off piste skiing

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  • off piste skiing
  • Premier Icon Bushwacked
    Subscriber

    Anyone got any tips for off piste skiing?

    Very comfortable skiing on piste but anything more than a couple of inches deep and I fall apart

    Can any give me some pointers and maybe links to some websites/youtube vids?

    Going to get a couple of hours lessons when I go out but want to be as ready as I can.

    Cheers.

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    Step 1: Rent a snowboard.. 😉

    Painey
    Member

    Spent all of last week off piste with mates in St Anton. I personally snowboard most of the time but they were giving tips to some of the less experienced members of our group. Main one being narrow your stance off piste, try not to have your legs far apart. Oh and don’t be afraid to shift your weight back and straightline it through the deep stuff otherwise you might not make it through!

    Step 2 – Ignore the tea-trayists! 😉
    Step 3 – Lessons and guiding. Do it!
    Step 4 – Skis are simply betterer. FACT.

    😉

    justatheory
    Member

    Wider skis with rocker?

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    On a serious point, don’t go properly off-piste without a guide, proper avi equipment (transceiver, pole, shovel) and some idea how to use it.

    Just start by doing slackcountry e.g. ungroomed sections between two pistes, ideally where the pistes remain visible. You can normally do that in relative safety, but do consider there is probably a reason that it is ungroomed (i.e. big rocks or a river)

    And practise getting up in deep powder. It is hard!

    nbt
    Member

    Painey wrote:

    Spent all of last week off piste with mates in St Anton. I personally snowboard most of the time but they were giving tips to some of the less experienced members of our group. Main one being narrow your stance off piste, try not to have your legs far apart. Oh and don’t be afraid to shift your weight back and straightline it through the deep stuff otherwise you might not make it through!

    see, this is what happens when you listen to your mates rather than getting proper lessons.


    DON’T

    LEAN

    BACK

    Technique is the same on and off piste – press your shins into your boots, and roll your legs to the side to let the skis do the work. Arms forward to help ensure you have control. Lean back, and all that control goes. There are a couple of slight changes, inasmuch as you have no edges with which to make turns so you need to move your skis slightly closer together to build more of a platform in the snow, and you need to allow that platform to build so you can’t turn as sharply.

    Learn to “bounce” – keep regular turns going, don’t get into this thing of traversing until you run out of snow then making a turn because you have to

    and stay close to other tracks, there’s nothing I hate more than seeing a MASSIVE powder field with a single track meandering here there and everywhere. Save some fresh for the people behind you, it’s only polite

    torsoinalake
    Member

    +1 to lessons and guide.

    Off-piste skiing exposes weak technique. Which can make it hard work and demoralising.

    On the other hand, when you get it right, you can roll out cliche like ‘better than sex’.

    TurnerGuy
    Member

    Wider skis with rocker?

    do make it a lot easier – plus some with rockers are decent on piste as well as the ski is effectively shorter.

    Premier Icon Bushwacked
    Subscriber

    Cool, been trying snowboarding for the past 2 years and on a recent holiday to St Anton ended up skiing againaand loved it. Keen to get some off piste time under my belt.

    As a snowboarder I can’t give you ski specific advice and I’m really just a journeyman:

    * The soft snow acts a brake so take more direct lines than you would on-piste to avoid stalling.

    * Try to take lines where there is mostly untracked snow. Crossing a few tracks is fine but if it’s mostly tracked it get real bumpy and hard to control

    * Avoid submarining, by concentrating on keeping the nose(s) up and out so that you surf through the snow i.e. you being floated by the pressure of snow under you, flying really.

