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

jim-ratliff

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Re: Where to Learn to Ski Deep Powder?
« Reply #15 on: October 23, 2012, 02:44:22 pm »
My opinion. What Gary and Phil said.
6-9 inches to learn in. Not Heli skiing first time. Look for a group that tries to match you up with like skiers. You don't want to be the only first timer in a group of 10. Later in the year ensures overall better coverage. I remember Ron and Gary went cat skiing from Steamboat in December one year and the lack of early snow coverage was a challenge.
Ignore all these pictures of the good skiers in waist deep conditions. I don't think you want to be there (I don't). I know there are powder cat operations from Steamboat, Little Cottonwood Canyon, and Powder Mountain north of Salt Lake City. I'm sure there are lots more.
If possible, be aggressive about getting to your local mountain on 4-8" days before the snow gets tracked up (Gary's comment about first tracks, but that may be a challenge from NewJersey).
« Last Edit: October 23, 2012, 02:54:19 pm by jim-ratliff »
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Liam

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Re: Where to Learn to Ski Deep Powder?
« Reply #16 on: October 23, 2012, 04:45:34 pm »
 just watched a bunch of youtube 'learn to ski powder' videos which are all really just promos for their respective Cat and Heli guided trips.  From the videos, it looks like most serve up pretty shallow powder (1 foot) on intermediae slopes to fairly pedestrian skiers and that 'powder lessons' are a big part of the experience.  It seems regardless of skill level, the heli outfits are designed to get just about any skier a slid powder experience

 I think it's a pretty specific set of outfitters who are putting folks in 'waist-deep' snow and an even more specific grop of skiers who really want that.   

My advice:

1. Get a hold of the Deslaurier's ' Ski the Whole Mountain'--it was a game changer for me, lots of familiar Ideas if you already like PMTS, but with a few focused tweaks that just make a lot of sense and are fairly easy to put into practice (also, the whole segment on 'Pedal Hops and Pedal Carves is worth the price of the book, that taught me more about maintaining flow in real steeps than any other technique I've attempted to learn).  GReat photos and step by step instruction.

Nothing replaces time in the snow-but you need to have a plan of attack before you head out...I suggest the one spelled out by Eric and Rob Deslaurier.

2. What everyone else said, what you need is a FLEXIBLE SCHEDULE.  No matter where you ski, you get powder days, the key is you have to be able to take advantage of them when they show up.  Often, smaller, more off the map ski areas (in the east we're talking about) are better because the powder hounds and the crowds don't sniff them out and you can find unbroken lines late in the day (especially on weekdays).  I ski mostly at a small (1100 ft vertical) Massachusetts mountain...check many of the videos I posted, it get's powder days and typically, you don't share it with very many other people (in a good year I get 10-12 days over 6 inches, with 3-4 serious storms, even the occasional 30 inches-and I usually still ski unbroken lines all the way to closing).  If you can get up to nothern, VT or Maine, you do even better.   But really you have to watch the weather and let work/ family know, 4 inches or more falling within driving distance-you're gone.

3.  Deep Powder...good luck getting enough time, That truly bottomless feel is something really hard to find at almost any in bounds resort:   The Pacific Northwest can deliver (but bottomless at Mt. Baker maybe one of the few times even a good skier will think 'man, this is too deep!') and a pineapple express in the Sierras is something to behold, but that's the stuff legends are made of.

 The Northeast gets it once in a while in bounds with the help of wind drift after a Nor 'easter. (Once at killington I made 1o-15 turns in waist to chest deep snow off the side of outer limits), I've had the occasional 3 foot of snow, but I think you got to go hike and prowl with guys like bushwacker to find truly 'deep' snow consistently in the east. 

jbotti

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Re: Where to Learn to Ski Deep Powder?
« Reply #17 on: October 23, 2012, 08:50:22 pm »
For just pure quantity of snow it is very tough to beat the Sierras and or PacNW. Squaw gets 400 inches in a bad year. As well the dumps are big (usualy 2-3 feet at a time). It is definitely heavier snow but if you learn to ski it you can ski powder anywhere because everywhere else will be easier. I learned to ski pow in it. Unfortunately a trip to Squaw or Mammoth does not guarantee that you will get dumped on while you are there but the odds are greater in the Sierras or Pac NW than anywhere else in the country. (Some seasons Cottonwwod Canyon in Utah gets as much and the snow is lighter there).

