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Let's talk tactics: Tree Skiing in flat light on bad snow

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I have posted here long enough and now its finally time to learn to ski.

So I was skiing trees at blueknob, PA on Saturday. After showing these videos to a buddy of mine (who posts on TGR and Epic) I got some good feedback however I wanted to see if any other experts had additional help for me. I am 28 like 5'10" and 215lbs. I was skiing on a 175cm 76mm waisted carbon core AT setup in this thread. I am looking for advice on tactics and line selection. I am open to some MA but I think the tactical issues are more important here--if you have something you just have to say please keep it simple. I have been working on shoulder position lately--though it doesn't really show a ton in these pics and videos.

I am used to skiing that run on soft easily edgeable hero snow. The conditions that day were basically flat light, dust on crust which was sort of windblown. It was very difficult to see variations in snow. From turn to turn and tree to tree I was floating on heavy wind pack then next turn I would push through that and ski on the crust. In other places I was actually punching through the crust. Weird on so many levels.

I made two runs in the glade. One in the morning which I have video and pictures. And then later in the afternoon where I have a few pictures.

First Run






First run part 1
http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...90153781&hl=en

First run part 2
http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...79221791&hl=en

I would have loved to have hit that log on viewers right (skiers left) in video 2 but the coverage wasn't there. You can hear some of the ice in sound portions.

Some comments I received from Josh were that I was stalling turn in the videos and not flowing smoothly. I agree with that. I aborted a few turns in my first run. Part of it was having to improvise my line based on the snow conditions. At the end of the first video I have to make a really weird little turn which would otherwise have taken me right into my fiancee. Big no, no!

Second Run In the afternoon.






I actually felt much more comfortable on my second run, not sure why. I just ignored the weirdo snow feedback and kept my head focused looking down slope. It ended up that I took a more aggressive and more compact line (faster transition between turns).

I want to reference this thread posed by Si in December.

I think particular focus is on this post by Bob Peters.

"It's absolutely critical to be able to absorb those snow variations. Sometimes that means totally abandoning a turn right after you start it. That may mean up-unweighting, down-unweighting, or just raising the skis off the snow and *hoping* that the next place they come down will be better than what you just left."

I am just curious how much attention should a skier pay or not pay to where they are vis a vis where they are going in bad snow poor lighting conditions. The discussion on recovery is based on where you are. In a rut with a edge caught, catching, tip diving, etc... What about where you are going? Skiing trees or bumps you want to keep your head up and looking where you are going, right?
post #2 of 23
I'll be breif and this is just my way of dealing with variable conditions.
Observe,Anticipate and Adjust. Staying centered over your skis is crucial.
To me it's not where you go but how you go.
post #3 of 23
Yellow lenses
post #4 of 23
I would recommend you perfect this on a groomer before getting in those conditions again: head straight down a steep pitch until you are going pretty fast. Then try to kill most of your speed with 2 or 3 short carved turns*. Then when you are in the trees, control your speed the same way when there is room, and let the skis run when there isn't. Usually there will only be 2 or 3 turns before there is room to control the speed. But sometimes you just have to slam on the brakes and it's going to be ugly!

*this is not an easy thing, it's likely you will need extensive instruction and practice, especially on hard snow.
post #5 of 23
I would be curious to hear some advice as well. My own experience is that it's good to pick a line and try for that, but anything goes after the first turn. Rarely do I get to stick to an anticipated line, and a lot of turns/maneuvers change mid course. I can only describe it as probably "not pretty", even though the technical basics are there. Slider's comment about staying centered over the skis is important, as this leads to a wider range of moves and recoveries. I tend to look 2-3 turns ahead with a general notion of the long-range line, but no doubt that deteriorates into 1-2 turns many times.