    * You really dont need to press edges, you are just steering by directing pressure -it’s quite subtle and works best if you’re really calm, gentle and relaxed. It helps if you look well ahead so that your steering can be well planned and gentle

    * You can “surface” by putting in a little weigh-unweight bounce and this helps when steering as it briefly frees you from deeper snow to make the turn. If you manage to do this rhythmically it feels lovely and you get some beautiful S lines left when you look up the hill

    * Shallower slopes are “normally” safe from avalanching, esp when others have left tracks there. Think carefully before taking lines more than a few metres away from existing lines because weak points that trigger avalanches can lie hidden quite close to where others have passed without incident. In particular, watch out on steep slopes for slightly dull looking wind-deposited snow that cracks to slabs.

    * if you are in any doubt about a slope, go one-by one and stop well away from the line of descent. Ideally be equipped and practised with rescue equipment.

    Premier Icon Shandy
    Subscriber

    Get some really wide skis.

    Painey
    Member

    DON’T

    LEAN

    BACK

    Just to be clear I didn’t say lean back, said don’t be afraid to shift your weight a touch to go straight through very deep stuff. Last week we had near chest deep powder in the Arlberg and some of our group were struggling with the deep snow, going over the bars so to speak. Whilst I can ski a black run I’m certainly no skier though and the rest of what you say is solid advice.

    Can’t say enough about having the right equipment. Only ever go proper off piste with the essential 3 pieces, transceiver, shovel and a probe. Make sure you know how to use the transceiver as well and always carry a metal shovel too, plastic ones can be next to useless digging people out of compacted snow.

    Premier Icon Rio
    Subscriber

    1) Get some lessons.

    2) Make sure you’ve got appropriate insurance, particularly if you ignore points 1) and 3).

    3) Get some lessons.

    A couple of hours lessons won’t help you; if you’re really going off piste you’d waste this just learning how to use a transceiver. Get at least a couple of half day’s lessons. And don’t worry about what sort of skis at this stage unless you’re using something really narrow from the 1990s.

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    Shallower slopes are “normally” safe from avalanching,

    Depends what you mean by shallow. You’re actually safer on >45° slopes.

    That’s good info Graham. By Shallower I mean similar to a red run ie under 30 degrees. You can see that typical black run gradients for 30 plus degrees start to get into the danger statistics. Snow doesn’t normally pitch above 60 degrees (some exceptions in the Andes I’ve read)

    Not sure I would attempt more than 40 degrees!

    messiah
    Member

    Free the heel.

    rewski
    Member

    If you fall apart already in deep snow on piste then be prepared to find it really difficult, no amount of tips and good advice on here will prepare you for how it feels, it’s a weird combination of bouncing and rhythm, you really need a good steep run to get a good flow going. Go with a local guide and make sure your insurance covers you off piste, a bill for a helicopter will ruin your holiday, bear in mind there’s been a lot of snow in the france alps this year, avalanche risks were med to high when I was there in jan. have fun you might be a natural, I wasn’t.

    mechmonkey
    Member

    Free the heel.

    Free the heel, free the mind 🙂

    OP – Stay strong in the core. Allow yourself to be free to move more fore and aft to adapt to the terrain. Move more, flow more. Start to learn to read the terrain and make the relevant adjustments. Welcome to the mountains.

    Everyone talks about soft snow and powder which is one part for sure but the more technically challenging off piste comes with the variable snow conditions. Crusty, choppy, windblown hardpack, trees, avvi debris etcetc

    Premier Icon teamhurtmore
    Subscriber

    +1 on dont lean back. This is a long run myth re off piste skiing and is incorrect technique. You wont learn anything off a website, lessons are the key but a few mental images

    1: ski softly – many people who struggle OP tend to be too aggressive. The best guide I ever skied with kept saying “softly, softly, like a butterfly kissing the snow – he was French!!
    2: linked to 1, LESS is MORE. do not try to aggressively edge or close your turns. The bounce image is a very good one.
    3: try to stay in the fall line, arms higher and wider than normal and then gentle up and down movements is all that is required. Bounce can be interpreted too aggressively, think soft up and down in very relaxed manner. Modern skis have a naturally rthymn built into the construction – use it,
    4: ski with some speed but let the snow slow you down. Aggressive attempts to traverse/slow down will normally end one way! This is linked to 3, once you start traversing your body position is likely to be aross rather than down the fall line. Not good!
    5: relax and breathe.
    6: if you turn very softly and not too aggressively staying in the fall line, you will be surprised how tight the S’s actually look when you reach the bottom. If you start off thinking thinking tight aggressive S’s you are more likely to see lots of bomb holes down the slope!!!!

