or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › technique for skiing deep wet snow
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

technique for skiing deep wet snow

post #1 of 46
Thread Starter 
A few weeks ago part of a trail I was on had deep, wet, kind of heavy snow and I had some difficulty with it. What's the best technique for skiing through this? Thanks.

Tom
post #2 of 46
Lift your toes and weight your heels, carry speed and stay in balance
post #3 of 46
Move to the PNWet.
post #4 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilT View Post
Lift your toes and weight your heels, carry speed and stay in balance
Gee, I was going to say the exact opposite. Don't sit back.

Greg
post #5 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by GEH View Post
Gee, I was going to say the exact opposite. Don't sit back.

Greg
wet heavy snow you want your tips to stay up and it is very easy to catch an edge if you have to much weight on the front of your ski
post #6 of 46
same as you would anywhere else just use these...

post #7 of 46
Isn't anyone in the brain trust going to help Tom out?

My $.02: Deep wet snow is one of the most difficult things to ski because it affects your skis more than other snow conditions. Since the ski is IN the snow rather than ON it, skidding is more difficult and the skis want to go where pointed. I try to ski it just like anything else - use the reverse camber of the ski to carve through the turn with minimal skidding or rotary. The problem I see is that if you overpressure your tips either on purpose or by getting too forward, the skis will slow down and/or turn very quickly and in a manner you were not expecting. That is what everyone is afraid of, so they sit back. We all know how well skis turn when you sit back and that's why people have so much trouble in deep snow.

Kepp your speed up - not necessarily fast, but moving or you will get bogged down. You need to stay very neutrally balanced (keep your hands up and in front of you) without getting thrown forward. In the beginning, you will probably err toward a rear weight bias, but you need to try and get neutral. Even more than powder, you need simultaneous everything or your skis will cross. The initiation is the most difficult part of the turn and when things get too hard, do what most people do: up unweight and hop the tails out of the snow to initiate. You want to get away from that and try to carve through the turn, but its always the fall back when things get sketchy.

Ok, now that I started things off maybe the experts can chime in.

Greg H.
post #8 of 46
Retraction/extension turns are the most efficient for skiing deep/heavy/crud snow.
post #9 of 46
Three boards? I was going to recommend one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post
same as you would anywhere else just use these...

post #10 of 46
I'm with GEH. Add equal weighting on both feet and feet close together. Balance will be a challenge with the snow alternately grabbing the skis and letting them go. Stay centered and rapidly re-center when needed. Put the skis on edge and carve through the muck making turns at the tempo the snow allows.
post #11 of 46
I prefer to have skis with a deep sidecut and "carve" my way through the heavy snow. The trick is to tip both skis together and always keep the on edge. Deep heavy snow and shaped skis are not fun unless they are both on edge.
post #12 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Orwell View Post
A few weeks ago part of a trail I was on had deep, wet, kind of heavy snow and I had some difficulty with it. What's the best technique for skiing through this? Thanks.
Tom
Narrow stance - skis/legs not glued together, but close together. Try for at most a ski width between.

Centred stance - too far forward, you'll be demonstrating torpedoe maneuvers; too far back, you'll lose ski control.

Upright stance - adjusted to speed & pitch, but avoid the larger degree of inclination/angulation that you might use on hardpack.

Vertical movement - lots of flexion/extension, especially to manage transitions between turns.
post #13 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by GEH View Post
Isn't anyone in the brain trust going to help Tom out?
I don't know about any brain trust. And I'm not quite sure just how much help is needed... And there is no info about skier, skis, etc. But to the question at hand - I find that understanding the roots of an issue will help frame possible ways to address it....

The general issue is that skiing really soft wet snow has some of the same issues as skiing powder. And a few other issues as well - including variable stickyness, heavy loading, etc. But they are summed up by the fact (and I use that word advisedly) that today's "typical" conventional cambered & sidecut skis are designed for skiing on firm snow - and that using them in really soft snow, whether powder or slush, requires you to use technique to "undo" the very design essence of those skis. Some insights can be had by reading McConkey's little Mental Floss classic about skiing Spatulas.

