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Blue Square New Years Terror

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
This was one of those experiences that in the middle of it after making a couple of bad decisions , you ask yourself how in the hell did I get in this mess and I will be very grateful if it ends happily.

Anyway, I'm skiing New Year's Day at my home area Seven Springs and they are doing everything they can to recover from very marginal conditions and blowing snow on the open slopes during the day session and the conditions are pretty variable , in sections very good and 20 yards down the slope pretty bad (icy).

I decide to ski over to the next slope and half way down on the skier's left they have caution sticks in a row on the moguls that have formed. The snow guns are blowing and I think the snow might be pretty good about 20 yards left of the Caution flags. I ski that way and even though the surface is white it is not edge able , and the surface is as hard and slick as pond ice. I go sliding all the way to the side of the slope and stop about 50-60 yes from the bottom.

I'm standing there and I get this disturbing feeling my skis are going to slide out from under me and I don't feel like falling on the ice and sliding to the bottom and I am not confident about kick turning around and traversing the other way. So, I decide to take my skis off and carefully walk across the hill to a spot that surely will be less slick and put my skis back on.

What I instead discover is that there is no spot that is not frozen . As I do my walk traverse across the slope I can no longer stick the skis I am carrying into the surface and I can barely kick the toes of my boots in. I'm half way across the slope now and doubt is creeping in that I am going to get to the other side that is groomed.

Anyway, balancing is getting tougher with not being able to kick my toes in and now my balance is not good and my legs start to shake and my heart is starting to beat faster.

I finally get to the other side to the groomed. my last step over to terra firma I drop my skis and drop to my knees totally spent.

Unbelievable experience on a slope I've probably skid down at least a couple thousand times. I own it , and it happened and the experience is pretty sobering.

Thought I would share my experience, and I guess the message is crazy stuff can happen out there when skiing even I guess when you are in very familiar territory.
post #2 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by roundturns View Post

This was one of those experiences that in the middle of it after making a couple of bad decisions , you ask yourself how in the hell did I get in this mess and I will be very grateful if it ends happily.

So it did end happily for you! :)

 

Anyway, I've been in a similar situation. A green run, totally glazed over! Yeah, white because the ice wasn't uniform! It wasn't a very long run. But probably one of the longest and most difficult green I've done long past being a beginner.

 

If you even contemplate a kick turn, I'd say you probably have the skill to manage a backward traverse, or a side slip with a backward motion. That would be the safest solution, IMO. 

post #3 of 20

Yeah, sounds like your heart rate went up and you maybe lost a few pounds in the process!

 

The best bet in such a situation is to keep those skis on.  Your skis have much longer and sharper edges to dig into the ice than your boots.

Which I suspect you know now.

I gather that your skis were pointing in the wrong direction to head back.

That is, they were pointing at the trees immediately in front of you.

But you needed to head back in the opposite direction towards the middle of the trail.

You mention that a kick turn to get them turned around seemed like suicide.

 

So there's a way to turn them around without the kick turn, but unfortunately it lacks dignity.  
If this ever happens again, you can try this if losing dignity doesn't mean that much.

Lie down in the snow on your back, with your skis downhill and your head uphill.  
Roll the skis from facing towards the side of the trail, to facing towards where you want to go.

Then stand up.  Usually you can stand up, especially if the trail has some pitch.

 

Doing this this will keep you on those skis and get them pointing in the right direction.

It will give you the chance to grip the snow with your ski edges as you traverse back off the boilerplate towards grippable snow.

 

You are brave to post this here, but I bet it's happened to many others who might be reading.

post #4 of 20

But, certainly more dignified than taking the big slide to the bottom. 

post #5 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by cosmoliu View Post

But, certainly more dignified than taking the big slide to the bottom. 

Yeah, although I've never much worried about dignity in situations like that. Not one in a thousand could pull off a graceful turn there, and I'm certainly not that one (though there are plenty of skiers here that could). LF's suggestion is worth remembering; if executed decisively, it would lack no dignity at all.
post #6 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post

Yeah, sounds like your heart rate went up and you maybe lost a few pounds in the process!

The best bet in such a situation is to keep those skis on.  Your skis have much longer and sharper edges to dig into the ice than your boots.
Which I suspect you know now.
I gather that your skis were pointing in the wrong direction to head back.
That is, they were pointing at the trees immediately in front of you.
But you needed to head back in the opposite direction towards the middle of the trail.
You mention that a kick turn to get them turned around seemed like suicide.

So there's a way to turn them around without the kick turn, but unfortunately it lacks dignity.  

If this ever happens again, you can try this if losing dignity doesn't mean that much.
Lie down in the snow on your back, with your skis downhill and your head uphill.  

Roll the skis from facing towards the side of the trail, to facing towards where you want to go.
Then stand up.  Usually you can stand up, especially if the trail has some pitch.

Doing this this will keep you on those skis and get them pointing in the right direction.
It will give you the chance to grip the snow with your ski edges as you traverse back off the boilerplate towards grippable snow.

You are brave to post this here, but I bet it's happened to many others who might be reading.

