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skiing on ice

post #1 of 57
Thread Starter 

You are faced with a steep, high consequence slope that's very firm.

 

What is the safest way to ski it?

 

skidded turns (s- turns)

skidded turns, connected by traverses (hard edged, so no slippage downhill)

side slip

carved turns, conected by traverses

carved turns

 

These are not just idle questions. Skiing in the backcountry, even though not searched for, will bring you in contact with very firm conditions, and if you have 2000 ft of vertical at 45 degrees...

post #2 of 57

you get a rope to protect it or find another way down. Sometimes the safe way to ski something is to not ski it. As for skiing steep icy terrain, think racer edges. A short raidias but round turn to keep the speed under control because once you start to slip it will be very difficult to regain control.

post #3 of 57

A little surprised there hasn't been more action here, its a good topic!

 

Being a western skier, ice is something I don't get a ton of practice on, so even though I'd call myself a pretty good skier when things get icy is when I get most uncomfortable.

 

But I think the best/simplest thing to remember or try to do to ski it well is to do your best to remain aggressive on your skis. When conditions are ugly, people tend to get defensive and keep more of their weight back or into the hill and getting more weight on the inside/uphill ski, rather than keeping the shoulders level to the fall line and maintaining pressure on the outside/downhill ski. The more you back off, the less effective your edges become, so it becomes a death spiral of defensive skiing to lack of edge grip to total lack of control.

 

So at the end of your turns, think about keeping the shoulders level to the fall line, reaching down the hill with the pole plant, making the "C" shape with your body, more or less all the little tricks we think about when skiing something a bit steeper. That'll help keep you balanced over the outside ski, so that if/when you do lose your edge grip, you're in a good balanced position to keep your feet underneath you, rather than having them shoot out from under you down the hill and going down on your side.

 

To actually look good while skiing ice requires a combination of properly tuned gear and delicate pressure control on your edges to keep the ride smooth and minimize any big impulsive forces on the skis that would cause you to lose your edge.

post #4 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by BoredBroker View Post

you get a rope to protect it or find another way down. Sometimes the safe way to ski something is to not ski it. As for skiing steep icy terrain, think racer edges. A short raidias but round turn to keep the speed under control because once you start to slip it will be very difficult to regain control.


 

+1 but I would say it depends on the skill of the individual. If someone is not skilled enough to carve a short radius turn on more favourable snow, then the ice will likely turn it into a disaster. In that case, I think a series of skidded turns is the best approach, although if its really icy, that won't work and will lead to sliding down the hill. If its too icy (can't carve) then find another way down may be the best answer.

 

As an eastern skier, I ski and teach on ice all the time. People tend to tense up and fight the ice which really doesn't work well. Small movements vs aggressively pushing the skis - just like driving on ice - quick and aggressive movements will send you quickly to the ditch.

 

Elsbeth

post #5 of 57


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by evaino View Post

People tend to tense up and fight the ice which really doesn't work well. Small movements vs aggressively pushing the skis - just like driving on ice - quick and aggressive movements will send you quickly to the ditch.

 


+1

Skiing ice is all about good balance and soft feet.  You need to have a good feel for it.  Skidding through or even side slipping on sharp edges is often the best approach.  

If I were expecting to find unavoidable steep ice in the backcountry, I would be sure to bring a ski with sharp edges and at least a little camber, and maybe even one that would chatter easily.  I hate chatter, but it's better than sliding to my death.  YMMV.

 

BK 

 

post #6 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bode Klammer View Post

 

+1

Skiing ice is all about good balance and soft feet.  You need to have a good feel for it.  Skidding through or even side slipping on sharp edges is often the best approach.  

If I were expecting to find unavoidable steep ice in the backcountry, I would be sure to bring a ski with sharp edges and at least a little camber, and maybe even one that would chatter easily.  I hate chatter, but it's better than sliding to my death.  YMMV.

 

BK 

 



sharp edges are a must!  another thing to keep in mind is to not panic (easier said than done). trust that your equipment will function the way it's supposed to and keep it light on the feet.  you're not gonna get the same carve feeling as you do on snow.  as long as you control your speed (doing lots of shorter/ softer/ skidding type turns) you will find that you have a lot more control than you may think.  the more you get used to it, the less you'll need the feel to skid or make lots of turns. 

 

as an assignment you should come ski back east to bone up on you ice skiing technique  biggrin.gif

 

 

 

post #7 of 57

Sharp edges do help and light feet at the correct moments. I spent so long trying to power my way through ice and kept on wondering why I was sliding away. Once I realised I could get the edge and rotate ski through that line everything became better. Not trying to push that outside foot away at the end of the turn helps...