    legend
    Member

    and stay close to other tracks, there’s nothing I hate more than seeing a MASSIVE powder field with a single track meandering here there and everywhere. Save some fresh for the people behind you, it’s only polite

    No, no, no. No friends on a powder day

    TurnerGuy
    Member

    Make sure you know how to use the transceiver as well

    and the people you are skiing with do, and that they don’t whizz off in cavalier manner so if you were caught they wouldn’t notice or be able to get to you.

    Last year near St Anton some prince died (eventually) after being in a coma – he got caught and his security entourage got to him reasonably quickly, but not quick enough.

    The average time to dig someone out is more than the time it takes for you to start having problems breathing CO/2. Only 30% of people survive when it takes 30+ minutes to find and dig them out…

    http://www.snowsafe.co.uk/avalung-information.php

    An avalung will allow you to breathe for a longer, and airbag systems are even better but they are expensive and bulky.

    Premier Icon Holmesey
    Subscriber

    +1 on the bounce thing. hard to describe but start and just try to move skis 10 or 15 degrees to sides to start, until you get the rhythm going….
    If you’re in deep stuff and struggling to make the first turn, try planting both poles for some extra lift.

    St Anton last week was 50cm++ powder, so I can confirm Painey’s claims.
    Get lessons, and the right gear and know how it works. I carry a tranceiver, pole and shovel, but only any good for rescuing mates- they need them too.
    French centre UCPA is brilliant for introductions to off piste and supply all the kit, plus do a heap of lessons at a great price. Well worth a look if you’re on a budget.
    I board and ski and each has its place.

    enjoy

    higgo
    Member

    +1 to lessons and guide.

    Off-piste skiing exposes weak technique. Which can make it hard work and demoralising.

    On the other hand, when you get it right, you can roll out cliche like ‘better than sex’.

    Would lessons and a guide help for sex too?
    (as my ‘friend’ often finds it hard work and demoralising)

    mefty
    Member

    Last year near St Anton some prince died (eventually)

    He is still alive and rumoured to be showing signs of regaining consciousness.

    LHS
    Member

    My view on all this.

    1. Get some lessons, technique comes naturally after a while but if you are only used to on-piste these will help
    2. Try small stuff next to the piste first before venturing off
    3. Most importantly, get avalanche training. I can’t over-emphasise enough how important this is. And then remember, even this won’t save your life. I have been backcountry skiing for 20 years and out of my group of buddies have the reputation for being the most anal when it comes to being safe. I always keep an eye on the snowfall and check the snow before hitting a big pitch. Even then i have been caught out twice, the last one most recently I am 100% sure i was only saved by my airbag.

    Respect the snow.

    torsoinalake
    Member

    Would lessons and a guide help for sex too?
    (as my ‘friend’ often finds it hard work and demoralising)

    Don’t lean back.

    TurnerGuy
    Member

    He is still alive and rumoured to be showing signs of regaining consciousness.

    minimal consciousness – I think he might as well be dead as he is supposed to have massive brain damage.

    15 minutes under the snow…

    Premier Icon teamhurtmore
    Subscriber

    Very wise words from LHS. At best we minimise risk, but we never eliminate it! Basic law of the mountains!

    Premier Icon aracer
    Subscriber

    A couple of things I don’t think have been mentioned:

    Keep weight on both your skis – on piste you tend to weight the outside ski in turns, this doesn’t work so well in soft stuff. One off-piste lesson I had we spent a lot of the time on piste but using the inside ski to turn in order to work on the technique for this.

