Originally Posted by Harry_Morgan
Actually, it gets easier to ski powder as the slope gets steeper right up to the point that it starts to give way. On steep powder slopes, subtle movements translate into an ecstasy not otherwise acheivable. This assumes you are capable of skiing past the flail in powder stage that marks so many who have not yet mastered it.
The coral reef described is the same as the refrozen mashed potatos I mentioned. Far harder than either ice or powder, but I would still give a solid rain crust the nod as hardest - When you need to remove both skis from the snow pack to make any turns, you soon become exhausted.
Ice is demanding. It requires well-tuned skis and very accurate movements. Given those two ingredients, it's quite possible to ski it well. Racers like it. It's fast and consistent.
Powder is nirvana. And
it's forgiving. Around here (Nelson, BC), many decent powder skiers simply refuse to ski if it's not a powder day. When some of them do show up when most of the area is packed out, you can see why. Some of them don't actually ski very well in anything but powder.
To ski deep powder, you have to be willing to allow yourself to float down
the hill. Given the lack of a solid, stable surface underneath, this feels entirely too much like falling to many people. They fight it, which is exhausting and not much fun.
Others, who have made at least some progress in the right direction, will use the traditional porpoising method, turning the skis rather abruptly when the skis are near or at the surface. This, too, is a lot of work. Further, the line between turns, which is often nearly straight, results in more speed than many people really want.
Still others buy big skis (90 mm+ at the waist), so that they're already close to the surface. The skis are easy to steer as a result. A ski like this can make life much easier in heavy, wet powder, crud, windpack, and the like. However, you won't get as many face shots on big skis.
For me, a mid-fat (78 mm waist, at the moment) works well. In deep powder the ski may never come anywhere near the surface. The method is similar to hardpack: weight centered over feet, tip skis to new edges, allow center of mass to move down the hill, guide skis around curve. Use patience at the start. Skis actually steer nicely when completely buried, but powder will enforce a progressive movement. For speed control, finish each turn more completely. And, yes, I know it's all instuctor-speak.
Although "sit back in powder" is largely a myth, you may have to sit back slightly
as speed increases, just to balance against the resistance powder creates at your feet. Even so, turns are easiest if you allow yourself to move down the hill, rather than hopping and rotating. If your quads feel like they're going to die, you're sitting back way too much.
And, I agree that frozen coral, frozen death cookies, breakable ice crust, etc. tend to make things much more challenging.