Not a tree run, but yesterday I was skiing a zipperline down the edge of a trail at Wintergreen VA. First few runs were great. On the 3rd or 4th run, I missed one turn and suddenly the line I had memorized was different (basically got onto the opposite line). It was hard to adjust mid course after skiing it the same exact way several times -- pretty much was a new line all of a sudden. Was a good reminder not to get into a rut (no pun intended).
post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post
Yellow lenses
I have a pair of brighter yellow lenses really lemony. The ones I was using saturday are like mandarin orance-ish. I guess that could be an issue.
post #7 of 23
tromano,

When you're in the trees, what's above the snow has priority over the snow surface. When you're in flat light, you've got that much less time to determine snow conditions ahead of time. When you're in variable snow, you need to have a strong core and use it in order to stay centered when your feet decide to suddenly stop or shoot ahead. When you're hit with a triple whammy, it's only natural to go defensive, get stiff and get knocked around. For as little as this is happening in these clips, this is good skiing.

When you bring more skiing ammo with you into these conditions, you can let your feet do all of the worrying about the snow surface and your mental focus is simply deciding where you want to go. One trick I try to use is to make sure that I'm on an engaged edge when I know I'm going through something nasty. Another trick I use is something called "functional tension". Victor Gerdin (SSD @Aspen) advised me once "Is that crud snow knocking your skis around? Don't let it!" The PMTS folks call it "co-contraction". However, none of this is going to work if you let yourself get into the backseat. In clip one, as you approach the camera, you can see your turns starting with an up move (as opposed to a forward, diagonal move) and finishing with a down move. On the down move, you get stuck in the back seat and trouble can happen from there. Look at your position in the end of the clip and see how much of your mass is over/behind the heels. Yes, this does not matter much here as you come to a stop, but it is indicative of what's happening earlier (e.g. the bobble as you approach the camera where you have to bend at the waist to get weight forward for balance).
post #8 of 23
Rusty sez:
When you're in the trees, what's above the snow has priority over the snow surface

I like that. But conifirs can be really soft when the trunk is well below the snowpack, and it's really fun to bust between them. I remember a few years ago at Mammoth when only the top 10 feet of 30+ foot pines were above the snow. As long as both skis went on the same side of every tree it was all good!
post #9 of 23
You have two challenges: snow and trees. I suggest you learn to ski any snow, any time pretty confidently before adding solid obstacles to the equation.

In tough conditions I rely on retraction turns (pull up the legs to initate and stretch them out to control turns) and pressing the skis down into the snow for control. I want to be diligent about getting the inside ski tipped over and driving forward about the same degree and intensity as the outside ski, so both skis slice through the layers at about the same depth, on the same plane and at the same rate of speed.

I was watching a poker tournament for a few minutes last night before the game I wanted to watch started. The announcer, interviewing the leader, asked: "Do you think winning the semifinal will give you confidence going into the finals next week?" The leader answered: "Confidence is not a problem."

If you're skiing the trees or playing high stakes poker, confidence better not be a problem. If you don't feel 100% confident about your ability to crank a turn any time any where, you probably should not be skiing the trees. As the old saying goes, "Don't be writing checks that your body can't cash."
post #10 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by MilesB View Post
Rusty sez:
When you're in the trees, what's above the snow has priority over the snow surface

I like that. But conifirs can be really soft when the trunk is well below the snowpack, and it's really fun to bust between them. I remember a few years ago at Mammoth when only the top 10 feet of 30+ foot pines were above the snow. As long as both skis went on the same side of every tree it was all good!
Poaching tree wells....... Snow covered limbs are always a good choice, lead with the arm.
post #11 of 23
We've all heard the old ski tip,Look where the trees aren't.
post #12 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post
You have two challenges: snow and trees.
Quote:
Originally Posted by slider View Post
We've all heard the old ski tip,Look where the trees aren't.
Really...what trees
post #13 of 23

Trees

Bob Peters, referenced post - right on the money for me.

Slider, also right on and I've seen him ski the trees.