You can address this on typical skis via technique - as many adept skiers do. Managing speed, fore/aft balance as described above, and patient careful management of hookup and disengagement of the ends. Precise weighting/unweighting, etc - all depending...

Or you can take my preferred approach to this kind of snow and acquire equipment that makes this stuff easier. Fatter skis - much fatter (often combined with soft). Less, or more carefully designed sidecut (watch for references to things like early taper...). Rocker (or references to "early rise, etc). Or maybe highly tapered skis. Etc.

Subjectively speaking, just based on random observations at the hill, I think I see more people go down and get sledded off the hill with knee issues in this kind of spring snow than just about any other "common" injury. I believe this is a function of edge catch due to the character of typical skis being taken into snow where their narrowness, camber, and deep sidecut absolutely demand careful management of the skis. These days you literally could not pay me to use something other than a fat ski - and usually a rockered one - in soft/wet/heavy/sticky/catchy conditions. However, I'd be willing to bet that this is not yet the majority view here... :
post #14 of 46
Try not to turn as much as quickly?

Seriously...
Quote:
I see more people go down and get sledded off the hill with knee issues in this kind of spring snow than just about any other "common" injury.
I think that happens more due to trying to FORCE the ski sideways when the momentum of the body is still going straight... On pack snow, the ski will skid and scrub speed. Not so in heavy spring snow. The result is usually a head-over-tea-kettle...

So yes, the earlier advice of tipping the skis and be patient waiting for it to hook up is quite important. Rush that turn start is the fastest way to eat snow. The one mental hint that works for myself: "hip follow the tip", which often means going straight a lot longer than I thought... (big rounded turns instead of z's)

Don't fight it. You'll lose your knee (DO ask me how I know... ).
post #15 of 46
Forget the skis, it is all about technique. Retraction/extension turns is the way to go. The interesting thing is, it is not a type of turn that is taught much in the US and I used to work in Utah of all places and very few local instructors ever spoke about it.
post #16 of 46
Before I get picked up on my reference to Utah on a thread talking about skiing deep heavy snow, it is a turn used in powder/crud/wet spring corn. The mother of all is September afternoons in Australia skiing the wettest most clumped up crap you could ever imagine in your life and cutting it up like you are on a groomer at DV.
post #17 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by spindrift View Post
Or you can take my preferred approach to this kind of snow and acquire equipment that makes this stuff easier. Fatter skis - much fatter (often combined with soft). Less, or more carefully designed sidecut (watch for references to things like early taper...). Rocker (or references to "early rise, etc). Or maybe highly tapered skis. Etc.
The easy answer is get some seriously fat rockered skis. Deep heavy snow becomes much easier.
post #18 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Max_501 View Post
The easy answer is get some seriously fat rockered skis. Deep heavy snow becomes much easier.
Or learn the proper technique.
post #19 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by slider View Post
Or learn the proper technique.
IMO, there are instances where technique won't replace a pair of fat rockered skis. For example, skiing rainbow after 3 feet of heavy snow.
post #20 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Max_501 View Post
IMO, there are instances where technique won't replace a pair of fat rockered skis. For example, skiing rainbow after 3 feet of heavy snow.
Sorry mate, but that is just a load of BS.
post #21 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisosyd View Post
Sorry mate, but that is just a load of BS.
yep and I bet you ski deep heavy snow all the time....

we arent only talking about its not fun, or inefficient in to much heavy snow skis that sink can really be dangerous to your legs.
post #22 of 46
Until now I have not chimed in because the original question is so general and and entire books have been written on the subject. Being able to ski heavy wet snow is being able to use efficient techniques that guide both skis on a parallel path whether those skis have a bit of tail drift or not.

Using rotation as part of a guiding mechanism instead of true independent femur rotation is as natural as walking and all skiers from day one posses this ability. 97% of all advanced skiers never replace it with independent leg action.

Most advanced skiers do not square up the ski tips and their stance to achieve a neutral prior to starting the next turn. Instead, they fall/rotate slightly into the new turn and begin to shorten the inside leg by dropping the inside hip down and back. This motion puts a powerful steering action on the skis. This "natural" movement pattern works well in all conditions except steep terrain and difficult snow conditions. It even works quite well for carving the so called rail road tracks and when combined with a narrow stance, works fairly well in bumps.

