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# What is steep?

I was reading the recent thread "What is the fun in Shredding the GNAR?" and it got me thinking about what good skiers consider to be steep terrain.  As was noted on that thread, there are a lot of upper-end skiers on this site.  So, I want to know what you consider to be steep.  Is a 45 degree slope steep?  Is 50 degrees steep?  I've skied a 52 degree chute and, for me, that was all I could handle.  It had a small cliff half way down and a rock wall 600 feet below to splat against if you fell. However, several times I've watched skiers launch the cliff and figure 11 out the bottom....clear evidence that 50 degrees isn't terrifyingly steep for everyone.

### Gear mentioned in this thread:

Condition dependent.

And "conditioning" dependent.

I think you will find slopes measure nowhere near as steep as you would think.

45 is steep.

50 is very steep.

60 is about the limit of what is humanly possible.

You may wonder how I make that 60 claim...well, if you remember your geometry class 60 triangle is a 2:1...which is also about the proportions a human can get with their feet (ie 1 leg straight, one fully bent)...so at 60 degree slope, just standing there...your inside edge will be touching the snow (obvioulsy), and your hips will be just a few inches off the snow, doesnt leave much room to incline etc...

This. Approx. 45*

This question immediately reminded me of 3dskimaps.com.  They have maps of the resorts with color coded steepness.

It seems anything over about 40 degrees gets you into the double black territory.  One of the steepest runs I've ever hit was at Big Sky off of the Lone Peak Tram.  I was causing little mini avys with each turn.  That was a trip!

70 degrees is also about the limit of what snow is able to stick to.45 degrees is steep by pretty much any ones standard. Anyone who says other wise either doesn't really know the degree of a slope or is come who skis 60 degrees for a living. If you have skied 52 degrees then you know that it looks like you are staring down a wall. You question whether your skis will even stick to it.

Dmourati the steepness for the average double black is closer to 30-35

Steep is anytime you pick up speed after falling.

Steep is when you can look down between your ski tips and see the whole mountain.

I have done a bit of steep skiing and it seems to me that once the slope exceeds 45 degrees the game completely changes.  Perception and gravity suddenly become your enemy and focus and fear suppression jump to the head of what is important.   The snow conditions certainly play a major factor, but usually for me after 45 degrees I start to feel more space than snow in the picture, and that is kind of freaky and really distracting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri

Condition dependent.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky

And "conditioning" dependent.

And pucker dependent..

Just reading this scares me.  I guess I have a long way to go!

Whenever this topic comes up, I can't resist posting this list that was written by Andrew McLean.  You can Google him if the name doesn't sound familiar.  The shorthand is that he KNOWS what steep is.  It was posted on the Telemark Tips forum almost ten years ago.

I still think it's the funniest thing I've ever seen about slope angles (perceived and actual). I've posted it here before but I just love it and it seems appropriate:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Steep-speak International Translations:

France: Subtract 5 degrees & 1/3 of the stated vertical. ie: 1000 meters of 50 degrees = 660m of 45 degrees.

Alaska Heliskiing - Subtract 20 degrees and cut the vertical in half. FIVE THOUSAND FUGGIN' FEET OF 60 DEGREES (Dude!) = 2,500' of 40 degrees.

Montana & Washington - accept at stated values.

California - Subtract 10 degrees, nip the vert by 1/4 and double the width of any stated couloir.

Oregon - there is no steep skiing in Oregon.

The East Coast - Overstated stats, but the conditions justify it. Accept at stated value.

Colorado - Whatever Lou said it was.

Utah - I'll take the 5th on that.

Film/Movies - cut stated angles and length in half.

Hope that helps.

Andrew

Oh yeah - I forgot Wyoming. ADD 5 degrees and 200' to any stated value.

gravity is a distinct pull, fo sho.

steep is when you can't see where you will end up if you make a mistake.

Steep is where you absolutely don't want to fall.

Rick G

40 degrees is steep.

Unpleasantly steep for me is when I have to worry about not doing an unintentional front flip when straightlining.  There's skiing and then there's cliff jumping, which are two different things to my mind.  Skiing across a steeper run slowly, for me, isn't as much fun as skiing faster.  I get a thrill from the speed, not the exposure.   That being said, I don't think twice about jumping down a steep line, so long as the run out is smooth enough to manage without being turned into a pretzel.  A steep run is just a flat run on an angle

Steep is when you can't lean back into the slope because you are already touching it standing up straight. F...ing steep is when if you fall, you die.

