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Tips for skiing in deep/powder/off piste snow

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I ski on Soul 7s as my only ski. I've been at Easter mainly the last few years due to new kids and they are ideal for spring slush slaying. I can carve them reasonably well of soft-ish pistes, cope fine on ice (though have to reign it in) and they are a joy in actual powder. Their only weak points are a limited top speed and when off piste, in crud, chopped up old snow, "variable" snow, they get properly ticked around and I have to fight to stay on top of them at any decent kind of pace. I'd say they are the definition the modern all mountain ski aimed at punters who are OK at skiing.

(As an aside, what would people recommend for a similar playful ski - similar tip and tail rocker, sidecut and camber underfoot - but with a bit more oomph. I really got dialled into the Souls this Easter, they require a light touch even stance and over pressuring them seems to break the edge away, but would like something I can "charge"* on a bit more of piste and commit a bit more to when carving on hard snow)

*I say "charge", this does need to be caveat-ed by the fact I'm a desk bound father of two with limited ski time per year.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@galpinos, The Soul7 are 106mm underfoot right?? How much off piste do you get skiing with new kids on a family ski holiday? I get the odd foray off to the side so tend to go with a 76mm ski for family holidays if I can only take one pair...
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jedster wrote:
Quote:

truly all mountain (which for a reasonably sized adult male is now around or over 100mm)


what does "truly all mountain" mean?
Loads of people ski the whole mountain really nicely on skinnier skis than that.
I'd hate people to think they have to stick to the pistes if they have less than 100mm underfoot.


Take all the mountain that is theoretically skiable. Calculate the % of piste acreage in that. Ski on piste in roughly that proportion wink

The Cham 97 qv is the perfect example of a true all mountain ski in my book. Above that more off piste/soft snow biased, below that more piste biased. Now that's just an arbitrary line (& for me personally I'd set it 10mm wider) but having skied it I don't think the Cham 97 gives up too much of anything in any application to not be considered all mountain.

All this thread has been saying from the start is that you can buy a turn - if you are struggling to get to grips with turning in soft 3d snow then a wider ski may be your friend.

(& just to horrify the purists wider skis can have other applications - I enjoyed powersliding a very soft mogulled piste in VT faster than any of the punters struggling to link fall line proper turns)
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galpinos wrote:
I ski on Soul 7s as my only ski. I've been at Easter mainly the last few years due to new kids and they are ideal for spring slush slaying. I can carve them reasonably well of soft-ish pistes, cope fine on ice (though have to reign it in) and they are a joy in actual powder. Their only weak points are a limited top speed and when off piste, in crud, chopped up old snow, "variable" snow, they get properly ticked around and I have to fight to stay on top of them at any decent kind of pace. I'd say they are the definition the modern all mountain ski aimed at punters who are OK at skiing.

(As an aside, what would people recommend for a similar playful ski - similar tip and tail rocker, sidecut and camber underfoot - but with a bit more oomph. I really got dialled into the Souls this Easter, they require a light touch even stance and over pressuring them seems to break the edge away, but would like something I can "charge"* on a bit more of piste and commit a bit more to when carving on hard snow)

*I say "charge", this does need to be caveat-ed by the fact I'm a desk bound father of two with limited ski time per year.


Many, many choices. If we stick to mainstream brands and nothing too hardcore or freestyle then take your pick from the likes of:-

Head Kore 105 (my friend much preferred these in a direct back-to-back test against the Soul 7 on a powder day - less flappy, more powerful)
Blizzard Rustler 10
Salomon QST 106
K2 Pinnacle 105
Nordica Enforcer 110
Line Supernatural 100

If you are up for something a little stiffer and more hard snow biased then perhaps:-

Blizzard Cochise
Blizzard Bonafide
Volkl Mantra

Not saying any of these would be preferable to your Soul 7s, but each will have its own strengths and weaknesses.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Layne wrote:
BobinCH wrote:
I’m quite clearly not advising an intermediate skier to go out and buy some powder skis.

I think this is confusing.

