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help me ski the trees

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
This is my 1st day on this forum: if this issue was already beaten to death: sorry.
Last year was my third trip trip to Utah, yet it was my first experience with truly deep powder, and I loved it. I learned that when it's deep, speed is your friend: the faster I went - the more control I had, the slower - the more snow knocked me around. Everybody knows that trees keep the goodness for days after the bowls are tracked out - hence 2 days after a dump my friends head to the trees (they are good). However, when I get to the trees I am too afraid to let loose (no room for error and all that), so when I try to go slow I am at the mercy of the snow. So it's much like a catch 22: I know if I allowed myself some speed in the trees I could negotiate them better, but I can't go fast 'cause I am too afraid to hit a tree. Any suggestions?
post #2 of 22
Great question! Can't think of any good answers. :

Except the obvious; start with more gladed areas and try to work tighter from there. That's kind of where I am now.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 18, 2002 12:51 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Lodro ]</font>
post #3 of 22
Noodles, you could practice running gates or moguls back at the home base. Running gates and moguls correlate well with trees because all three dictate when and where you must turn. The trees having the least margin for error. Turning when and where you want to is one of the major problems people have with skiing trees.
post #4 of 22
Take a lesson and tell the instructor you want to ski in the trees. Then follow him. Alta's a good place for this.
post #5 of 22
my biggest suggestion would be focus on the gaps between the trees and not on the trees! Look ahead, have fun, and don't go in without a lid on.
post #6 of 22
I agree. Look where you want to go not at the trees.

Never hit a cruiser and straightline it: always be thinking about working on your turns. Practice turning turning turning.

Bump skiing can be a good way to learn how to become fluid and spontaneous and capable of changiing lines and turn shapes at will.

Be able to stop on a dime.

Be patient.

Confidence in your skills and in your skis combined with experience will take you places.
post #7 of 22
Agree with advice to look for gaps, not at the trees, you will go where you look.

Running gates is great advise as well.

Gain confidance by starting with open glades or picking off a few tree lines at the edge of a trail where you can escape back into the open.

Also important to get a turn rhyhthm going and keep the flow going. Trees are tough when you try to hunt and pick your way through starting each turn from scratch without any energy flow.

Try to shape your turns to finish below a tree and turn enough to control speed. Turn just under them, not just above them. This should give you "fall space" that is snow and not wood.

If it gets too tight, or you wig out, and know you have no escape, use a hip-check bomb stop. Ball up, cover your face as you stuff your hip in uphill with skis across falline to stop asap (and to fend off the branches). You might want to practice a bomb stop out in the open so you can judge how far you travel from decision to stationary.
:

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 18, 2002 01:49 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Arcmeister ]</font>
post #8 of 22
Don't reach out to slap the limbs; stings a bit.
post #9 of 22
If you're good in moguls, you'll be good in trees. Ski trees like moguls. Look ahead not down at your skis. Look for the gaps not at the trees. Start with widely spaced trees then work the tighter areas. Start with areas that aren't real steep then work up to the steeps. Most importantly, werar a helmet, stay balanced and NEVER ski trees alone. Always hook up with someone, a friend or a guide. Too many things can happen in there. People hit them, or worse yet, fall into tree wells and can't get out. Most tree runs aren't patrolled at the end of the day. You could be in there a long time. Have fun and be careful.

About the speed thing. If you can control your speed in pow, you should be able to control it in the trees. If you fear speed or worry that you can't control it enough to negotiate the tight turns in trees, you should practice more in the open. Make believe you are skiing trees on a wide open slope. If you can't make quick turns out there, you better work on it some until you can. Build up some confidence before you risk it.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 18, 2002 02:53 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Lars ]</font>
post #10 of 22
As I ski into trees I try to pick my first four turns before I start the line. I laways look for untracked snow, i.e if two trees haven't been skied between I aim for that space.

Try to keep planning your turns well ahead.

