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Skiing by Braille

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
A few times over the years I have been in whiteout conditions so severe that I could hardly see the ground. Two of these incidents happened this week. Wind, snow and fog so thick I could hardly see my feet and planted a pole every few seconds to see if I was moving. And if I was moving, in which direction? On more than one occasion I was moving backwards without realizing it because the wind was so strong in my face it gave the impression I had to be moving forward.

Anyone else had the experience of skiing inside a ping-pong ball in a hurricane?
post #2 of 19
A few years ago in Neukirchen Austria. I skied al day (nice powder). After lunch the wheather went from bad to worse. Everybody was inside the lodge on top of the mountain. All lifts were closed due to high winds including the gondola down into town. It was a complete whiteout. The lodge was getting cramped and i wanted to get off the mountain to shower and eat something. So i thought what the hell i'll ski down. So i get outside and put on my ski's if i bent down i could just see their tips. I had to stop every few meters to get my bearings, the only clues were the direction of the wind and the angle of the slope. I was knocked down by the wind 3 times. Eventually i found a fence (by skiing against it) at the side of the slope and was able to ski alongside it. I never was so happy when i got between the trees where the wind couldn't get at me. So i skied all the way down to the appartment and was happy to be inside. The Storm raged on. At about 8 pm they started the gondola to get the other people off the mountain, but they could only run it for like 15 minutes at a time due to the wind. The last people got off the mountain at 12 pm or so.

PS. Only do these things if you have skied at the same mountain for 15 years and know your way around.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 24, 2002 01:52 AM: Message edited 1 time, by Crosscarver ]</font>
post #3 of 19
that's a pretty frequent occurrence at The Big Mountain in Whitefish MT. unfortunately, fog/whiteout affects each of us differently. I have skied in heavy fog that nauseated friends. Usually, I try to ski by feel (I also call it "Braille skiing") and stick to runs I know, preferably ones with trees. If you have the courage, glades and tree skiing is best for those days. Otherwise, go slower than usual and be sure to feel gravity's pull (apologies to M Stipe)
post #4 of 19
After his '68 SL victory in the fog, Killy was asked how he managed. "Intelligence of the feet" was his answer.
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 

Yeah, that paragraph pretty much captures the fealing.

As it was happening to me yesterday I managed to kick my brain in to action and apply some logic to the situation. I was on the upper part of MtBachelor. No glades or trees up there and, even if there were, I could hardly make out my ski tips when I kicked them out of the snow. I kept moving in a slowly descending traverse(would have been very easy to stop and wait for a clearing that would not have come for hours) slowly to the west and then realized I would probably traverse beyond the top of the Northwest chair so I turned around and traversed a little to the east. Finally I could hear a chairlift above the wind knew I was just above the top of the Northwest chair.

Afterward (while skiing in the glades below) I realized I was glad I had been alone. With even one other person I'm sure we would have become separated and spent considerable time and effort stumbling around in the whiteout trying to find each other.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 24, 2002 08:49 AM: Message edited 1 time, by PowderJunkie ]</font>
post #6 of 19
I've done this twice. Once at Whistler, with my 13 year old step daughter in my charge, once at Jay, where there was so much snow that the trail signs were covered. Even though its scarey. I actually ski better by instinct than I do by thought.

I mentioned this in a thread in instruction, when i asked about visually impaired skiers. I had an instance where a blind woman came into one of my fitness classes, one that involved core board, stability balls, and all sorts of strange stuff. She did better than the rest of the "seeing" students.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 24, 2002 12:35 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Lisamarie ]</font>
post #7 of 19
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by David Goldsmith:

The 11th paragraph of this piece gives quite a good potted explanation of the visual deprivation caused by snow (which the article also explains isn't white):

Thanks for this link, great reading!
post #8 of 19
The most vivid memory I have of being lost in a whiteout was in Verbier, Switzerland, skiing with my father and a couple of strangers who were equally lost.
The storm smothered all tracks of previous skiers, on a run we'd never tackled. Vision was blanked out in the way you've described. It gets a little scary when you don't know if you're about to ski off a cliff.

