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How to get started skiing in the trees?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
Ventured into one of Loon's "blue" glades this weekend called Missing Link. More like a trail with a lot of trees than a glade with black diamonds. Didn't get very far before it was clear I had no freaken clue what I was supposed to do technique wise. So I exited it back onto the main trail. Ok, so is there some basic advice on how to BEGIN to ski simple treed trails like that one? Its obviously different than a groomed trail...
post #2 of 29
I dont know what you are getting at because you should use whatever technique the current snowconditions calls for and keep avoiding trees and branches offcourse. I cannot find any good reason to ski in trees if there is no good powder conditions. However, many times I have been forsed to ski in forrests in order to get myself down the mountain after higher altitude off pist ventures but that is no enjoyment usually. On the other hand, skiing trees in powder is the coolest thing there is almost but so is powder skiing in general.
post #3 of 29
Focus on the path opening up before you rather than on the obstacles you are trying to avoid. To repeat: Look for the opening, not at the trees.
post #4 of 29
Start small. Many easier runs will have short little tree-trails off their sides.

My kids got me started on trees, and I enjoy it now (even if I'm not that good at it; I still get scared by steep trees). It adds a little variety to the cruisers and moguls if I dip into the side-trails.
post #5 of 29
get good at short radius turns. They are good for killing speed, and for getting around the trees. Hey! Trees are solid and they don't move, and they don't care. The best way to deal with them is to avoid them. ;-)

Nolo has it! Ski were you want to ski, not were you don't . Were your eyes go, so will you!.

Hey, there is nothing wrong with a nice traverse through the woods, just don't get going to fast., Pull up hill early and often. There is no need to follow everyone elses "toboggon run".

Don' t listen to tdk6! ;-) There are lots of good reason to be in the trees anytime. The snow was like butter this week end. Smooth and creamy.

The real secret? Being able to turn any time any place, any conditions.

'Big order I know, but the better you get, the better it gets!

Have fun

CalG
post #6 of 29
One tactic I use is to turn as close to the tree as possible, this allows me 2 things, 1) If I don't make a great turn I have some room to the side of the next tree because I didn't use up all the available space be it left or right of the tree I'm turning around . 2) I find some of the best snow is right on the backsides of the tree where nobody gets in to make a turn so I have some better snow to grip the skis with instead of right in the middle between the trees where everbody else has turned and scraped/packed the snow down
post #7 of 29
In addition to what nolo said, I also "pick a line" so I know in advance where I plan to go. In that sense, it's a bit like skiing moguls (and, of course, the more difficult glades will have moguls in the trees, but avoid that scenario until you feel comfortable with just the trees).

The joy about skiing in the trees is you can go slowly and you don't have to worry about someone slamming into you. So, don't worry about the fact that you will be going slower than you normally ski. As you become more comfortable in the glades, you'll pick up speed. But know that most accomplished tree skiers still do no ski as fast as they do on groomers. Speed is not your friend in trees. You are there to enjoy the peace and isolation of the trees.

I worked my way up in glades, starting out with "kiddie glades" at Jay that are actually groomed and widely spaced trees, and graduating to increasingly difficult glades. Look first for the easiest glade on the mountain, with plenty of space between trees and a very easy pitch, so you won't feel intimidated. Don't feel that you have to start in a glade that has the same pitch as what you normally ski for open trails; in fact, avoid that when you're learning, since it sounds like that may have been part of your discomfort.

Above all: Have fun!

Thatsagirl
post #8 of 29
Nolo's advice is absolutely key. Your skis tend to follow your eyes.

If you focus on the tree instead of the opening, you'll find yourself doing constant near misses or worse.

This is easier said than done, but you need to train yourself to look at the white spaces, *not* at the tree trunks.

It'll make a huge difference.

Most of all, have fun.

Bob
post #9 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowbowler
One tactic I use is to turn as close to the tree as possible
I would highly recomend not getting in this habit. While it shouldn't be too much of an issue in the east, doing this in deeper snow areas can lead to serious injury and/or death. Tree wells are not something you want to find.

Big thing to keep in mind through the trees, eyes up, hands up, look at the openings between the trees, don't look at the trees, and work your way up to longer lines (utilize short lines, like 5-15 turns, stop, find a new line).