#1 First of all intermediate seems to be talking the ability level of the skier which we've ascertained is largely irrelevant. What is relevant is whether they are or aspire to ski off piste.

#2 I thought we were talking about all mountain fatties. I thought that you could get 120 wide ski's that were actually good on piste.


Let me spell it out for you...

#1 For intermediate, read the OP, 1 or 2 weeks a year, probably renting skis, who is likely to be spending most of his time on piste/off the sides in tracked snow but when conditions are good may want to go into the deeper stuff = usually perfectly happy on a piste oriented ski. Will benefit from a powder ski when conditions warrant it.

#2 There are 120mm skis that are perfectly fine on piste - I posted a video above. And the few others on here who ski fats have, in the main, indicated something similar ie despite also having narrower skis they rarely use them any more given how versatile the fats have become. Despite this, is it ok with you that I wouldn’t recommend these for a predominantly piste oriented skier?

So we know you like your Cham 97’s. Good for you - i’m sure they are great. But please tell us what fat skis you have tried to inform your view that they are only useful in Alaska/Japan ? Reminds me of some real jerks on here that give opinions on things they know nothing about. Now, of course, I’m not saying you are a jerk as I’m sure you have tried lots of fat skis 😜
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@BobinCH, The crux of this latest confusion lies in what you call a "powder ski". If a ski is 120 that is "perfectly on piste" then for me that is an all mountain ski - and a ski I would be happy to use as my only ski. To me a "piste orientated ski" is not an all mountain ski. Even if you spend 50% of your time on piste and 50% off (a figure mentioned by the OP) I would be buying/renting an all mountain ski. I would only want a piste orientated ski if piste was literally all I was doing. A "powder ski" for me is a ski that is excellent in deep powder snow but not great at all in anything other than that. As discussed earlier not exclusively for but very useful for middle aged Americans novices to go heliskiing on. I have no particular beef on width.

I haven't tried any ski's wider than the ones I have. But that is not relevant because I am not recommending them, or for that matter, telling people not to rent or buy them. The OP and others are on here to gain knowledge. It's therefore important to define what is meant by "powder ski" or what is the relevance of skiing ability/preference a la intermediate/side piste or full back country. If you take umbrage at attempts to clarify then I am happy to desist.

For the OP I think we all in agreement skis that are helpful rather than hindrance is important/desirable. How far that needs to go is open to question. And perhaps there are other things equally important.
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Holy crap, now we're discussing 120 mm wide "piste" skis. If the OP isn't already confused, he certainly will be now! Can we not simply agree that pretty much all skis made in the last few years above 90 mm waist are more than capable of providing a decent undemanding off-piste experience outside of Alaska or Japow? To keep it simple I'm happy at this point to recommend that the OP just hires some f@*%£$$ Rossi Soul 7s and gets on with flapping around on-piste and dabbling off the sides. If he still can't turn, then he definitely needs some form of instruction.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
I'll bring some popcorn. Very Happy
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Layne wrote:
A "powder ski" for me is a ski that is excellent in deep powder snow but not great at all in anything other than that. As discussed earlier not exclusively for but very useful for middle aged Americans novices to go heliskiing on. I have no particular beef on width.



Misconception I think.

Last week in VT (very sunny & warm spring conditions) I was on a Redeemer (128mm 5 point rockered fun shape) a number of afternoons for both piste and off piste skiing. Definitely wasn't giving up anything at all and in fact great fun for sliding around, skiing the flow line round bumps or just plain mullering them sideways or tip on AND carving when the urge took me. Absolutely great.

At the end of Jan I was in the Brenta Dolomites, spiritual home of the race replica ski and the Italia National Plumbers Ski Team jacket. I had Directors, admittedly on the refrozen piste first thing in the am I would have enjoyed something grippier but as soon as teh sun got out different story. And as the sun softened south facing pistes from mid morning it was me who had the last laugh on the bumps forming.

Point is snow isn't just snow, a piste isn't a uniform thing. Once any surface is soft enough to get decent penetration the game changes on what is an acceptable tool for the job.

