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Technique different in trees? - Page 2

post #31 of 55

 I think on average the tree well explanation is a bit simpler:

 

http://www.treewelldeepsnowsafety.com/tree_wells.php

 

I'm skeptical that a pole plant would be the big issue that would drop someone into a well.

 

Agree about the sound thing though. Even if you are standing up in a well with your face out of the snow -if you are  down in a well, people even 10 or 20 feet away may not hear you yelling...

 

FWIW, I have a +/- 30 foot chunk of accessory cord (6 or 7mm I think) in my pack. Weighs almost nothing and takes up little space. The potential value of this just sort of popped into my head one day ;). Of course it'd be useless if one did not know where one's partner(s) was.

post #32 of 55

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by spindrift View Post

FWIW, I have a +/- 30 foot chunk of accessory cord (6 or 7mm I think) in my pack. Weighs almost nothing and takes up little space. The potential value of this just sort of popped into my head one day ;). Of course it'd be useless if one did not know where one's partner(s) was.


You just need to add a grappling hook for self rescue. Or maybe you could do an Indiana Jones and use a bullwhip.

post #33 of 55

 JASP, thanks for the warning about the dangers of western tree wells. IthoughtI was aware of the dangers and took precautions when I'm out west. I never considered the possibility that you might not be able to see a tree well, that new snow or the process you describe could make the snow surrounding trees appears firm when it is not.

 

In the east,especially the mid-Atlantic snow wells are often only knee deep but I can imagine that there maybe real danger the further north you go but still even a 100 inch base shouldn't be fatal unless you go in head first.

 

Twenty years ago I skied trees often here in Western PA and on 25 -30 degree slopes. Now snow pack is so rare that I'm lucky to get more than a few days in the trees. Often snowmaking will blow in and some resorts have taken to thinning the trees between the trails but that is a poor substitute for the snow found in a natural, mature hard wood eastern tree run.

post #34 of 55

Spindrift, It may not be the pole plant itself but the fact that planting the pole there means you are within arms reach of the base of the tree. As far as Aspen trees not having tree wells I'd say all plants can produce the heat transfer that changes snow around them into sugar snow. Exactly how the snowpack in that stand of trees has morphed is hard to say without digging a bunch of snow pits and studying the crystals. Who has time for that on a powder day?

To get back on track here, the simple answer is to ski the spaces and adjust your technique to the conditions. Just like everywhere else you would ski you can still make offensive turns if you choose a line that will allow it. When you can't, the next best thing to do is be a bit more conservative until you get to a place you can ramp it up again. Just like in a race course.

 

post #35 of 55

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post

Third, looking ahead and staying on a line both given and chosen. In all three situations, to brake is to fail at the objective. I also like to invoke the rule of threes: look three turns ahead, plan three turns at a time, get up to a sustainable speed in three turns, and dial down to a stop in three turns.

Great comments! I am still in the finding a line and skiing it but having diffuculty in keeping rhythym when the going gets tough and requires rapid changes to speed and direction. I find myself scrubbing too much speed and the turns get forced and not smooth. Hey, nothing wrong with grabbing a tree now and then or just dropping and recomposing but I need to become more fluent.

 

post #36 of 55

Safety is good and we should all be aware; especially new tree-skiers but I have never seen nor have i ever had a discussion with the patrollers (and I talk to them a lot) that warned skiers about aspen tree wells, just the evergreen in areas like Morningside park. as a point here, many of the tree-runs at the boat are only a few feet wide so I am not sure how far away from the base you could ski them.

 

Spin's site is an excellent guide and example.

 

Another good rule is never ski trees alone, regardless of the type, pitch or tightness.

Quote:
Originally Posted by justanotherskipro View Post

Spindrift, It may not be the pole plant itself but the fact that planting the pole there means you are within arms reach of the base of the tree. As far as Aspen trees not having tree wells I'd say all plants can produce the heat transfer that changes snow around them into sugar snow. Exactly how the snowpack in that stand of trees has morphed is hard to say without digging a bunch of snow pits and studying the crystals. Who has time for that on a powder day?

To get back on track here, the simple answer is to ski the spaces and adjust your technique to the conditions. Just like everywhere else you would ski you can still make offensive turns if you choose a line that will allow it. When you can't, the next best thing to do is be a bit more conservative until you get to a place you can ramp it up again. Just like in a race course.

