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Is it possible to carve on steep runs?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
What is considered steep then?
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Nadenoodlee wrote:


All theory and no knickers!!


You sound like my kind of lady skier Wink(hope the wife's not looking Embarassed
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Alexandra the problem is that the answer depends on the person giving it, if you look down a slope and say "Oh God have I got to go down there" Then for you that slope is steep, someone else may just go down it as if it were any other slope.

My definition of steep is that you have to go right to the edge of the slope to see down it which probably means a 3 in 2 slope i.e something with a drop of about 3 feet for every 2 feet of horizontal movement, generally I guess anything more than a 1 in 1 slope would be regarded as steep, the majority of red runs dont seem to be steeper than about 2 in 3 unless for very short distances
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I agree. Skiing, like most things, is largely done in the head. If you think it's steep then it is. In my experience, in that case you suddenly find yourself snowploughing again and your kids are laughing at you.
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D G Orf, my favorite steeps are at Snowbird and Crested Butte. At CB, I remember standing on a ridge line 2,500+ vertical feet above the base and looking at the base between my skis. They were 205s, but still! Exclamation
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If it gets that steep a snowplough might not work, especially on hardpack or icy conditions, you could try traversing the piste from side to side but often the really steep pistes are also narrow, try jump turns, or if you know that there is plent of run out at the bottom take a racing line and let the run out slow you down, The end of the Lauberhorn Race Track is a case in point, it ends with a big drop I guess 150 feet of verticle or more over about 60 ft of horizontal, a lot of people ignore the sign that says "for expert skiers only" and try it anyway, result mass entertainment for those in the lift que at the bottom, many of them try to sideslip their way down but it's too long and usually too icy so they fall and slide for about half the slope or more, often losing skis on the way, the better skiers realise that there are a couple of hundered yards of nearly flat piste at the bottom and just go for it.

Now the trick comes on the slalom course, there the slope is even steeper, but not for such a long distance, unfortunately the bottom of the slope is undulating and has hazards on it, I have to be in a really good mood before I tackle that one as for most of the day the bottom two thirds tends to be frozen solid. Scarry Cool
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I think the steepest run I did was in the states, no powder but the snow I was disturbing was landing on the head of the skiiers ahead of me.

And no, I wasn't carving, it was more jumping and landing all the was down Very Happy
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marc gledhill, ooooooooo! Where?!??!! snowHead
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ssh, what's steep for me, probably isn't for you. Wink

I was on my one and only trip to your state about seven years ago, one week Breck and one week Vail. The company I went with organised day trips to nearby resorts and the guide took me and three others down that way on one of the trips.

There was a short(ish) drag lift off the main area with the "Don't even think about getting on this lift and trying to sue us later" sign at the bottom (which I found more intimidating than the terrain). Big queue to go up, but no one in sight on the way down. I'll have to look through some guide books later to remember the resort, could it have been A Basin or Copper? I'll get back to you.
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Maths (or Math for our friends in the US, odd since Mathematics is the full form) was never my strongest subject but I believe 1 in 1 is 45 degrees DG. You say anything greater than that is "steep"? I think most holiday skiers would consider a slope much less than 45 deg to be steep. It may not be advisable to try and snowplough on a 45 deg slope but it is certainly possible, and maybe desirable, to iniiate a turn by a large "stem" out from a traverse position. I did ski the Lauberhorn run whilst in Wengen but do not know which slope is used for the slalom, any idea what the steepest/average/flattest angles of that run actually are DG?
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Well Alan let me think The steepest section of the Lauberhorn is probably the ziel schuss or finish schuss I guess that's at most 60 degrees might only be about 50 degrees the flatest would be one of the glides at maybe only a couple of degrees, the lauberhorn has a distance of 4260 M and a verticle drop of about 1200 M which works out to an average of about 17 degrees

The Slalom course comes down to the same finish area from the left of the Innerwengen chairlift and Starts at the top of the Innerwengen lift (roughly) nowhere near as far to go, but I would guess that its steepest section may be as much as 75 degrees, it's certainly worse than the steepest part of the Lauberhorn run but fortunately not as far, you can only see down that part of the slope when you are actually on it, fortunately the rhs of the track is not as steep probably closer to about 55 degrees. Of course it may not actually be as bad as that becuse things always seem worse when you look down the slope Laughing Next time I try it maybe I'll take a protractor with me and get the propper figures snowHead
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Actually i don't need to take the protractor someone has done it for me already Embarassed

Actual figures are as follows

Down Hill

Zielschuss is 42 degrees
Minimum slope is 6 degrees
Average over the course 14.7 degrees

Slalom

Steepest part of the course (not the hill ) is 36 degrees
Minimum is just 2 degrees
Average is 17.2 degrees

Note that the slalom corse does not go down the steepest part of the hill because it's too steep to put gates on !