The problem arises in steep terrain and difficult conditions by the fact that the natural rotation type of guiding movement pattern rarely if ever produces equal angles and is very difficult to control. The skiers turn size and shape are set by intent from the beginning of the turn.

Learning to replace the "inside leg shortening/upper body rotation" with "keeping the inside hip up and forward (leveling the hips) and using independent leg action" gives you the ability to control everything about the turn. This is not a natural movement pattern like rotation and inside leg shortening so it must be learned. Learning this new movement pattern allows for equal angles in the legs, feet, skis and allows you to use independent leg action to guide the skis. You then have the ability to control the turn shape and size at any point in the turn. You are not "stuck in the turn". You can change the shape, size and intensity throughout the turn and therefore go exactly where you want and at what speed no matter what the snow conditions are. It does not matter if you are skiing in it or on it.

There are of course various band aids out there and all kinds of advice but it does not replace good technique.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Max_501 View Post
IMO, there are instances where technique won't replace a pair of fat rockered skis. For example, skiing rainbow after 3 feet of heavy snow.
Some years back on the day before the first Bears gathering at Squaw, I and AC were skiing tele and skied into and untracked patch of bottomless Sierra Cement. We both found ourselves point straight down a 30 degree incline stopped dead in our tracks up to mid thigh in glop. The question at that point was not "do we have the wrong skis" but instead, "How the hell do we get out of here". Technique does not always overcome resistance of the snow. We WERE on the wrong skis for those conditions.
post #23 of 46
I try to initiate my turn by pressing with my inside leg, which makes it become my outside leg. Depending on conditions and the turn radius I want, sometimes I do it gently, and sometimes I really stomp. I find that in deep, heavy snow and crust over fresh, it's helpful to exaggerate the movement.

Fatter skis help. Planning your line helps. A fresh wax helps.
post #24 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post
yep and I bet you ski deep heavy snow all the time....

we arent only talking about its not fun, or inefficient in to much heavy snow skis that sink can really be dangerous to your legs.
When you have skied 20 winters (220 days a year) back to back all over the world, come back and talk to me.
post #25 of 46
All good points and I think the point Chris makes is very valid point; if you ski this stuff all the time, you will learn to understand how to ski it reagradles of the ski. Most of us just don't get that time in and are looking (for a lack of better words) a quick fix. Fatter ski's will help for sure but there's no substitute for "windshield time" (truckers lingo). So Chris, is there a way you can impart some of the experience into a helpful concise post?
post #26 of 46
I am at work and will get back over the weekend with a retraction/extension turn progression.
post #27 of 46
FWIW, my experience consists of PNW/southern BC interior goop, sometimes refrozen/breakable so that the skis are even less "steerable" than they are in the heavy wet stuff. I can't say I like it very much, but the challenge of figuring out what to do with it is always interesting. I don't have the extensive experience claimed by chrisosyd (I'm limited to 50-70 days/season, all of it in North America), but I've discovered a few things while skiing this kind of stuff on a pair of skis with a 78mm waist.

There is some good advice in these posts. In making the moves described, precision and accuracy are extremely important. Any attempt to "cheat" with a little pivot (either conscious or unconscious) will be met with considerable resistance and a faceplant.

In addition to the balance issues noted below, it is also important on initiation to move with the skis, partly to avoid the unconscious slight pivot that Pierre mentions. A conscious slight forward movement of the hips or COM in the direction the skis are pointed rather than in the direction you want them to go may help. Have patience, don't force them. Practice in a place where can afford to tip them and wait. It should also be a place where you can afford to make mistakes.

If you think you've eliminated all rotary from your turn initiations, this kind of snow will often tell you otherwise!

Quote:
Originally Posted by GEH View Post
You need to stay very neutrally balanced (keep your hands up and in front of you) without getting thrown forward. In the beginning, you will probably err toward a rear weight bias, but you need to try and get neutral. Even more than powder, you need simultaneous everything or your skis will cross. The initiation is the most difficult part of the turn and when things get too hard, do what most people do: up unweight and hop the tails out of the snow to initiate. You want to get away from that and try to carve through the turn, but its always the fall back when things get sketchy.
The hop may or may not work very well. If you manage to rotate the skis to a new direction without achieving the appropriate balance for the ensuing landing, the skis will go one way as they sink into the, um, "snow" : and your COM will go another, and you'll be over the handlebars again. If you are going to do this, it's best to use as light a touch as possible and be prepared to absorb some conflicting forces as you land.

