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Ice or Powder

post #1 of 60
Thread Starter 
I'm sure this has been asked before but it's always good to get a new perspective from those who haven't answered a question like this.
What's harder to ski...ice or powder as in 2 or 3 feet of it. I say ice, and I deal with all winter long. I would much rather drop into a 40 degree bowl in deep powder than ski steep ice. And no, I'm not asking who is the better skier , just you're own view on it.
post #2 of 60
Ice is a lot easier to ski well. Powder can be skied more easily, but it is far more difficult to ski well. Just IMHO, of course.
post #3 of 60
Both require different skills obviously, but.....unless you're in avalanche-risk conditions, icy conditions are far more dangerous than 2-3 feet powder, all else equal.
post #4 of 60
It took me a few days to learn how to ski deep powder snow. I already knew how to ski ice and hard pack, but having skated from a young age, I have no idea how long it would take a powder skier to learn to ski ice. I think ice is easier to ski, but most folks I know don't agree with me.

The hardest thing imho is big steep icy moguls that are very close together, but that could just be due to me spending most of my time on skis elsewhere.

Big moguls hidden beneath a big dump of soft snow can be a little challenging if you try and ski them fast.
post #5 of 60
Ice. Real ice. Like the blue stuff on glaciers and on packed out Austrian hills. Or at Montage (Scranton) where I skied once and scared myself silly. At least at the Austrian resorts you can get hammered on the hill and still enjoy the day's 'skiing'. Powder is luxury. Tomorrow anyone
post #6 of 60
Ice.. I mihgt like powder if I ever get to ski it :
post #7 of 60
Ice is definitely harder to ski as at a certain point there is really no good way to slow yourself down to a comfortable level on it on a steep slope. Try and do a few skidded turns and try not to end up on yo' butt. With powder as long as you don't do anything wrong (read a book take a lesson etc to avoid bad habits) it can be picked up pretty quickly. I think a lot of people try to turn before picking up enough speed and struggle the whole way down the slope. With minor adjustments it'd be a whole different story. Powder skills are something I definitely want to hone but I wish I didnt need ice skills...
post #8 of 60
I spent years on boilerplate on Mid-Atlantic hills. Given the right well-tuned skis, I laugh at ice. Now, two or three FEET of powder? It would have to be darn light and I'd have to get some fatter skis. I know the last time I was in that much snow I definitely had the wrong skis on. The Recons would be better, but I know they start topping out (or not floating enough to be specific) around one foot.
post #9 of 60
Boiler Plate > powder > crusty ice

True ICE as in blue, no air, smooth as a 5-month old's behind is the worst and is damn hard to ski. However super hard pack, crusty east coast what ever is way easier to ski than powder. The way I see it is when you are dealing with nice crusty hard pack the thing is likely rather smooth and as such rather easy to ski. Most powder hides wierd things which can throw people off. The worst day of my 9 days in UT this spring was a day where we got 15in fresh and it was my first time skiing anything more than 1 or 2 fresh. However my best day was the last day when we got 12 or so and I had finally figured out a bit more skiing. All this being said it's snow skiing not ice skating.
post #10 of 60
For me, skiing ice with skis that badly need a tune is not fun. Another difficult situation is when you have patches of ice covered with powder. The sudden acceleration and decelleration of your skis throws your balance off. I have seen patches of ice covered intermittently with patches of powder due to the wind which was no picnic. Powder which has been subjected to winds (windbuff) is in my mind a blending of powder and ice and is the most difficult condition to ski.
post #11 of 60
For me it depends on the snow - but .. if I would have to choose one now, I would say ice!
post #12 of 60
Originally Posted by james
For me, skiing ice with skis that badly need a tune is not fun. Another difficult situation is when you have patches of ice covered with powder. The sudden acceleration and decelleration of your skis throws your balance off. I have seen patches of ice covered intermittently with patches of powder due to the wind which was no picnic. Powder which has been subjected to winds (windbuff) is in my mind a blending of powder and ice and is the most difficult condition to ski.
And then theres breakable crust
post #13 of 60

a conversation ...

... that you will never hear ..

Two guys are sitting in the bar at Deer Valley ..

"Heard they had rain at Whiteface and now it's gonna' go down to single digits!"

"Lets go!!!!!!!!"

post #14 of 60
The hardest to ski? Both at once. Last year a storm came in midweek and we were lucky enough to get out the next morning. The problem was the beginning of the storm was rain. It was a windy storm so the end result was windpacked powder deposited all over the place on top of ice. Toughest conditions I have ever skied. The second you relaxed for the powder you would hit hardpack and eat it, or vice versa. When you get a day like that you realize how vastly different your techniques are for the two skiing disciplines. It is one thing to change a few times during a run. It's another to try and adjust every turn.

post #15 of 60
Originally Posted by loboskis
And then theres breakable crust

Ding, ding, ding! If you can master breakable crust, you are among the best skiers anywhere.

post #16 of 60
Originally Posted by Powdr
Ding, ding, ding! If you can master breakable crust, you are among the best skiers anywhere.

I'd have to agree. Both ice and powder are relatively easy to ski. Refrozen mashed potatos, rain crust or wind buffed sastrugi are another thing entirely.
post #17 of 60
Ice. There is nothing like looking down a 500+ meter long straight fall-line of sheer ice, knowing that if you do fall, there is NO way you will stop until you slide into the trees at the bottom... And knowing that it does not matter at all whether you fall at the top or further down when at speed. You will be at speed anyway when you finally crash.