Knowing now the actual figures I guess I'm going to knock off about 20 degrees from all my previous figures. Embarassed

Therefore a steep slope is anything over about 35 degrees Laughing
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One of the skiing mags (daily mail one?) had an article on steep runs - they started off describing 35 degrees as steep but managable by reasonably competent skiers, by about 45 or 50 they were warning of serious injury/death as the reward for mistakes, I think the steepest they got to was 65 with a picture of some crazy guy jumping down what looked like a vertical chute!! Shocked Shocked
I would say a really steep slope is one you can touch without bending!! snowHead
And no, carving GS turns would not be the technique I would have planned for it (I must just be a bit of a wimp) !! snowHead
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DG Orf, I don't think you estimated too badly, I mean look at your average snowdome where they'll BOAST of 15 degrees which will make most of us think "what? it's flat". There's a chute in Lake Louise of 72 degrees.

It's a strange one - of course there will always be something which gives you the wobblies yet other steeper stuff seems OK.
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stuarth, Well in that case the wengen slalom course counts as really steep at least down the left side as I did just that and I'm just over 6ft tall, obviosly the touch without bending angle varies with skier height Razz
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D G Orf, only if short people have your arm length. Very Happy
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good point Shocked
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D G Orf wrote:
obviosly the touch without bending angle varies with skier height Razz

It's more to do with how long your arm is in relation to your height. A quick calculation (I know it's sad, I only do it when I have too much work on!) reveals that I can touch a 54 degree slope with my fingertips. I have long arms, so I imagine most people will need it steeper still.
Is that steep? depends on the surface. If it's ice it's steep. Also steep enough for avalanche if it's loose snow. In any case, I'd rather ski it than walk down it.
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Too much angulation is not good. Warren Smith says that we often have a distorted or misconceived view of skiing because we try to emulate the excessive skiing angulation in Slalom and therefore many skiiers get the posture wrong.....
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MartinH - I would say a slope of 54 degrees is **** steep! 72 degrees seems like madness, doesn't the dreaded "boot out" come into play here, or are such slopes only possible (and only for maniacs) in deep snow?
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Ok now knowing the exact angle of a particular slope I'm inclined to Agree with Alan on this, also if the slope is so steep as 72 degrees wouldn't there be a high risk of snowslides no matter what the normal chances / risk of avalanche ?
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I only became interested in this because our guide in St Anton some years back carried a handy little "slope protractor" with him. We had just skied down what seemed like a reasonably steep slope so he stopped and measured it - 45 degrees. Apart from jumping off the odd cliffie/cornice type thing and straight schussing those "vertical" short chutes you sometimes find I would be amazed (and scared) if I've ever skied anything over 50 degrees.
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45 degrees IS steep!
Very few blacks are more than 30 degrees.
In most cases I would be using hop turns at 35 degrees - partly because steeps are often narrow, guess you could carve given enough space
I don't think I've ever skied anything more than 45 degrees (at least not for a pitch more than a few feet).
Incidently, when I used to do a bit of mountaineering, the rule of thumb was that snow doesn't stick on much more than 60 degrees (excepting localised wind effets like cornices)

Replying to the original question, you can pure carve on steep runs IF the run is wide enough for the turn radius you can bend your skis into AND you can live with the speed that you generate as you cross the fall line.

However, I have never seen (in person, sometimes have on videos) people pure carving above 30 degrees. AT minimum they use a bit of rotation to get through the fall line then pure carve the end of the turn. Mostly though they elect to skid to control speed.

J
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Yes, why bother carving a very steep descent anyway ?
Its far safer and looks far better to start very slow short turns directly down the fall line, accelerating with the rhythm. Maintaining a composed upper body and skidding off speed in even, graceful turns will get you to the bottom, quickly, directly and elegantly.

