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how to get into tree skiing - Page 4

post #91 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by qcanoe View Post

 

This is like the story of the blind men and the elephant, because each has his or her own in-the-trees "happy place" in the mind's eye, and it's different for each of us depending on a bunch of stuff. A Sunday River skier may be thinking of open hardwoods with no wintertime canopy, like Last Tango or Blind Ambition. This may look somewhat like some of the "sugar bush" (as in sap collecting, not necessarily the namesake ski resort) runs I've seen in Vermont. Usually these are at relatively low elevation and may depend on exposure. Pretty sure I tend to see more evergreens on north-facing slopes and hardwoods elsewhere. 

 

One common denominator, I think, is that in the Rockies (but perhaps not in the PNW), generally, trees get plenty of sun but strive for moisture, thinking on a year-round basis. On the other hand, in New England it tends to be the opposite: plenty of moisture and not enough sun. (Anyone who's ever done any hiking in the higher mountains of the northeast in summer can tell you that. Between thin topsoil, cool temperatures, generous precipitation, and frequent cloud cover, the ground tends to be sopping wet above 3,000 feet pretty much all year round, when it's not frozen.) These patterns affects growth habit. Other factors include history of burning and/or logging. 

 

At Saddleback there is not much in the way of "natural" tree skiing. The conifers are simply too dense. At these higher north-facing elevations they tend to grow in a bonsai-like way, stunted by fierce winds and heavy loads of snow and ice for five or six months of the year. Everything becomes condensed and scaled down, including the space between trees. For this reason, glades more or less have to be human-cut. Thus much of the gladed terrain DOES look like "a field of telephone poles," albeit rather thin and spiky ones, often with a dense canopy of needles and snow just overhead. The canopy can be so impenetrable at times that on a sunny day it can seem very dark. Because humans have to take out many many trees and branches to make even a barely skiable run, glades tend to be tight for the very simple reason that it takes a hell of a lot more work to make an open glade than a tight glade. A secondary reason is that the snow tends to stick and to stay much better if the slope is not opened up too much. A consequence of the heavily glaciated topography and very thin soil is that there also tend to be a lot of big rocks, logs, stumps, and etc. underfoot, that require a significant base to cover. Over time glades tend to open up a bit because the folks who got royally sick of cutting trees last year eventually regain a bit of motivation during the season and go back to cut out some of the worst offenders the next fall. 

 This is informative.  Thanks for putting this together for those who don't know.

post #92 of 127

I'm also just now getting into tree skiing. Done most of the tree runs on Outback in Keystone.

 

My question is... what's tree skiing etiquette for someone is learning? Especially when traversing to find a line, where to stand when taking a break, how to alert someone you're coming, etc.

 

Another question is when the paths through the trees are really carved out... to the point where it's like going down a bobsled run... how do you dump speed? Is purposefully skidding  around acceptable?

post #93 of 127
Tree skiing is like skiing slalom, you don't choose where to turn the poles do. Unlike slalom you cannot ski through the poles you MUST go round them!
Aim for the gaps don't hit the woody bits.
Smile.
post #94 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by NonNativeRado View Post

I'm also just now getting into tree skiing. Done most of the tree runs on Outback in Keystone.

My question is... what's tree skiing etiquette for someone is learning? Especially when traversing to find a line, where to stand when taking a break, how to alert someone you're coming, etc.

Another question is when the paths through the trees are really carved out... to the point where it's like going down a bobsled run... how do you dump speed? Is purposefully skidding  around acceptable?

These issues have never even occurred to me. We have way less people in our trees, I guess. Clearly don't stop where you're going to get nailed because they can't see you, just as on any slope. With conifers, this can be a tough chore, since usually there might be less than 10 feet of sight distance. The big thing is ski with a friend that's keeping you in view (and vice versa) so that you're not suffocating in a tree well while he climbs forty feet back up a hill where post holing means you're sinking up to your crotch. That directive should trump all others.
post #95 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by NonNativeRado View Post
 

My question is... what's tree skiing etiquette for someone is learning? Especially when traversing to find a line, where to stand when taking a break, how to alert someone you're coming, etc.

 

Same as everywhere else...follow the code.  Look behind before you start moving and avoid people ahead of you.  While stopped I'd recommend moving off the obvious path if possible lest someone comes flying around the bend.

 

 

edit...sorry redundant-ish comment.  What sibhusky said.


