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Tips on Skiing Heavy Wet Slop Snow in the BC?

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Tips on Skiing Heavy Wet Slop Snow in the BC?

Postby centrifuge » Sun May 22, 2011 6:16 pm

Yesterday I got introduced to a type of snow I have never encountered before while skiing in the backcountry for the first time. I have skied a lot in bowls and things of that nature at resorts, and felt very confident going into this. To say I got humbled is an enormous understatement. It was heavy, wet, slop snow covered by crust that would collapse on turns seeming to lock my skis on a forward path that I couldn't break out of with out crossing my skis or ending up planted on my face. My question for people here is how do you manage skiing in this? I managed to very slowly work my way down for a good part, but without the ability to feel in control of my turns and in trees, I ended up strapping my skis to my pack and postholing out behind my wonderfully gracious friend who was on snowshoes feeling fairly stupid. If I am ever going to be sucessful in skiing 14ers I know I need to be able to negotiate all sorts of conditions and I was completely taken off guard by this, so any tips or pointers would be greatly appreciated!
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Re: Tips on Skiing Heavy Wet Slop Snow in the BC?

Postby Gahugafuga » Sun May 22, 2011 7:27 pm

Fat skis + stiff boots + strong legs. End thread.

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Re: Tips on Skiing Heavy Wet Slop Snow in the BC?

Postby Mrwaffles989 » Sun May 22, 2011 7:38 pm

Tip: don't ski it. It sounds like you were in prime wet avalanche conditions. Start extremely early in the morning the night after a solid overnight freeze and snow will be more solid. If you sink up to your ankles while just standing on your ski boots, that's usually a red flag to gtfo.

If you were just skiing down some low angled terrain, the above obviously won't apply.

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Re: Tips on Skiing Heavy Wet Slop Snow in the BC?

Postby BillMiddlebrook » Sun May 22, 2011 7:38 pm

Ah, yes, there are so many "interesting" types of snow conditions in the backcountry. Anything with a breakable crust on top will often require some amount of "jump turns" to avoid making the turn as you're breaking down through the crust, or worse, under it. It's helpful to get into a piston rhythm and try to make turns while your skis are at or above the crust. Speed/momentum is often your friend as it helps you come up for the next turn. If you're going slow and trying to make turns like you're on easy snow at the ski area, you might be hating it in a hurry. Power is important, but technique is more important.

Having said all that, nothing will show you as much as going out there and having to face crap like that over and over again. It's friggin FUN!

Edit: Oh, yeah... fat skis + stiff boots + strong legs
Only SNOW will end the madness

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Re: Tips on Skiing Heavy Wet Slop Snow in the BC?

Postby Mrwaffles989 » Sun May 22, 2011 7:53 pm

Ha I've been working too much. I guess it's been snowing quite a bit in the mountains and there's lots of fresh. Ignore my previous post.

Squats, deadlifts, leg curls, leg extensions, and calf raises.

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Re: Tips on Skiing Heavy Wet Slop Snow in the BC?

Postby centrifuge » Sun May 22, 2011 7:58 pm

thanks guys! Mrwaffles989, we actually turned around specifically because the snow conditions were so primed for avi's. We were coming up on a 30 degree slope and after digging a pit, opted to turn back before getting on terrain that might slide. So I was on stuff that was maybe a 10 degree slope through trees, which was what was so disconcerting. Stiff boots... I think I'm screwed on that front! My boots are light, but not nearly as stiff as a lot.
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Re: Tips on Skiing Heavy Wet Slop Snow in the BC?

Postby BillMiddlebrook » Sun May 22, 2011 8:01 pm

Stiff boots are key as they allow you to transfer power to your skis instead of it being absorbed in the boot.
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Re: Tips on Skiing Heavy Wet Slop Snow in the BC?

Postby centrifuge » Sun May 22, 2011 8:17 pm

I have Dynafit Zzero's, the green ones. I love how light they are, but when I started skiing them I noticed how much less stiff they are then normal alpine boots. They have forced me to really focus on technique, but yesterday I definitly felt like I couldnt force the turns in the slop. I ended up cranking them down as tight as I could (painfully so), and it helped some, but only a very small amount. Maybe I should try to get out in a place like Loveland Pass, and run some runs there for practice. Practice makes perfect!
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Re: Tips on Skiing Heavy Wet Slop Snow in the BC?

Postby gb » Sun May 22, 2011 8:18 pm

Go faster. The faster you go, the more you plane on top. Go slow, and you get mired down in it.

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Re: Tips on Skiing Heavy Wet Slop Snow in the BC?

Postby mrburns » Sun May 22, 2011 9:50 pm

Speed is your friend. Be aggressive. It's not a leisure sport. :D
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Re: Tips on Skiing Heavy Wet Slop Snow in the BC?

Postby Hacksaw » Mon May 23, 2011 1:32 pm

Gahugafuga wrote:Fat skis + stiff boots + strong legs. End thread.


Fat skis (95mm+ under foot) + speed + good boots (they don't need to be racer "stiff") + upweighting some during turn + while making a wider open turn. =D> =D>

Also having some good "wet/dirty snow" wax like Zardok on the skis will keep them from getting grippy, and thus your skis will glide easier.
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Re: Tips on Skiing Heavy Wet Slop Snow in the BC?

Postby Hacksaw » Mon May 23, 2011 4:35 pm

Oh, and one other thing weight each ski equally.... #-o
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