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Tips for skiing in deep/powder/off piste snow

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Steilhang wrote:
@Mosha Marc, you forgot "Rad" and "Stoked", (preceded with "like really ")


Use the phrase" Surf's up beatchez!!" regularly and you'll instantly gain Gnar points and become a better pow skier.

Also Yellow Noronna onsie
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Layne wrote:
I would have thought the difference between all mountain skis, presumably at something like 90 and 110 wide ski's would be minimal. It's also dodging the issue, trying to cut corners IMO. Admittedly the 97 wide skis I have are the widest I've skied so I've no experience of extra fats. Plus I started skiing powder on skinnies.


Real proper deep powder on a specialist pow ski is a different experience. You simply cannot fail to stsy upright if you can stay centred so stuff becomes a playground.
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
Layne wrote:
I would have thought the difference between all mountain skis, presumably at something like 90 and 110 wide ski's would be minimal. It's also dodging the issue, trying to cut corners IMO. Admittedly the 97 wide skis I have are the widest I've skied so I've no experience of extra fats. Plus I started skiing powder on skinnies.


Real proper deep powder on a specialist pow ski is a different experience. You simply cannot fail to stsy upright if you can stay centred so stuff becomes a playground.

Not wishing to blow my own trumpet but I don't have a problem staying upright. That is not me saying wider ski's dont' offer a different or better experience. And it may help the OP. But I dunno, something just doesn't feel right in saying, get some 120mm wide ski's and you'll be good. Maybe it's just my old school prejudice.
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“...doesn’t feel right in saying, get some 120mm wide ski's and you'll be good. Maybe it's just my old school prejudice.“
Yes (it’s your old school prejudice!)
The OP has a certain level of technical ability, which some lessons/coaching, then focused mileage would doubtless improve, but change to a rockered powder ski and instantly he will fall less, get less tired, have more fun, and execute better skiing performances in powder with his existing ability.
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Layne wrote:
BobinCH wrote:
Layne wrote:
Admittedly the 97 wide skis I have are the widest I've skied so I've no experience of extra fats. Plus I started skiing powder on skinnies.


I’d suggest to test some!

I can tell you, with lots of experience testing skis of different width, shape, construction and shape, that it makes a huge difference.

I have a pair of soft, fat, fully rockered skis on which I guarantee I could completely change the OP’s experience skiing powder in 10 minutes

I don't get to ski true powder often or long enough to justify it as I do family trips a year in late December and late March/early April in the French Alps. If I lived in the Alps and could ski just when there was powder or went heliskiing or did trips to Japan it may make sense. Maybe when the kids are a bit older but for now I need an everyday all mountain ski. This year was exceptional in the amount of powder skiing so maybe I missed a trick on not hiring some for a day just to see.


Next time you get the conditions, hire for the day. Get the right skis and it might be the best decision you’ve ever made 😉
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under a new name wrote:
@Layne, historically, on long skinny skis, leaning back was actively advocated.


I am sorry but I don't think that was the case. The only time I was ever advised to lean back was possibly when trying to get started in heavy and deep snow, but after a few turns getting forward again.

I have heard instructors say that with long skis the snow would force the tips up possibly giving the impression that the skier was deliberately leaning back. In fact any experienced skier was trying to get forward all the time.
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@richjp, it was. Not a good idea, but it was.

But, frankly, how often did a 1 week UK skier encounter powder and want to ski it?
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I think there is some well meant but conflicting advice on this thread. The point I would make is that there is more than one way of turning off piste.

When I have skied with French instructors in recent years they were still advocating feet together to form a platform and weight fairly evenly distributed although with more of a focus on the downhill ski.

Skiing with Snoworks however, they advocate pressing solely on the upper outside ski to create the turn and I skied some pretty deep stuff this season that way. My Soul 7s I think are 102 underfoot and unlike the old skinny skis, they float nearer the surface which is probably why there is no need to pressure the inside ski as it is not going to get buried as it might with narrow skis.

The other thing with modern wider skis is that you no longer need the bouncy bouncy thing as you did in days gone by, meaning it is less physical, which is probably why I am still skiing powder at seventy one. With narrow skis turning was like doing a series of squat jumps whilst all the while trying to keep your balance. Doing that all day long really is tiring.

With all techniques I agree that you need to get used to a bit more speed off piste than you might currently like. Modern rockered or semi rockered skis become more effective as a bit of speed bends them into their most effective shape. I also agree that you have to wait for the turn to happen and not force it too much which is psychological as much as anything.

