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The best way to bail? Doing it gracefully...

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
So, I'm, ahem, asking on behalf of a friend, of course...

(seriously, I know that there are people here for whom this is not an issue... I'm not one of those people...)

What's the best way out of a situation where you're clearly over your head? Let's say I took a wrong turn at a trail merge, and ended up on something icy, bumped-up, and steep, when I thought I was headed to a wide groomed cruiser. Of course, it isn't always the result of a wrong turn. Sometimes, it's just a wrong choice in overestimating my own ability or underestimating the terrain. It's embarrassing and a bit intimidating, and there's a moment where you feel like you can't do anything at all.

I realize that the risks might vary in their magnitude based on the exact situation. Finding oneself at the edge of a cliff has potentially very different consequences than looking over a headwall that flattens out 50 yds down, so I guess there may not be an all-purpose solution. I'm looking for more "general approach" answers...

So, if I've gotten off the lift and started down a run only realize that I'm "over my head" (whatever that means in that instance), what's the best way out without pissing everyone off ("stupid gaper's in everyone's way," etc)?


aaron
post #2 of 27
The two strategies I'd aim at are:

1) Learn the traverse -- As long as the trail's wide enough, cutting from side to side will make the trail as flat as you're comfortable skiing with the only really "steep" part being the turn which you have plenty of time to prep for. You can get through almost anything that way.

2) Side slip -- sure, you won't look "Core," but the side slip is a super-useful skill that is so rarely taught these days that it's often overlooked. Just learn how to disengage and re-engage your edges to control your decent down even the steepest slopes. I'd even recommend people do the falling leaf drill if they're not used to side slipping -- it'll give you a great feel for edge control, just disengage edges sliding forward and backwards all the way down a fairly steep hill.

With those two skills down, you should be in good shape to deal with almost any steepness. When it comes to moguls, just try to make turns on the top of the moguls (once again, not the slickest way down, but a way down) and take it one bump at a time. Up - turn -down -up- turn, etc.

Way, way better than sidestepping up hill.
post #3 of 27
Tell your friendnot to worry about anyone else,just #1. Keep your skis on. Look for the easiest way down,soft snow,less pitch and side step down it. Or the old butt slide it down technique. Helps if you have a trail map, that way these type of things can be avoided. Know what I mean.:
post #4 of 27
Thread Starter 
My friend generally opts for a version of the sideslip, but it seems more like a sidescrape. If he's doing it right, will it still scrape things up? Or is that because he's not releasing the edges properly?

Wider slopes haven't seemed to be an issue, because the traversing technique seems to work most of the time. There's definitely a point where it's too steep (or things are too hard-pack/icy) to get by with that though, and everything turns into the side-scrape.

That's the one that seems to piss people off...


aaron
post #5 of 27
Last time we were at Beaver Creek we were taking an easy warm up bump run over in Arrowhead, an area with almost all groomers. As we were going down the trail a woman was walking up the trail followed by a man carrying two pair of skis. I would have liked to hear what proceeded. There was no conversation between them.
post #6 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by scootertig View Post
My friend generally opts for a version of the sideslip, but it seems more like a sidescrape. If he's doing it right, will it still scrape things up? Or is that because he's not releasing the edges properly?

Wider slopes haven't seemed to be an issue, because the traversing technique seems to work most of the time. There's definitely a point where it's too steep (or things are too hard-pack/icy) to get by with that though, and everything turns into the side-scrape.

That's the one that seems to piss people off...


aaron
well, if your friend is more concerned with what other people think than with making it out in one piece, just point the tips downhill and hope for the best.
post #7 of 27
Learn to make hop turns. Now learn how to make easier pivoting turns on top of the bumps. Two steps closer to making it down in style.

Traversing all the way across a run isn't helpful on anything that can be fairly considered challenging. All it does is puts you closer to obstacles when you finally have to turn. Might as well turn now.
post #8 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Garrett View Post
Learn to make hop turns. .... Might as well turn now.
Aaron, this will help your skiing as much as any drill I've ever done or recommended. For practice, find some steep hardpack, not too long and hop turn down it one hop-turn after another. Those skills will take you a long way when dealing with the steep and or deep. Keeps your hands forward and facing down the fall line (balance and stance) , and builds the muscle you need to reach the next level-bumps etc...

And, in a pinch on a long one take it 5 or 10 hops at a time.

Good call Garrett!
post #9 of 27
Yep, I have to agree with some previous notes -- worst case, I fall back on traverses back and forth across the hill and/or slideslips. Hop turns if that makes sense. If there are bumps, all of the above as appropriate. You can often go bump to bump. These are good tools to keep in your toolbox and will help you down the worst of trails.