Pulling the skis out of the snow can be quite effective, but it requires a lot of energy and it's not always as easy as it might seem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisosyd View Post
Forget the skis, it is all about technique. Retraction/extension turns is the way to go. The interesting thing is, it is not a type of turn that is taught much in the US and I used to work in Utah of all places and very few local instructors ever spoke about it.
Yes - as an alternative to the up unweight proposed by GEH, retraction can be very effective. I was first taught retraction/extension turns by someone who was on the PSIA National Demo Team at the time, so I like to think he knew what he was talking about. Since then, I've participated in quite a few clinics where retractions were taught, and I've attempted to improve. I'm very fond of retraction turns in various kinds of challenging conditions.

That said, in refrozen/breakable/heavy/wet junk, the re-engagement phase after a retraction can have some of the same issues as a hop: the ugly snow can force you to change direction quite abruptly as the skis engage. Retraction/extension is very useful, but it may take some (or considerable) practice to apply it effectively in some conditions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pierre View Post
Being able to ski heavy wet snow is being able to use efficient techniques that guide both skis on a parallel path whether those skis have a bit of tail drift or not.
Yes. Some conditions will allow a little tail drift; others will allow almost none. You'll feel like you're stuck on rails or something.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pierre View Post
Using rotation as part of a guiding mechanism instead of true independent femur rotation is as natural as walking and all skiers from day one posses this ability. 97% of all advanced skiers never replace it with independent leg action.

Most advanced skiers do not square up the ski tips and their stance to achieve a neutral prior to starting the next turn. Instead, they fall/rotate slightly into the new turn and begin to shorten the inside leg by dropping the inside hip down and back. This motion puts a powerful steering action on the skis. This "natural" movement pattern works well in all conditions except steep terrain and difficult snow conditions. It even works quite well for carving the so called rail road tracks and when combined with a narrow stance, works fairly well in bumps.
Again, . When things achieve this particular flavor of ugly, it is necessary to achieve a true squared-up neutral. As you get better, it may only be for an instant, but you have to go there, and you have to move with the skis, rather then moving too aggressively to the inside of the new turn.

As always, having a variety of tools at hand can serve you well.

And Max, we might also note that, since the conditions under discussion are often particularly intolerant of rotary, a pure application of some of the techniques advocated by your mentor can be effective. (I hope I'm not breaking any rules here. )

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pierre View Post
Some years back on the day before the first Bears gathering at Squaw, I and AC were skiing tele and skied into and untracked patch of bottomless Sierra Cement. We both found ourselves point straight down a 30 degree incline stopped dead in our tracks up to mid thigh in glop. The question at that point was not "do we have the wrong skis" but instead, "How the hell do we get out of here". Technique does not always overcome resistance of the snow. We WERE on the wrong skis for those conditions.
I did something similar once at Winter Park. We had had something like 6 feet of somewhat heavy snow (but not as bad as Sierra Cement) over the previous 72 hours, with 4 feet of it in the immediately previous 18 hours. I hit an untracked patch wearing my 78mm skis and found myself stopped dead in snow literally up to my armpits, still standing on my skis. It took me 15 minutes to free up my feet enough to kick my way out to the tracked-up area.

A pair of Pontoons would have been perfect that day.
post #28 of 46
A quick note to JHCooley,

Did you teach at Winter Park?, if so, did you know Andy and Tina Burford?. They are friends of mine.
post #29 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Max_501 View Post
IMO, there are instances where technique won't replace a pair of fat rockered skis. For example, skiing rainbow after 3 feet of heavy snow.
Ok Max. I'd call that Snowshoeing.
post #30 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisosyd View Post
I am at work and will get back over the weekend with a retraction/extension turn progression.
It would be useful if you specified the kinds of skis this turn progression is appropriate for.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › technique for skiing deep wet snow