Author Topic: Where to Learn to Ski Deep Powder?  (Read 1631 times)

smackboy1

  • 1 Year Member
  • <100 Posts
  • *
  • Posts: 61
Where to Learn to Ski Deep Powder?
« on: October 22, 2012, 05:17:01 pm »
I have a desire to go heli skiing but my lack of any powder experience is a bit of an impediment  :-[

I see operations like CMH have Powder 101 trips for the powder challenged. http://www.canadianmountainholidays.com/heli-skiing/firsttime It looks great but it seems a bit of a waste to drop that kind of coin on a learning trip.  The other thing is that I don't want to end up stuck in a lodge in the boonies because bad weather has the helicopters grounded. So I'm thinking cat skiing might be a better way. Anybody have any tips or recommendations where to go and which operator to go with?

I consider myself an fairly advanced northeast skier and I'm pretty comfortable anywhere inbounds. Steep boilerplate ice? No problemo. The light white bottomless fluffy stuff? Not a clue.
I'm not a ski instructor, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.


HighAngles

  • 1 Year Member
  • 200 Posts
  • *
  • Posts: 208
Re: Where to Learn to Ski Deep Powder?
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2012, 03:44:31 am »
If you can manage an unplanned/spur of the moment trip in your work schedule, I recommend heading to SLC when the snow is falling.  The SLC area has the most convenient access combined with incredible mountains with great deep snow skiing.  I've done this often myself since the trip is so easy (it's also fairly inexpensive).  You can stay down in SLC at the foot of Little Cottonwood Canyon and ski Alta or Snowbird (and Solitude and Brighton are fun too).

Also, it's not like the Northeast never gets deep snow - you just have to be willing to time it right and go where it's snowing.  Watch the snowfall predictions and make it your mission to get some. but I have to admit that even though I skied the NE for 12 years I don't think I ever found more than 6" due to my ability to time storms and actually get out to ski.  In my first trip out West I hit 2.5' of the deep stuff at Alta.  Once I experienced that I realized that there was a whole "other" sport I was missing.

I agree that "dropping coin" on a big heli trip, if you've never really skied in deep snow, is definitely a bit risky.

bushwacka

  • Instructor
  • 400 Posts
  • **
  • Posts: 471
Re: Where to Learn to Ski Deep Powder?
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2012, 06:27:40 am »
the thing is learning to ski deep powder is a catch 22 in so many ways.

I have never met anyone who has ever been taught how to ski deep powder, not that I do not think it can be done its just the people that learn to ski deep powder are generally doers and have done everything in their power to ski deep powder, whether or not is was skipping,working school, hiking/skinning for it, getting the right ski, waking up early to get first chair they have done everything in their power to ski deep powder and over the years have learned to ski it.

First thing what ever is stopping you from skiing powder is actually a flaw in your everyday skiing! "its not that you can not ski the powder, its that you cant ski and the powder proves it". If powder gives you problems your trying to twist a ski to much, or are just entirely off balance some way. If you have an video of you skiing I can tell you exactly why its happening.

now on to where. It really doesnt matter where it does matter when.  big storm cycle about to hit SLC? drop everything and get out there and ski brighton/solitude? wyoming about to get hit? get to Grand Targhee as fast as possible. North Easter coming up the cost? Pick a small mountain in its path and get there. Lake Effect coming of lake champlain? get your ass to stowe and enjoy snow while no one in the north east even knows its snowing...

HighAngles last year was a bad year but if you drove to stowe every weekend and skied saturday/sunday you would have powder many days including one day that was absurdly deep.

these pictures were taken at 3pm on saturday at stowe mountain resort. Inbounds lighter snow that could ever been found in utah....





this was taken the next day just out of bounds at about noon



everywhere in the northeast got this storm. There was really no valid excuse IMO to miss it. I talk to several western who were at stowe that day just to ski powder.

Stowe on average has more powder days than snowbird they just generally are not as deep and more of the public misses it since the lifts open at 7:30.... and they open at 7:30 so the locals can ski its out before the tourist can wake up;)






LivingProof

  • Global Moderator
  • 400 Posts
  • *
  • Posts: 892
Re: Where to Learn to Ski Deep Powder?
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2012, 07:03:56 am »
Check out the Revelstoke Mountain area of British Columbia where there are a few powdercat ski week services. Seems to be a reasonable blend of good powder plus terrain to enable learning to ski in deep, untracked, freshies. Steamboat also has good powdercat services.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCZsx93MWss

But, as Bushwacker states, if you want to ski powder, it has to become your prime goal. On the east coast, that means watching for storms and being there while it's coming down. First chairs are sooo important. Last year, I was in NY with Gary and we got 6-9 inches overnight, and, Gary had us at the mountain early enough for him to be first in line. That was hero snow that most can do very well in while on groomed.