Don't ever take your skis off and attempt to walk down -- it's the worst thing you can do.
post #10 of 27
Thread Starter 
Garrett - thanks for the idea... That's the type of new approach I was hoping someone would suggest... Traversing only works so well, you know?

Taking off the skis is not an option, as far as I'm concerned...

Assuming that this demonstrates a correct hop turn (http://www.skinet.com/skinet/videos/...156880,00.html), would it be fair to also assume that speed would be controlled by how far out of the fall line I point the skis? Closer to perpendicular to fall line = slower, more parallel to fall line = faster?

And, even though I'm probably asking a question that is best covered in a lesson, the pole plants that he shows... Are those for timing? It doesn't look like there's much weight being put into the pole during the plant...


aaron
post #11 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post
Aaron, this will help your skiing as much as any drill I've ever done or recommended. For practice, find some steep hardpack, not too long and hop turn down it one hop-turn after another. Those skills will take you a long way when dealing with the steep and or deep. Keeps your hands forward and facing down the fall line (balance and stance) , and builds the muscle you need to reach the next level-bumps etc...

And, in a pinch on a long one take it 5 or 10 hops at a time.

Good call Garrett!
Hop turns are a good skill to develop but I wouldn't use them alone in a difficult situation because they take a lot more energy than traversing or slip-sliding. Lots of hop turns can tire you out. And when you are tired you can make mistakes and in tricky terrain--that's not a good idea.

But practicing hop turns is a great conditioning activity.
post #12 of 27
dont bail mentally get over at and move that body down the hill.
post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post
dont bail mentally get over at and move that body down the hill.
Definitely. I should clarify that I do regard the hop turns as a means to an end, not a way to cruise down a scary bump field. I don't think you can make a nice hop turn in steep terrain without feeling some of that commitment down the hill, and once you get the hang of them it should be cake to use the terrain/bumps to help your turn along, and once you can do that you can start to make the commitment and get your skis to come around even if you are in a trough or whatever. I'm not a ski instructor though, so perhaps I've got this all backwards.

Aaron, that is a really nice video demo of how to use a hop turn in sketchy snow as an addition to a solid bag of tricks. Your thoughts on how far you come across the hill are spot on. What I was thinking of though was a more static hop turn, which goes like this:

-Skis across the hill, stopped
-Chest facing down the hill
-Reach out and make a light/medium pole plant
-Hop! Er, probably better described than that, but I'm no wordsmith.
-Skis come around quite quick in the air as you are wound up, and you land a couple feet down the hill stopped again, skis turned 180 degrees,chest still facing down the hill.

These are a lot of work as others have noted, but if you can do them well you'll be on your way to a lot more confidence. Interestingly, they are less work the steeper and scarier the terrain. Try them with no poles when you get some more confidence.

Practicing sideslipping is great, but in the situation you described (challenging bump field) the sideslip alone is going to be unnatural and clunky. Plus sideslipping doesn't do anything to get you to commit to the next turn, which seems to me the most usual hangup. Traversing is a good way to control speed while looking for a more advantageous place to turn, but traversing the whole hill as a matter of course is considered poor form by pretty much everyone without an Epicski login. Plus it just isn't much fun.
post #14 of 27
On a very steep and narrow entrance to a steep slope, I had a friend sit and slide down on his bum. That was the worst thing he could have done and scared the h#** out of me. He forgot to trust his skis and his ability, which was unfortunate because his skill was sufficient for the slope. It was his head that thought otherwise. He skied the same section later that day.

My wife uses a mental trick when I get her in over her head. She says to herself - "I can get out of anything by traversing or side slipping." The key here is that she tells herself that she can do it (even if her style isn't pretty). As a result, she skis most of the hill and is gettng more confident.

I agree with the other suggestions and add - Trust your skis and yourself.
post #15 of 27
Well, I don't know. I saw two things this past weekend that make me think there are times when people should take 'em off and walk it off to somewhere else using softer snow at the edge or in the trees.

First was a guy on about a 1,000 of vert "double black" (eascoast variety) which was scraped to slick as ice conditions with moderate bumps of the same consistency. He was an up unweighter, turn and dig in. Of course he broke the edges loose instantly. He went down hard about 5x before reaching the bottom. Turn ... slide ... up unweight ... rotate .. push 'em ... pray ... slam ... slide. Slowly get up and repeat all the way down. Have to give him props - he reached the bottom without sliding into the trees on a fairly aggressive double fall line.

Second was a teen age girl who clearly didn't know how to ski. .. at all. Blue bump run with two fairly steep faces. Groomer path down the middle with bumps on both sides. Groomer section scraped ice-hard from all the previous skiers who couldn't ski. Standing at the top of the second pitch (accessed by a traversing trail) she pointed them straight down, tried to make a turn and screamed. About the time she almost took out my wife, she sat down, laid out backwards and rode out the rest of the pitch laying on her skis. Stopped about 5 feet from the trees after getting thrown around in the bumps at the side of the trail. I guess we live another day to risk "running into her again".