 

Other thing is. Ski Ice... LOTS. No better way to become better at it than skiing it lots.

post #8 of 57
post #9 of 57

 

Just read this entire thread.  Great info there.
 

 

post #10 of 57

Are you talking water ice? Glacial ice? Or just firm snow? Water ice is almost impossible to turn on, usually best to traverse until you find something that is still white.

 

One trick to high consequence turns in extremely firm conditions is to focus on finishing the turn in the most stable position possible. This means creating a strong edge angle, but not letting your center of mass finish uphill of your skis. Think about a finish where your knees are flexed forward, ankles flexed toward the hill, downhill shoulder lower than the uphill shoulder and both shoulders facing down the hill.

 

If need be, bring each turn to a complete stop that way.

post #11 of 57

There you go iWill!

 

Here's Rusty's guide to the different types of ice:

 

Firm

This is what expert skiers would call "good snow", but where intermediates start chattering their skis hard enough to rattle their teeth

 

Extra-Firm

This is where experts might need to ski a little more gingerly, but where intermediates are chattering their skis so hard that their teeth chattering is indistinguishable from hypothermia.

 

Shiny

This is where you can clearly see a quarter buried 1 inch below the surface

 

Glaciated

This is where the shiny snow gets a bluish tint

 

Race Conditions

This is where experts just "go faster" and intermediates add a yellow tint to the glacial blue tint

post #12 of 57

Rod,

 

The safest way to ski that steep, firm high consequence slope is as slow as possible. With regards to your choice list, it's going to depend on a lot of different factors specific to you, your equipment, the terrain and your definition of firm. A "falling leaf" traverse may be safer for some individuals than a side slip. Turns are less safe than no turns. Carving is generally safer than skidding as long as the terrain allows for the longer time to reduce speed. Aids such as rope, ice axe or using your ski poles as an impromptu ice axe (if you fall) are steps that you take to manage risk with the tools that you have available.

post #13 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by evaino View Post

 

As an eastern skier, I ski and teach on ice all the time. People tend to tense up and fight the ice which really doesn't work well. Small movements vs aggressively pushing the skis - just like driving on ice - quick and aggressive movements will send you quickly to the ditch.

 

I find the opposite to be true.  If you are tentative and timid the ice will know that and eat you alive.  If you got out to chew the ice up, teach it a lesson, dig those edges in aggressively you'll do better.

 

Just my approach, but I grew up racing in the east, and when I raced beer leagues in Colorado I usually would win whenever it was icy enough.  It works for me, and has worked for people I've taught.

post #14 of 57

If it's a high-consequence backcountry slope, and you're intent on skiing it, I'd vote #2, which seems most strategically prudent in those conditions: "skidded turns, connected by traverses (hard edged, so no slippage downhill)." This allows you to choose the best/least risky spot to initiate the turn and complete it in good form (pole reach, engaging the entire ski, solid balance).

 

If it were a slick in-bounds slope, I'd carve when possible and skid when necessary, linking the turns, depending on the type of ice, as referenced above. 

post #15 of 57

As an eastern skier and racer, I do a lot of ice. My recommendation if you are facing real ice (i.e., see through or blue) on a very steep area is to avoid skidding. If you start skidding you may not be able to stop. I would go with slide slips. You can take small bites, set an edge that will hold in anything and be slow and secure. If you go with carving you have to have enough speed to generate the force to have the edge penetrate - that means a commitment to a certain amount of speed. Skidding a turn on steep ice is something I would NEVER do on purpose. You can practice side slips in advance on very steep terrain and on very bad ice on less steep terrain and get a very good control tool.

post #16 of 57

Quote:
Originally Posted by vsirin View Post

As an eastern skier and racer, I do a lot of ice. My recommendation if you are facing real ice (i.e., see through or blue) on a very steep area is to avoid skidding. If you start skidding you may not be able to stop. I would go with slide slips. You can take small bites, set an edge that will hold in anything and be slow and secure. If you go with carving you have to have enough speed to generate the force to have the edge penetrate - that means a commitment to a certain amount of speed. Skidding a turn on steep ice is something I would NEVER do on purpose. You can practice side slips in advance on very steep terrain and on very bad ice on less steep terrain and get a very good control tool.


Isn't slide slipping basically skidding around a turn with the ability to stop by setting the edge? Not trying to pick you apart here, honestly curious about the terminology. What would be the point of skidding if you can't stop it? Does side slipping infer a slower speed and less of an arc (like pivot slips with higher edge angles to stop)?