 



 


Edited by Finndog - 6/3/2009 at 07:43 pm GMT


Edited by Finndog - 6/3/2009 at 07:47 pm GMT
post #37 of 55

Great thread and some very good pointers. I got started at Powder Mountain in Utah, where almost all the runs in the inbounds trees are extremely mellow, and I have found myself drawn more and more to the trees in the last 3 years, culminating in two glorious days at Steamboat this past March. Of course, what attracts me is the promise of soft snow or even untracked (relatively) lines long past when the rest of the slopes are cut to shreds. I try to look three turns ahead, but when the trees are really tight, I try to keep my speed controlled to the point that I can stop with one throwing-them-across-the-fall-line emergency stop. One local gal I skied with in March reminded me of the risks when she said that she had broken a shoulder cutting one turn too close last year; and she's one of the best skiers I have ever been out with, male or female.  I made a really stupid move earlier in the year when I skied through some crossing branches where I could not really see beyond clearly, and even though I had goggles on, I closed my eyes by reflex for maybe 1 1/2 second. Of course, I covered about 15 feet in that second and a half and could really have gotten messed up. On a somewhat different note, I remember seeing a guy hit a tree at Taos about 20 years ago, and later learned he died. I was much more of a novice at that time and giving that visage some thought, I vowed that I would not ski in the same conditions: 1. Steep bumps on... 2. Ice in... 3. The trees. Two out of those three, maybe, but not all three.

 

Always remember: Keep both skis on the same side of the tree.

post #38 of 55

Finn, What snow safety and rescue experience do you have? Mine spans more than two decades and includes countless snow safety certifications and classes. Which is why I am trying to share some lesser know risk factors you can encounter in the trees. Ignore them if you like but at this point you can't say you have never had this discussion with a patroller. Been there, did that for more than twenty years. I find it silly to continue debating the snow structure around the base of aspen trees. I stand by what I've written to this point and I hope it steers you and others towards some snow safety education, for your sake.  

post #39 of 55

Oh well, we all have several years of experience in skiing trees and safety. It doesn't change the facts at all. There are some good points that everyone can learn from. I don't specifically think about where I plant a pole, it just happens. if you have to think about stuff like that, you're lost anyhow.

 

Skiing trees is much like skiing bumps. It's all reactionary to the line and the terrain. very rarely do you get the choice to chose how you ski them. You don't plan it, you just react to them. The spaces, the lines, the trees. Most tree runs have bumps in them which makes them even harder to dictate how best to ski them. Speed dictates everything. Speed control and edging technique is the key to success. The rest of the tips people have added is secondary. Speed control in powder is even harder if you're not a veteran. The biggest mistake people make is getting their skis too sideways to the falline. Same as in moguls or powder. You have to learn speed control without twisting your skis sideways to scrub speed. Doing this in trees, bumps and powder is disaster, as I'm sure you all have found out. The result is usually called a face plant and/or yardsale. Doing so in trees can get you hurt or worse.

 

Good advice? Learn to ski moguls correctly. Then take that technique into the trees. Then add in some of the good tips suggested in the posts above such as look ahead, look at the spaces between the trees, chose terrain wisely, and never ski trees alone. Here's another one, if you're skiing in a group, make sure the best, most experienced skier skis down last. That way he'll be available to help someone who needs it. It's not always easy to hike back up the hill to help someone get their skis on or find them.

post #40 of 55

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars View Post

 

Skiing trees is much like skiing bumps. It's all reactionary to the line and the terrain. very rarely do you get the choice to chose how you ski them. You don't plan it, you just react to them. The spaces, the lines, the trees. Most tree runs have bumps in them which makes them even harder to dictate how best to ski them. Speed dictates everything. Speed control and edging technique is the key to success. The rest of the tips people have added is secondary. Speed control in powder is even harder if you're not a veteran. The biggest mistake people make is getting their skis too sideways to the falline. Same as in moguls or powder. You have to learn speed control without twisting your skis sideways to scrub speed. Doing this in trees, bumps and powder is disaster, as I'm sure you all have found out. The result is usually called a face plant and/or yardsale. Doing so in trees can get you hurt or worse.

 

Good advice? Learn to ski moguls correctly. Then take that technique into the trees.

