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Getting up in Two Feet of Snow!

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I had the pleasure of skiing at Powder Mountain in Utah last Friday in about a foot and a half of fresh powder!  The four days before that at some of Utah's other resorts were also good (although mostly on hard pack) but Friday was phenomenal!  I purposely turned into a snow bank to avoid a snowboarder and thought I could just back out of it, but I was surprised to find that with 1 1/2 feet of snow on top of my skis, I couldn't budge them!  I also made the mistake of sitting down to rest and my skis were now slightly above me, buried in the snow.  I tried moving them back and forth but I could only move them about an inch.  I tried putting both my ski poles across in front of me to push myself up, but they just sank into the snow.  After about 10 minutes, I started digging where my skis were and eventually dug them out.  They were still above me though, so I rolled over on my back to get both skis below me and stand up.  I haven't had the opportunity to ski in powder snow that deep very often and I was surprised at how difficult it was to get up once I was down.  Is there any easier way to get out or tricks that can be used?  I think the next time this happens, I would just immediately start digging with both hands until I got my skis out. Any other suggestions?

post #2 of 5

In some situations it's just easier to get off your skis.  If you can reach your bindings (either with your poles or your hands) you could reach down to your heels and click yourself out of the skis.  The problem you have then is clicking back in again in fluffy snow.  Occasionally it's easier to jam the tails of your skis into the snow (rather than laying your skis on the snow), clear the snow from your bindings, clear the snow from the base of your boot and click into the binding levering against the pressure of the tails in the snow.


Still, must have been a very frustrating few minutes.  Next you'll tell us you had six friends standing ten feet away in fits of mirth the whole time - one of them filming with a GoPro.


Rolling over so your feet are below you is certainly step no.1.

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

Actually, I was skiing through some trees when this happened so I was pretty much by myself.  I didn't panic because I was warm.  I knew I would figure a way out eventually, but it sure seemed like a long time.  Excellent skiing though...I would do it again in a minute!

post #4 of 5

One thing that sometimes works is to make an x with your poles, holding them in one hand to create a platform to push again.  Won't work in truly bottomless pow. Rule number one is don't fall on the flats.  The business with sticking the tails in the snow is a good idea but you may have to close the binding by hand--don't count on being able to step in. Normally you want to step into your downhill binding first but if the slope is fairly steep and you can't reach it to close it by hand you can put the downhill ski above the uphill leg--45 degree or so angle and somewhat in front, and step into it with your downhill foot, close by hand, step up on that ski by crossing the downhill leg in front of the uphill,  and then get into the uphill ski.  This maneuver allows you to reach the binding with your hand on a steep slope.  Carrying a shovel on really deep days is also not a bad idea, not just for avalanches, but for  dealing with situations like the OP describes.

post #5 of 5

I've fallen in 3+ feet of powder with my skis buried and uphill from me so I was basically upside down. It's definitely not fun.  First thing is to not panic and take things slow.  You're not gonna get out in a jiffy, so don't waste your energy trying.  Don't twist in any weird ways cause you might just hurt yourself....get into a non-stressed position and take a breather.  Sometimes this position could feel really uncomfortable cause your head is lower than your feet...but just take a second to catch your breath.  Especially at high altitudes you'll lose your breath quick. 


When you're stuck in a position when movement is severely limited, you will most likely have to reach with your hands and pop yourself out of one, if not both skis.  The downside is in deep powder, your feet will now sink even more if you try to stand up...so don't do that.  Stay in the snow for now.  Once you have separated yourself from the skis, take care not to lose them in the snow....try to get them out of there as soon as possible.  Now, slowly start digging in the area you're in and trying to pad down the snow.  You can use your skis to help out with this.  Make a nice firm area around you.  At this point, you should be able to set the skis on that platform without them sinking in too much.  You can now attempt to step into them again.


As oldgoat suggested, make a cross with your ski poles and hold them in that position with your hand at the intersection.  You can use this to help you push against the snow to get yourself to stand up. 


Finally, when you're finally up and out...don't rush.  You probably just spent a ton of energy doing all that...don't risk falling into it again.  Take a moment to catch your breath, plan your line, then continue.


It's best to always try and ski with a partner in case of really bad situations where you may need help getting dug out.

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