Your lst video to me you were going too fast for me to feel safe and confident. Unless you ski this line all the time and knew the lay of the land/trees. When I enter the trees for say the lst time, I try not to worry about the snow but look for the line between the trees, at least one or two turns or general direction I'm to go.
post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty View Post
tromano,

When you're in the trees, what's above the snow has priority over the snow surface. When you're in flat light, you've got that much less time to determine snow conditions ahead of time. When you're in variable snow, you need to have a strong core and use it in order to stay centered when your feet decide to suddenly stop or shoot ahead. When you're hit with a triple whammy, it's only natural to go defensive, get stiff and get knocked around. For as little as this is happening in these clips, this is good skiing.

When you bring more skiing ammo with you into these conditions, you can let your feet do all of the worrying about the snow surface and your mental focus is simply deciding where you want to go. One trick I try to use is to make sure that I'm on an engaged edge when I know I'm going through something nasty. Another trick I use is something called "functional tension". Victor Gerdin (SSD @Aspen) advised me once "Is that crud snow knocking your skis around? Don't let it!" The PMTS folks call it "co-contraction". However, none of this is going to work if you let yourself get into the backseat. In clip one, as you approach the camera, you can see your turns starting with an up move (as opposed to a forward, diagonal move) and finishing with a down move. On the down move, you get stuck in the back seat and trouble can happen from there. Look at your position in the end of the clip and see how much of your mass is over/behind the heels. Yes, this does not matter much here as you come to a stop, but it is indicative of what's happening earlier (e.g. the bobble as you approach the camera where you have to bend at the waist to get weight forward for balance).
Thanks for the response I will follow up once I get back from work. --Tim
post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete No. Idaho View Post
Bob Peters, referenced post - right on the money for me.

Slider, also right on and I've seen him ski the trees.

Your lst video to me you were going too fast for me to feel safe and confident. Unless you ski this line all the time and knew the lay of the land/trees. When I enter the trees for say the lst time, I try not to worry about the snow but look for the line between the trees, at least one or two turns or general direction I'm to go.
I have skied that line 6-8 times in the last 2 weeks. So I had a good feel for the layout. Last time I was in there it was much softer so I had to be more direct down the fall line. This time it was harder and faster so I had to adjust to a slower line.
post #16 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post
You have two challenges: snow and trees. I suggest you learn to ski any snow, any time pretty confidently before adding solid obstacles to the equation.

In tough conditions I rely on retraction turns (pull up the legs to initate and stretch them out to control turns) and pressing the skis down into the snow for control. I want to be diligent about getting the inside ski tipped over and driving forward about the same degree and intensity as the outside ski, so both skis slice through the layers at about the same depth, on the same plane and at the same rate of speed.

I was watching a poker tournament for a few minutes last night before the game I wanted to watch started. The announcer, interviewing the leader, asked: "Do you think winning the semifinal will give you confidence going into the finals next week?" The leader answered: "Confidence is not a problem."

If you're skiing the trees or playing high stakes poker, confidence better not be a problem. If you don't feel 100% confident about your ability to crank a turn any time any where, you probably should not be skiing the trees. As the old saying goes, "Don't be writing checks that your body can't cash."
Nolo,

I just don't understand this post. To be fully honest the only place I can ski non-groomed conditions regularly is in the trees. So yea I am in there doing what I can. If I don't feel like I am prepared to do something I don't do it, end of story.
post #17 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tromano View Post
Nolo,

I just don't understand this post. To be fully honest the only place I can ski non-groomed conditions regularly is in the trees. So yea I am in there doing what I can. If I don't feel like I am prepared to do something I don't do it, end of story.
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post
Hydrogen, I was thinking of skiing in the same sense as I think of a skier--a skier is not someone who has skied once or skis occasionally or can take skiing or leave it, but someone for whom skiing is an essential part of his/her identity. What is the Squatty Schuler quote from Weems's book? Something like my objective as a teacher is not to teach people to ski but to teach people to be skiers. That's what I'm talking about!

Work and play -- I'm not wedded to either term to describe what one does to climb the learning curve, except that work implies results and play can go nowhere and still be fun.