Edited by Abox - 2/13/17 at 2:16pm
post #96 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post


These issues have never even occurred to me. We have way less people in our trees, I guess. Clearly don't stop where you're going to get nailed because they can't see you, just as on any slope. With conifers, this can be a tough chore, since usually there might be less than 10 feet of sight distance. The big thing is ski with a friend that's keeping you in view (and vice versa) so that you're not suffocating in a tree well while he climbs forty feet back up a hill where post holing means you're sinking up to your crotch. That directive should trump all others.

 

Colorado I-70 resorts on a weekend... a lot of people even early... I got in line 30 minutes before first lift... but still had to wait another 15 minutes before I got on... even the back mountains away from the front side had lines 15-20 minutes deep for high speed 4 person lifts. There's definitely less people in the trees, but it's still fairly busy.

 

Finding a spot that's not a potential tree well in a tight pack of trees can be hard.

post #97 of 127
And yet everybody WANTS TO go to Colorado....
post #98 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

And yet everybody WANTS TO go to Colorado....

 

It's pretty insane if you're thinking about booking a weekend trip at 1 resort, but at Keystone first lift is 8:30 AM and last lift is 8:00 PM... there's always time on the mountain. Quality on the other hand can be all over the map due to terrain conditions after that many people skied.

 

Living here in Denver, you can avoid a lot of this just by avoiding A-Basin, Loveland, Keystone, Breckenridge, Vail... I feel like there's less of a problem at Beaver Creek, Copper, Eldora, Winter Park, Sunshine, etc.... or skiing on weekdays. There's always the resorts further away from Denver in the state like Telluride, Crested Butte, Wolf Creek, Purgatory, Aspen, etc.

I just end up skiing Keystone a lot because it's close and it seems like everyone has the A-Basin/Keystone season pass which compounds the problem of Epic pass holders and tourists.

post #99 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by NonNativeRado View PostLiving here in Denver, you can avoid a lot of this just by avoiding A-Basin, Loveland,

 

There are Denver locals that only go to these.  As far as Copper or WP/MJ goes there are trees than can be busy and there are trees that hardly anyone goes to.  Just depends.

 

Have you thought about RMNP?  There are some great classes offered there.  Good place to get Avy training.

post #100 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike78 View Post
 

 

There are Denver locals that only go to these.  As far as Copper or WP/MJ goes there are trees than can be busy and there are trees that hardly anyone goes to.  Just depends.

 

Have you thought about RMNP?  There are some great classes offered there.  Good place to get Avy training.

 

I wish on RMNP. No one I'm close friends with is interested in backcountry skiing. Right now, I'm not in good enough shape to skin up a couple thousand feet at a time, and I don't have the gear. I'm hoping to save money during this year... get a backcountry set up, get in better shape, do bump school, and find someone to ski with in the backcountry.

 

I've taken an avalanche awareness class at REI but nothing beyond that. There's just so much to go through to get to the point of skiing off-piste. $420 for AIARE 1 class. Skins, lighter skis, lighter bindings, AT boots, beacon, probe, shovel, altimeter, avalanche bag, etc. would make this really expensive really quickly.

It's a lot of money to earn your turns.

post #101 of 127

Here's my two cents on tree skiing- 

 

Control. Fat skis. Remove your pole straps. Look where you want to go, not at the trees. If you have to fall, duck and roll where you fall uphill so to speak as opposed to falling downhill, always keeping your skis below you down the hill.

 

I think where you run in to the most trouble is when your skis are uphill from you.  As far as the buddy system goes, I almost always lose my buddy/buddies in the trees because they go like 30mph through there. That's when you can really, really eat it. I tend to take my time and find a good line before I'll rip it. My rhythm is hit a good line, make a few turns, and then stop and re-evaluate should the trees thicken up. 

 

So take it easy, especially at first. If you have to stop for a break, stop where someone won't be coming down, like behind some thick bushes, or out in the open where people can see you and avoid you in plenty of time. Don't ever stop under a cliff. 

 

But the number one thing is control. Btw tree skiing is my favorite part of the sport. 


Edited by Gnarmonger - 2/14/17 at 1:14pm
post #102 of 127
So we dream of skiing untouched soft snow through the trees. In reality some prat on a snowboard will have been through there first so you'll have slick sections, deep sections and a few thin fast maybe icy sections.
You need a ski that does it all, I would hate to be on a big fat powder ski with full rockers etc. The perfect ski for me is a 95-100mm width ski with proper side cut, camber and if you must a small tip rocker.
Keep your hands in front of you, stay centred, the back seat is not your friend!
You will be skiing mostly small radius turns, some carved, some smeared, some pivoted, a few classic short swings.
When you think you can't make that turn, make it! You'll be in the s**t if you don't.
Ski the fall line.
I always use pole straps, I donit want to go yomping back up to retrieve a pole, never caught a pole in trees. In deep soft snow I always use traces on my skis (I assume you understand the principle) if you do loose a skii makes it easy to find and retrieve.
Goggles, glasses and these days a helmet, help with those pesky branches.
Skiing trees requires all the skills to do it fast and well. Slalom, bumps, powder, carving, slipping, kick turns, jump turns, GS turns, traversing out. It has it all and if you are only going at 30mph you are in the way!biggrin.gif
Do not sideslip and ruin it for the rest of us, that's what snowboarders are for mad.gif
Keep smiling:)
post #103 of 127