Biggest thing though, adapt. Use all the tactics you have to control yourself in the trees. This includes wedging if need be (easiest way to control speed), stems if need be (yes I've used em in tight steep trees), use technically "ugly" turns if need be. Trees are highly variable terrain, so your skiing should be able to vary as well. No one in the trees is going to watch you and nit-pick your tecnique (unless you ask em to or you are having real problems).
post #10 of 29
one quick thing to try too, utilize any little paths you can find in the trees that run along green cruisers, usually the little paths get you used to looking in between the trees. The next step is to start on the path and change your line finding new openings and spots that you can connect.
post #11 of 29
Recently, I was "shadowing" a fellow instructor teaching a class of kids to ski bumps and trees. She brought to group to the edge of a glade and asked, "Are there trees in the woods?" They all knew the correct answer: "No, there are only places to ski."
post #12 of 29
Many ski areas have intermediate slopes that are glades. Bromley Vt has a few easy ones. Ask around, start with the easy slopes first.
post #13 of 29
post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by skidad55
Ventured into one of Loon's "blue" glades this weekend called Missing Link. More like a trail with a lot of trees than a glade with black diamonds. Didn't get very far before it was clear I had no freaken clue what I was supposed to do technique wise. So I exited it back onto the main trail. Ok, so is there some basic advice on how to BEGIN to ski simple treed trails like that one? Its obviously different than a groomed trail...
I was there this weekend and made many runs with my son through Scaler (the one continue below Missing link) so I know what you were against. The challenge of that course in that condition (not steep but relatively dense tree without fresh snow for a couple of weeks) is that it has small hard packed bumps developed in such way that it requires you to turn for every single one of them in small space to keep your speed under control. Miss a single turn and you can easily get out of control.

I'm not that great a bump skier, but my humble way of going through that kind of glades is to make exaggerated up/down movement to forcefully make quick short turns to match the interval of those small bumps. To practice, you want to go to glades with much wider space as Thatsagirl suggests. Unfortunately, Loon doesn't have one. And if you do not want to go as far up as Jay, you may want to to check out the "Glades" trail at Ragged Mountain. It is as steep as those glades run at Loon but much much wide open. I think it is the best introductory glades run in New Hampshire.
post #15 of 29
Nolo's comment is exactly what I was going to say as well. People tend to focus on the trees they don't want to hit and as a result are 1) drawn to them as Bob P said and 2) tend to loose their path as someone else alluded to. Whatever your technique or level just focus on the white openings you want to ski on not the other bits in between.
post #16 of 29
. . . and one more thing: As in bumps, TURN, TURN, TURN!!! Traversing is a last resort.
post #17 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thanks to all, as always good and useful advice, all of which has been printed for safekeeping. What makes this forum so great is that there are people at all levels and all mountains and many that ski the same trails as we do. Glad I found it (I think it showed up in google).

post #18 of 29
Thread Starter 
That's exactly why I'd like to learn how. Steep trails like Walking Boss at Loon or Lynx at Sunapee are for speed. A few years back I was in Switzerland on a business trip and we went cross country skiing at Grindelwald. The tranquility in the midst of the snow covered pines was pretty magical. So it seems that after trying to beat my 15 y/o down the mountain on the groomers it would be nice to slow it down and remind myself that mountains are covered in trees...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thatsagirl
Speed is not your friend in trees. You are there to enjoy the peace and isolation of the trees.
post #19 of 29
Thread Starter 
Yes it certainly seemed like the trees were encircled in bumps. But other than that experiment the weekend was pretty darn nice -- had never been to Loon before and the views from the top of the north peak were just plain wonderful. The skiing was pretty good too

Quote:
Originally Posted by hiroto
I was there this weekend and made many runs with my son through Scaler (the one continue below Missing link) so I know what you were against. The challenge of that course in that condition (not steep but relatively dense tree without fresh snow for a couple of weeks) is that it has small hard packed bumps developed in such way that it requires you to turn for every single one of them in small space to keep your speed under control. Miss a single turn and you can easily get out of control.
post #20 of 29
!wear a helmet!
post #21 of 29
Either take your pole straps off of your hands or do not loop them through. You are more likely to get your pole stuck under a root or rock in the woods. And as mentioned it is like skiing moguls..you need quick feet and be able to change direction on the spot.
post #22 of 29
I want to reiterate what Phil said: Don't use your pole straps in the woods. If you catch your pole on something, injuries can include dislocated shoulders, broken thumbs, etc. Without straps, if you catch your pole, you can simply let go of it.

