonix he demonstrated a much easier version of a kick turn, rather than the more usual V of doom that many find themselves in.

A lot has to do with the initial dynamic start getting the ski round and making the all important platform.

Last week on most days we were doing some serious steep terrain in hard wind blown snow/ice as we neared the various Cols and Summits (will do a report later), usually we ended up having to don boot crampons and boot pack the last 50m or so.

So took this little vid whilst we were going up to show his uber smooth technique and pole planting when it gets steep. The stamping that he's doing is to create a more solid platform for us following.


http://youtube.com/v/7p9LygCIHqA

And that's half a splitboard on his pack, as my mate had nightmares with his skins leaving half the glue on his board, so he climbed with snow shoes and we carried his board / bindings.
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Yeah the tail under the downhill ski things makes 'em much easier, but obviously only works if the snow's soft enough.
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Puzzled

That's a standard touring kick turn - doesn't everyone do it like that?

If you can turn on a flat'ish area the herringbone V shuffle is fine but if there's a gradient I don't know how else it could be done as a regular alpine type kick turn is a nightmare once the heel binding is freed.
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@spyderjon, so you're saying that you can do it as sweetly as that on that gradient of slope ?

You must practice a lot in your shop Toofy Grin

We had some very experienced Norwegians with us, and they at times found the gradient tough!

And I do a fair bit of touring, at least a couple of times a week in the season, maybe more.............
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Weathercam wrote:
@spyderjon, so you're saying that you can do it as sweetly as that on that gradient of slope ?.....


My skills are irrelevant. Your OP stated "he demonstrated a much easier version of a kick turn, rather than the more usual V of doom that many find themselves in" which implies that this is a new technique or one that you'd not seen before - which of course it isn't.

And I'll have you know that there's a section of the slope at Xscape Castleford that's over 15 degrees Razz
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Well, I learned something from it, namely tucking the "new" ski under the "old" ski, if you see what I mean.

I was used to doing a much wider kick turn to avoid standing on my old ski, with the usual feeling of arthritis and precariousness on steep terrain.

Won't work quite so well on spring terrain but hey.
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spyderjon wrote:
.....My skills are irrelevant..............


Not true as skills are relevant before commenting, as then you'd spot the subtle differences in technique. Though as I say if you can kick turn like that then chapeau!

And yes @snoozeboy, exactly, same as @clarky999, spotted as well - was totally new on me along with the double pole planting - week or so before we did another variation of the kick turn on still steeper gradient but not so steep as this (which I wish I'd videoed as well) and the technique there was not to use energy by kicking but by bringing the knees closer together and that worked really well, coming out of the turn breathing the same as you went into it.

I reckon now in my inventory of kick turns I have about five or six versions depending on terrain, and then there is the pole to drag the uphill ski around from the back after failing to get a good dynamic kick rolling eyes
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That's practically a bunny run.

Even a beginner could do it.
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spyderjon wrote:
Your OP stated "he demonstrated a much easier version of a kick turn, rather than the more usual V of doom that many find themselves in" which implies that this is a new technique or one that you'd not seen before - which of course it isn't.


The aspect that looks particularly artful in the video is the flick to keep the ski level with the boot so as to prevent its tail dropping and dragging in the snow on the way around. That's something I've learned and copied from others in order to cross thigh-high fences without taking skis off, but I'd never really thought of applying it to uphill touring kick turns.
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Weathercam wrote:
......totally new on me along with the double pole planting........

I know you're just trolling me now Toofy Grin. One of the best proponent of the double pole plant that I've seen is our very own Admin.
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I think the polar ice cap will melt before Admin puts a pair of touring skis on Laughing
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Jeeess we'll have Scott from the now defunct Edge and Wax* (who could talk the talk) coming in next to say "you don't want to be doing it like that" Toofy Grin

*Which I now see Glisshop have now bought the trading name, how ironic is that!
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@Weathercam, probably looks a little odd if you've not seen it before but kick turns are a pretty normal technique for people ski touring when they're ascending on skins (things to give grip under the ski). Worth practising a few times to avoid embarrassment!
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@milton9999, wow thanks I didn't realise that
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Weathercam wrote:
spyderjon wrote:
.....My skills are irrelevant..............


Not true as skills are relevant before commenting, as then you'd spot the subtle differences in technique. Though as I say if you can kick turn like that then chapeau!

And yes @snoozeboy, exactly, same as @clarky999, spotted as well - was totally new on me along with the double pole planting........


What do you mean by "double pole planting"? I'd say his pole planting isn't great* as he has to move his left pole half way through the turn. I endeavour to leave my poles where they are whilst my skis are moving. The new under old ski trick is handy but for us holdiay/Scottish ounters, there's rarely enough lovely soft snow snow for that to be feasible!

*I'm being uber critical as you have put this out there as an example - sorry!
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Weathercam wrote:
@milton9999, wow thanks I didn't realise that


no problem! I guess a lot of guys buy the gear and it's tough to figure out how it all works. It's well worth hiring a guide like you guys did to get a few tips before heading out with some mates. It's a great extension to skiing, have fun!
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Laughing Laughing Laughing
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@milton9999, so true, great to work out what I've been doing wrong these past twenty years or so touring Laughing
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oops! Sorry! I misread the first post. I thought it was new to you, you were actually saying a kick turn was new to everyone else. I guess they’ve been straight up without turning.
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I came across this type of turn a few years ago when skinning around Refugio Frey near Bariloche. Things were getting steep near the top of a steep gulley and I noticed that, Craig, the guide had changed his technique a bit.

