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Bad Idea? Creek Skiing in New England - Powder Magazine

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
The latest Powder magazine has an article about skiing creeks in New England. Is this a monumentally bad idea?

Most creeks where I ski are likely to have holes, boulders, deadfall - pretty much the bitch combo plate. Springs tend to keep flowing even in deep winter. I'd put this right up there with "Crevasse skiing your favorite glacier".
post #2 of 17

SpikeDog,

 

You are raising a very interesting topic which falls into that " extreme/off piste" skiing that seems to be the goal of many skiers.

My son skied at Sunday River on a great powder day ( within area ropes ) and decided to follow a stream bed.

 

You all now what happened!

 

It is like a funnel which gets steeper and more radical as you go down. High walls on both sides ! Did I mention the rocks !

Oh those logs fallen across stream.

 

He is a top level skier who had a broken lip, sore back for some time and possible,,,,,,,,,!

 

In short,,if you are mature,,,,keep away from streams ( even in winter ).

 

Pa

post #3 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Voila View Post
 

SpikeDog,

 

You are raising a very interesting topic which falls into that " extreme/off piste" skiing that seems to be the goal of many skiers.

My son skied at Sunday River on a great powder day ( within area ropes ) and decided to follow a stream bed.

 

You all now what happened!

 

It is like a funnel which gets steeper and more radical as you go down. High walls on both sides ! Did I mention the rocks !

Oh those logs fallen across stream.

 

He is a top level skier who had a broken lip, sore back for some time and possible,,,,,,,,,!

 

In short,,if you are mature,,,,keep away from streams ( even in winter ).

 

Pa

 

Yes but there is also the flip side to this. I skied a mountain behind my school on the one occasion there was enough snow to do it in the four years I was there. There where sections where the creek was the only area clear enough to get down. Everything was shrubbery that was impossible to navigate. 

 

There were also sections of the creek bed that where totally impassable I kinda jumped on and off it. Skiing a creek bed all the way down does seem like a monumentally bad idea even besides the obvious holes, deadfall ect. Most creeks are located in terrain traps...  

post #4 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Voila View Post
 

SpikeDog,

 

 

In short,,if you are mature,,,,keep away from streams ( even in winter ).

 

Pa

 

maturity is way overrated

 

post #5 of 17

Thompson's Brook at Wildcat is fine when there's snow.  

post #6 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmy View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Voila View Post
 

SpikeDog,

 

 

In short,,if you are mature,,,,keep away from streams ( even in winter ).

 

Pa

 

maturity is way overrated

 

 

I didn't see you following  BoldToot and TeleRod down that crick.

post #7 of 17

Been there, done that.

post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmy View Post
 

Been there, done that.

 

Sure, but this time there was 7" of snow on top... :D

post #9 of 17

I can think of a stream bed or two at Stowe that routinely get skied...

 

"Holes, boulders and deadfall" pretty much describes the woods of New England.  The ravines of the northern Presidentials in the White Mountains of New Hampshire are filled with cliffs, boulders, holes and every other hazard imaginable; there have been plenty of hikers who have gotten hurt walking through there in the summer.  They get skied all the time once they get filled in with snow.

 

As usual with skiing, the safety of skiing something depends largely on how much snow is burying the various obstacles and on the skill of the skier.

post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lonewolf210 View Post
 

 

Yes but there is also the flip side to this. I skied a mountain behind my school on the one occasion there was enough snow to do it in the four years I was there. There where sections where the creek was the only area clear enough to get down. Everything was shrubbery that was impossible to navigate.

 

 

I think that is the gist of the article - that there is typically so much underbrush except in said creeks that it becomes not only passable in good snow years but actually pretty good.

 

I'm sure water flows in what local ski areas call "natural halfpipes", at least for a little while in the spring.  Canis Lupus at the Canyons or Dick's Ditch at Jackson Hole come to mind.  Of course these are inbounds, with some degree of control over hazards.

post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpikeDog View Post
 

I'm sure water flows in what local ski areas call "natural halfpipes", at least for a little while in the spring.  Canis Lupus at the Canyons or Dick's Ditch at Jackson Hole come to mind.  Of course these are inbounds, with some degree of control over hazards.

 

Here's Mt. Baker's Natural Half Pipe.  I took this during the Legendary Banked Slalom and was not trying to show it as a creek bed.  The watercourse continues down and around the corner.  I have never seen any water flow here during any part of the ski season.  Neither have I seen any brush or rocks.

