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How do i get to glades and bowls? [lives in MI, also skis in Colorado - a Beginner Zone thread]

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Zero non groomed powder experience.

I love skiing trees on blue piste. 

I would love to try out a glade or a bowl. What is the natural progression to that end? Do I have to be skiing on piste blacks first? I rent resort skis, do I need a wider ski? Go back to the money tree and see if anything is left for a instructor? 

post #2 of 12
"Skiing trees on blue piste"? Are these trees spaced so widely that groomers fit through them? That's not skiing trees.

Where are you? Sounds like not North America?

Skiing in a bowl per se doesn't mean anything, one way or the other. It's a natural terrain feature. It might be steep, it might be shallow. It might be groomed, it might not. We have three bowl-type areas here. One is steep and heavily treed. One is relatively shallow on most sections, with and without trees, and with groomed and ungroomed sections. The third has different tree densities on all aspects.

Glades are forests that were thinned to some extent so you don't need a hatchet to ski them. Some forests have pockets of open areas naturally.

If what you want is to ski ungroomed terrain, then you have to start with a ski area that has a lot of it with various levels of steepness. It might be possible to start with blue level steepness that is ungroomed. But usually resorts groom the easy stuff, so it's hard to find unless you're at a place that snows sufficiently that groomed becomes ungroomed fairly often.

I'm not convinced that getting down so called black, but groomed, runs necessarily qualifies you to ski off groomed. There's a lot of people skidding their way down icy black slopes who are just learning survival.

If your resort doesn't have ungroomed slopes without trees, then probably the best training is moguls. But I ski ungroomed runs here and I don't ski moguls...intentionally.. What I do ski is plenty of snowy trails all season. So I can progress to steeper, ungroomed, treed stuff because there's plenty of choices to try.

Wider skis definitely help with floatation. Time and TERRAIN VARIETY help with progression.

And of course instruction helps. But be prepared to spend many lessons improving technique before the instructor takes you to trees.
post #3 of 12

So I have skied a couple places that advertise tree runs as trails through trees that are like single track bike routes that are named runs and often blues.  These runs are normally ungroomed but have very defined paths.  

 

To get your skiing to the level you want, you will need to ski very well on all types of groomed slopes.  You will need to try to find more ungroomed snow to ski in as well.  Skiing in ungroomed snow is harder and will expose your weakness on skis.  If you have very good form then you will do fine.  Obviously lessons are the best way to improve your skiing.  Going out and seeking ungroomed terrain is another way to improve your skiing.  Ski at your hill after a storm, ski the crud and untouched snow.  Wider skis help but you'll be ok with anything considered all mountain.

post #4 of 12
So you want to ski unpacked snow.  OK.  How do you turn your skis now?  If you're just pushing them to the side, that doesn't work very well against the resistance down in snow.
 
Look at this video.  It shows one piece of the puzzle.  Angulation.  The purpose is to get your skis edged.  The skis then turn you; you don't turn them.  About 19 or 20 seconds shows very well how the skis are on edge.  Picture an airplane banking in its turn in the sky.  Picture your skis down in the snow, both on edge due to your angulation, making a curving turn.
 
Feet close together in deep snow.  Equal weight on both feet.  Balanced front to back so your skis float through the snow.  Do not sit back to bring the ski tips up. 
 
In trees, remember.  Don't look at the trees.  Look at the gaps between them.  Look at the trees; hit the trees.  Look at the gaps, ski through the gaps.
post #5 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by cjayflo View Post
 

Zero non groomed powder experience.

I love skiing trees on blue piste. 

I would love to try out a glade or a bowl. What is the natural progression to that end? Do I have to be skiing on piste blacks first? I rent resort skis, do I need a wider ski? Go back to the money tree and see if anything is left for a instructor? 


Would help to know where you have skied?  Is this your first season?  How did you learn to ski?  One reason it helps to know where you have skied is that "blue" and "black" are only relative to a specific ski area.  A blue is the Mid-Atlantic is very different from a blue at a large ski resort in the northeast or out west.

 

In general, skiing more complex terrain comfortably has less to do with the skis and more to do with skiing ability.  For example, I just skied for day on what are called all-mountain skis when there was 10+ inches of fresh powder.  Those are skis that I own that are 88mm underfoot.  The next day I rented skis for more powder skiing that were 99mm underfoot.  I could have rented skis that were 112mm, but chose not too because I was having a lesson.

post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 

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. 

post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by cjayflo View Post
 

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. 


As with many terms related to skiing, "bowl" is a pretty generic and can mean a wide variety of things.  While most bowl skiing is geared towards upper intermediate or advanced skiers due to the length of the steeper sections, there are also bowls that are fun for any intermediate.  Depends on the ski area what's available.

 

In general, the place to develop solid fundamental technique is on blue and even green trails.  Happens in fewer years with the help of an experienced instructor who has skied the type of terrain you want to enjoy.

 

You might get some ideas from this Beginner Zone thread:

http://www.epicski.com/t/137287/how-does-an-intermediate-adult-skier-in-the-flatlands-get-to-the-next-level-a-beginner-zone-thread

post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by cjayflo View Post
 

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. 


develop short round turns, develop and own a hockey stop, learn hop turns, side slips and falling leafs All these skills/drills will give you extra tools you will need as you progress to tougher terrain. You will use them at some time  some where in the off piste

post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by cjayflo View Post
 

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. 

post #10 of 12

Give yourself a progression.  Start focusing on getting off the groomers.  You must be able to control your skis on cut-up uneven terrain.  That alone can be a challenging skill for those accustom to groomers.  Start with low angle and learn your comfort level, then start increasing angle.  Seek out chutes and narrows of appropriate angle and get good at tight radius turns and dumping speed with little room.  Work on planning your line a few turns ahead.  Start out working the edges of the groomers, darting into the trees for a few turns and keeping the groomer as an escape path (be careful to 'merge' back onto the trail and be aware of who is above).  Don't underestimate how unbalancing it can be to brush up against a branch.  Learn about tree-wells, and be cautions while you learn to read the terrain and conditions.

post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gobbly View Post
 

Give yourself a progression.  Start focusing on getting off the groomers.  You must be able to control your skis on cut-up uneven terrain.  That alone can be a challenging skill for those accustom to groomers.  Start with low angle and learn your comfort level, then start increasing angle.  Seek out chutes and narrows of appropriate angle and get good at tight radius turns and dumping speed with little room.  Work on planning your line a few turns ahead.  Start out working the edges of the groomers, darting into the trees for a few turns and keeping the groomer as an escape path (be careful to 'merge' back onto the trail and be aware of who is above).  Don't underestimate how unbalancing it can be to brush up against a branch.  Learn about tree-wells, and be cautions while you learn to read the terrain and conditions.

HOLY! I checked out sibhusky's info on tree wells, I had no idea! 

post #12 of 12
Quote:

Originally Posted by cjayflo View Post

 

HOLY! I checked out sibhusky's info on tree wells, I had no idea! 

 

Yep.  It's a rare year that I don't hear of a death due to them.  After a few years of glade skiing you get pretty good at reading those sorts of features, but even expert skiers on their local hills have been known to succumb.  Not something to take lightly.  That said, don't let them deter you from your goals.  Just be cautious, ski with a partner, and if possible find someone with more experience who can help you pick proper lines in natural terrain and come to your aid.  Many tree-well deaths are from suffocation where a partner would likely have changed the outcome.

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