WIth the softer snow in there you should be able to slam on the brakes and come toa stop relatively quickly if you get in trouble.
post #11 of 22
Running gates in NOT good practice...I have yet to see "break-away trees", you will loose a shoulder, Kim Reichenheim (Sp?) in Blizzard of Ahhs is a good example.

Don't look at the trees, your skis will follow your eyes.

not mentioned yet: Pole straps...don't wrap your straps under your hand. Keep the straps loose incase your pole gets planted under a rock or tree. It is much easier to sidestep back up for a pole vs. possible dislocated shoulder.
post #12 of 22
One thing I forgot to add. Explore the trees before you go flying through them. In other words, looking for untracked lines in trees isn't always the best thing to do unless you have been there before or you are with someone who knows the area. There may be downed trees, rocks or drop offs where the untracked is. It might be untracked for a reason. Just another reason not to ski alone.
post #13 of 22
I think your problem comes from your idea that in powder "speed is you friend". As in the bumps, you have to slow the action down a bit, assuming you don't want to be popping off the tops of the bumps, or hitting trees. I suspect you are using speed as a way to "blast" thru the powder. Instead, try to think of SLICING thru the powder instead of trying to push it out of the way - keep 10 toes turning all the time - no dead spots in the turn. This will allow you to move THRU the snow easily and more efficiently and SLOWER. Then go ski the trees!!!

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 19, 2002 03:10 AM: Message edited 2 times, by Blizzard ]</font>
post #14 of 22
Hah! Lots of great answers here, noodles! Many have repeated the most important advice of all:

DO NOT ski the trees--ski only the spaces BETWEEN the trees!

This simple advice has serious implications. It's like driving a car--do you look for mailboxes and light poles and try to MISS them, or do you just look to keep it on the road? By looking where you want (need) to GO, you put yourself in the offensive mindset that is absolutely essential when control of LINE becomes important. When you look at the trees, and try to MISS them, you inevitably become defensive. As we have so often discussed, a defensive mindset leads to BRAKING movements with the skis--pushing the tails OUT to start a turn, rather than guiding the tips in the direction you want to GO. And with these movements, you lose contol of your line.

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>when I try to go slow I am at the mercy of the snow. So it's much like a catch 22<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Absolutely--well said! The movements of braking are not only exhausting and unreliable, especially in deep snow, but they are also INCOMPATIBLE with the movements of turning. The skid that controls your speed also skids you off the road (off your line). The more you control speed, the more you sacrifice control of line. And vice-versa--the more you control LINE, the more you must be willing to give up control of speed. To take the brakes off, you must learn to ski a line that eliminates the need to control speed!

What makes this hard, of course, is that you must give up control of speed BEFORE you even have the OPTION of precise control of line. The more you do this, though, the more precise will become your control of line. And hence, the more confidence you will gain that you can thread that needle in the narrow spaces between the trees.

But that is the key! Do not even try to ski trees until you have attained a great deal of faith in your movements. You MUST believe in your ability to control direction--otherwise, you will resort again to braking and your "Catch 22" will become reality.

I agree with Pierre eh! that racing will help. True, as Phil suggests, some racing tactics are not appropriate in trees--I wouldn't recommend shinning or cross-blocking an oak! But running gates reinforces the movements that control line. It generates the offensive "skis going the direction they're pointed" habits that are ESSENTIAL if you want to enjoy skiing in the woods, and live to tell about it.

On the other hand, Phil, I HAVE "experienced" a few breakaway trees (fortunately). I remember that run a few years back outside Keystone's Outback.... I came around a dense spruce tree, looking for the next "space between the trees"--and there just wasn't one! I ducked my head, and crashed through the lowest branches of several trees. When I came out of the woods, my favorite sweater was shredded, I was covered with twigs and pieces of foliage, and there was still a 1" thick branch sticking out of one sleeve.

My "friends" laughed....

Fortunately, I could laugh about that one too.

:

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

PS--welcome to EpicSki, Noodles!

