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Steep & Deep Terrain/Instruction

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I ski on the bulletproof powder in NC where the only thing knee-high is the kudzu however, I skied the John Paul area at Snowbasin last year and loved it! I'm coming back (somewhere?) this year and want to spend one day with a good instructor/school working on steep & deep technique and then a few days on my own. Alta/Snowbird, JHMR and a number of other resorts have the terrain but does anybody had good results with instruction? Ideas and suggestions would be appreciated. New to Epicski but am thoroughly enjoying it.
post #2 of 14


I had a fantastic lesson last year at Alta, I'd definitely recommend it. Haven't been to JHMR, so I can't compare, but I'm in love with Alta and I think you should go there. You can also stay in Salt Lake or Sandy pretty cheaply. I'm an intermediate, been skiing 3 years, and there's plenty to ski at Alta for someone like me.
post #3 of 14
chasesdad, welcome to EpicSki!

Would you consider the EpicSki Academy? There is nowhere anywhere that you could get the level of coaching that you would at the ESA, especially for the price. BTW, it's at Alta/Bird this year...
post #4 of 14
...and, if you choose not to do the ESA, there are a number of instructors on this list from the Utah areas, and Bob Peters is in Jackson so could give you insight there. Eski holds his camps in Targee, last I knew, as well. And he and Rob could definitely give you some "steep and deep" clinics!
post #5 of 14
I've taken a fair amount of lessons at a number of resorts know for challenge and steeps. Just to give you my bias and background, I'm about mid to upper level 8 skier and when I take lessons I prefer all day group lessons whenever possible. When I take a group lesson I'm often the only one at my level so I essentially get a private lesson for the price of a group lesson. However, in this situation some resorts will shorten the lesson, especially with half day lessons. I like all day lessons b/c it really gives you a good amount of time to learn something and you get a much more complete tour of the mountain. Realize that the quality of any lesson at any resort will be very dependent on your instructor and there's no guarantee that you'll get a good one. I always ask for a PSIA Level 3 certified instructor or higher and let the instructor assigning the lessons know what I'd like to learn, what I’d like to ski and what I'm working on. So here are some of my observations.

Alta: haven't taken a lesson there for a number of years (was probably a low level 7 skier at the time), had about 5 or 6 in my group that day, excellent instructors, only half day lessons starting in the afternoon, great way to find some of the famed Alta stashes, would like to go back and do their Diamond Challenge and really get to some of the steeps.

Snowbird: did the all day group Mountain Experience on a powder day (about a foot of fresh overnight), was more of a mountain tour than a lesson, about 4-5 in our group, did not like our instructor/guide as he was not too friendly or willing to teach, did a lot of traversing to get to the untracked, didn't really get to ski the classic Snowbird steeps, probably wouldn't do it again unless I knew I would have a better instructor/guide.

Jackson Hole: took a Mountain Masters all-day group lesson a few years ago on a powder day (8" of fresh overnight), had 3 in our group (1 was a buddy of mine), great instructor, great tour of the mountain, skied lots of the great JH runs except Corbet's, would do it again, possibly one of my all-time favorite days spent in a lesson.

Squaw Valley: took a 2 hour group lesson, was the only one in the lesson, decent instructor, skied mostly off Granite Chief, would've like to have skied off KT and Headwall, overall I'd say it would've been better if it would've been longer in order to get to other areas of the resort.

Crested Butte: took 2 half day group lessons during a week of skiing a couple of years ago, was the only one in both lessons, very good instructors, got to ski stuff that I probably wouldn't have been able to find on my own, skied all over the Extreme Limits terrain, having 2 half day lessons was probably better than having one all day lesson due to the differences in the instructors I had (both were very good, but had different styles of teaching), would do it again.

Big Sky: took 3 half day group lessons during a week of skiing a few years ago(was probably more of a mid to upper level 7 skier at the time), was the only one in all lessons, unfortunately only skied a couple of runs off the tram, mostly skied off Challenger and Thunder Wolf, decent instructors, would’ve like to ski more off the tram, in the future would probably take only 1 or 2 lesson in a week's time and ask to ski mostly off the tram.

Vail/BC: took 2 all day group lessons over the past couple of years, was the only one in each lesson, very good instructors, very good tour of the mountain, great to be able to cut lift lines especially at Vail, not too many true steeps but lots of excellent advanced terrain, would do it again.

Overall, I had my best lesson at Jackson Hole and am planning a trip back there this season to do the Steep and Deep Camp. I think my next best lesson experience has been at either Vail or Crested Butte. I’d love to get back to Alta for the Diamond Workshop. You probably can't go wrong with the EpicSki academy but I don't have first hand experience. If I was only going to take one lesson and then ski for a few days, I'd do it either at Jackson Hole or Vail. I hope this has been helpful.
post #6 of 14
chasesdad -

Many of the problems people have with skiing steep and deep are actually fundamental problems with their technique (or missing core skills) that need to be addressed before attacking steep terrain or deep powder/crud. I always cringe when I hear people talking about going to a weekend steep & deep clinic (or getting a one day lesson)because I know they are going to get some taught really keeno geewhiz tricks but won't get the core skills they really need.