This site explains the differences quite well: http://www.earnyourturns.com/9765/techniques-kick-turns-on-steep-terrain/

Another variant, the 'step-down' kick-turn: http://www.earnyourturns.com/11199/bc-techniques-step-down-kick-turn/

Good thread.
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@spyderjon, +1 , looks just like a standard kick turn to me , the double pole plant is how i do it all the time , and if the snow is soft enough to dig the lower ski under it make the whole thing very easy , but absolutely no way of doing that on the early morning frozen hard stuff !! best tip in the video is actually the way the guy stamps the snow down to achieve a nice stable platform before making the turn
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I had a friend who managed to tuck his ski tail between his boot and his ski. Guess what happened next.
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You still end up in a V of doom; it's just less doom as the tail of the uphill ski is under the downhill ski AFAICT. Novel if you can't get the skis parallel to each other (which is how I do it) but not a lot of use on anything with a decent crust. Interesting though
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Just a thought. On slopes that are hard, using ski crampons can help a lot, especially on traverses.
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@jbob, Laughing
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I'm a big fan of this technique


http://youtube.com/v/xHpH7gBMSYw

Having your feet close together is so much more stable than a big lurch. Requires a bit of hip flexibility though
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@Arno, free lesson week after next?
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Those tuition vids always feature nice flat snow for the kick turn and not too steep.

Try some of those with a 40cm of fresh for your ski tips to get caught into to.

Kris Erickson had me bringing my new uphill ski in way close to the knee of my downhill ski so there was no need for an exaggerated kick.

Prior to (Oh dear, I'm rather losing my cool - I think I might have wee-weed myself a little bit :oops:) the top ski round you almost have a few attempts, pulling the ski way back and then a nice flick round with momentum (if that makes sense) - and of course if you're wearing a bulky harness then it's more difficult.

Maybe we should have a video montage of snowheads kick turning techniques - could start on my patio rolling eyes
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@Weathercam, I think you're referring to what davidof called the polka turn. It's very handy especially if your skis are a bit tip heavy, or you're having trouble! Only issue for me is I managed to put my back out doing it. How it works is you draw your ski back until the tip is near your ankle then pivot it round, then extend it to where you want it. Repeat with the other leg. I did post a video of it some time back.
I totally agree about the video clips, I have no problem doing kick turns in places where I don't actually need to do one.
One downside of pin bindings is that if you get in real trouble you can more easily take off a ski with a frame binding and sort things out.
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@jbob, look at my original vid closely when it goes slow mo, and after three or four stamps to get the platform, he draws the uphill ski back to get some momentum, then goes forward and pivots it around all in one fluid movement, you find it easier than from a standing start as it were.
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jbob wrote:
I have no problem doing kick turns in places where I don't actually need to do one.


I can relate to that.... Toofy Grin
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@Weathercam, @jbob,

Are you guys referring to when you bring the tail of the uphill ski back, around and behind your downhill boot before swivelling the tip in the new direction?
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@jedster, yes.
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aha!
found that very helpful on my R108s which at 186 are quite long (I'm 178) but have short tails. Using that approach means the length doesnt seem a problem
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@jedster, no Puzzled
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jbob wrote:
@Weathercam, I think you're referring to what davidof called the polka turn.......

Here's davidof's Polka turn:

http://youtube.com/v/D0dVPeHrDMk
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@spyderjon, like I say be interesting to see him do that in deep snow rolling eyes

But the technique of using your pole to drag your ski around is a good get out of jail card when you find your self nearing the V of doom!

And then how he brings the ski around at the end is what I was alluding to

had me bringing my new uphill ski in way close to the knee of my downhill ski so there was no need for an exaggerated kick

Kick-Turns are something that you just get better at it with experience and practice, practice, practice as there are just so many variables you encounter.

It's akin to the elusive windsurfing carve gybe that many windsurfers struggle with or kitesurfing carve gybe. Hence many kiters never progress to surfboards from their trays.
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@spyderjon, thanks that's it at the start of the video. I've never been great at kick turns and have been practicing for 30 years! I'm a little stiff in the hips which doesn't help.
One thing that has made a big difference for me is the skis and their set up. Don't go too big, a long tail will definitely get in the way.
If your skis are tail heavy ie the tail drops when lifted they will be harder to kick, but the tips will be less likely to catch in the snow of the slope above, if they are tip heavy they will be easier to kick but if you don't do it right the tips will catch above you. The worst case is if they are perfectly balanced then they may be both hard to kick and catch in the snow.
@Weathercam, was correct when he emphasised practice, lots on easier ground when the consequences are not severe then you will be ready for the poo-poo or bust turns.
One thing I do is not to try and be too clever, if a slope is steepening and everyone is going to need to boot pack at some point near the top, then I'll take my skis off and boot pack before I start to struggle too much. I find it quicker in the long run.
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@spyderjon,

yes - that's what I meant!
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Good, I found that final tip that @Weathercam, refers to above and Pierre demonstrates - pivoting the new uphill ski around the downhill leg and boot very helpful on steep slopes when there's a wall of snow in front. Pierre has very good hip flexibility and achieves the feet close together 'Charlie Chaplin' stance without any apparent strain.
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