On the flipside I had a miserable 30 mins early in the day in St Anton at Easter when I could get zero penetration on Shiros. To be fair even race skis were not shifting the frozen corduroy. But then who really sets out to ski the equivalent of injected ice?
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@Layne, the crux of the latest confusion is you flapping about (not unlike a Soul 7 on a rock hard piste) describing things you haven’t tried!

A powder ski, wait for it... is a ski designed predominantly to ski powder 💥 It may or may not be good on piste. Mine, actually 124mm wide to be precise, are pretty good. Certainly better than my previous skis (Shiros - 119mm). Seems Dave has a similar opinion on his 128mm 😱😱😱 skis. Others may not be.

And a piste ski, is a... no, lets not go there.... and of course there are every type of compromise ski in the middle.

Some people will say, but what about when it’s icy, what about when it’s tracked out, what about when you have to combat ski through tight trees, moguls etc. Surely the elusive « All Mountain ski » is the holy grail.

Or even... but I can ski everything perfectly well on my xxx skis so leave those fat things for Alaska/Japan.

For those of us wedded to the search for untracked powder blah blah (and there has been hardly a day this season where fresh tracks haven’t been available in this neck of the woods) this is herecy. We will not compromise the orgasmic feeling you get on a true powder ski, for an improved experience in conditions we have to tolerate but care little for. Particularly now that manufacturers are creating beautiful tools that make even those conditions sometimes even better than tolerable.

Most people will have a different goal/attitude/reality. That’s fine.

But in my opinion, based on actually trying many skis (due to my great wealth and oodles of free time 😉) and putting several friends onto fat skis for the first time, almost anyone will enjoy a good powder ski in the right conditions, and it will give them a new, different and ultimately more enjoyable experience than skiing on a, more compromised, all mountain ski.

I encourage people to try and make their own minds up (and treat the armchair experts with a healthy dose of scepticism). Oh hang on.... This is Snowheads 😜
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If I may, the OP and many providing valid, sensible but differing recommendations in this thread are looking at the problem (and solution) from different ends of the spectrum.

The OP is primarily a piste skier who dabbles on the side of the piste and would like to experience untracked powder without falling over every second turn and/or getting exhausted / reverting to beginner technique.

IMHO the OP requires

1. a recommendation for a good 'All-mountain' ski (bear with me Wink ) for the majority of his time spent on piste and dabbling on the side of the piste

This could be a rental OR a purchase

AND

2. a recommendation for a good 'Powder Specific' ski for the day(s) he chooses to spend the majority of his ski day off-piste in untracked and tracked powder snow. This will be a rental NOT a purchase

AND

3. Instruction


The particulars and order of the above can be debated. And have been in this thread already Smile
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@Mike Pow, that makes sense to me (FWIW)
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I recently attended an “introduction to Off Piste” course, having been in exactly the same position as the OP on previous occasions, the course was run by Ski Marmalade in the 3Vs. As an aside, they did not recommend any specific skis, just those you felt comfortable with, though they did suggest using a ski shop where hire skis could be swapped. I skid on Brahmas and did not feel compromised, but I suspect that I will go for a ski that is more off piste biased, but does not ruin my on piste skiing, going forward, my shortlist are Salomon XDR88s or Nordica Navigator 90s.

Things I learnt from the week ...

Off Piste does not necessarily mean powder
To get to the powder you may need to ski all sorts of snow
There is a reason why people get up early if it has been snowing the night before
You are unwise to ski alone off piste
You are unwise to ski off piste without avy gear
There is all sorts of mountain craft to learn to protect yourself, and until you have learnt it, it is probably best to ski with an instructor or a guide

Bearing in mind these points, I would put 3. Instruction at the top of the list
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@BobinCH,
Quote:

the orgasmic feeling you get on a true powder ski

oh you mean a snowboard! Twisted Evil wink
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DavidYacht wrote:
I recently attended an “introduction to Off Piste” course, having been in exactly the same position as the OP on previous occasions, the course was run by Ski Marmalade in the 3Vs. As an aside, they did not recommend any specific skis, just those you felt comfortable with, though they did suggest using a ski shop where hire skis could be swapped. I skid on Brahmas and did not feel compromised, but I suspect that I will go for a ski that is more off piste biased, but does not ruin my on piste skiing, going forward, my shortlist are Salomon XDR88s or Nordica Navigator 90s.

