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Jumping Cornices

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
So, arriving back off an awesome week up in Whistler/Blackcomb I've got a few questions for the more advanced skiers of the group. How do you approach dropping over a cornice?

I got to try this a bit on the Harmony Horseshoes and Chainsaw Ridge areas of W/B with some mixed success, I think the largest was around 8 feet. Do you drop into a traverse? Drop straight down the fall line? Do you have a position you try to get into for the drop ("air form")? How much speed do you carry over the lip? Do you just glide off the edge or try to pop?

From my experience, getting forward over the drop seems to be essential and really committing. Each time myself or one of my group would try to ease off, they invariably plummeted over the edge landing tails first and rag doll down the slope. Landing in a traverse did not seem to be very effective for anything more than a very small drop in. The landing was always too flat and usually scrapped down.

Seems like something some time in the park could help with, although, I think this might be one of those things you just have to go for it and take a few falls to earn the requisite experience.
post #2 of 8
IMO, cornices are possibly one of the most enjoyable terrain features that you will find in off-piste skiing. Usually there is great snow to be had below them, and they provide a bit of a rush to start your run with. Since I don't live out west I do not have a lot of experience on cornices, but I may have enough to at least tell you how I handle them.

The first time off them I usually take them rather slow. I will stand at the top and rather than just glide off the cornice I will actually jump up, pick my heels up and point my tips down - so that my body will rock forward ahead of the skis. If it is steep I will point myself in a direction to traverse to break a little speed. During this initial trip off the cornice I will observe things like additional terrain features, snow cover, quality and consistency, as well as how much space I have for a run out. After that I can determine how 'big' I can go and how much I can point down the fall line coming off the cornice.

Since I do not live out west I do not have the advantage of skiing these kinds of things every day at the same ski area. Because of that - I would never point off one of these going very fast with the intention of catching a lot of air without first checking out what is below me. They do make a nice introduction to getting catching some air and landing in variable conditions without the fear of encountering rocks upon landing.

I don't really know if that is helpful since I am in no way an authority on dropping off things while skiing but that is pretty much what I do when I ski.


post #3 of 8
for me, i got once i realized its all about tilting your skis down to parallel the slope. if you do that, you'll have a much easier time landing it, should be fun. if you hit with the back of your ski...look out below.
post #4 of 8
When going off a cornice I do not want to land flat in a traverse or with my skis flat an pointed down the fall line. I want to land with my skis aimed just off the fall line and skis on edge where I can land easy but I am also instantly in a turn. I will tilt forward so that my skis match the angle of the slope and I am not in the back seat when I land.

Sometimes the hit just looks like it will hurt too much and I search for another drop in.
post #5 of 8
Cornices can be interesting because its really hard to judge just what will happen in the landing. Sometimes the snow looks soft and like you should expect deceleration after the air, and when you hit it, it turns out windpacked and you accelerate. Most of the time, you never get going as fast as your brain says you will, the landing is soft and manageable if your weight is not way back. I like to visualize my first few turns, and they work just as I hoped. If you jump with fear and in the backseat, the results aren't as good, but are painless assuming you are working with a cornice with little exposure. I jump in and try to stay centered on my skis and once landed establish my stance and feel for the snow. As soon as I feel balanced, I carry through with the turns I visualized before.

Where I get more gripped is where the first turn must be stuck, or there are, a drop, a long slide. Experience and repetition on non-exposed drops is what makes the others acceptable. I guess the best advice is, don't rush it. There is usually no need to put on the brakes or check. Skiing off a cornice with flow is the most comfortable.
post #6 of 8
Always check your landing out by skiing under the cornice, do another lap, get back up there and let em ride, small pop off the edge, drive the hands fwd reaching for the landing which will help you to stay out of the backseat, stomp it or yardsale, if there is enough snow you'll have fun either way.

If you are landing on hardpacked stuff, you maybe should reconsider and save the bomb drop for a day when there is more snow.
post #7 of 8
Some good ideas in here, however, I was surprised to not see something. That is, going off of a cornice, its not necessarily popping up or carrying any speed off the cornice, but to pop out from the cornice so the tails can clear the lip. On many cornices, I still use an old technique that is called a "step-up", just as you get to the edge, lift one foot and then hop out, away from the edge, from the other foot. This is done by rolling the shoulders into the pitch (matching the slope) as you let go of the snow.
post #8 of 8
I still use an old technique that is called a "step-up",
An excellent technique for sure, I still use that myself and it always works like a charm.

Good call Manus
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