If you have skied the head wall at Tuckerman's ravine you understand. The pitch is reported to be 60 deg. in the spring.

Skidude's pic's are spot on. What Mudfoot said really applies at the Ravine, especially because it is about a thousand feet wide. As you ski down to the headwall from above, you loose your perception of space because you can only see about 10 feet in front of you before it drops off. This lasts for more than 100 feet of vertical. It feels like you are going off a cliff and really messes with your head. The vertical is about a 1000 ft and you have to go down about 300 ft before you can see what is below you. Those first 300 ft you are skiing on faith and prayer that you are not going to drop onto a rock outcropping.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost

Unpleasantly steep for me is when I have to worry about not doing an unintentional front flip when straightlining.

When I have skied really steep terrain, straightlining never entered my mind.

If it sluffs, it is probably steep.

If your sluff is faster than you, it is steep.  You better pay attention.

If your sluff takes you out, it was steep.  You should have paid closer attention.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stranger

If it sluffs, it is probably steep.

If your sluff is faster than you, it is steep.  You better pay attention.

If your sluff takes you out, it was steep.  You should have paid closer attention.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bttocs

Steep is when you can't lean back into the slope because you are already touching it standing up straight. F...ing steep is when if you fall, you die.

If you have skied the head wall at Tuckerman's ravine you understand. The pitch is reported to be 60 deg. in the spring.

Skidude's pic's are spot on. What Mudfoot said really applies at the Ravine, especially because it is about a thousand feet wide. As you ski down to the headwall from above, you loose your perception of space because you can only see about 10 feet in front of you before it drops off. This lasts for more than 100 feet of vertical. It feels like you are going off a cliff and really messes with your head. The vertical is about a 1000 ft and you have to go down about 300 ft before you can see what is below you. Those first 300 ft you are skiing on faith and prayer that you are not going to drop onto a rock outcropping.

There was a thread I saw before debunking the 60 degree myth (more like 40 as I recall).  I have never skied it myself but I know too many people who have to believe it is anywhere close to 60 degrees.

Time for Tuckerman lists the grades of some of the routes in Tuckerman Ravine.  They indicate that there are a couple routes that get to "50+ degrees", although I'm not sure how long they stay that way.

30 is steep.

35-40 is really steep.

45 - is scary steep.

More than that - almost unskiable for most advanced skiers.

So, the bottom line is, if you are asking this question anything 30 degrees and more is steep.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stranger

If it sluffs, it is probably steep.

If your sluff is faster than you, it is steep.  You better pay attention.

If your sluff takes you out, it was steep.  You should have paid closer attention.

This is a gem.  I was cracking up reading this. Yes, its totally true and the first time you are on a line and the sluff's beating you; its a weird thing....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72

I think you will find slopes measure nowhere near as steep as you would think.

45 is steep.

50 is very steep.

60 is about the limit of what is humanly possible.

You may wonder how I make that 60 claim...well, if you remember your geometry class 60 triangle is a 2:1...which is also about the proportions a human can get with their feet (ie 1 leg straight, one fully bent)...so at 60 degree slope, just standing there...your inside edge will be touching the snow (obvioulsy), and your hips will be just a few inches off the snow, doesnt leave much room to incline etc...

45 degrees is my limit.  50 -60 forget it.

I love epicski! All great replies!  Awesome pics and the 3dskimaps site is cool!  The sluff meter seems very accurate and I love the notes on what adjustments to make to stated values depending on region! My only change would be Utah..rather than taking the 5th, given them props....those dudes have steep and know how to ski it!  I also agree that skiing the steep is made worse by the fact that you usually can't see the bottom. I've always described it this way....it feels like your skiing off a basketball!  It just keeps getting steeper and the mountain feels like it's tucking underneath you.  All the posts here seem to line up with my perception....anything over 40 is steep and anything over 50 is super steep. I have no idea how anyone sticks to slopes above 55 degrees.  I wouldn't do again the chute I skied at 52....it was just too much. Although I loved the experience, I was scared. Funny though, I grew up in Jackson Hole and, back then, Tower 3 at 42 degrees almost seemed routine.  Nowdays, when I've become accustom to Colorado, 35 seems steep...and anything with true exposure freaks me out a bit.  Mental conditioning certainly makes a big difference in the question of what is steep!

Cheers!  Thanks for all the replies!

I think after 50 you are just doing a semi-controlled fall.

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