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# What is steep? - Page 3

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.
The hard snow analogy to this is whether the clumps of snow you knock loose stop or keep going.

### Gear mentioned in this thread:

Degrees or years old?

Quote:
Originally Posted by core2

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

Degrees or Years Old?

My steep is someone else's bunny slope.  Or to quote Potter Stewart - "I know it when I see it."

What I'd like to understand though, is why an angle drawn on paper doesn't appear to be steep, but when you get outside on a hill that same angle can feel steep?.  Draw a 45 degree angle on paper, or mock it up with a ruler on the table - doesn't seem steep there right?  30 degrees sounds downright tame -- ask a non-skier if 30 degrees seems remotely steep and they will always answer no. But  put them at the top of that 30 degrees and they would freak out and overestimate it every time. What's the grade of the learning area (bunny slope) at your home resort? 5 degrees? 10 max? Draw that on paper and it doesn't even look like you could slide down it.

I thought this was steep - dropping in at the top of Mt. Moran in the Tetons:

Pretty sustained, so we weren't comfortable airing it out.

Edited to get the picture to stand up straight.
Edited by Bob Lee - 12/1/12 at 7:22am

I have noticed that the distortion of seeing in perspective, farther objects seem smaller, makes the pitch look different, from a distance, or from right above.

edit to ask Bob: what are you looking down at there? Lots of steepness? Great photo. Looked even steeper sideways

Edited by davluri - 12/1/12 at 7:42am
Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri

edit to ask Bob: what are you looking down at there? Lots of steepness? Great photo. Looked even steeper sideways;)

Heh. I took that picture of my climbing-to-ski partner. He looks thoughtful. It's a long way down! That pic above is right at the top. Here's a mini-TR:
http://www.epicski.com/t/82862/sharing-the-stoke/60#post_1104575
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Lee

Heh. I took that picture of my climbing-to-ski partner. He looks thoughtful. It's a long way down! That pic above is right at the top. Here's a mini-TR:
http://www.epicski.com/t/82862/sharing-the-stoke/60#post_1104575

good stuff. well, we once put two mountain bikes in a canoe. canoe skiing, heck yeah!

Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri

good stuff. well, we once put two mountain bikes in a canoe. canoe skiing, heck yeah!

I'm needing help with visualization on this one. Care to elaborate?

Quote:
Originally Posted by billyymc

My steep is someone else's bunny slope.  Or to quote Potter Stewart - "I know it when I see it."

What I'd like to understand though, is why an angle drawn on paper doesn't appear to be steep, but when you get outside on a hill that same angle can feel steep?.  Draw a 45 degree angle on paper, or mock it up with a ruler on the table - doesn't seem steep there right?  30 degrees sounds downright tame -- ask a non-skier if 30 degrees seems remotely steep and they will always answer no. But  put them at the top of that 30 degrees and they would freak out and overestimate it every time. What's the grade of the learning area (bunny slope) at your home resort? 5 degrees? 10 max? Draw that on paper and it doesn't even look like you could slide down it.

It's all context and what we are used to.

You are used to seeing 30 degree angles on paper in the company of angles stretching from 0 to 180.

You are used to seeing 30 degree ski slopes in the context of other slopes that are usually less than 5 degrees.

If you were to spend a couple of days skiing steep slopes in BC, when you got back to Tremblant, you would be asking why they put double black diamonds on runs that aren't even moderately steep.   (if you grew up skiing in the east that is - the non-aclimated westerners would see the ice and shriek in terror )

Quote:
Originally Posted by lonewolf210

I'm needing help with visualization on this one. Care to elaborate?

Like Bob Lee's canoe to the approach for skiing, we canoed about a mile to the camp site we were going to ride from, Sierra Buttes area. This in summer. No skiing involved.

We had two mountain bikes and our camping gear in the middle of the canoe, bikes laying on their side in a messy pile. Man the boat was riding low and the wind was up. pretty funny actually.

Bob, that picture of downclimbing to the first turns looks gnarly. If you get your tip hung up on that wall, and spin backwards, aaaack!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost

It's all context and what we are used to.

You are used to seeing 30 degree angles on paper in the company of angles stretching from 0 to 180.

You are used to seeing 30 degree ski slopes in the context of other slopes that are usually less than 5 degrees.