The 11th paragraph of this piece gives quite a good potted explanation of the visual deprivation caused by snow (which the article also explains isn't white):
post #9 of 19
A real trip is being out in a bowl, after a large storm so its deep with the fresh stuff, with an upslope wind, and in a total a whiteout.

You've got nothing visual to referance off of, the wind is in your face whether you are moving or not, and the snow is so soft and deep the sensation of moving at slow to moderate speeds through it is the same as the sensation of standing still in it
. . . I've found that I could not even tell if I'm moving or not!

You know, I'd be going straight, building up a bit of speed to start tearing up the fluff, then realized that it still felt like a lot of work to turn, so I'd put my hand down in the snow and find that I'm even moving.

It is bizarre and results in total vertigo!

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 24, 2002 05:30 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Todd M. ]</font>
post #10 of 19
"Ski by Braille" is an old and descriptive term for low-visual conditions.
post #11 of 19
Happened once at Sugarbush years ago. That day still stands out as one of my favorite.It was a challenge and changed well known runs into all new had snowed for 2 days straight and then the white out.I was one of a handfull of skiiers
so basicly I had the mountain to myself.Upper FIS was a BLAST
post #12 of 19
Been through that with fog. Couldn't even see my skis. Scary feeling when the ground drops out from under you without knowing it's coming. That was years ago before Powderjunkie helped me with my balance at T-Line.
Now things are much better... but still scared spitless (spitless is pc for something else). I hate pc!!!
post #13 of 19
Heh, I"m so used to Brialle condition ( fog, like what Big Mtn gets etc) that I laugh at what most areas call low visibility. We measure our visibility on fog days by how many riblet towers you can see. Staying in the trees really helps.

post #14 of 19
We had the other kind of Braille in VT a few weeks ago. The wind blew lots of snow onto a bump run on the leeward side of the mountain, making a run of thigh deep, ice moguls, look like a field of smooth fresh pow. Nice sunny day, no wind, but your feet are skiing ice bumps while your eyes see smoothies.
post #15 of 19
This happened to me at Crystal Mt. yesterday. I would stop occasionally to get my bearings and then fall over into the slope because I was still moving. Although it was pretty cool initially, it got real old real fast
post #16 of 19
Badrat, I was there on Sunday. Skiing in Green Valley was a different experience. "Feel the moguls."
post #17 of 19
That's where I fell, Lucky. That run just off the Green Valley lift.

"Feel the moguls". HA! Yeah, right! I felt those suckers with my face!
post #18 of 19
i think there is a diff skiing white in your home area and skiing in unfamiliar terrain.

At crystal I have skied in white out snow with heavy fog more times than I can remember and dont get to freaked about it because I know the hill so well.I have skied in some bad conditions in unfamiliar areas and you get worried particularly about cliff bands etc. the skiing isn't so hard just slow and puckered if you know what I mean.

How about the most scared you have ever been on a mountain side.Mine was a couple of years ago at crystal. we had wind spikes at about 100 to 115 mph. 410 was closed a tree had blown over and killed a women in her car. The mountain was fairly empty because of this. mostly people who live in cabins or stay all weekend all hardcore. they open the lifts up rex for about 10 minutes when they realize bad Idea . snow dumping wind screaming so we jump in a section called elevator shaft because of the trees for visability . Bad Idea tree snow was so heavy you couldnt see 6in in front the wind so loud you could't communicate and trees were getting blown over.we made it down skiing between gusts .the scene was surreal with tress strewn across trails.
post #19 of 19
Skiied in Bowls during whiteout conditions a lot but I also had more of a blind man experience one day with bad fog. I couldn't wear my contacts that day and my glasses would just not stop fogging up. I finally decided it would just be better if I didn't wear glasses at all and just skiied in my friend's tracks. My eyesight is pretty bad,without glasses I can just make out the first letter on most standard eye charts. With my sighted friend leading the way it was actually a really fun day. :
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