 

post #12 of 17

I haven't read the Powder Mag article, but how big are the creeks?  The extent of danger of creek skiing may be an East/West thing.  In the East most of the creeks I think that may be skied are small with only a foot of water in them and they could be frozen solid much of the winter.  Sort of like skiing frozen waterfalls.  Bigger, deeper creeks often aren't covered with enough natural snow to be skiable and they wouldn't have a very steep fall line so they wouldn't be worth skiing.  In the West the danger may be higher because bigger creeks look skiable, but have the holes and such that you are talking about where people fall through what looks like deep snow cover and drown.

post #13 of 17

Skiing creeks in New England isn't necessarily a bad idea. I do it all the time, personally. However, Powder Mag publishing an article about it is a monumentally bad idea. I know my back and sidecountry areas fairly well, and when I'm in an area I don't know well, I know people who do know it. So I know which creek beds are skiable, and which aren't. Also, I'm a pretty darn good skier, as are my friends. That means that there are many areas which I can ski without any significant issue that most other skiers would find impossible to negotiate.

 

However, putting an article in Powder Magazine means that every Tom, Dick, and Harry who subscribes to Powder and thinks he's the greatest skier on the mountain is going to be out there looking to ski the gnarliest creek they can find this season. The end result is that Tom's going to get stuck in a ravine he can't ski out of, and patrol will have to come get him. Dick will take a fallen tree to the face and leave in an ambulance. Harry will break through a deep pool at the base of an icefall, and his body won't be found until spring.

 

Skiing creek beds isn't a bad idea. Presenting it to the world as the next great thing is.

post #14 of 17

This is the same Powder mag that for decades has glorified guys who push off of 100' cliffs and down absurdly avalanche-prone steeps and you think maybe they are not primarily concerned with promoting safety because they talk about skiing down a creek bed? OK.

post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Posaune View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpikeDog View Post
 

I'm sure water flows in what local ski areas call "natural halfpipes", at least for a little while in the spring.  Canis Lupus at the Canyons or Dick's Ditch at Jackson Hole come to mind.  Of course these are inbounds, with some degree of control over hazards.

 

Here's Mt. Baker's Natural Half Pipe.  I took this during the Legendary Banked Slalom and was not trying to show it as a creek bed.  The watercourse continues down and around the corner.  I have never seen any water flow here during any part of the ski season.  

 

Yeh, but volcanoes are weird.    There are so many air and gas passages through them that it wouldn't surprise me at all if any subnivean trickle sank down into the mountain and came out near bottom. 

post #16 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by cantunamunch View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Posaune View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpikeDog View Post
 

I'm sure water flows in what local ski areas call "natural halfpipes", at least for a little while in the spring.  Canis Lupus at the Canyons or Dick's Ditch at Jackson Hole come to mind.  Of course these are inbounds, with some degree of control over hazards.

 

Here's Mt. Baker's Natural Half Pipe.  I took this during the Legendary Banked Slalom and was not trying to show it as a creek bed.  The watercourse continues down and around the corner.  I have never seen any water flow here during any part of the ski season.  

 

Yeh, but volcanoes are weird.    There are so many air and gas passages through them that it wouldn't surprise me at all if any subnivean trickle sank down into the mountain and came out near bottom. 

It doesn't have anything to do with volcanoes.  Mt. Baker Ski Area is really on Mt. Shuksan, a non-volcanic mountain.  Baker is farther away and there is no volcanic activity at the ski area.  The reason you don't ever see water is that there  is so much snow that any little bit of water that is actually in the creek bed is over 20 feet below the skier, and it won't melt out far enough to see any water or holes until well after the lifts quit turning. 

 

I was just reacting to how everyone was posting as if all creeks are a hazard.  Around here there are lots of creeks that are full time trails every season with no concern for breaking through.  There are also many that are not safe, or are hazards at times.  You have to know which is which and keep your eyes open.

 

Edit:

After both of my posts I finally actually focused on the title of this thread.  Oops.  I somehow blanked out the New England part.  Never mind.

post #17 of 17

Skiing Chamonix/Courmayeur a couple of times I found that the runouts of some of the best lines are along the banks of streams-with plenty of rocks, dirt, brush, tight small trees etc to navigate. It's not done for fun, just the miserable end to an otherwise great run. The French call it combat skiing. 

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