Seriously consider the ESA Eastern Tune-up or preferably the ESA in Utah. You'll get 2 or 4 days of intense training which will make you a more rounded skier. I videoed for the ESA last year and was very impressed with the real progress in all the classes I saw. If you go to the ESA you'll get 4 long days of skiing in Utah while taking a major step forward with your skiing skills.
post #7 of 14
Rio, tell him about the groups that focused on steeps at the ESA... That might help him get the picture... I wasn't with those groups, so can't comment on specifics...
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 

Steep Deep Instruction

I would love to do the ESA however, my dates are Jan 8-12 and I can't change them. Not sure I could convince my wife of the need for another trip three weeks later.

The "steep" isn't as much of a concern as the "deep". Skiing in shin/knee deep snow was a new experience. The mountain humiliated me once or twice but, once I gained some experience with it, I had a blast and did pretty well. Fat skis would have probably helped but that's another story!

The comment on core skills is interersting. I've skied for years on black runs and am very comfortable there however I've never had an "expert" review my technique. I'd like to do that. Again, I wish I could go to the ESA.

Thanks for the response!
post #9 of 14
I've never done a camp before so am not sure what to expect. However, everytime I take a lesson and tell the instructor that I want to work on steeps we usually always start out on a groomed blue run working on techinque that is applicable to skiing steeps. I'm sure at that time I'm also being evaluated by the instructor so he has some idea of what I can really handle.

As far as getting a good powder lesson, that's a tough one unless you can storm chase and make last minute plans based on whose going to get the goods. If you need to make plans in advance look at historical data as far as highest snowfall months for specific resorts. For your dates in Jan. your best bets are probably Alta/Snowbird/Brighton/Solitude, Grand Targhee and Jackson Hole. Tony Crocker probably would have more info about highest chance for powder in Jan.
post #10 of 14
Originally Posted by chasesdad
The "steep" isn't as much of a concern as the "deep".
I've skied the John Paul area at Snowbasin. While they do have some great advanced terrain there I wouldn't classify it as really steep. My understanding is that to get to the really steep stuff at Snowbasin you have to do a bit of in bounds hiking. At Alta, Snowbird and Jackson Hole you'll find plenty of really steep terrain without hiking. You'll be plenty concerned with the steep on some of these runs.

As far as the deep goes, wide skis definitely help. Since I'm pretty much in the same boat as you in that I plan trips and don't get to ski whenever there's new snow I struggled in fresh snow for quite some time. By no means am I proficient in skiing the deep. Last year was the 1st season that I felt like I was getting it techinque wise. It was also the first year that I had a really great time skiing over a foot of new. Before that I could manage in the deep cut up crud but I struggled and part of me was wishing for the powder/packed powder conditions that I was used to. I think a lesson will definitely help even if there isn't new snow. We can all clean up our technique and what you learn will hopefully be applicable to when you get into the deep. At least you'll be able to ski the steep but it'll be hit or miss on whether you get the deep.
post #11 of 14
All Mountain Ski Pros at Sugarbowl has reasonable rates for private instruction and weekend mini-clinics that include some BC too. But Prosper is correct that where the snow is will be more important to your desires. I get the impression that you want an opportunity for supervised practice and expert help as you try this out rather than issues with your technique. That makes the conditions even more important. It is really frustrating to plan and look forward to your big deal vacation only to find it hasn't snowed in a month and you've flown many miles and spent lots of money only to ski the same bulletproof powder you skied in NC. If you can, do wait 'till the last minute and just go where the snow is; it's your best bet. And early January is not a great time for predictable powder. Can't you go in March instead!?

You can practice appropriate technique and hone your turns all you want on the groomed - and it IS good to do. But you cannot learn to ski steep slopes or deeper snow without actually encountering steep slopes and/or deep snow:
post #12 of 14
Check this website, click on what's new and look for recent piece about Whistler that includes a discussion of their Steeps clinics; article by Tony Crocker, a frequent and savvy poster here.
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 

Steep & Deep Instruction

Mom, I agree completely. I've booked trips in advance before only to find 42F and rain when I got there. I was upset to say the least but that's the nature of the beast. I think my best bet would be to keep a close eye on 1) The weather and 2) "E-saver" airfares. If the two of those come together at the right time I would have to go. When the planets do align, I just want to make sure I know some good instructors/schools to call. In the meantime, there may be other good resources (videos, books, etc.) on powder skiing technique so I'd be a step ahead of the game once I got there? Thanks.
post #14 of 14
Best of luck to you, may the planets align! Do write again and let us all know what you did and how it went.

Lito Flores has a how to ski bumps and powder "Breakthrough on Skis" video/dvd and the powder section is pretty good. But really, it's about doing it. I haven't looked (i'm a newbie too ) But I'll bet that there's an extensive thread somewhere on this forum on how to ski powder that you could find!
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