In my family, we call this move "the dead bug."
post #7 of 20

Just out of curiosity (since I know the place a bit), which slope at Seven Springs was it?

 

Glad you got out of it OK! I've certainly found myself on my back sliding 50 or 60 yds down a hill unintentionally.

post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by qcanoe View Post
....
In my family, we call this move "the dead bug."


I saw a father take his 5 year old (my guess as the little one's head was below Dad's waist) up Tuckerman Ravine.  They bootpacked almost to the top,

stopping just below the headwall.  They traversed all the way across, with Dad just below the kid all the way.  At the end of the traverse,

Dad had the kid lie down, flip his/her skis over, and then they traversed all the way back across in the other direction.  Several traverses got them down.

 

I learned how to do this Dead Bug turn-around watching them.  The consequences of a bad move were perilously high, in my motherly opinion.  

This was one of those crowded Saturdays with a huge rowdy crowd in the bowl.  Dad and kid survived.  Others were catapulting and cartwheeling down,

to circus madness from the crowd below.  I'm sure both gained some great memories skiing the Ravine that day.  

 

If that were my kid and my husband, the situation would be dire back at home for Mr. Dad.

post #9 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by qcanoe View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post

Yeah, sounds like your heart rate went up and you maybe lost a few pounds in the process!

The best bet in such a situation is to keep those skis on.  Your skis have much longer and sharper edges to dig into the ice than your boots.
Which I suspect you know now.
I gather that your skis were pointing in the wrong direction to head back.
That is, they were pointing at the trees immediately in front of you.
But you needed to head back in the opposite direction towards the middle of the trail.
You mention that a kick turn to get them turned around seemed like suicide.

So there's a way to turn them around without the kick turn, but unfortunately it lacks dignity.  

If this ever happens again, you can try this if losing dignity doesn't mean that much.
Lie down in the snow on your back, with your skis downhill and your head uphill.  

Roll the skis from facing towards the side of the trail, to facing towards where you want to go.
Then stand up.  Usually you can stand up, especially if the trail has some pitch.

Doing this this will keep you on those skis and get them pointing in the right direction.
It will give you the chance to grip the snow with your ski edges as you traverse back off the boilerplate towards grippable snow.

You are brave to post this here, but I bet it's happened to many others who might be reading.

In my family, we call this move "the dead bug."

 

It sounds more like a low speed modified worm turn.

post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbostedo View Post

Just out of curiosity (since I know the place a bit), which slope at Seven Springs was it?

Glad you got out of it OK! I've certainly found myself on my back sliding 50 or 60 yds down a hill unintentionally.

Stowe Slope

I've been skiing at 7 Springs now for 35 seasons. I thought I had seen pretty much everything the conditions out there could represent. I was there again today and About an hour and a half after they opened I saw the Patrol set up stakes all the way across that part of the slope I was on the day before.

Anyway, better to error on the side of caution going forward.
post #11 of 20

Stowe slope is pretty straight forward and I'd definitely not expect anything like you ran into on it either.

post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingGrump View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by qcanoe View Post
 
In my family, we call this move "the dead bug."

 

It sounds more like a low speed modified worm turn.

 

I'm sure y'all can see that there is great utility in calling it "the dead bug," though. When you have a kid who is scared or upset, the goofiness loosens 'em up.

 

coach: "Just make like a dead bug."

kid: "Huh?"

c: "You know. Lie on your carapace and stick all six legs in the air. Like a dead bug."

k: "What?"
"Lie on your back. Then stick all six legs straight up."

"I don't have six legs."

"How many you got?"

kid [giggling]: "Two."

"What about arms?"

"Two."

"What about antennae?"

[loose now]: "None!"

"Okay, then. Stick all two arms and all two legs in the air like a dead bug. Good. Now swivel around and put them down where you want them."

post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post
 

Yeah, sounds like your heart rate went up and you maybe lost a few pounds in the process!

 

The best bet in such a situation is to keep those skis on.  Your skis have much longer and sharper edges to dig into the ice than your boots.

Which I suspect you know now.

I gather that your skis were pointing in the wrong direction to head back.

That is, they were pointing at the trees immediately in front of you.

But you needed to head back in the opposite direction towards the middle of the trail.

You mention that a kick turn to get them turned around seemed like suicide.

 

So there's a way to turn them around without the kick turn, but unfortunately it lacks dignity.  
If this ever happens again, you can try this if losing dignity doesn't mean that much.

Lie down in the snow on your back, with your skis downhill and your head uphill.  
Roll the skis from facing towards the side of the trail, to facing towards where you want to go.

Then stand up.  Usually you can stand up, especially if the trail has some pitch.

 

Doing this this will keep you on those skis and get them pointing in the right direction.

It will give you the chance to grip the snow with your ski edges as you traverse back off the boilerplate towards grippable snow.

 

You are brave to post this here, but I bet it's happened to many others who might be reading.

Or, Just practice developing a bullet proof kick turn…that's one old school move that has paid me many bacon-saving dividends over the last decade.  I think that's way safer than lying down on you back on a slippery slope…unless you're a stegosaurus, of course.  

post #14 of 20

As icy as the OP described the slope, I don't think I would want to lie on my back. Use either a kick turn or pivot around by facing up the hill. Similar to if you were going to climb the hill using a herringbone.