    You can’t skid your turns off-piste. A lot of people still do most of their turns by skidding the skis rather than carving (even on fat carving skis) – the transition to off-piste isn’t easy if you do that, you need to learn to carve.

    supersaiyan
    Member

    Bang on, aracer. Mrs supersaiyan really struggles in the soft stuff but looks fine on a black run. Any weakness in technique on piste is massively magnified off piste. Assuming you have a good, wide stance on piste, try narrowing it slightly off piste. If you struggle to get equal weighting throughout your whole turn, practise one-legged skiing on piste, turning both ways. Don’t skid and use the energy from one turn to initiate the next – again practicing short swing turns on piste may help with rhythm. Also, what everyone said about the holy trinity, stay safe and save some for me!

    Gotama
    Member

    Side of piste is a decent place to start. Don’t go traversing off across the mountain to find the untracked section unless you know what you’re doing. There is plenty of danger straying into areas which look close to the lift but are not directly above marked slopes.

    Wide skis make a massive difference. Off piste with a set of rental super stiff race carve skis is usually an unhappy experience unless you’ve got skillz.

    Other than that there’s a whole host of technique which has been covered above but best to have a lesson as you rightly intend to do.

    Premier Icon stevomcd
    Subscriber

    Depends what you mean by shallow. You’re actually safer on >45° slopes.

    This is true, but I’ll go out on a limb here and guess that nobody on this forum has ever skied anything which has a sustained pitch of over 45°.

    Sustained 40° is very, very scary.

    Sustained 45° feels like a cliff and is properly in the realm of extreme skiing.

    There are very few ski pistes with any sustained sections much over 30°.

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    This is true, but I’ll go out on a limb here and guess that nobody on this forum has ever skied anything which has a sustained pitch of over 45°.

    Agreed. Been down the Harakiri piste in Mayrhofen and that is steep enough at 78% (about 38° by my reckoning)

    Off-piste in deep power it is certainly possible to go off deeper than that – but I think for most of us that chart is a warning that “red run” off-piste should not be considered “safe”.

    I was given one great piece of advice that I still use.

    I was really stuggling to “get started” off piste, just couldn’t get the first turn. A friend suggested that I “bounce” 3 times in a straight line and make the first turn on the third bounce.

    It’s a great way of getting some rhythm going before you start turning.

    gee68
    Member

    Just got back from Les Gets on Monday and the snow at the moment is epic. 😀
    I never normally go off piste as basically im just not very good at it and just couldn’t seem to get to grips with the technique needed even though i’ve been skiing for years and would consider myself a confident skier.
    Sitting on a chair lift one day speaking to a random “yoof” we were on about powder skiing and my lack skills and he just said sit back relax and enjoy.
    So off i went to try out his theory in knee deep powder and what a revelation,i’ve just had the best three days skiing i’ve ever had.
    Now im obviously no off piste God but the leaning back advice really helped and i now feel far more confident in the deep stuff.

    The next time i go i’ll try and use the tips shared in the posts above before i develope even more bad habits.
    The reason i love skiing is you’re always learning,awesome sport. 😀

    Dales_rider
    Member

    1 or 2 good points and some bad ones
    LHS is right but as to what slopes avalanche someone needs to check facts

    alexxx
    Member

    Went out just before work the other morning to get first lifts a day after it snowed, did a nice route on my doorstep but there was a lot of cracks and slides (probably say 6 really big slips) even with all the gear its a bit daunting. I’d say get a guide and stay between pistes whilst your learning as falling over can be exhausting if your fitness isn’t good.

    This was a nice ski, not steep though but a good view. You can see what someone said above about forcing a turn… watch near the end when a ski dives from bouncing too hard and having too wide a stance.

    [video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCIIJM5qWkY&feature=youtu.be[/video]

    grum
    Member

    GrahamS had the best advice in the first post. Or just get some of those skis that are so huge it’s basically like having a snowboard strapped to each foot. Not tried them but they are probably really good.

    Like nearly as good as a snowboard good. 🙂

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