 

What he said !!

 

The US Open (golf) starts in 2 weeks. There is a great Ben Hogan story that applies. Following a practice round prior to the Open, a reporter asked Hogan "What are you practicing?" Hogan answered " I ain't practicing anything. If you didn't bring it with you to the Open, you're not going to find it here!"

 

Unless I work on bump skiing, all I do is survival turns in trees. Nice views though.

 

 

post #41 of 55

Here, Here, well said!  I am still thinking too much and still improving on bumps, My friend Jon who lives in Steamboat said this way, "Trees are like skiing bumps except that they hurt if you hit them......"  :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars View Post

Oh well, we all have several years of experience in skiing trees and safety. It doesn't change the facts at all. There are some good points that everyone can learn from. I don't specifically think about where I plant a pole, it just happens. if you have to think about stuff like that, you're lost anyhow.

 

Skiing trees is much like skiing bumps. It's all reactionary to the line and the terrain. very rarely do you get the choice to chose how you ski them. You don't plan it, you just react to them. The spaces, the lines, the trees. Most tree runs have bumps in them which makes them even harder to dictate how best to ski them. Speed dictates everything. Speed control and edging technique is the key to success. The rest of the tips people have added is secondary. Speed control in powder is even harder if you're not a veteran. The biggest mistake people make is getting their skis too sideways to the falline. Same as in moguls or powder. You have to learn speed control without twisting your skis sideways to scrub speed. Doing this in trees, bumps and powder is disaster, as I'm sure you all have found out. The result is usually called a face plant and/or yardsale. Doing so in trees can get you hurt or worse.

 

Good advice? Learn to ski moguls correctly. Then take that technique into the trees. Then add in some of the good tips suggested in the posts above such as look ahead, look at the spaces between the trees, chose terrain wisely, and never ski trees alone. Here's another one, if you're skiing in a group, make sure the best, most experienced skier skis down last. That way he'll be available to help someone who needs it. It's not always easy to hike back up the hill to help someone get their skis on or find them.



 

post #42 of 55

I only find tree skiing analogous to bump skiing where bumps have formed around trees. Sure one uses some of the same skills, but they are skills that are universal to good skiing. I ski trees in part to get away from skiing in others' tracks, and mogul skiing is predominantly skiing in others' tracks.

 

The type of skiing I seek amongst the trees is untracked powder skiing, which I think of as shoot and parachute, swoop and squash, float and weave. There isn't very much of the retraction/extension of mogul skiing.

 

 

post #43 of 55

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurel Hill Crazie View Post

 

 

In the east,especially the mid-Atlantic snow wells are often only knee deep but I can imagine that there maybe real danger the further north you go but still even a 100 inch base shouldn't be fatal unless you go in head first.

 

 

 

Add wind.

post #44 of 55

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by volantaddict View Post

I only find tree skiing analogous to bump skiing where bumps have formed around trees. Sure one uses some of the same skills, but they are skills that are universal to good skiing. I ski trees in part to get away from skiing in others' tracks, and mogul skiing is predominantly skiing in others' tracks.

 

The type of skiing I seek amongst the trees is untracked powder skiing, which I think of as shoot and parachute, swoop and squash, float and weave. There isn't very much of the retraction/extension of mogul skiing.

 

 


I think we all seek this kind of tree skiing VA. It's rare powder day and a few days after storms that you find this at any Resort unless you are in the backcountry. Almost every tree run i've been on has formed moguls in between the trees which really compound the ability rating for the average skier. In fact, after a few turns, they usually bail to the groomed trails. But, skiing trees is much like skiing bumps. You must be reactionary to the terrain. Looking ahead often improvising turns and methods, looking for lines or openings that may match your skill level better. Some people like tight trees, some like widely spaced. I like tight bumps more than widely spaced bumps. Pitch comes into play constantly. And as I said, speed control is the key to success in both.
 

 

While bump technique may indeed be different, bump technique and bump tactics are relative to successful tree skiing. You are right about seeking the untracked powder trees. I wish it was like that all the time but the average skier doesn't get that opportunity all the time.

post #45 of 55

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars View Post

 


But, skiing trees is much like skiing bumps. You must be reactionary to the terrain. Looking ahead often improvising turns and methods, looking for lines or openings that may match your skill level better. Some people like tight trees, some like widely spaced. I like tight bumps more than widely spaced bumps. Pitch comes into play constantly. And as I said, speed control is the key to success in both.
 