Thatsagirl

P.S. My husband the ski patroller made me say that!
post #23 of 29
I agree about the poles; I never use the straps. And I agree about not skiing super close to the trees because tree wells are dangerous, although, this isn't a problem unless the snow pack is really deep.

I find that most glades trails in the east are just that, glades trails. They get enough skier traffic to form moguls, and often the bumps there are irregular and difficult to find a good line or rythm in. Do not mistake glade skiing at Loon for tree skiing or skiing in the woods. They are not the same thing.
post #24 of 29
This mostly applies to tighter trees, but you can start now:

When there is space to make your turns go across the hill or even a bit uphill, use it. Because you may not have the space to do that for another few turns. Using this strategy will keep you from having to brake to control your speed (for the most part). Now if more than a few turns go by with no room to complete them, then by all means slam on the brakes! But this should be rare, if it isn't, then the trees are too difficult for you.
post #25 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo
Focus on the path opening up before you rather than on the obstacles you are trying to avoid. To repeat: Look for the opening, not at the trees.

This is the best advice ever!! Probably the most important element.

Craig
post #26 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by skidad55
Ok, so is there some basic advice on how to BEGIN to ski simple treed trails like that one? Its obviously different than a groomed trail...
I am far from being good in glades but I know the following works. Quick short radius turns, look for openings and pole plant accordingly, skid (hard if necessary) to slow down/stop after each turn. And, the obvious usual: counter rotation, hands in front, pressure on shins etc... If the trees become too thick or the terrain gets too steep/rough, sidestep to the next safe spot to proceed.

BTW, the ratings of glade trails vary quite a bit from place to place. Most local mountains call all tree-existing runs black, no matter how flat and thin. Some mountains that are known for glades have tree trails that are rather steep, as steep as blacks/doubleblack elsewhere on the mountain.
post #27 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thatsagirl

The joy about skiing in the trees is you can go slowly and you don't have to worry about someone slamming into you. So, don't worry about the fact that you will be going slower than you normally ski.
Thatsagirl
It's actually easier to ski trees than it is to ski a crouded intermediate slope with a lot of rug-rats or adult beginners. The trees remain stationary, people don't. Bretton Woods has some very gentle tree slopes which can be a lot of fun for everyone. They also have some very difficult ones so make sure you go to the tree skiing between the intermediate slopes. Easter Sunday I found myself skiing Cabin Chute at Ascutney. It was very scratchy with exposed trunks and rocks. Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place!!! I'm an accomplished Tree skier but this was borderline crazy. Make sure you have a lot of snow in the trees and you will enjoy it a lot more.
post #28 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo
Focus on the path opening up before you rather than on the obstacles you are trying to avoid. To repeat: Look for the opening, not at the trees.
That's good advice. If you play hockey or another team sport you're often faced with a lot of 'obstacles' (other players=trees) - but to get anything accomplished you have to be able to 'see' the ice, or the slope, that is available to you, rather than getting hung up on the obstacles.
A beginner might try to continually ski the same glades, so you get to a point where you really know the lay of the land. Once you've got that you can start choosing favourite routes through the trees - and then start to work on technique.
post #29 of 29
As the trees get tighter it gets more important to look for "corridors" (i.e. 2-3 turns ahead) between the trees as opposed to just the spaces (1 turn ahead).

In addition to the safety tips mentioning helmets, pole straps and tree wells, you should be keep an eye out for low hanging branches (which can poke eyes and rip clothing) and wildlife (give them a wide berth if possible or ski quickly away otherwise). You should also ski with a buddy and pre-establish a communication system. Try to keep in visual range and use sounds (e.g. hollers, yoo hoos, whistles) to periodically relocate your partner when out of visual range. Also establish meeting points in case you get separated. Make a mental note of where you entered the trees and any cross trails you pass in case you need to direct Patrol to an accident site in the woods. When you go into the woods, you need to know that rocks and deadfall can be present under the surface of the snow. Avoid places where the snow surface is raised relative to the surrounding snow as it may indicate the presence of something dangerous underneath.

And if you must pee in the woods, please pee on the downhill side of a pine tree instead of a hardwood (pines like acidic soils and people are less likely to ski through your mess).
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