 

post #17 of 57

As I understood what he was saying (could be wrong) is to STOP and SIDE SLIP down the hill, alternately releasing the edge and re-engaging the edge to make sure you don't get a lot of speed.  No forward motion.  This assumes there is a sharp edge, of course.  If not you shouldn't even be there. 

post #18 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

As I understood what he was saying (could be wrong) is to STOP and SIDE SLIP down the hill, alternately releasing the edge and re-engaging the edge to make sure you don't get a lot of speed.  No forward motion.  This assumes there is a sharp edge, of course.  If not you shouldn't even be there. 


that's the way i understand the term "side slip".  but, you're still going forward (i.e. down the fall line), just your skis are (or should be) perpendicular to the fall line.

 

post #19 of 57

Oh I see, that does make sense. You wouldn't pick up an unstoppable amount of speed because you never point the skis down the slope! I guess it didn't click because, as a western skier, I've never had slip down quite that thoroughly! I was picturing pivot slips with a stop between every turn. 

post #20 of 57

Pivot slips can work on very firm impenetrable "snow," if your control over them is strong enough.  They add a wee bit more dignity to the situation than getting down with side slips or falling leaf.

post #21 of 57

In a side slip as I was describing, there is NO turn. The skis stay perpendicular to the fall line and keep facing the same way throughout your descent, you ease of the tension on the two edges slightly so that they disengage from the ice, slip down the hill however far you feel comfortable with (a few inches to maybe 10 or 15 feet depending on slope and the risk level) then reengage the edges without ever any turning of the ski. If you watch a world cup event, you will see the gate keepers and judges side slip on the course. It is not pretty but it is a safe way and should be in every skier's arsenal before taking on dangerous terrain in my humble opinion. I actually practice it for a few feet before I start a training run on a race course.

post #22 of 57

2:22 for how to ski ice...

 

Wildwood Films - Aspen Extreme Ski Chase Clip

 

Weird. Vimeo plugin shows in edit preview mode, but link only in actual post!

 

post #23 of 57

Yes, the movie shows side slips combined with jump turns when needed for direction changes. However, until you get some serious ice under your belt, best to steer clear of jump turn on steep ice and also best to avoid skiing waterfalls.

post #24 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by vsirin View Post
best to steer clear of jump turn on steep ice and also best to avoid skiing waterfalls.


that reminds me watching some dude skiing down lookout at stowe last winter.  i was riding up the lookout double lift and there was this section of frozen waterfall type ice over this rock outcropping and this guy just skiied right down it as if it wasn't even there.  that was def above my skill and it made me so jealous, lol....

 

post #25 of 57

wow that video is insane. some good skiing imho

 

post #26 of 57

eek.gif

post #27 of 57

TESTING:

2:22 for how to ski ice...

 

Wildwood Films - Aspen Extreme Ski Chase Clip

 

Works here!

 

post #28 of 57



Straight down at 60 mph. Nah, I'd say skidded if youre keeping control

Quote:
Originally Posted by rod9301 View Post

You are faced with a steep, high consequence slope that's very firm.

 

What is the safest way to ski it?

 

skidded turns (s- turns)

skidded turns, connected by traverses (hard edged, so no slippage downhill)

side slip

carved turns, conected by traverses

carved turns

 

These are not just idle questions. Skiing in the backcountry, even though not searched for, will bring you in contact with very firm conditions, and if you have 2000 ft of vertical at 45 degrees...



 

post #29 of 57

If you're looking at 2000' of 45 degrees of firm snow, you're not doing carved turns. Too steep for that with firm snow. If you're doing any sort of turn in those conditions, at that angle, it's sort of a skidded hop turn (VERY low hop). How firm determines whether you're doing any turning at all, or side-slipping. On those kinds of lines, you usually don't commit yourself to them, unless you know there's soft enough snow (i.e. some amount of sugary crust) to do a skidded hop turn, so we're not talking true ice here, just firm crusty conditions. If you don't feel comfortable doing a skidded hop turn, IMO, you shouldn't be skiing that slope. Now, if we're talking about just a short section of the 2000', that's different. You'll usually just do a falling leaf or side-slip to get past the real firm snow (ice), and go back to the skidded hop-turns down the rest of the nasty crusted firm snow.

 


Edited by Brian Lindahl - 10/19/11 at 7:33am
post #30 of 57

Just point your Anton Gliders straight down the mountain.  Slow to a stop at the bottom.

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