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Panos

Introduction to Powder - specific advice needed

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Hello folks,

 

Here you have a beginner skier (running in blues confidently and learning fast) who wants to go out and introduce himself to powder skiing. I would appreciate some advice on the following topics:

 

a) Given that I already have a downhill set up I want to get some gear only for the backcountry. I like to skin up and want something light and forgiving. Dynafit bindings are a preference. I will ski mostly powder and spring corn. I do not want to spend lots of money at this time, so I am asking for advice on buying used gear. I am 6'1'' tall, weight 178 pounds and wear boots size 29.

 

b) Is there any very easy slope near Seattle without tries and with minimum avalanche danger where I could go alone and practice the basics of powder skiing?

 

Thanking you in advance for your suggestions :)

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Come on dude, relax your tone please.

 

First, you are not right assuming that I am missing knowledge about the white stuff. Just remember that the mountains are not only for skiers... Second, be reasonable. Do you know a way of getting skilled without any gear. Please let us know...

 

Think about it yourself, your message is not at all helpful.

 

Edited by Panos

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ski.ski.ski. powder is not always powder, sometimes it's crust, and sometimes it's like potatoes,Iv'e heard some say if you can ski ice.....ski ski ski . if you start on crappy gear when you get on what you pay for you'll really like it

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A "powder day"... Do you mean a day right after it has snowed a few inches and before they groom it? That would be a good transition to powder I suppose. Thank you for your recommendation.

 

 

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I'm a self taught skier and deep powder is still difficult for me. The upper terrain of alpental after a storm is probably where I've learned best. They never groom that stuff. Sure it gets tracked out, but if you look for it you can always find untracked powder up there.

I started skiing with the goal of ski mountaineering and touring in mind. I bought cheap used skis with Silvretta 505 and boots from second ascent. The skis are now thrashed and the boots are a little too big, but you can learn to ski in just about anything. So for now buy something that will work and get out.

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Backcountry skiing involves the uphill part and the downhill part.

 

You can learn the downhill part at a ski area. Spend some time and money on lift tickets. You should buy some gear that you'll use for tele/AT in the backcountry and ski at the area on that. Stay off the groomers. Either ski the powder on the edges of runs or look in the trees off the run. If they have pseudo backcountry runs then ski on them.

 

For the uptrack go through a guide and pick out an easy and short tour. At first you should try and go to popular spots where other skiers have packed an uptrack. Hopefully you know or can learn how to do kick turns.

 

Once you've done this come back and we'll talk about trail breaking.

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Another vote for spending time at a resort and practicing the downhill aspect of powder skiing there. There are quite a few resorts that have pseudo backcountry terrain which are never groomed, but are subject to avalanche control before being opened to the public. A day of lift served powder skiing will get you more practice than most people get in an entire season of backcountry skiing.

 

Other people can speak to specific models better than I can, but you'll probably enjoy your time in the backcountry quite a bit more if you get a versatile, modern ski that's wide enough underfoot to perform well in powder. One model that does come to mind though, is the Rossignol Scratch BC. Everyone that has a pair seems to dig them, and they seem to handle everything pretty well. At your height and weight I don't think that you'd want to go lower than 180cm in terms of length with these, but other folks may think otherwise.

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I agree with the the lift-served backcountry suggestions. Lots of bang for your buck. That being said, nothing beats flailing around in the real bc w/ experienced partners. A full value day skinning and getting trashed by variable bc snow conditions can teach you more than a day at the lifts. BC skiing is more than turns.

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+1 for lift skiing until you are comfortable in a variety of terrain. A big part of skiing is reading variable snow conditions and that comes with time on the snow. Don't forget that skiing with a day pack with all of the accoutrements will change how you ski.

 

I just bought Backcountry Skiing: Skills for Ski Touring and Ski Mountaineering and it has lots of great advice.

 

I will ski mostly powder and spring corn.

I don't know about Washington but around here odds are you'll ski everything from powder to windslab to sun crust up high and then elephant snot to rain crust to surface hoar through tight trees at the bottom. Good luck with skiing mostly powder.

 

Get comfortable in the trees. There's a lot of areas where it's necessary to come out through tight trees and variable snow. There's a bunch of conditions probably won't experience in bounds like breakable crust, sun cups etc. When there's any kind of avalanche danger in the trees are often the safest place to be.

 

I recommend a mid-fat or wider ski on the short side for your height but I'm not the most experienced skier with modern gear having snowboarded for the previous 16 years. My skis are 105 at the waist.

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+4 for spending some time up at the resort learning to powder ski. Most novice skiers who are not good at powder skiing waste an unimaginable amount of energy on the downhill, which opens you up for injury and a slower exit from the BC.

 

Find someone who is an expert skier, offer to buy their ticket or some beers, and have them give you lessons would be highly recommended and will greatly accelerate your learning curve.

 

As far as skis are concerned, unless you are interested in ripping GS turns, going for a ski that is between 90 and 105 under foot will give you the best ski for all conditions IMO. A wide ski is slower edge to edge and just requires a little getting used to, but is far superior in powder or the crud.