What Liam said is also key. When I was learning how to ski pow, when Tahoe got 2-3 feet I found a way to play hooky from life and drive up there for the day and ski in it. It's a 3-4 hour drive each way but it was well worth humping it up and back on 8-10 pow days per year.

Not sure where you live, but there may be some nice spots you can drive to when a big dump shows up. Small out of the way resorts with more modest terrain are definitely the best places to learn to ski pow. Steeper and better terrain attracts skiers in droves when it snows. You often can ski fresh lines at smaller resorts for much of the day especially if they are close to the big ones where all the people go. And to learn you don't need the steepest and most challenging terrain.

Gary

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Re: Where to Learn to Ski Deep Powder?
« Reply #18 on: October 24, 2012, 08:29:43 am »
Smackboy1...I say again...before you throw yourself down the mountain and put your cash into the toilet bowl, LEARN to FEEL powder beneath your feet...ankle high will do to start. As romantic as skiing deep pow looks, ya gotta know THAT FEELING and be able to recognize the difference between carving and floating.  Being at the right place at the right time to encounter big snow is either luck or ya pay the big bucks to get it FOR SURE...like on a heli trip somewhere in Alaska or cat skiing in the Canadian Rockies.

FEEL the pow and it will set you free!!!   ;)  G

LivingProof

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Re: Where to Learn to Ski Deep Powder?
« Reply #19 on: October 25, 2012, 07:22:54 am »
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.

Just to stay on focus with respect to learning to ski powder:

The day Phil described happened at Alpine Meadows during lasts years's Epic Gathering. During the night, 12+ inches of snow fell onto the Sierra's which had not had any new snow in weeks. The base was ice and I'm not sure if most would have skied if the snowfall had not happened. It was overcast, windy and snowing all day. I struggled with the heavy snow over, but, after a run or two, figured it out. And a big thanks to Phil for helping me get a ski back on when the frozen snow. What did help me from a technique standpoint was just pointing skis down the mountain and using Harbian counter acting to initiate turns. Honestly, in the heavier snow that day my 94's did not suck.

The day I was totally overmatched was 3 days later in Squaw when I skied with John Botti and High Angles. On our first run, snow was waist high and heavy. High Angles had the right skis, John and I would have preferred something far wider. I can't blame the skis that day, it was all about being out of my league. Very quickly, I let them ski the steep and deep, I stayed on the groomers. In my life, it was the first time that I wished for a 110 plus waist ski just to see if it would help. HA and JB are much more competent skiers than I am, powder or no powder!

During the MT Rose demo day, the ski that worked best for me was the Dynastar Cham 97 in the morning powder, but, by afternoon and skiing the cut up powder, a Kastle lx82 rocked my world.

High Angles said of that week's skiing that it was the best deep powder experience of his life...and he lives in Denver. He stated the Rockies get a lot of small snowfalls, not much depth in any one storm. The powder conditons we experienced changed each day. It was a great learning experience, one that has me rethinking what ski I should bring to Big Sky in late March.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2012, 07:30:47 am by LivingProof »

SnowHot

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Re: Where to Learn to Ski Deep Powder?
« Reply #20 on: October 25, 2012, 08:21:42 am »
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.

I agree on all of this post but would  like to touch on the part about learning...
I was fortunate enough to be at an ESA Big Sky during an amazing powder week.  Squatty was a great coach and the conditions were incredible. 