Things I learnt from the week ...

Off Piste does not necessarily mean powder
To get to the powder you may need to ski all sorts of snow
There is a reason why people get up early if it has been snowing the night before
You are unwise to ski alone off piste
You are unwise to ski off piste without avy gear
There is all sorts of mountain craft to learn to protect yourself, and until you have learnt it, it is probably best to ski with an instructor or a guide

Bearing in mind these points, I would put 3. Instruction at the top of the list


Interesting post. Thanks. A real world example.

Out of curiosity, how much time did you spend on-piste receiving instruction to prepare you for your off-piste experiences?
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
My experience: We skied off piste/powder/chowder in the 1980s on 200 mm straight skis. It CAN be done. So, anything straight skis can do, curved skis can also do, even narrow waisted slalom skis. A standard all mountain ski works pretty well in all conditions, hence the name. I have only skied true bottomless powder a few times, in Colorado. It was really fun, and honestly easier than I thought. I think because I couldnt see my skis I let instinct take over.

Technique: What works for me is to remember to aggressively unweight. If I get a bit lazy I go over the handlebars. Need to get that new outside ski on top of the snow, (am talking about typical chopped up fresh snow, not champagne powder). Also, practicing on the side of the piste, few actually ski there but there's often piles of softer snow that give you a safety cushion (i.e. you're not actually "off piste". Or finding a between piste section that's safe and repeatable. I would not go out of sight of the pistes without a partner and adequate safety gear.
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Who let the 🦕 🦖’s out?
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Quote:

Out of curiosity, how much time did you spend on-piste receiving instruction to prepare you for your off-piste experiences?


Approx 50% on piste, 30% off the edges of piste, 20% off piste or powder(out of sight of piste). We were split in groups of 4 and 5, and I suspect the other group made better progress (some had more previous experience). We were instructed from 9ish to 4ish for five days, with a spare day card which was played on the rainy day.

Conditions were slightly against us, because the big powder day was day one and it rained for a day after that making the off piste quite crusty, it would have been nice to have the big powder day at the end, but these things cannot be planned.

I intend to return with the same group next year.
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@DavidYacht, maybe partly what Mike was driving at but how much specific instruction was there on technique for powder and broadly what were you taught?

As you state in your post for me skiing off piste is about the different types of snow encountered, navigation, safety, mountaincraft, etc. In terms of 'technique', beyond general good skiing technique, I wouldn't have thought there was much to say? Or?
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DavidYacht wrote:
Quote:

Out of curiosity, how much time did you spend on-piste receiving instruction to prepare you for your off-piste experiences?


Approx 50% on piste, 30% off the edges of piste, 20% off piste or powder(out of sight of piste). We were split in groups of 4 and 5, and I suspect the other group made better progress (some had more previous experience). We were instructed from 9ish to 4ish for five days, with a spare day card which was played on the rainy day.

Conditions were slightly against us, because the big powder day was day one and it rained for a day after that making the off piste quite crusty, it would have been nice to have the big powder day at the end, but these things cannot be planned.

I intend to return with the same group next year.


Great. Thanks.
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Quote:


@DavidYacht, maybe partly what Mike was driving at but how much specific instruction was there on technique for powder and broadly what were you taught?

As you state in your post for me skiing off piste is about the different types of snow encountered, navigation, safety, mountaincraft, etc. In terms of 'technique', beyond general good skiing technique, I wouldn't have thought there was much to say? Or?


I think that I covered most technique issues in an earlier post; the key point is that each time we entered an off piste area it was with greater confidence, and greater excitement when you thought that you had cracked it.

I would also suggest that some of the off piste techniques could be transferred onto the piste to good effect, notably stance, and balancing the pressure between the skis.

I am sure that there are more intensive courses available, or the private tuition option, but the week worked for me, since I was not the only one falling over, and you could learn from shared experiences.
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