My experiences when in big mountains during major drops are very mixed. I was totally unprepared for the deeper, heavier snow I experienced in Tahoe last year. There is a learning curve and there are a lot of variables.

bushwacka

  • Instructor
  • 400 Posts
  • **
  • Posts: 471
Re: Where to Learn to Ski Deep Powder?
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2012, 07:34:16 am »
Livingproof I would have struggled on a 94mm waisted ski in sierra cement.

I would rather hit the easy button and be able to float on less than Ideal powder. getting stuck in heavy snow or crust is not my idea of fun.

with that said floating on true powder is impossible even a on the biggest powder skis. Just look at my pictures and realize everyone was skiing 185cm + 110mm+ skis. The idea of skiing 'on powder" is purely a myth perpetuated by people who simply have never actually skied powder on fat skis before.

smackboy1

  • 1 Year Member
  • <100 Posts
  • *
  • Posts: 61
Re: Where to Learn to Ski Deep Powder?
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2012, 08:28:03 am »
the thing is learning to ski deep powder is a catch 22 in so many ways.

I have never met anyone who has ever been taught how to ski deep powder. . .

So true. Nor have I ever met anyone who was anything but self taught. But I'm constrained by family/work obligations which is why if I'm going to figure out powder it will have to be like everything else in my life: planned, scheduled and paid for months in advance. Which is why I'm thinking cat skiing might just be the ticket compared to lift served resort or heli. Higher probability of deep powder and less affected by uncooperative weather or masses of powder hungry local skiers.
I'm not a ski instructor, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

Gary

  • 6+ Year Member
  • 1000 Posts
  • ******
  • Posts: 2590
Re: Where to Learn to Ski Deep Powder?
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2012, 08:32:07 am »
Smackboy1...from my personal experience....get some time in 6-9 inches...get a feel for skiing two footed.....tiping, being more upright, more centered, timed pole plants....and if you're outwest...get a powder lesson. It will save you numerous sommersauls on a knee high pow day.

Also, I highly suggest you try Powder Cat skiing before heli.....you'll get more runs, feel less intimidated and have more experience in the variety of conditions you just might encounter from a heli skiing day.

As for what width underfoot for what conditions....I too think wide is better in deep snow...but your height and weight do have impact on the width underfoot you decide on. Skiing pow on todays new skis 98 to 115 underfoot offer great versatility and for sure make skiing the big pow days much more pleasant.

I can say for sure and for me...skiing rocker skis in wet, dense, packed snow...sucks. The more traditional skis cut through, carve around much better...but that's for me.

Skiing powder in my mind is the most fantastic experience ever...keeping me longing for more. And like LP said...being 1st in line for a inbounds pow day...rules.

Wishing you great success in your future pow days....G

bushwacka

  • Instructor
  • 400 Posts
  • **
  • Posts: 471
Re: Where to Learn to Ski Deep Powder?
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2012, 09:08:32 am »
I can say for sure and for me...skiing rocker skis in wet, dense, packed snow...sucks. The more traditional skis cut through, carve around much better...but that's for me.



packed yes....but un packed wet dense snow aka Sierra Cement. Rockered all the way.

Philpug

  • Ski Shop/Ski Patrol
  • 400 Posts
  • **
  • Posts: 541
Re: Where to Learn to Ski Deep Powder?
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2012, 12:13:40 pm »
I was with Mike the day he was on the 94's, while the conditions were heavy, they were far from "sierra cement" but more like typical eastern powder. Where Mike (and others) ran into many issues was the snow (REALLY firm "snow") underneath and were bottoming out. We DO get other snow here than sierra cement, saying otherwise is like saying that everything on the east is always ice. Mike, when we skied Mt. Rose for the demo day, we had some very good snow there in depth and quality, what skis did you ski?  I don't recall.

As far as where to learn powder, it is almost more WHEN to learn. When the conditions are right and as Josh eludes to, having the right tool to make the learning process more enjoyable and rewarding.

smackboy1

  • 1 Year Member
  • <100 Posts
  • *
  • Posts: 61
Re: Where to Learn to Ski Deep Powder?
« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2012, 12:29:29 pm »
When the conditions are right and as Josh eludes to, having the right tool to make the learning process more enjoyable and rewarding.