To the OP I think you need to get a bit of instruction as these different techniques might be confusing. I should mention that I am not an instructor myself, just someone who has been skiing off piste a long time.
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^^ 108mm. Super off piste ski! My missus loves them!
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Quote:

The other thing with modern wider skis is that you no longer need the bouncy bouncy thing as you did in days gone by, meaning it is less physical, which is probably why I am still skiing powder at seventy one. With narrow skis turning was like doing a series of squat jumps whilst all the while trying to keep your balance. Doing that all day long really is tiring.


I've always found that when you got the rhythm right the skis and the snow did the bouncing for you - it was effortless.
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... I like big powder skis too but the big advantage I find is that they give so much more margin for error - you don't have to be nearly as precise in keeping equally weighted and centred. Rockers make it easier to initiate turns too.
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The bouncy style of powder skiing is very much optional these days with modern powder skis, or even modern AM skis. I have a good friend who still uses the bouncy style because he learned to ski powder back in the days before fat powder skis and I have to say it's still a very effective method when skiing through tight trees or just for fun on steeps. Personally I do prefer to surf my way down powder with a calmer upper body, but bouncing down can be fun too. Given that deep snow comes in so many different forms from the lightest powder right through to mashed concrete, it takes a lot of exposure to get a good feel for skiing it effectively. It's not something you are going to pick up easily with 1 or 2 weeks a season on snow unless you spend pretty much all that time off-piste in decent powder conditions. Although modern rockered powder skis do make it a LOT more accessible to beginners/intermediates and certainly competent piste skiers than it ever used to be. If you have good basic on-piste technique, skiing powder is not that much different except for the "feel" of the snow and being generally out of your comfort zone. That's why it's always better to start on an easy non-intimidating slope, providing it has enough gradient to get some decent speed up. Going straight into the steeps or other intimidating terrain while learning to ski powder is not going to end well.
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First time I went heli skiing we had an Austrian in our group who really, really couldn't ski at all (not from the lumpy part of AT).

The guides just kept giving him wider and wider skis until he could keep up. He wasn't fit either Shocked
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under a new name wrote:
First time I went heli skiing we had an Austrian in our group who really, really couldn't ski at all (not from the lumpy part of AT).

The guides just kept giving him wider and wider skis until he could keep up. He wasn't fit either Shocked


Just think how good you’d be with some proper fat skis 🤣
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under a new name wrote:
First time I went heli skiing we had an Austrian in our group who really, really couldn't ski at all (not from the lumpy part of AT).

The guides just kept giving him wider and wider skis until he could keep up. He wasn't fit either Shocked


Sounds like a great day Wink
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 Poster: A snowHead
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BobinCH wrote:
under a new name wrote:
First time I went heli skiing we had an Austrian in our group who really, really couldn't ski at all (not from the lumpy part of AT).

The guides just kept giving him wider and wider skis until he could keep up. He wasn't fit either Shocked


Just think how good you’d be with some proper fat skis 🤣


Laughing I was wondering that too. I never knew they had a handicap system for heli-skiing!
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@Mike Pow, it took about 3 days till he got up to speed. We still went waaayyyy over our vertical allocation Happy $$$

@BobinCH, you. are.just. tooooo. funny wink

@uktrailmonster, Had there been a group that week more suitable, they'd have moved him. It worked out fine. I think they mounted up some snowboards for him in the end.
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Someone said earlier - go faster or steeper. This is absolutely right by me. More speed gets you to the surface quicker, where it is easier to turn. Steeper is easier because of 2 things. Firstly if you allow yourself to get out of the backseat into a more balanced and even sometimes forward position gravity will actually pull you round the turn and if the snow is deep that in itself will take any excess speed straight back off as you finish the turn. So pole plant down the hill a bit go for the urn round it and gravity will do the rest. The 2nd thing is that because of the angle of the slope the front of skis just jet right on out of the powder as you do the turn making it even easier.

Big gentle powder fields are too slow and often very disappointing.
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No need for speed, just finesse. At the limit, you do need some gradient, but if it's light enough powder, you don't really.

e.g. I was getting some nice slow turns in on the bunny slopes below Le Tour a fortnight ago...
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beeryletcher wrote:

Big gentle powder fields are too slow and often very disappointing.


Only once you can ski powder confidently. As an intro to powder skiing gentle slopes are pretty good. Obviously doesn't want to be totally flat, but with just enough gradient to pick up a reasonable straight line speed. Being able to comfortably straight line the slope if necessary helps confidence a lot too. Anyone starting off in steep terrain will likely fall over in the first few turns and get stuck.
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uktrailmonster wrote:
beeryletcher wrote:

Big gentle powder fields are too slow and often very disappointing.