 

While bump technique may indeed be different, bump technique and bump tactics are relative to successful tree skiing. You are right about seeking the untracked powder trees. I wish it was like that all the time but the average skier doesn't get that opportunity all the time.


Very true!  Even on untracked or fresh days I approach trees the same way as bumps runs. Not trashing anyones skiing as I am not an expert by far, but trees that are 10-15' apart are not anything like skiing stuff that is irregular, ranging 3-8' apart with rocks and irregular pitch. It really becomes much more demanding (at least for me) , to ski with real experts in that stuff is pretty cool. Nothing knocks them off their rythym and line. that's my goal for this season. I just need my new Nomad sft's... :)
 

post #46 of 55

Too often for me tree skiing is a series of linked stops. I'll put together a string of a half dozen or so nice turns and the terrain will throw me a curve or I'll be late in a turn or I don't trust the entry because I can't see ahead to the next turn. Occasionally I can ski a flawless run but only after I learn the lines and terrain. Skiing trees is always a process of graduated improvements because I can seldom ski them here anymore for practice and since tree runs have become so popular the local resorts really thin them too much, not like the tight lines they were when I first started exploring them. I could go the rest of my skiing life and not ski moguls and never miss it. Tree skiing is were I find my fun. I love talking to the Ents.

post #47 of 55

Our mountain is big enough  and uncrowded enough that there is always something not too cut up in the trees (it may weigh more than me but not totally shredded).  I only ski weekdays so the fresh goods are there longer.  Will head into the trees for visibility as much as the experience. 

 

So much of Crystal Mt. is in the alpine zone we have a lot of natural glade areas (love that stuff).  The rhythm change options are great get some powder or chop in the glade, dive through the trees and catch some fresh right below them cause most the pilgrims go way around, God bless em.  Happy to put up with bad light or a sideways snowstorm for these possibilities.

 

Tree wells get very real here.  Most years a couple of skiers in the region don't come home because of them.  The heat transfer thing makes lots of sense from any tree especially in sun rich locations.  Here in spring as snow melts in branches of the big firs it can cause a bear pit sized tree well at the base.  The water coming off the branches melts and rots the snow below.  This is a very bad place to be, head first feet first, you don't want to go there.  If there is a depression near a tree base it is a sign not to get too close.

 

Thank you whoever it was on the parachute cord idea. It is going into my pocket survival pack, and might tie a Swiss army type knife to the end (that will be my no tech grappling hook). 

post #48 of 55

Wow, plenty of good info in here... 

 

Trees, to me anyways, are a sort of hiding place from the rest of the resort, and a welcome break from the mindlessness of the piste.  It's where you really learn where your skill set is, I mean you could be killing it on the trails all day but the second you slip into some tight bumped out trees the relaxation quickly gives way to self-preservation.  It's where you do or die.  It's a place where mind, body and technique coalesce into one and you really get a picture as to where you're lacking in your abilities- I've been humbled by the woods several times when I thought I was having a great day.  Not the 15' spaced trees with untouched blower, but bumped up 4' spaced trees with chalky or icy snow with rocks, drops and bullshit everywhere- those are the kind of trees that let you know just where you stand.  It's like a performance audit by fire, and it only makes sense that most people don't go there.  That being said, it's a challenge I love, and it's eye opening to say the least to ski with experts in bumpy trees.  You'll never know how much you suck and what you've really got in the tank until you've been left behind exhausted in the middle of a forest with one way down.   

 

post #49 of 55

This is a great thread full of useful information. My additions are:

 

  • take your hands out of your pole straps; I've had to climb many times for my poles. It beats a shoulder sep, or worse
  • don't ski any faster than you are willing to hit what you are skiing through
  • my favorite tree skis are 165 Atomic Powder Plus a straight fat (110mm at waist ski). it smooshes and slides and is short enough to let me go just about anywhere
  • watch out for loose clothing, especially packs. they make great brakes. I once stopped dead in my tracks cartoon style when a camelback caught on a snag: I was horizontal 4 feet off the snow with my feet down hill, for a moment, then gravity proved itself yet again
  • keep your tips visible at all times, they can't get caught under the snow/trees/limbs
  • try a hesitation turn instead of two turns to make it through
  • ski opposite the turns of others when you get stuck in a luge run; land on the pillows their tracks leave untouched

 

Some of these may be in here elsewhere, I skimmed the whole thread quickly and may have missed them.