 

Karl

post #15 of 20

You need to practice sideslipping.  Shifting your weight for and aft during the slip affects the direction of drift.

post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post

Yeah, sounds like your heart rate went up and you maybe lost a few pounds in the process!

The best bet in such a situation is to keep those skis on.  Your skis have much longer and sharper edges to dig into the ice than your boots.
Which I suspect you know now.
I gather that your skis were pointing in the wrong direction to head back.
That is, they were pointing at the trees immediately in front of you.
But you needed to head back in the opposite direction towards the middle of the trail.
You mention that a kick turn to get them turned around seemed like suicide.

So there's a way to turn them around without the kick turn, but unfortunately it lacks dignity.  

If this ever happens again, you can try this if losing dignity doesn't mean that much.
Lie down in the snow on your back, with your skis downhill and your head uphill.  

Roll the skis from facing towards the side of the trail, to facing towards where you want to go.
Then stand up.  Usually you can stand up, especially if the trail has some pitch.

Doing this this will keep you on those skis and get them pointing in the right direction.
I've done this...eek
post #17 of 20
Thread Starter 
Slippery surfaces have become a part of my life now. Went out with the dog early this AM and we had freezing rain in the night and my feet went out from underneath me but managed to stay upright.

Trust me when I say that over the past35 seasons at Seven Springs I have encountered and survived a lot of ice using side slip etc to navigate through it. Apparently I am not as proficient as I thought I was.

My motivation I guess to even post this embarrassing moment was it reminded me how many times you read about a freaky accident happening to someone while skiing and shrugging it off by thinking that could never happen to me in a million years. Then you find yourself as I did really messing up and getting caught in pretty tough situation in a very familiar and usually friendly environment.

In 1976 while in college on a visit to Mad River Glen on a very icy slope, My bindings released and I started sliding head first down the trail and I was unable to arrest my slide and get my feet in front of me. I slid off the trail and went over a bank down a ravine and luckily my head missed everything but my one leg hit a tree so hard it pulled my foot right out of my boot. My leg hurt like hell and I was convinced laying there I broke my leg .I can remember gingerly feeling my leg believing I would find a bone protruding but all I ended up with was a blood clot and a couple day stay in the hospital to thin my blood.

Only injury I ever had while skiing. I don't do crazy stuff and put myself at risk which is probably why I have skied as long as I have without incident. Did start wearing a helmet about 5 years ago, I guess rationalizing I 'm not special and anything can happen out there.

Skiing is a great sport and I hope I can keep on doing it till a ripe old age unfortunately for me is sooner than later.

I guess for me my experience supports in the future error on the side of caution.

Wishing everybody plenty of fun times this season.
post #18 of 20

I strongly agree with those who recommend against lying down and doing the dead bug. On a slope as icy as OP is describing that's a recipe for disaster. Keep your skis on, keep your skis on the snow. Learn how to back up while sideslipping. If things are steep enough, a jump turn, pushing up and out from the uphill leg will be more secure than a kick turn because the force of landing will set the edges well, which the kick turn will not do well. This of course assumes that the snow is at least barely edgeable. Like the kick turn it must be done aggressively and confidently--otherwise stick to sideslipping. One other technique while sideslipping is to hold a pole across the body with one hand near the grip and the other near the basket--how close depends on how steep the slope is. Dig in the tip to help control speed, and also use the pole to keep yourself from leaning in. (This is like the classic ice axe position piolet en ramasse, not to be confused with piolet en barasse, which is what it sounds like). More technique--increase your uphill ski tip lead. This will allow you to tip your hips towards the slope which will increase your edge angle while allowing you to keep your chest out over your skis and facing downhill--so your whole body isn't leaning into the hill. If you have to cross a relatively narrow icy patch with snow on either side keep you speed up to cross the ice as quickly as possible without losing too much elevation or giving your skis a chance to slide out from under you. Being more reckless than skilled I have learned over the years how to extricate myself from places I shouldn't have been in first place. How I survived my climbing days is a mystery.

post #19 of 20
Just curious if the sticks marking the moguls were also intended to mark the ice? Or did ski patrol assume they would take care of both hazards?
post #20 of 20

There is a big difference between being able to do a kick turn and being able to do one when it matters.  I discovered this a few years ago at Solitude.  There is a fairly easy line in Navarone (I think) in Honeycomb Canyon, which I had skied a couple of times, and I thought it would be a fun last run before they closed the canyon for the day.

 

So I'm traversing along, looking for my line, when I run into a patroller coming the other way doing sweep.  

Her: "where you headed?"

Me: "there's an easy line just ahead that I've done before."

Her: "No there isn't"

 

I had gone by my turn-off.  So now I had to turn around above exposure, with an audience.

The aggravating thing is that I was able to do half of a kick turn, standing there with my skis facing opposite directions, but I couldn't convince my legs to swing the other one around.  I got that far a couple of times.

 

Finally I decided I felt more comfortable doing a hop turn, so I did, the patroller made sure I found my exit, and everything was fine.

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