Originally Posted by cjayflo
Thanks for the replies folks! This website and your knowledge is invaluable to a lower level skier such as myself. I believe my first post shows just how much I don't know about skiing non groomed areas. I literally have no idea what I need to do in order to try a (usually black diamond on any map I have seen) bowl or glade. I don't know if they are black because of trees, pitch, its ok in the glade but getting out is off a cliff? Black because of ungroomed terrain?
I picked up this habit 5 years ago. I got to ski less than 10 days a season in upper Michigan. On those ski hills I liked to hit the trees as much as possible.
I took a beginner lesson at first and after a few years I took an advanced lesson that was a complete waste of time. (bad instruction)
I constantly try to practice carving and controlling my speed. I feel very neutral (balanced) in my skis and I don't get totally exhausted skiing even though I am not in great shape. I haven't wiped out in forever or felt out of control in forever. Typical Michigan is ice, crud, thin then hit a deep pile of chuff from boarders. Powder to me is when its snowing and I got to ski in a few inches of untracked fluffy goodness on top of a groomed slope.
I was fortunate to be able to hit Breck last month. I have 2 smaller kids to keep track of and a wife thats terrified on greens. "progression" ski time is hard to come by under those circumstances but I woke up before everyone else and hit first chair a few days. The Breck blue runs were great and I felt good skiing them. I did the tree areas off the green runs with my kids and loved it, but its very tight in there. I did some blue area trees and got into some crud, softer stuff but it was mostly tracked up and once again, very tight. *edit* at times my form did go to hell in the tracked up trees, back to a snowplow a bit but for the most part I felt ok.
I am extremely fortunate in that I am going back to Breck/keystone/A-basin at the end of this month. I really want to try a bowl or glade but I don't want to be "that guy" that got into trouble in an area he had no business being in.
I have 4 days to ski, I hope to try a bowl or glade on my last day.
While carving is a lovely skill to have, it is not a skill you are going to use in ungroomed terrain. I emphasize this because for some people, there is still the perception that you are "supposed" to carve all of your turns. When you are skiing in ungroomed terrain, or skiing 3D snow, you will not be carving. You will be steering turns, using the bases of your skis to control your direction, not your edges. So work on rounded turns where you brush your skis on the snow, rather than any type of edge locked carve.
That being said, I've noticed something. You've stated that your wife is intimidated by greens, and you have two small kids which limits your ability to try tree skiing. So my question is, who are you skiing in the trees with? I cannot emphasize enough that you should never, ever, EVER leave the trail without at least one buddy. Especially on an unfamiliar mountain, when your ability level is not sufficient that you have confidence you can handle anything you may find in there, no matter what it is. If you are thinking of skiing into the woods alone, stop thinking that now. That is, quite literally, how people die. There is a sign in the operations office where I work. This is the office where the bosses for ski school, patrol, lifts, snowmaking etc all are, so the people who walk by this sign are almost entirely very advanced skiers. The sign says "The woods are as cold and as lonely as they were one hundred years ago." That sign is there for a reason, it reminds those of us who spend a great deal of time skiing in the woods that despite our expertise, despite any modern technology, the woods can still be a dangerous place, and they demand care and respect. Don't go alone.
If you really want to try them, get yourself a lesson. Tell the person doing the reservations what your intentions are. They will hook you up with an instructor who can evaluate your skiing, and then take you to off trail areas that will suit you.