If things get really narrow, narrowere than the length of your skis (especially for old style skis) you simply won't have room to carve and many of the fun off piste runs fall into this category. This is a particular problem if you ski Telemark.

The solution therefore has to be tight parallel jump or skid turns right down the fall line. Shock
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Peter S, Not sure what you're getting at here. I watched GB Snowsports testing young racers down a very steep mogully black run back in April at Méribel, nasty conditions too, icy at the top, slushy lower down. Soon sorted out the 'men from the boys' as they had to do long, fast, sweeping GS turns, feasible because the piste was sufficiently wide. As for what "looks better", those that impressed the most were those that absorbed the bumps, at speed, barely any skidding, snow being thrown up. Sheer class. Why bother carving? Because that's the way the experts do it.....
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ssh^^ it does look like the camera could be off horizontal, or it could just be the shape the lake. what is more concerning is powder snows ability to hold to a slope at that kind of angle, however it is in Colorado and the snow holds better there. However this all proves nothing.

If it's possible to gain grip with an edge it's possible to carve. Sometimes you just need a pair of nappies for the speed you’re going.

It comes down to confidence, core strength and coordination.

JJ Twisted Evil
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hmmm....

for those that doubt the steepness of the picture;

http://www.howtoski.net/ImagesSkiAreas/Brk36p.jpg

It is actually that steep. It the lake chutes at Breckenridge. The pitch varies from about 48 - 52 degrees, averaging out at 50. I've skied it many times, as I used to live there. In these situations, and from the skiing I've done in many different situations from the steeps such as these, to the flat fridges of MK and Tamworth, it's not a case of if you can or can't, as if you should or need to.

Once out of the narrower areas at the top of the chutes of the above picture, where the snow is wind deposited and the entrances to all the options tight, jump turns, billy goating and some sideslipping are necessary. However, for the bottom 2/3 down, it is possible to open it out and carve the turns to whatever size, and at whatever speed, you are comfortable with on the day with the snow conditions you find.

Being able to carve on the steepest of slopes does show you have an excellent carving technique, but to be a trully excellent skier it comes down to being able to choose the right type of turn for the right situation. Not necessarily always the carved turn on the steepest of terrain!

I'll try to see if I can get any decent pictures of the Chutes to put up that will give you all a better idea of the degree of steepness. And then hopefully dispel the theory that its a photoshopped picture! Very Happy

Oh... and to get up to there, its hike only access, with a min. of 25mins in if you want to ski it and thats if your acclimatised !! Toofy Grin Twisted Evil
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JonL wrote:
Oh... and to get up to there, its hike only access, with a min. of 25mins in if you want to ski it and thats if your acclimatised !! Toofy Grin Twisted Evil


Sounds like Vasquez Cirque in Winter Park. Smile
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Yeah, just like the Cirque - basically the equivalent of each other...

But I dont think the Cirque is quite as steep.....but then I never got to ski it as the times I was at Winter Park, the snow wasn't great on one (think it may've been closed for hiking) and the others were with a group including lower ability skiers and riders, so it was 'out'. Sad
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This is an easier but of the Cirque I came down...
http://www.theskishop.co.uk/stewart/images/WP%202001/cirque3.jpg

http://www.theskishop.co.uk/stewart/images/WP%202001/cirque.jpg
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here are a few shots for you to look at of lake chutes

http://breckenridge.snow.com/mtn.gallery.enlarged.asp?image_id=2428

http://breckenridge.snow.com/mtn.gallery.enlarged.asp?image_id=2407

and this is the site of a local guy who supplies to the breck homepage gallery

http://homepage.mac.com/saemisch/BestOfBreck/BreckBest.html

take a look. plenty of shots of the steeps there!
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The Lake Chutes may soon be easier to get to:
http://www.summitdaily.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20040825/NEWS/108250016&rs=2
Freeride Monkey, the snow actually doesn't hold on steeps as well in Colorado compared to more coastal ranges (eg Cascades, Chugach), because it is drier and lacks the "glue" of water content to "stick" it to the slope. However, the Lake Chutes are an exception to that rule, because they're wind-loaded, making the snow much more compact.
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Cheers Martin.

I have to stop posting late at night!

JJ. Twisted Evil
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