Only once you can ski powder confidently. As an intro to powder skiing gentle slopes are pretty good. Obviously doesn't want to be totally flat, but with just enough gradient to pick up a reasonable straight line speed. Being able to comfortably straight line the slope if necessary helps confidence a lot too. Anyone starting off in steep terrain will likely fall over in the first few turns and get stuck.


+1

And @beeryletcher you just described vast swathes of Canadian Heli-ski terrain
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under a new name wrote:
No need for speed, just finesse. At the limit, you do need some gradient, but if it's light enough powder, you don't really.

e.g. I was getting some nice slow turns in on the bunny slopes below Le Tour a fortnight ago...


But isn't that powder on piste? unconsolidated snow sitting on top of a consistent firm base?

If so, a totaly different animal.
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Mike Pow wrote:
... you just described vast swathes of Canadian Heli-ski terrain

You're looking in the wrong places.
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jedster wrote:
Quote:

The other thing with modern wider skis is that you no longer need the bouncy bouncy thing as you did in days gone by, meaning it is less physical, which is probably why I am still skiing powder at seventy one. With narrow skis turning was like doing a series of squat jumps whilst all the while trying to keep your balance. Doing that all day long really is tiring.


I've always found that when you got the rhythm right the skis and the snow did the bouncing for you - it was effortless.


That is a good point although even when the rhythm was right there was still the compression effect because of the amount of sinking on each turn.

I think that maybe I only lasted all day sometimes because some of the lift systems were so poor that we spent so much time queueing.

I also agree that modern skis are more forgiving which also is less tiring as you do not have to use so much energy to stay in control.
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@Mike Pow, about knee deep, maybe even 50cms or so.

@philwig, +1
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Quote:

Mike Pow wrote:
... you just described vast swathes of Canadian Heli-ski terrain

You're looking in the wrong places.


It certainly doesn't describe Mica Creek!
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philwig wrote:
Mike Pow wrote:
... you just described vast swathes of Canadian Heli-ski terrain

You're looking in the wrong places.


If I'd omitted 'vast swathes'
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under a new name wrote:
@Mike Pow, about knee deep, maybe even 50cms or so.


Fantastic.

But on piste right?


Last edited by So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much on Thu 19-04-18 16:30; edited 1 time in total
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jedster wrote:
Quote:

Mike Pow wrote:
... you just described vast swathes of Canadian Heli-ski terrain

You're looking in the wrong places.


It certainly doesn't describe Mica Creek!


Hence 'vast swathes' not 'all'
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Suggest you get your "faffing about" well under control before you venture into the deep. We all fall now and then but you really shouldn't spend too long getting yourself back ready to move (which is easy to do). This will be much appreciated by your fellow skiers and then there's avalanche danger - you need to be ready to move asap.
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@Mike Pow, what difference does that make? It’s not as though any modern skis are going to be 50cms in is it Twisted Evil

And more or less exactly the terrain the OP is struggling with...
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Mike Pow wrote:
...Hence 'vast swathes' not 'all'

Still not even close. You can sell mellow terrain to novices, but you'd soon be out of business if you tried to sell it to anyone with a bit of experience.
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under a new name wrote:
First time I went heli skiing we had an Austrian in our group who really, really couldn't ski at all (not from the lumpy part of AT).

The guides just kept giving him wider and wider skis until he could keep up. He wasn't fit either Shocked


An Austrian ski tourer friend of mine recently went Heli skiing in Canada. He trained a lot, up to 15 hrs of fitness training a week. He normally skis alps powder very well on 83mm waisted skis.
He said everyone else in the group was less fit and many were significantly older. It took the others a lot of effort and time to get back up after a fall. Without the super wide skis they would have been falling over much more often which would have made his trip a nightmare. Compared to his 83mm skis the super wide skis were a doddle, like putting stabilisers on a push bike.
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Look at videos of amazing skiers (Plake, Coombs, Schmidt) back in the day and compare them with modern freeriders. These guys were equally talented but fat rockered skis have totally changed freeriding for the better despite what some dinosaurs might have you believe! It is impossible to ride like the modern guys on “all mountain skis”. They are all on rockered skis between 110 -125mm at the waist. Amateurs want similar width but soft flex so easier to turn/kill speed. It is so much more fun skiing on the proper equipment than struggling on compromise gear. So while buying may not be practical, any aspiring off piste skier should at least try a proper fat ski when the conditions are right. There is no better feeling...
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under a new name wrote:
@Mike Pow, what difference does that make? It’s not as though any modern skis are going to be 50cms in is it Twisted Evil

And more or less exactly the terrain the OP is struggling with...


