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Skiing Avalanche Debris

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

Ahhh, avalanche debris!  It is, in my opinion, the worst skiing surface possible.  I love crud, mashed potatoes, cascade cement, steep icy moguls.  I can even have fun on re-frozen slush and breakable crust.  But avalanche debris is ... special.


Is there any way at all to get through avalanche debris without a double release wipe out?  My method has always been to try to traverse as slowly as possible until I'm out of the debris field.  If that's not possible it's time for some embarrassing survival-mode skiing filled with hop turns.


I suspect that the answer might just be - stay away!  But if there's any hints at all I would love to hear them.


Here's an illustrative photo, taken by a so called "friend" who was laughing at me while I was trying to pull my ski out from under a dishwasher sized chunk of debris.  Grrrr.



post #2 of 18

That looks a lot like Rock Garden on 7th Heaven at Stevens Pass yesterday.  I skied it, but shopped for open spots.  If you can get a place where the debris has missed it can be OK.  You can also pretend that you're tree skiing and dodge the ice balls if they're spaced right.  It's a real obstacle course when it's at its best, impossible at its worst.

post #3 of 18

You should post this on the CRUD thread....would do really well there.  Might even get you a prize.


Advise survive intact biggrin.gif .  (kibitz) Other than that I'm at a loss.

post #4 of 18

Not all avalanche debris fields are create equal.  I'm sure there are dozens of factors at work.  This year at Squaw (North Bowl) I had the opportunity to ski one that contained chunks no larger than a microwave.  I didn't need to, but I was curious.  It wasn't pleasant, but it was do-able.  I was skiing my Bonafides and they bounced along without complaint.  The complaints came from my knees, which were acting as shock absorbers.

post #5 of 18

When it softens, debris actually skis pretty well

post #6 of 18

You could always hike back up the way you cametongue.gif

post #7 of 18

FWIW, I agree in a big way on the Avy Debris.  

The first time I skied over Avy Debris, I understood why people have such a small chance of survival.  It seems that when the friction of the slide stops, the snow sets up like concrete, almost instantly.  Takes a lot longer to soften up, eh? 


And seriously, it would be a great addition to this discussion. 


post #8 of 18

Easy answer, go around it.

post #9 of 18

This reminds me of my first post probably about 7 years ago "what skis are best for steep icey trees and moguls" the reply was basically a plane ticket out west.  Fact is that you will encounter these conditions anywhere and specifcally the ones your refer to out west.  I can only hope to be as good as skier as you but what I have found helpful is:  keeping a ready centered for gravity, focus on where your feet are pointed god what come may, take glucosamine, and avoid the SUV sized ice blocks.  Bigger skis kinda, but too big and your not getting the grip on the sure to be ice below. 


And if your like me theres beer and alot of groaning that evening. 


have a good summer everyone :)


### i saw this was in the coach posting section and i am not a coach just wanting to say what helped for me ###

post #10 of 18
Originally Posted by Bingers View Post

there's beer and a lot of groaning that evening. 



You say that as if it's a bad thing. 

post #11 of 18

I wouldn't really call it skiing but you could always use the shoulder down, legs up, and roll over method that I like to use to get through unskiiable obstacles that stand in your way

post #12 of 18
Originally Posted by Eastcoastdad View Post

I wouldn't really call it skiing but you could always use the shoulder down, legs up, and roll over method that I like to use to get through unskiiable obstacles that stand in your way


Are you referring to the Armadillo method?   I've never found a good instructor to teach its use.   Could you post a video that I can clearly see it action so that I could possible include it in my skill set for just this sort of occasion. roflmao.gif

post #13 of 18

On a serious note, that stuff actually softens a lot in spring here and on some days offers the best snow on the hill. 

post #14 of 18

Sorry couldn't resist on that lead in. rolleyes.gif

post #15 of 18

This is still one of my favorite photos of me skiing...


Bob at Lake Blanche 6-16-02.jpg


This is above Lake Blanche in upper Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah, in June of 2002.  The stuff was actually very skiable.

post #16 of 18
Originally Posted by oldschoolskier View Post


Are you referring to the Armadillo method?   

Do you think "The Armadillo Method" could be a good band name?

post #17 of 18

Feel free to use it, keep it inline with the intent of the statement biggrin.gificon14.gif

post #18 of 18

In winter, we see fast running dry sluffs around here. Huge powder clouds coming down the mountain. When the dust clears it's often hard to even see the slides path or the slide is only a fraction of the size of the powder cloud. Often it  can set up just right and provide a nice smooth surface that keeps you sinking to boot top and above a buried crust. 


The worst is in spring when a wet slide comes down, and the giant blocks of snow and ice are buried by a layer of light snow. Tree bombs can also be buried below the surface and lay waiting to blow your knee up. 


Shouldn't really complain though, when the avy report says watch for bombs buried under the surface, it usually means the skiing is nice and deeep. 

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