Before the lesson when talking with the supervisor who is organizing the classes I express my desire to ski on specific terrain. After the instructor has been assigned I will again let him or her know what type of terrain I'd like to ski on. That conversation is usually prompted by the instructor during the chair ride or shortly after. Usually, we start on terrain much gentler than said terrain to warm up and do some drills. Usually, after the warm up and drills we spend most of the day on the terrain requested, depending on the other students in the class.
The only place I've been taken on terrain that I was perhaps not completely comfortable on was at Crested Butte and Jackson Hole. At CB it happened twice in 2 different lessons with 2 different instructors. In both lessons I was taking a 2 hour group lesson but was the only student in my group. With one instructor, the only thing that was a bit uncomfortable during the whole lesson was the few feet of mandatory air to get established onto a tree run. The other was skiing Rambo, which apparently is rarely open due to it being so steep (I think it's the steepest named run at CB), lower elevation (towards the bottom of the North Face) and need for good coverage. The top was a bit sketchy and it looked like my instructor was almost as apprehensive and defensive skiing it as I was.
At JH I was in the Steep and Deep camp. I actually wasn't pushed as much as I thought I would have been by our instructor but did have a really good time. I did feel the adrenaline pumping before we'd launch over some smallish (10 foot) cliffs but the only run we skied that I got a slight case of butterflies in the stomach was Meet Your Maker, a 7 foot wide 50 foot long cliff lined steep chute like a toboggan run. You can either jump turn the entire chute or ski the exact same line as everyone else making a quick left turn at the top of the chute and then right turn at the bottom. We did rubberneck into Corbet's but didn't ski it. At the beginning of the camp I had all intentions of doing Corbet's but conditions were not ideal while we were there (that's the excuse I sticking with).
I don't think I was taken on terrain beyond my ability in any of the lessons. In the above cases I definitely felt challenged by the terrain and by my instructor in a very positive way. I definitely felt a sense of accomplishment after skiing the terrain and feel like I improved with each lesson.
Originally Posted by Rusty Guy
should a level I or II cert instuctor/guide ever lead skiers onto a short steep ungroomed section?
I've taken group lessons with a couple of Level II's who have taken me into all sorts of steep, ungroomed terrain. One of my lessons (the one in which we skied Rambo) at CB was with a Level II. We skied the North Face and Headwall a number of times during the lesson. We skied off piste more than on. I don't see a problem with a Level II taking students on black and double black terrain as long as the students are willing and capable.
By the way, whenever I take lessons I request a Level III instructor and have always been told by the supervisor that it wasn't a problem. On 2 occasions (CB and Beaver Creek) through casual conversation, I discovered that my instructor was actually a Level II. At CB it wasn't a big deal at all since I got a great lesson with a really good instructor. At BC I was having an off ski day and didn't really feel like my instructor had the knowledge or teaching skill to encourage or really me through the difficult day. I was the only one in my group for an all day lesson so I had the instructor's undivided attention. I don't know if a Level III would have done any better. This is probably a bit of a hijack but does anyone think I have anything to complain about?