If you were to spend a couple of days skiing steep slopes in BC, when you got back to Tremblant, you would be asking why they put double black diamonds on runs that aren't even moderately steep.   (if you grew up skiing in the east that is - the non-aclimated westerners would see the ice and shriek in terror )

silly, silly man.

You left out the part where you go to Revelstoke and are shocked to see steepness you never dreamed of before, and can't relax to think straight.

Getting psychologically used to steeps takes more than a couple of days, IMO.

Did you know there is a legal definition in Colorado (well, sort of)-- according to the ski safety act of 1979 "Extreme terrain" means any place within the ski area boundary that contains cliffs with a minimum twenty-foot rise over a fifteen-foot run, and slopes with a minimum fifty-degree average pitch over a one-hundred-foot run.

That's the source of the odd little "EX" signs you sometimes see, though I think the "and" is usually taken as "or".
Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri

Like Bob Lee's canoe to the approach for skiing, we canoed about a mile to the camp site we were going to ride from, Sierra Buttes area. This in summer. No skiing involved.

We had two mountain bikes and our camping gear in the middle of the canoe, bikes laying on their side in a messy pile. Man the boat was riding low and the wind was up. pretty funny actually.

Heh.  Got any pictures?

Bob, that picture of downclimbing to the first turns looks gnarly. If you get your tip hung up on that wall, and spin backwards, aaaack!

It was a little tense.

Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri

Like Bob Lee's canoe to the approach for skiing, we canoed about a mile to the camp site we were going to ride from, Sierra Buttes area. This in summer. No skiing involved.

We had two mountain bikes and our camping gear in the middle of the canoe, bikes laying on their side in a messy pile. Man the boat was riding low and the wind was up. pretty funny actually.

O gotcha. I was picturing something like this:

Might want to turn the music off thou it's pretty crappy

I've skied the headwall at Tuckermans Ravine. Climbing up in the spring with your skis and poles in one hand, your other hand helps steady and pull yourself up using the footholds above your head. So your hand holds become your foot holds as you move up. I remember entering a narrow area between two rock outcroppings. Near the top, or what became the top, there was another rock outcrop overhead, and a small shelf which appeared to have been molded by former well wishers. The shelf held about 6-8 skiers giving you just enough room to click in.

One person went at a time, and I'll say, I was not all that interested in going until I saw one or two others do so. Kind of giving myself time to adjust. It was steep and you HAD to make the first turn after jumping off.

I took two runs. One too many. The second time I missed the first turn ...   I have heard it tops out @ 55 degrees on the headwall and 45 in either the left or right gullies. The steepest part on the headwall portion I skied was between the two rock crops up top and that lasted about 5-6 turns so maybe 75-100 feet? It slightly tapered after that but was still serious for quite a while. I'll give you an idea ... After I missed that first turn, it was TOO STEEP to self arrest. I was unable to stop my slide for approx 1500 feet. Digital Cameras had just come out. A friend of mine had time to take a dozen pictures!

That was my last run on the headwall. I stuck to the left and right gullies after that.

I  am over the hill and the most extreme stuff I do now is FILL UP my

I

ski mobile, standing beside the diesel tank with the gauge going past \$100 is very frightening.  (for those of you going to the Big Sky gathering this pic was taken 3 yrs ago in the Huntley parking lot the lst day of april.

Quote:
Originally Posted by apeyros

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.

Yep, +1

I also agree that the conditions and terrain features really affect the fun and consequence factor.

In the resorts I have skied in, the steepest section I have seen is probably the top part of the southern side of the Lake Chutes at Breck but a section of the birds of prey race course was so icy that it looked scarier (it was steep but not as steep). Also, Pallavincci in Arapahoe Basin had some sections that looked hella steep and it is pretty steep all the way to the bottom.

But generally I think most steep slopes at most resorts are about 30 degrees or so.

Its steep when the only turn I will do is a hop turn

Quote:
Originally Posted by bttocs

Its steep when the only turn I will do is a hop turn

+1 and the pressure changes from the downhill ski to the uphill ski

I agree with other posters on this thread who call out the fact that most people have no idea how steep a run is.  If you ask most people how they calculated a run was X degrees, they usually refer to something like “gut feel” which is widely inaccurate.  I always ask the alternate question: "name a run that you think is steep" which removes inaccuracy.

I’m a big fan of calculations like what Dave_SSS has done.  While calculations are not perfect, they are way more accurate than “gut feel.”  I too have used topographical maps to calculate steepness of 100’s of runs.