Both should have trusted their instincts and found another way down. Maybe next time they will do better ... or hit a tree?? Darwinism.
post #16 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by medmarkco View Post
Second was a teen age girl who clearly didn't know how to ski. .. at all. Blue bump run with two fairly steep faces. Groomer path down the middle with bumps on both sides. Groomer section scraped ice-hard from all the previous skiers who couldn't ski. Standing at the top of the second pitch (accessed by a traversing trail) she pointed them straight down, tried to make a turn and screamed. About the time she almost took out my wife, she sat down, laid out backwards and rode out the rest of the pitch laying on her skis. Stopped about 5 feet from the trees after getting thrown around in the bumps at the side of the trail. I guess we live another day to risk "running into her again".

Both should have trusted their instincts and found another way down. Maybe next time they will do better ... or hit a tree?? Darwinism.
I got to see about the same thing this weekend. On our fist trip by, my group skirted by the 3 of them snowplowing down a scraped blue right off the lift. Next lift up, they crossed below us (still the top of the mountain) and were screaming that this only led to a double black. I yelled down for them to cut straight across, as it led to a blue groomer. On the next life up, the were just below the mid station, skis off, sliding down the ice/rocks on their butts. We were completely astonished, there was no way for them to have made it down before us, so why hadn't they gone to the easier trail instead of the black, under the lift, with exposed rock?
post #17 of 27
Taking your skis off is never a good idea. Ski boots don't grip on steep icy slopes, metal edges do.
post #18 of 27
I have your answer.

Friday while skiing with about 15 other Bears at Copper we went to the top of some poma lift and skied a couple of steep chutes. Dropping down the hanging snowfield and into the chute proper, I hit a rock with the left ski which ripped it off my foot and pitched me forward ejecting me from the right ski. With no skis, I proceeded headfirst in the whiteroom hurtling down a 40 -45 degree chute. It took about 100 yards to get my feet below my body and self-arrest. One ski ended up 150 yards uphill stuck vertically in the snow, while the left ski rocketed out of the chute and was intercepted by cgeib about 1/3 mile away on the apron. I think it was bbinder that retrieved my uphill ski and pole. So, I put it back on my left foot knowing I was due for another 200 yard butt slide because I never have gotten the hang of one-foot powder skiing. :

Now if that isn't "gracefully" backing out with style, then I simply suck at a higher level. :
post #19 of 27
Sideslipping is a fantastic confidence-builder, in its way. If you know you can always sideslip down something, you can challenge yourself a bit more, knowing you have a way out if you need it. My wife has become much more agressive seeking out steeps because of this, for example. I sometimes sideslip offpiste (routes I know well) when visibility gets bad too.

Another little mental trick. If you're wandering in somewhere you don't know 100%, remind yourself that, worst case, you can always climb (eg, vertical steps) back out. But don't ever get yourself into something you can't climb out of.
post #20 of 27
Long ago when I was a stupid college student, a buddy and I were riding the Reforma lift at Taos for our last run of the trip. We had noticed all of the fun looking runs off to our right and figured with more testosarone than sense that they weren't too difficult for us, so we got off the lift, took the traverse heading to the runs. Bad mistake. We looked over the lip of the first and run, it was straight down through the trees in bottomless powder. Each run after that kept getting worse and worse. We finally stopped at Stauffenberg, I think, because there were not trees and went for it. He fell almost immediately and spent the next 30 or so minutes looking for his skiis. I made it down about half way before I succome to the same fate. Fortunately I found mine right away, but unfortuantely, it still took forever to put them back on in that powder. Once I did get them back on, I straight lined it down to the blue slope that was at the bottom.

Sheer stupidity put us in a potentially dangerous situation, and dumb luck got us out.
post #21 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dgudaitis View Post
Hop turns are a good skill to develop but I wouldn't use them alone in a difficult situation because they take a lot more energy than traversing or slip-sliding. Lots of hop turns can tire you out. And when you are tired you can make mistakes and in tricky terrain--that's not a good idea.

But practicing hop turns is a great conditioning activity.
True, that is why I recommended only 5 - 10 at a time on a long run. You should rest if you feel weary or uncertain.
You can also:

TravvvvvveeeeerrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeePlant-HOPTURN
TravvvvvveeeeerrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeePlant-HOPTURN
TravvvvvveeeeerrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeePlant-HOPTURN
TravvvvvveeeeerrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeePlant-HOPTURN
Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee est
Repeat as necessary

P.S. don't forget the pole plant, that should be the trigger to the turn (IMO).