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 19, 2002 01:07 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Bob Barnes/Colorado ]</font>
post #15 of 22
Sumac trees/bushes are excellent break-a-way trees. When struck, they explode when they are cold. Watch out for the piss elm whips though. They are deadly.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 19, 2002 03:41 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Pierre eh! ]</font>
post #16 of 22
If your pole plants/touches are not Laser accurate, take a lesson and ask to work on pole plant timing..

Pole plant/touches are done where you DON'T want to go so right in front of the tree. If you plant they pole between the trees by the time you get those skis turning, it will be too late.

In one of Eski's articles he gives some great tips.

Ski to the light.

Keep your skis on the same side of the tree [img]smile.gif[/img] (He credit's Dean Decas (SP) with this tip..)
post #17 of 22
Thread Starter 
Bob Barnes,

great sumary with a great technical exlpanation of my troubles. As simple a thing as this sounds, I have never thought of it: look for the gaps, not the trees. You also knew EXACTLY what my catch 22 meant: skid makes you tired and takes you off your line, and by avoiding the skid one sacrifices control of speed. When the pitch is a 45, 50, 55 degrees that is a significant commitment. If I pick a line in something that steep I am confident I can ski that exact line MOST of the time, which in the trees is not good enough for me. I very quickly become defensive, thus after 2-3 runs I am spent. The trouble is the bowls get tracked out sooooo quick.

My good news: I am leaving for SLC this Friday, where I will spend the next 3 weeks with nothing to do but ski; I'll have much time to practice all of your great advice.
post #18 of 22
My friend who is a doctor in SLC told me most of their adult organ donors once were tree skiers............

They also lost a neighbor last year to a tree skiing accident.
post #19 of 22
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Phil Pugliese:
Running gates in NOT good practice...I have yet to see "break-away trees", you will loose a shoulder, Kim Reichenheim (Sp?) in Blizzard of Ahhs is a good example.
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

pretty sure that was License to Thrill....
post #20 of 22
This may be obvious but I don't think it has been said. Confidence and experience are huge issues. Find a great tree run with moderately spaced trees and ski the same line repeatedly. Soon you will learn every turn and will not be stymied by the doubt of finding the next "hole." This will build your confidence and give you experience in being able to ski through the trees agressively. Success can then build success.

I think this advice also works in the bumps. I think that one of the surest ways to break through on the bumps is to find a line of artificially constructed bumps (some resorts have these) that are perfectly spaced. Usually you will find 2 lines side by side. Skiing a single line over and over (if you have to bug out just move over to the other parallel line) teaches you that when you let the line dictate your speed a bit more you can more readily connect turn after turn even if you have to go a little faster.
post #21 of 22
There was once an instructor at Alta: Eddie Morris, about which a friend said: "Eddie is so good, so good, he can ski powder very slowly".

Do as he did: learn to ski powder very slowly, and then you will be ready to ski trees (or, rather, the spaces between the trees). If you think high speed is required, you haven't really learned how to do it. Consider a helmet too.
post #22 of 22
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by noodles:
This is my 1st day on this forum: if this issue was already beaten to death: sorry.
Last year was my third trip trip to Utah, yet it was my first experience with truly deep powder, and I loved it. I learned that when it's deep, speed is your friend: the faster I went - the more control I had, the slower - the more snow knocked me around. Everybody knows that trees keep the goodness for days after the bowls are tracked out - hence 2 days after a dump my friends head to the trees (they are good). However, when I get to the trees I am too afraid to let loose (no room for error and all that), so when I try to go slow I am at the mercy of the snow. So it's much like a catch 22: I know if I allowed myself some speed in the trees I could negotiate them better, but I can't go fast 'cause I am too afraid to hit a tree. Any suggestions?
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

White is Right, green makes you mean, brown makes you frown.

Sound simple? It is.
Look at the openings, ski the openings, not the trees.

Looking at things while skiing tends to makes you go towards them. Soon the trees will start to slide on by and you will discover once again that speed gives you more control.

The nice thing about pow is that if you get out of control you can sit down and pretty much stop.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 22, 2002 05:49 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Roto ]</font>
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