Quote:

Originally Posted by apeyros

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.

And here are a few runs in those categories.  I've skied each of these and agree with Apeyros scale of steepness applies to each.

 Region Ski Area Run length height degree E Killington Lower ovation 573 339 30.6 E Mad River Glen Partridge 172 104 31.2 W t-ride electra 942 561 30.8 W Aspen silver rush 234 143 31.4 W Snowmass KT 362 225 31.9 W Taos Kachina Peak 807 582 35.8 W Crested Butte Banana Funnel (top half) 850 622 36.2 W Alta H. Rustler 1104 831 37.0 E Killington D. Fiddle 227 169 36.7 W Snowbird Berry Steep 211 211 45.0 W Mt. Rose Charge 297 292 44.5 W Crested Butte Headwall 232 234 45.2 W t-ride Gold 9 128 133 46.1
Quote:
Originally Posted by nathanvg

I agree with other posters on this thread who call out the fact that most people have no idea how steep a run is.  If you ask most people how they calculated a run was X degrees, they usually refer to something like “gut feel” which is widely inaccurate.  I always ask the alternate question: "name a run that you think is steep" which removes inaccuracy.

Just for calibration purposes, I think top of the world chutes and chimney, some of West Basin and a bit of Powder face (depending on how it shapes up with snow interacting with mogul skiers avoiding trees and what not) at Mt. Washington BC are steep.  It would be interesting to know the measurements in degrees of the steepest portions of same.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost

Just for calibration purposes, I think top of the world chutes and chimney, some of West Basin and a bit of Powder face (depending on how it shapes up with snow interacting with mogul skiers avoiding trees and what not) at Mt. Washington BC are steep.  It would be interesting to know the measurements in degrees of the steepest portions of same.

I've never skied Mt. Washington.  Chimney and powder face are easy enough to locate but without more info than the trail map, I can not estimate West Basin and Top of the World.  I'd love to ski Mt. Washington one of these days but it's a bit hard to get to.

 Mt. Washington Chimney 612 373 31.4 Mt. Washington Powder Face 542 336 31.8

Just to be clear, it's the top bits of chimney and powder face that I think are steep, going by memory, not the whole run.

(edit: Oh, and thanks for the stats.  I really was curious, and that helps)

Edited by Ghost - 12/2/12 at 3:41pm

In the East, Stowe VT has the front four, one of the four, I forget which one, maybe Star or National, has a very steep initial section. The other well know slope is Outer Limits at Killington. Do you have the pitch for those slopes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bttocs

In the East, Stowe VT has the front four, one of the four, I forget which one, maybe Star or National, has a very steep initial section. The other well know slope is Outer Limits at Killington. Do you have the pitch for those slopes?

Both Starr and National have steep initial sections.    They're right next to each other, so I think the pitch between the two is basically the same.  Stowe's trail map says that "Starr starts at 38 degrees and ends at 37", which seems about right to me.  I've heard National is 40 for the first two or three turns, which are inevitably a sheet of ice.

Buzzkill time! My question is WHY? Why the hell would anyone want to subject themselves to this level of lunacy?? At this stage, it's not skiing, it's just surviving and with the number of fatalities, avalanches and injuries that go along with it, why do it?
Quote:

Buzzkill time! My question is WHY? Why the hell would anyone want to subject themselves to this level of lunacy?? At this stage, it's not skiing, it's just surviving and with the number of fatalities, avalanches and injuries that go along with it, why do it?

Well, beyond a certain steepness, snow usually sluffs off while it's falling and is actually less prone to sliding than 35-45. But then again, that first step might be a doozy.

About using topo maps... see, the trouble is, snow often fills local geographic features. IMH Experience, in the BC, the same face might fill very differently year to year. Some years a particular steep pitch might ski much smoother/easier. At the local ski area, there's one place in particular that's much more difficult in the early season.. .exposed rock, steeper, etc... It fills in and becomes a much more manageable, relaxing ski for the average expert skier.

In the end, 'steep' is very subjective. One man's knarly steep is Ingrid Backstrom's nice warmup cruiser. Just the way it is.

Quote:

Buzzkill time! My question is WHY? Why the hell would anyone want to subject themselves to this level of lunacy?? At this stage, it's not skiing, it's just surviving and with the number of fatalities, avalanches and injuries that go along with it, why do it?

...because its there
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