So what are the recommended tools? Are there skis that make skiing powder feel like just another day on groomed runs? I've noticed that most, if not all heli and cat ski operators will recommend using their rental fleet.
I'm not a ski instructor, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

bushwacka

  • Instructor
  • 400 Posts
  • **
  • Posts: 471
Re: Where to Learn to Ski Deep Powder?
« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2012, 12:47:27 pm »
I just want to point out that at least Stowe Compared to Mammoth(tahoe in theory is probably similar further north but lower elevations), WHEN it is snow falling our snow is actually lighter.

So eastern powder should be taken as really good stuff not quite as good as steamboat smoke, or alta fluff but for sure better than on average than the Pacific Coast.

blue is Alta, Red is Mammoth, White in Mansfield aka Stowe.



science doesnt lie

What phil is mentioning is very valid. a 6 inch heavy snow day can ski 'bottomless" on the right skis where as other people are hitting hardpack underneath.  Also skiing powder never feels like a groomer....bigger skis just make it easier.

IMO for an average adult male a ski 180-185cm with 110ish mm underfoot and some slight rocker is good enough in powder with out making them feel hopeless otherwise. If it wasnt easier we wouldnt use them....
« Last Edit: October 23, 2012, 12:48:34 pm by bushwacka »

bushwacka

  • Instructor
  • 400 Posts
  • **
  • Posts: 471
Re: Where to Learn to Ski Deep Powder?
« Reply #11 on: October 23, 2012, 01:18:13 pm »
so what skier would have more fun Max? Which one would learn to ski powder quicker....


skier a and B are physical the same and have same skiing skills call them clones

skier A. could not ski powder with out fat skis ends up at resort with 24 inches of new snow, rents skis and is falling very rarely

Skier B.  again could not ski powder out fat skis, but DOESNT rent fatter skis. Falls constantly every run, ends up going back to the most packed snow so they can actually ski something.



remember PMTS is the authoritarian dictatorship of ski instruction.... its clear that when someone post technique first over equipment in a situation that equipment makes a huge different even to an expert skier that their instructional system maybe misguided.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2012, 01:29:06 pm by jim-ratliff »

jim-ratliff

  • 6+ Year Member
  • 1000 Posts
  • ******
  • Posts: 2739
Re: Where to Learn to Ski Deep Powder?
« Reply #12 on: October 23, 2012, 01:35:45 pm »
I removed a post by Josh.
The topic is giving "Smackboy1" suggestions on where/when/how to go to learn powder skiing, not about "assessing" or "denigrating' fellow forum members.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2012, 01:48:48 pm by jim-ratliff »
"If you're gonna play the game boy, ya gotta learn to play it right."

Philpug

  • Ski Shop/Ski Patrol
  • 400 Posts
  • **
  • Posts: 541
Re: Where to Learn to Ski Deep Powder?
« Reply #13 on: October 23, 2012, 01:45:43 pm »
So what are the recommended tools? Are there skis that make skiing powder feel like just another day on groomed runs? I've noticed that most, if not all heli and cat ski operators will recommend using their rental fleet.

As far as THE only tool? there is no one, there are nuance differences in many skis that all could be great. A lot depends on how you want it to fit in your quiver, where you are skiing, how aggressive you are skiing and how the snow is where are you skiing. There are ones that turn like you would on a groomer. As far as the heli ops providing their own rental fleets, you would be surprised what people show up with on trips let alone the people who just want to come and not even own a serious powder ski

smackboy1

  • 1 Year Member
  • <100 Posts
  • *
  • Posts: 61
Re: Where to Learn to Ski Deep Powder?
« Reply #14 on: October 23, 2012, 02:08:45 pm »
The topic is giving "Smackboy1" suggestions on where/when/how to go to learn powder skiing, not about assessments of other skiers.
And, I believe, his constraints were expressed in such a way that he's currently focusing on tools and locations?

Thank you  ;D Couldn't have said it better myself.

So far I've found and/or been recommended a few alternatives:

http://www.selkirkwilderness.com/dates_rates/intro_to_cat_skiing_boarding/

http://www.bigredcatskiing.com/

http://www.steamboatpowdercats.com/level-one-snowcat-skiing/

Shhh, don't tell anyone but I'm a blue level PMTS skier. I ski on Head Icon TT80's and just bought a pair of Movement Jams. The only PMTS thing I don't own are the special limited edition PMTS carving underpants. So 'nuff said about that  :P

« Last Edit: October 23, 2012, 02:10:30 pm by smackboy1 »
I'm not a ski instructor, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.