Lotta snowboard hate in that last post! LOL

 

I don't recommend using pole straps in the trees, having a pole get stuck on a branch and damn near break your wrist is pretty scary and will drive home the point.

post #104 of 127

I'll elaborate on my "fat skis" recommendation. Fat twin tips are what I use - 2013 Rossignol S7's; No problem whatsoever taking gaps as wide as my shoulders, and most of the time I'm skiing partially tracked or untracked powder. :D 

 

But besides the ability of these skis to float, they bounce good when I need to turn. Also, if I ever need to back out of a dead end, the full twin tips keep my skis from ducking under while skiing backwards. Super advantage in the deep. 

Its probably different at different ski areas. Where I tend to go, it's pretty thick, not as open. Super tight trees with spots that open up. But that's where the stashes are. Virgin powder.:drool 

 

Definitely remove the pole straps though, especially in the wilder, thicker stuff where your poles could get tangled in low overhanging branches. Eventually you could have your shoulder jerked out of socket. No fun. 

post #105 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by bloxy View Post

So we dream of skiing untouched soft snow through the trees. In reality some prat on a snowboard will have been through there first so you'll have slick sections, deep sections and a few thin fast maybe icy sections.
You need a ski that does it all, I would hate to be on a big fat powder ski with full rockers etc. The perfect ski for me is a 95-100mm width ski with proper side cut, camber and if you must a small tip rocker.
Keep your hands in front of you, stay centred, the back seat is not your friend!
You will be skiing mostly small radius turns, some carved, some smeared, some pivoted, a few classic short swings.
When you think you can't make that turn, make it! You'll be in the s**t if you don't.
Ski the fall line.
I always use pole straps, I donit want to go yomping back up to retrieve a pole, never caught a pole in trees. In deep soft snow I always use traces on my skis (I assume you understand the principle) if you do loose a skii makes it easy to find and retrieve.
Goggles, glasses and these days a helmet, help with those pesky branches.
Skiing trees requires all the skills to do it fast and well. Slalom, bumps, powder, carving, slipping, kick turns, jump turns, GS turns, traversing out. It has it all and if you are only going at 30mph you are in the way!biggrin.gif
Do not sideslip and ruin it for the rest of us, that's what snowboarders are for mad.gif
Keep smiling:)

 

My experience thus far is that... if there is an opening... it's often been carved out by either snowboarders or someone sideslipping. If it's a tight line through the trees, there's often still a lot of soft snow but I've generally only been after it has snowed in the last day.

 

My Kendos are only 89mm... side cut is fine...  but I have trailed behind some friends who have far better float at the slower tree skiing speed than I do due to wider skis.

post #106 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by NonNativeRado View Post
 

 

My experience thus far is that... if there is an opening... it's often been carved out by either snowboarders or someone sideslipping. If it's a tight line through the trees, there's often still a lot of soft snow but I've generally only been after it has snowed in the last day.

@NonNativeRado Thanks for resurrecting this thread.  I'm been working on my bump and tree skiing because I'm not very good at either.   It's even more demoralizing watching your 9 and 11 year old rip it up in the trees and trying to chase them.  I usually come up with the excuses of I'm taller (6'5") and my skis are longer (190) and I don't heal like I used to.  I know exactly what you mean by the huge, banana shaped obstacles that you're not sure if you commit if you can stop in time.   I usually scrape off on the top of them due to lack of confidence.  I also hit an aspen at Beaver straight on last year where I injured my sternum and thumb which adds to my fear factor.  Funny thing is that injury had nothing to do with tree skiing.   I have a Gopro video of it so maybe I'll post for everyone's enjoyment. 