It is especially crucial like you say not to burn yourself out when skiing difficult terrain. Besides, as long as you are off to the side, there's no shame in taking a breather and enjoying the scenery. I always notice that you see three times as many folks riding down on sleds after 3pm as before noon because folks are pushing it after they have burned out and go down.
post #22 of 27

No Way!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by slider View Post
Tell your friendnot to worry about anyone else,just #1. Keep your skis on. Look for the easiest way down,soft snow,less pitch and side step down it. Or the old butt slide it down technique. Helps if you have a trail map, that way these type of things can be avoided. Know what I mean.:
wow, please DO NOT take this as advice.. the LAST thing one should do is "slide on their butt" down a steep pitch.. that's how you get ur skis caught and twist your knee, or slide into a tree, rock or off a cliff because it's the hardest slide to control...


this is the proper advice:
Quote:
Aleph NullThe two strategies I'd aim at are:

1) Learn the traverse -- As long as the trail's wide enough, cutting from side to side will make the trail as flat as you're comfortable skiing with the only really "steep" part being the turn which you have plenty of time to prep for. You can get through almost anything that way.

2) Side slip -- sure, you won't look "Core," but the side slip is a super-useful skill that is so rarely taught these days that it's often overlooked. Just learn how to disengage and re-engage your edges to control your decent down even the steepest slopes. I'd even recommend people do the falling leaf drill if they're not used to side slipping -- it'll give you a great feel for edge control, just disengage edges sliding forward and backwards all the way down a fairly steep hill.

With those two skills down, you should be in good shape to deal with almost any steepness. When it comes to moguls, just try to make turns on the top of the moguls (once again, not the slickest way down, but a way down) and take it one bump at a time. Up - turn -down -up- turn, etc.

Way, way better than sidestepping up hill.
post #23 of 27
Quote:
the LAST thing one should do is "slide on their butt" down a steep pitch
Agreed, though in powder, you can hip check/edge release a bit.
post #24 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Garrett View Post
Learn to make hop turns. .
for some reason, I just don't think someone in-over-his-head on a steep,cy, mogully pitch could even dream of doing hop turns on the same terrain.

I do agree with your "Turn now" advice, though. It's just that first turn that usually grips those with "the fear."
post #25 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aleph Null View Post
The two strategies I'd aim at are:

1) Learn the traverse -- As long as the trail's wide enough, cutting from side to side will make the trail as flat as you're comfortable skiing with the only really "steep" part being the turn which you have plenty of time to prep for. You can get through almost anything that way.

2) Side slip -- sure, you won't look "Core," but the side slip is a super-useful skill that is so rarely taught these days that it's often overlooked. Just learn how to disengage and re-engage your edges to control your decent down even the steepest slopes. I'd even recommend people do the falling leaf drill if they're not used to side slipping -- it'll give you a great feel for edge control, just disengage edges sliding forward and backwards all the way down a fairly steep hill.

With those two skills down, you should be in good shape to deal with almost any steepness. When it comes to moguls, just try to make turns on the top of the moguls (once again, not the slickest way down, but a way down) and take it one bump at a time. Up - turn -down -up- turn, etc.

Way, way better than sidestepping up hill.
Both these methods degrade the quality of the snow, especially if its soft. They will also both earn you the ire of most skiers that don't like traverse lines and oddly shaped moguls.

Quote:
Originally Posted by epl View Post
well, if your friend is more concerned with what other people think than with making it out in one piece, just point the tips downhill and hope for the best.
There is a difference between caring about other's opinions of you, or just being courteous.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Garrett View Post
Learn to make hop turns. Now learn how to make easier pivoting turns on top of the bumps. Two steps closer to making it down in style.

Traversing all the way across a run isn't helpful on anything that can be fairly considered challenging. All it does is puts you closer to obstacles when you finally have to turn. Might as well turn now.
This is good advice. You should try to develop skills that will let you progress, rather than hold you back. Hop turning will help you become comfortable on more challenging terrain, side slipping and traversing will only help to keep you feeling out of control.

What I really want to know, is why you are finding yourself in over your head often enough that you'd go to the trouble of researching what the best way to deal with it is? Maybe you just need to be more cautious when you choose what runs to go on? One invaluable piece of advice I could give is to learn to "charge" easier terrain before you head into steeper stuff. You should be able to ski easier runs with a whole lot of speed before you try harder ones. If you do this, just pushing yourself a little bit at a time on the runs you know, once you try more challenging stuff, it will seem easy to make hop turns down it, or just go nice and easy.
post #26 of 27
the end of Maggot's post just solved the puzzle.
post #27 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by tromano View Post
Taking your skis off is never a good idea. Ski boots don't grip on steep icy slopes, metal edges do.
If they knew how to use those edges, they wouldn't be askin'.
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