Good topic!

I jsut found this post in another thread. I guess I see your POV a little clearer now. Thanks for posting. -Tim
post #18 of 23
Tim,

I ski at Bridger Bowl. There are lots of places to ski difficult snow outside of the trees as well as places to ski difficult snow in the trees. My preferences is south faces where the snow has been affected by wind, sun, temperature variations, and often contains avvy debris. There's the training ground for tree skiing, in my opinion. If you can turn at will in crusted monkey snot, then you're good to go anywhere.

I should have been more clear that I was speaking generally about skiing trees, not specifically you skiing trees.

You asked for tactics, and I would still go with "be able to turn when you want, where you want" and add the three turn rule (which works regardless of trees)--use three turns to get up to speed and use three turns to stop and always be looking three turns ahead.
post #19 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post
Tim,

I ski at Bridger Bowl. There are lots of places to ski difficult snow outside of the trees as well as places to ski difficult snow in the trees. My preferences is south faces where the snow has been affected by wind, sun, temperature variations, and often contains avvy debris. There's the training ground for tree skiing, in my opinion. If you can turn at will in crusted monkey snot, then you're good to go anywhere.

I should have been more clear that I was speaking generally about skiing trees, not specifically you skiing trees.

You asked for tactics, and I would still go with "be able to turn when you want, where you want" and add the three turn rule (which works regardless of trees)--use three turns to get up to speed and use three turns to stop and always be looking three turns ahead.
I am moving to UT before next season so I should be in position to find these areas soon. Thanks for the 3 turn rule, I reall yneed ot be working on the 3 turns ahead part especially when snow snakes are distracting me. This is really good stuff.
post #20 of 23
the only thing I can add to what other people have said is that in variable snow it helps to get EVEN LOWER -- that will help with staying balanced and not getting thrown into the back seat (like you do right before the stop in the first clip).
post #21 of 23

Tree Skiing

I ski all the time at Winter Park in the trees. Since this is most often where the best snow is. The most important thing I have learned is to keep the 2 body halves seperated. This way if I need to bend and twist the upper body to fit between the limbs I can. However I can then keep my legs centered and balanced and engaged in the turns. I notice you seem to keep staying in the backseat. So unless the next time you go skiing you have your back seat drivers license with you don't stay back there. I encourage to keep even your upper body moving down the hill.
post #22 of 23
Thread Starter 
Here is another video of me skiing from last Saturday. It was a little bit different trail more bumps and more cut up snow. I am skier #2

Youtube link!
post #23 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by skithpksforfun View Post
I ski all the time at Winter Park in the trees. Since this is most often where the best snow is. The most important thing I have learned is to keep the 2 body halves seperated. This way if I need to bend and twist the upper body to fit between the limbs I can. However I can then keep my legs centered and balanced and engaged in the turns. I notice you seem to keep staying in the backseat. So unless the next time you go skiing you have your back seat drivers license with you don't stay back there. I encourage to keep even your upper body moving down the hill.
Quote:
Originally Posted by cometjo View Post
the only thing I can add to what other people have said is that in variable snow it helps to get EVEN LOWER -- that will help with staying balanced and not getting thrown into the back seat (like you do right before the stop in the first clip).
I really don't see it this way at all. After re-watching the clip 20-30 times it looks to me like I was pretty well centered and pretty well balance for about 98% of the time on those two clips. The only time I was in the backseat was for one turn and that was the result of line choices I made, not bad technique. The reason I was in the back seat for that one turn is that I had to make a sharp turn to avoid hitting my camera person. I was distracted and looking down, not ahead. If I had carried my original intended line I would have not gone into the back seat at that point, but it was much more risky. I chose to make the sharp turn to avoid her and went into the back seat because of that. This is why I wanted this thread to be focused on tactics and choosing line not on technique.

The most helpful advice I have heard in this thread was in trees keep your eyes up looking ahead no matter what and the 3 turn rule. Thanks for that. Keep it coming guys!
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