If someone has an opportunity to take a lesson on a powder day, do it.  But I'd encourage you to demo some powder skis so you have the right tool to take to class.
Sometimes you just need to let your Bad Self ski!!
~nolo

Gary

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Re: Where to Learn to Ski Deep Powder?
« Reply #21 on: October 25, 2012, 09:14:27 am »
WORD!   ;D

LivingProof

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Re: Where to Learn to Ski Deep Powder?
« Reply #22 on: October 25, 2012, 02:59:27 pm »
I agree on all of this post but would  like to touch on the part about learning...
I was fortunate enough to be at an ESA Big Sky during an amazing powder week.  Squatty was a great coach and the conditions were incredible. 

If someone has an opportunity to take a lesson on a powder day, do it.  But I'd encourage you to demo some powder skis so you have the right tool to take to class.

Snow Hot,

Nice to hear from an Epic 30,000 poster on our little forum.

Best thing about an instructor on Pow days is.......getting directly to the front of liftlines! Thanks John Botti for a great experience at Squaw! High Angles and I owe you, big time.

BTW,
Demoing on Pow days? I've mixed results, so far. Did it one day at Jackson, and, felt like I took $50 and burned it for all the good it did not do.  It may be better to ski the ski you know. For sure, if I bought a 110 mm waist, I'd want spend time on it in an attempt to figure it out and then take it into pow.

Skiing powder is a journey, but, what a great journey to take.

jim-ratliff

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Re: Where to Learn to Ski Deep Powder?
« Reply #23 on: October 25, 2012, 03:41:35 pm »
Stopping while skiing in the powder and just marveling at the quiet and beauty among the trees is a nice journey as well.

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HeluvaSkier

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Re: Where to Learn to Ski Deep Powder?
« Reply #24 on: October 25, 2012, 09:46:04 pm »
The best place to learn to ski deep powder is deep powder.

Sure practice elsewhere before you get there, but the real test comes when you're there. Don't push on your skis once you get there and you'll be fine. Funny thing is, if you're not pushing on the skis, there is a bunch of other things you'll need to do in order to make them work. That's the stuff you should practice elsewhere.

Cheers.
All-Mountain: A common descriptive term for boots or skis that are designed to perform equally poorly under a variety of conditions and over many different types of terrain.

Gary

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Re: Where to Learn to Ski Deep Powder?
« Reply #25 on: October 26, 2012, 07:27:55 am »
Hey Jim....DON"T STOP IN THE DEEP POWDER  :-\...MOMENTUM   ;D

Hoping we all get a taste this season!  (OK>>>>I know Bush will)

But yeah...on an inbounds pow day....you sometimes gotta stop and smell the flakes and BREATH in the moment!

To add to Gregs comments: feel the float in transition, feel the feet tipping together, keep the legs relaxed and keep the poles working to start each turn.

Gesh.... I'm drooling!

G

Liam

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Re: Where to Learn to Ski Deep Powder?
« Reply #26 on: October 26, 2012, 07:45:54 am »
Just for a reference:  at what is powder'deep'-consistently above the knees?

jim-ratliff

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Re: Where to Learn to Ski Deep Powder?
« Reply #27 on: October 26, 2012, 07:58:30 am »
Just for a reference:  at what is powder 'deep' -consistently above the knees?
Liam, I think it is a personal variable. It's at whatever depth you find yourself thinking "damn, this is really deep powder."  I'm sure that thought comes to my mind a lot sooner than Bush.  :D
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Philpug

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Re: Where to Learn to Ski Deep Powder?
« Reply #28 on: October 26, 2012, 08:31:32 am »
First day of the season for us had 8-10" of fresh.

jim-ratliff

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Re: Where to Learn to Ski Deep Powder?
« Reply #29 on: October 26, 2012, 09:02:41 am »
First day of the season for us had 8-10" of fresh.
Phil: Congratulations, but I think this post shows a total lack of respect and consideration for the rest of us that are not even close to being on snow.
As such, I am pretty sure the moderators will intervene.  ;)
« Last Edit: October 26, 2012, 12:17:06 pm by jim-ratliff »
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