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Sluff Management

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
As long as I'm on the subject of steeper skiing at Jackson Hole, I thought I'd report on an entertaining experience I had this morning.

We had 6" of new snow as of the 6:00am snow report, with a fair bit more coming down after that. Probably 10-12" of blown-in snow in some of the more sheltered areas.

By a nice bit of luck, I was about the fourth person up the Thunder chair this morning and as I was riding over Tower 3 Chute, I noticed that there were zero tracks in it, not even any patrollers. So, as soon as I got off the chair I beelined to the entrance to T3.

I should mention that the new snow was very light for JH, probably something like 6% moisture content. I should also mention that there was a THICK layer of fog hanging over the middle of the mountain, so visibility was a bit challenging.

Anyway, I drop into the chute and make a few turns. All of a sudden, I notice there's a whole bunch of snow going WITH me. Like, a WHOLE bunch of snow. All that new, fluffy snow was sliding down the chute with me.

Now, normally that would be kind of fun. If you can see where you're going and the surface underneath you is fairly smooth, skiing with a sluff is a riot.

Today, however, in huge old moguls and zero visibility, it was a bit disconcerting. Since I couldn't see the tops and troughs of the bumps, I wasn't brave enough to just point the skis and blast past the snow. So, I would drop into a big trough between moguls and then get surrounded by my sluff, then ski down out of it only to have it catch me again at the next trough. This is all happening at a pretty high rate of speed. :

Finally, I dropped through the chokepoint of Tower 3 where the pitch eases a little and the pesky sluff couldn't keep up anymore.

I haven't skied sluffing snow inbounds for quite some time. Very interesting.
post #2 of 8
I haven't had anything like this this year. Too sad. Last year I remember diving second into a side-country chute and making turns with the snow moving at the same speed as me towards a known but blind terrain trap past a rollover and in the trees. Pulled out to the left on a safe zone spine and let the snow go by.

Next skier down really got the chute moving, launched off a sidewall and into the drop-off into the trap with all the snow following. We yelled, and got a reply. Alls well that ends well. He ran it out to the apron into the clear.
post #3 of 8
I had that at Stowe once on the Starr. The wind was blowing right down the trail so all the snow stayed with me. I had to stop every three or four turns, plot a course and the ski until I felt "lost again".
post #4 of 8
Glad to hear you pulled it off Bob. Some years ago SCSA and I were skiing Fernie inbounds and snookered a whole group of skiers looking over a cornice. Snooze ya loose. Snowing hard and about 2 feet of new. Maybe 10 turns down the hill and I almost had my feet taken out from under me. Regained my balance and timed my turns so that after the sluff rolled by I made my transition. Went back up for another round and it was closed.
post #5 of 8
I had a similar exp. on Wed morning. First run, me and a friend, Silver Queen on Ajax to be exact, broke trail all the way in, 8 inches of 3% (Radio quote) snow. I thought as I came over the top of a steep pitch it would slough. It did and I checked my speed to let it get infront of me so I could ski back on to it. The slough never stopped and ran all the way to the bottom. 800ft I watched in amazement. It would have knocked anyone over, not covered them, but knock them over. Needless to say the skiing at the bottom was deep cause of all the slough. My friend who skied the other aspect of the slope experienced the same thing. I think with light dry snow, you will see that often. It skis super fast too.
post #6 of 8
Bob, as I know you've experienced, most people who've skied in the Chugach steeps have some great memories of "slough" (sounds more exotic than sluff doesn't it?) management.

Anyway, I know I've related my story to you of skiing at Snowbasin near the bottom of the John Paul lift, skiing off the main trails in a gully during one of the big Christmas storms a few years ago, and having the sides of the gully sluff. Ended up 100% buried with snow a couple of inches above the top of my head. Pretty freaky.

I see that gully every time I go up the John Paul lift and it always gives me pause.
post #7 of 8
Being buired is awhole nother experience. Not go OT but I wonder how many skiers here have had the same experience Si has had.
post #8 of 8
Slider, it's not an experience I would care to repeat. Three or four breaths of loose snow goes a ways towards freaking you out.

Bob, I forgot to mention my thoughts as I read your post. I suspect it would take a skier of your ability to make it throgh Tower III in those conditions. I'm sure I would have ended up on my ass or the other end. The giveaway - Bob's disconcerting = Si's demise.
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