Edited by NPhoenix - 2/14/17 at 9:06pm
post #107 of 127

I totally feel you on the huge banana curves. I just feel like I'm taking my chances with these massive bobsled carved tunnels from snowboards scraping out the snow. I'm often doing basically jump turns. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FT_Gf49iv9Y

post #108 of 127

Those bobsled-like grooves are a) not something unique to snowboarders, they are caused by people skid turning in the trees and skiiers are as much a cause of them as boarders (I invite you to check out the trees at Deer Valley or Alta if you don't believe me) and b) they are actually fun as heck to rip once you get comfortable with them.  It's like a choose your own adventure luge course or rollercoaster every time you hit some skiied out trees, and I love this type of tree skiing almost as much as skiing fresh pow in the trees.

 

It's a poor craftsman that blames his tools, or the actions of others.  Get out there and enjoy the trees, work on getting better at your turns, and enjoy the luges when you encounter them.  No serious tree skiier is going to leave the trees in a huff just because they are skiied out or full of ruts and moguls!

post #109 of 127
Alternatively, learn to ski in them somewhere that is less busy.
post #110 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

Alternatively, learn to ski in them somewhere that is less busy.

 

It's not always absurdly busy, but weekends for anyone with an Epic pass isn't going to see a lot of empty terrain. I'll likely try to do more weekdays.

post #111 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by NonNativeRado View Post

It's not always absurdly busy, but weekends for anyone with an Epic pass isn't going to see a lot of empty terrain. I'll likely try to do more weekdays.

The epic areas are busy but the trees rarely are. I was at vail and keystone this weekend and skied trees without any crowds. Sometimes i would pass a group or two on the run but thats about it.
post #112 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by NonNativeRado View Post
 

I totally feel you on the huge banana curves. I just feel like I'm taking my chances with these massive bobsled carved tunnels from snowboards scraping out the snow. I'm often doing basically jump turns. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FT_Gf49iv9Y


That's not how you do it successfully!

post #113 of 127

For tree skiing--

--Get good at bump skiing.  Most tree skiing is skied out and you'll find bumps in the trees.  Or bumps under fresh snow.  Learn to make tight turns on every bump keeping your speed under control.

--Look at the gaps between trees, not at the trees.  You'll go where you're looking.  Look at the gaps; ski through the gaps.  Better, look through the gaps and plan on whether you want to be setting up for a right turn or left turn as you pass through the gap.

--I prefer skiing trees with three people.  Easier for everyone to watch everyone.  The first skier, whether skiing two or three, needs to be sure they don't ski away from their buddy.

--Be ready to get small.  Legs & arms close.  Duck down, get low, get under branches.

post #114 of 127

Perhaps it has been posted, I've not read the entire thread.

 

But tree skiing is best done with a "ski there" attitude.  That is,  pick a location you want to ski too,  then ski there.

 

BUT

 

Follow the three rules of tree skiing!

 

1)  Aim for the white!  Trees are dark,  don't go there....

 

2) Don't follow the other guys tracks.  You are there for the fresh snow,  Go for it!

 

3)Try to ski between trees too tight and closely spaced to allow a snow board to get between.  It's a "better way" thing ;-)

 

 

ps  Tree skiing at my local hill has been fantastic the past three days!  Smiles are running deep for those who go in there.  ;-))

post #115 of 127

Reading through this thread, I still get a sense that that us eastern folks haven't managed to convey to the western folks what tight easter tree sking is like - so I offer this from some tight glades at sugarbush. This manages to convey it better than anything else I've seen. (not me skiing, I just found it on youtube)

post #116 of 127

Here's the thing... if the trees are already tracked out, don't bother.  The whole point of going there is fresh snow.

post #117 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by cometjo View Post
 

Reading through this thread, I still get a sense that that us eastern folks haven't managed to convey to the western folks what tight easter tree sking is like - so I offer this from some tight glades at sugarbush. This manages to convey it better than anything else I've seen. (not me skiing, I just found it on youtube)

 


I cut through some trees today at Breck that were tighter than a lot of that. There's plenty of more open tree runs, but there's plenty of places that are hard to navigate out west.

post #118 of 127
I think it's more deciduous vs coniferous, not East vs West.

We've got coniferous here. Very tough to see the path through the trees. That guy skied that far better than I would. I'd be worrying about tree wells. Of course, there was a lot of traffic through his trees, you could see from the tracks. Here, if I'm in the trees alone it's because there are no tracks.
post #119 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by cometjo View Post
 

Reading through this thread, I still get a sense that that us eastern folks haven't managed to convey to the western folks what tight easter tree sking is like - so I offer this from some tight glades at sugarbush. This manages to convey it better than anything else I've seen. (not me skiing, I just found it on youtube)

Hey, long time no ski.  Is that you in those trees.  Sounds crunchy.  

post #120 of 127

What not to do...

 

 

The rest of the story

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