Handling the fear of such consequences is no laughing matter.
post #18 of 60
I agree with bigE. I went to hunter the day after it had rained and it was below freezing that day, All of the steeper trails were just straight ice. You can be relaxed and edge lightly and make subtle movements and you won't fall....but you will continue to gain speed which can result in disaster...Ice doesnt cushion a fall like a few feet of light stuff. Also after a certain point it doesnt matter how much snow is under you skis...so I don't really think 4 feet is harder than 2 feet....as long as you keep moving.
post #19 of 60
Ice requires that you maintain almost perfect techique to carve your turns while powder is way more forgiving. If you have skis that are fat enough to float you on one foot then powder is not so tough to learn to ski. On the other hand, it is physically way harder if you are a bad powder skier on a big dump day than a bad ice skier on a slick day.
post #20 of 60
Ice = survival skiing

Powder = soul skiing
post #21 of 60
It's snowing at my house and I live in south jersey...sweet jesus...and it's nearly 40 out. Perhaps I'll be doing some northern vermont soul skiing soon!
post #22 of 60
Dust on crust is second to breakable crust. They're both nasty.

But to answer your question ...ice.

I grew up club racing and a very short stint as a PSIA-E guy at Ski Liberty, PA on the right coast. The day I learned to coax an edge into a powerful turn on boiler plate was the day that I sang my praises of skiing ice. Since then I've lived in the mountains of CO for the last 20 years. Ice is by far more difficult to master than powder.

But then there are many variations ice and powder.

Try tele skiing on ice. Now that's a whole different ball game all together.
post #23 of 60
With the right skis, POW is so much easier and more effortless to ski than ICE. Both can drain you physically, but ICE will kill your legs while POW works your whole body.

Sharp edges and skill are required on ICE. If you don't have both, you will skid and slide out.

Wrong skis or bad edges on either case and you can have a misserable day. (P-30 in 5 feet of POW is NOT a good idea)
post #24 of 60
IMHO -- It depends on the steepness, the skiier, the definition of ski and the definition of "ice".
True ice is really hard to ski. (for everyone I think)

The boilerplate many skiiers call icy is easier to "ski". The average midwest skiier just slides their skis around (if you call that skiing) on the greens and blues with boilerplate. The same skiier will most likely flounder in powder deeper than the ankles.

Really steep icy conditions are difficult and not so fun, powder (if you know how to handle it) makes the steeps easier and fun.

On a side note, many midwest skiiers are spoiled by the state of heavy grooming in the local areas and come to expect perfect conditions. Often they have difficulty with (and are frustrated with) the varied conditions found in the true mountain experience.
post #25 of 60
Thread Starter 
I once posted about a weird ice condition I encountered at Hunter. Razor sharp, like coral, which is what the real term was for it. Completely unskiable. If you fell on it, you where toast. But then again heavy or even light but very deep powder can be a real prob. It's my preferred condition but taking a spill in it and trying to get back up, find skis, put them back on, can be challenging, especialy on a steep pitch. But I have to agree with most. When you mix the two together I believe you have the hardest conditions possible. I've skied the steepest run at Hunter, 37 degrees I think, with blower powder over solid ice. That was a mess. Sliding in and out of the powder was murder. But hey it was a NY powder day.
post #26 of 60
By far, Ice is harder to ski on than powder.

Blue boilerplate on a steep double fall ine is scary stuff, when, if you fall, you are pushed right off into the trees.

But I think there are worse.

Heavy breakable crust on top of medium heavy wet crud or powder, where the skis break through but can't get back up on top.

But I think the absolute hardest stuff to ski is solid coral reef after a day of crud. You simply can't point your skis and make them go where they are pointed, much less make a turn. You know, when two nights ago, they got a foot of heavy snow, then yesterday was 55 degrees, then it went to 10 degrees overnight.
post #27 of 60
That depends on what water content we're calling powder. If it's champagne powder, then ice is harder to ski. If it's 3 feet of April snow that fell when it was 35 degrees in NY state. I've gotta say that's a bit harder to ski.
The toughest has got to be breakable crust. I once had some at Hunter when a nice snowfall followed with frezing rain, it left about a 18 inches of powder covered with a quarter inch sheet of ice. The ice wasn't enough to support no matter how lightly I skied, so we ended up skiing the powder, with the ice crust beating up our shins. One of our patrol took padding and wrapped it around his shins. Wasn't bad skiing after it got broken up, but we had to ski it first.
post #28 of 60
Normal "hardpack" that a lot of people call "ice" isn't all that hard to ski. As evidence, I submit that "hardpack" is a pretty typical condition here in New England, and the hordes of average skiers using less-then-admirable technique manage just fine on it.

Real ice -- the stuff that the groomers can't make a dent in and is literally clear in color -- is really challenging without perfect technique and really well tuned skis. Otherwise, forget it. As others have said, falling on the stuff is a scary proposition.

I don't have a whole lot of time in powder, but so far, I don't find it anywhere nearly as difficult to learn to ski as I think ice is.

My votes for nearly impossible conditions would be powder on blue ice and icy bumps (Pierre, yes, I know -- you think this is fun . My vote for truly impossible would be breakable crust; I saw it once; I think my record was three turns before crashing.
post #29 of 60
I dont want to hijack the thread but this shouldn't take more than a post to straighten out...I have heard the term "double fall line" quite a bit and don't know what the heck it means. Help me out. Of course I know what the fall line is but double fall line?
post #30 of 60

double fall line

When the local gradient does not follow the run, like a road with the right side higher than the left side. You go "down hill" to get down the run, but there is another down hill that would have you roll off the run if you were a large ball.

BTW if you can have both ice and snow, then yes breakable crust on on top of deep takes the prize, especially if it is more than moderately steep (very steep won't hold snow).
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