 

I love the trees and have amazed, then shown my friends how to ski some of the tightest stuff they'd ever imaged. Comes from SL racing and (duh) skiing trees. I got in to the trees in the first place to get the last of the pow on the hill. Now I go their first because it is so much fun. Not to say I won't track out a snow field here and there, but I love the woods. So far they have loved me back.

 

MR

 

 

post #50 of 55
Ah trees. My personal favorite. As far as the differences between skiing trees and skiing on piste, there are a few things that I always do differently. I change my stance slightly, just by getting my hands up a little closer to my face, and flaring out my elbows, so that i can beat off hanging branches with my forearms rather than my face. I ski eastern trees, so its all tight evergreens, with plenty of ground scrub. I look at more of the mountain as I go. Instead of looking straight down the fall line, or looking at a 30 foot track down the line, I'm looking at an area 75 or 100 feet wide, and planning Routes A,B,C, and D through it. I use a lot of traverse to kill speed when necessary, and when possible, I don't let myself get funneled into a spot where there's only one way out. If I get into a turn and I get a little squirrelly, I typically already have a bailout spotted and ready to use. Skiing trees is all a mental thing, and it has everything to do with foresight and lightning fast decision making. If you're thinking about technique in the trees, you're dead. It's all about route planning (and contingency planning) for me.
post #51 of 55
I've been skiing trees a long time, but had a new experience year before last.  We took a lesson and the instructor had one skier follow immediately behind him as he skied fast through the trees.  I just trusted him to do route-finding and tried to keep him in sight.  It felt really different from my usual tree skiing, which features a fair amount of indecision leading to hesitation.
post #52 of 55
 Skiing trees in Mammoth  vs. Steamboat vs. Aspen can be very different!  Also, skiing trees in steep bottomless powder  vs. moderate firm  snow is quite different.  As  mentioned above, skiing trees  in  general is  not the time to concentrate  on technique rather it is more tactical.

Skiing "around" the evergreens  in Mammoth  and,  many times, not  being  able to see  what is around  the corner (very broad, dense foliage) requires some hootspa to  just  let  it go  and be  ready  to hip check yourself  if  the door gets slammed  shut!  Some of  the best  tree  skiing  in  Mammoth  is very  steep  and  tight.

Steamboat glades  with their tall aspens and  no  low limbs and an unobstructed view  of  your line  for  100  yards, allows for some hauling of a**  .  Even  in  the tighter  aspens  the ability to see  through the trees inspires confidence.  Northstar at Tahoe  in Lake Tahoe also boasts some great tree skiing where the evergreens have been thinned and most  of  the low hanging  branches  cleared  offering similar confidence  inspired runs.  Both  of  these resorts' tree  runs are great for beginner tree  skiers  because of the relatively  moderate pitches and  the large margins  for errors.

Aspen's trees vary from  dense to sparse, and steep to moderate, gullied to  ridgeline.  Just keep a look out for bear scat with bells and whistles in it!!...  Ask Weems.

Momentum is your friend!
post #53 of 55
Not exactly technique, but important-- never ski trees without eye protection!  (sunglasses at least, preferably goggles).  Its way too easy to catch a twig. 
post #54 of 55
soo true. My friend almost had this happen to him

Quote:
Originally Posted by mdf View Post

Not exactly technique, but important-- never ski trees without eye protection!  (sunglasses at least, preferably goggles).  Its way too easy to catch a twig. 
post #55 of 55
I'm still working on improving my tree skiing technique, but its one aspect where I've found the ski you are on can really impact the experience.

In a bowl, groomer, and even moguls, quite often you have the chance to pick-up some speed and bend a stiffer ski into a shorter turn. When you get jammed up you can pivot them and slide to get back to where you need to be. In the trees, especially steep trees, that next turn often has to come right away and a stiff ski that wants to rail away can take you for a dangerous ride. Learning to control and brush a round turn while not over-rotating is a challenging skill to learn on that terrain.
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