A massive difference IMHO.

If the snow is dense enough to support your weight without sinking 50cm in to it, and/or your skis are wide enough to keep you close to the snow surface then you're not going to experience any mystery bumps or terrain undulations / changes beneath the snow surface whilst skiing.

If the snow is light enough and you 'hit bottom', then that 'bottom' is a smooth piste which is a consistent base on which to turn.

Skiing 50cm of powder covering a piste is easier to ski than skiing 20cm of powder sitting on top of unconsolidated snow covering variable terrain IMHO.


Last edited by Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do. on Fri 20-04-18 9:27; edited 1 time in total
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philwig wrote:
Mike Pow wrote:
...Hence 'vast swathes' not 'all'

Still not even close. You can sell mellow terrain to novices, but you'd soon be out of business if you tried to sell it to anyone with a bit of experience.


Which many companies have succesfully done for decades.

Other companies recognising their customers' desire to ski powder on steeper terrain than what most glaciers offer have developed that product.

There is a crossover, and both types of operations are doing it well and successfully.


Last edited by You'll need to Register first of course. on Fri 20-04-18 9:34; edited 2 times in total
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Try this.


http://youtube.com/v/jreLOtVjm3k
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jbob wrote:
Try this.


http://youtube.com/v/jreLOtVjm3k


Very interesting. That was like watching a Level 1 instructor exam.

The first robot was on a flatter ski, whilst the second had a pronounced inside edge set in the plow position.

Would have been interesting to see both robots turning on steeper terrain.
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I had a tough time transitioning to skiing powder, and there were three things that helped me:
1) Fatter / rockered skis - once you have the feeling for it you can easily transition back to skinnier skis.
2) Speed - turning in powder requires some speed. The faster you go, the more control you have. Trying to muscle your skis round at pedestrian speeds doesn't work
3) Weight both skis equally

Ultimately I like to over analyse things like skiing but just relaxing, pointing down the fall line and not overthinking it made a world of difference to me skiing powder.
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BobinCH wrote:
Look at videos of amazing skiers (Plake, Coombs, Schmidt) back in the day and compare them with modern freeriders. These guys were equally talented but fat rockered skis have totally changed freeriding for the better despite what some dinosaurs might have you believe! It is impossible to ride like the modern guys on “all mountain skis”.They are all on rockered skis between 110 -125mm at the waist.


It is impossible to ride like the modern guys on “all mountain skis”.

If you mean landing big jumps; skiing switch in powder; and flipping the skis sideways and then skiing through your own powder cloud like snowboarders do, then 100% yes.

Skiing powder at speed on steep, technical terrain? Then no.

I present exhibit A

Jeremy Nobis skiing Pyramid Peak, Alaska in 1997 on 188cm skis with dimensions somewhere between the production model Inspired (117-89-110) and Legend Pro (124-97-116)

Yes 1997. 21 years ago!!!!!!!! Shocked


http://youtube.com/v/0bNnNDz6l4A



Quote:
Teton Gravity Research was filming the movie Harvest on Pyramid Peak in Alaska, a frightening 52-degree slope with 2,000 vertical feet of skiing. The TGR crew wasn't sure they wanted to film Nobis, but Adams persuaded TGR principal Todd Jones to bring him along. Veterans Dave Swanwick and Rick Armstrong were instructed to "take care of Nobi."

The year before, Doug Coombs, the "father of the freeride movement," had skied Pyramid cautiously, making 80 turns. Nobis skied it in 25 seconds, making about eight turns. The helicopter pilot thought Nobis had to be on drugs. His run changed everything: A new freeriding barrier was breached. "It wasn't really planned," recalls Nobis. "I dropped in, did a couple of turns, then started pointing it. The run was steeper than I thought, and I was scared, but I said, 'This is what I'm trained to do. I'm one of the few who can do it.' I just switched my brain off and reacted. Everybody was pretty buzzed."


https://www.tetongravity.com/video/ski/how-jeremy-nobis-defied-tgr-going-from-racer-kid-to-big-mountain-pioneer



https://www.skimag.com/uncategorized/reinventing-nobis



Quote:
Amateurs want similar width but soft flex so easier to turn/kill speed. It is so much more fun skiing on the proper equipment than struggling on compromise gear. So while buying may not be practical, any aspiring off piste skier should at least try a proper fat ski when the conditions are right. There is no better feeling...


For those short on time then definitely 100% good advice as I echoed in an earlier post.

For those who've got a handle on wider skis and who have the technique and fitness to try a different powder experience then skiing on a narrower platform is equally as fun, just different, 'when the conditions are right'
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