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Be ready to fall - a lot. In truely bottomless pow, you are skiing in the 3D rather than 2D. No packed down resort snow is going to prepare you! Too bad it happens so rarely in the nearby PNW areas that you never get good at it.

 

Round off all your turns.

 

Ski as if on one big ski rather than two.

 

Don't pretend they the powder is going to slow you down. It doesn't!

 

Exaggerate the up and down motion in your knees and feel that "platform" of snow building under your feet. Then let it bounce you into the next turn. Sweetness!

 

Crank the bindings! Nothing worse than searching for skis in deep pow. They dive and take off underneath the snow. Flail with the skis on your feet.

 

Nothing finer than effortlessly springing from turn to turn in deep powder!

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cstemley

Ski.ski.ski then. OK :)

 

Reid

That is useful to know. Will keep my eyes open looking for powder at the resort. Of course it is more efficient to use the lifts. You say you are self taught - that is cool. I have ordered the following books cause I believe a good book is better than an average instructor. "All-Mountain Skier : The Way to Expert Skiing" by R. Mark Elling; "The Skier's Edge" by Ron Lemaster.

 

TrogdortheBurninator

What do you mean by "slack country regions"?

 

Feck

I should had mentioned that appart from my downhill set up (181cm, 100-66-90mm, 20m radius, lead-heavy) I have a pair of (170cm, 88-60-78mm) very light, rugged Atomics with Silvretta 500. One issue with the latter is that they do not provide enough flotation. That is why I am looking to get some fats. On the other hand I find breaking trail uphill very easy and fun and I doubt whether experienced skiers can go faster. Going down is what I need to work on and get skilled for. Thanks for your comments :)

 

Lionel_Hutz

Surely you are right. I am lucky to have some very experienced backcountry-skier friends. Yet, at the present time I can only dream skiing down the routes they go and for them would be dead-boring to take me on the beginners routes. That is why I wrote "alone" in my beginning message.

 

hafilax

Thanks for the book suggestion. I have not seen this book at the local stores (2nd A., F.Fs. REI).

Edited by Panos

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TrogdortheBurninator

What do you mean by "slack country regions"?

 

I'm not sure what he meant, but a place like the north Backcountry at Crystal mountain would offer a reasonable facsimile of the terrain and early in the day, snow, you could find on a tour except with a lift.

 

REI has a couple copies of the Martin Volken book, so does Amazon.com

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...I believe a good book is better than an average instructor.

Perhaps, but a good instructor will help you out far more than any book ever will.

 

... at the present time I can only dream skiing down the routes they go and for them would be dead-boring to take me on the beginners routes. That is why I wrote "alone" in my beginning message.

Check around and I'll bet you can find an outdoor club, or even a guiding outfit, that offers backcountry ski clinics specifically for folks in your situation.

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Find someone who is an expert skier, offer to buy their ticket or some beers, and have them give you lessons would be highly recommended and will greatly accelerate your learning curve.

Surely, I will do that.

 

As far as skis are concerned, going for a ski that is between 90 and 105 under foot will give you the best ski for all conditions.

This is what I am looking to buy. I am happy to get something very used but at least at the right size and not terribly heavy or stiff.

 

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Cobra_Commander

 

It occurs to me that Lito Tejada Flores has copied your advice ;)

His films are not to be missed by beginners like me. Cheers man.

 

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Best to learn in area as said above. Then commitment is needed you cannot pause or hesitate if it is really powder. You just have to let it go and ride it out. When you do it is just like flying in a dream a minor shift of weight is all you need to turn anything more will lead to an overturn and fall.

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I am 6'1'' tall, weight 178 pounds, intermediate progressing skier and I am looking to get a pair of skis solely for the backcountry.

What about the Atomic Kailas (185cm) with randonee dynafit bindings?

Another pair of skis somebody has suggested to me are the Atomic Tacora (more slim though):

Atomic Tacora

Sidecut: 119:80:105

Lengths: 163,172,181,190

MSRP: $490

Closeout: $249.95

Any other inexpensive suggestions ?

 

Thanks

Edited by Panos

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I ski the Kailas with Dynafits. Best setup I have ever skied on. However, if you are a beginner, DO NOT learn how to ski on Dynafits. Get some Fritshis (not Silvrettas) and then ski as much as you possibly can. Dynafits are fiddly, not super-user friendly, and can be broken by skiing hard-pack groomers.

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I just got this from the UW climbing club. Thought it may be of use. I don't know how sticky they are with respect to being a member or a student.

 

 

This Thursday Rok Roskar will be going through the basics of backcountry skiing. For those of you have enjoy resort skiing, but aren't so much into crowds, this will be a great opportunity to learn about making turns off the beaten path. Thursday, 5:30 in HUB 309.

 

The plan right now is to go out and do some basic backcountry skiing this weekend (trips on both Sat and Sun) provided that the weather and avy conditions aren't too heinous.

- Saturday's trip: http://uw.cascadeclimbers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4071

- Sunday's trip: http://uw.cascadeclimbers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4072

 

If you're interested in going out, but don't have skis, boots, and skins, check out some of the rental information we have posted here:

http://uw.cascadeclimbers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4070

 

 

 

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