Tips for Skiing Off Piste
It's always good to have some tips and tricks in your pocket. Especially up on the mountain where all your actions have consequences, whether good or bad. I hope these tips will help you in making decisions, so the outcome will always be positive. The tips are not formed into any groups. Just random tips that I use every time I'm skiing. Some of them are more technically oriented, and others aim more on safety.
1. Tell someone when you're out
I encourage everyone to get fired up and venture into the mountains. Make certain to go with someone who is a good partner, meaning they have experience and they know how to react in event you need to count on them. And, always be sure to let someone know where you’re going.
2. Fight the chill
Always carry a light mid-layer jacket in your backpack.
Filled with synthetic or down. The one with a down filling usually packs a little bit smaller, but there’s no big difference. The performance is almost the same, just small differences. Down filling doesn’t perform so good when damp or even wet. On the other side synthetic filling still provides some warmth.
If I ever get cold, I just put the jacket on above everything else for an extra layer of warmth.
3. Wear a neck warmer
The neck warmer is always with me, even when it’s warm. It’s an extra layer and it protects you from the wind. Freeriding in deep snow can often lead to lots of powder face shots which results in lots of snow inside your jacket. So a neck warmer, which doesn’t take up much room in a backpack, is a handy piece of kit to carry with you. Plus if temperatures plummet it helps keep your face warm.
4. Keep your skins warm and dry
If you take out your skins (for a climb) and are going to use them a bit later, its good to have them in your jacket so they stay warm and stick a lot better later. Warming your skins inside your clothing helps make them a sticker base for your touring skis. This trick comes handy especially when it's windy if snow is carried around by the wind. And fresh snow can be a problem too. Loose snow crystals will quickly get between base and skin.
5. Use a strap to secure loose things
Make sure you have some quality straps in your pocket. If the skins start to slide off halfway through an ascent, using a strap to fix and hold skins in place can be a life-saver. This is a great emergency trick. It won’t last long but it could be enough to bring you home. And it’ll come handy if you need to fix something on your backpack.
6. Arm yourself with duct tape
When freeriding hard, it’s inevitable that things will break or become loose. The trick is always to have a bit of duct tape stored on your pole or in your backpack. You don’t need to take the whole role with you. Simply wrap a length of tape around your pole, to be unrolled when you need to use it.
7. Anchor your backpack
When up on the hill, especially if it’s steep, make sure to secure your equipment. Use a ski pole or an ice ax if snow is hard, for securing the backpack. Prevent items to slide down the slope you’ve just hiked. Avoid any mission being cut short
8. Use your skis to pull yourself up
Hiking deep powder can be a bit miserable sometimes. And sometimes even stubbornness is not enough. The last emergency tool here is your skis. Plant them sideways in the snow in front of you and pull yourself up. You’ll surprise yourself what can be done with this combination, stubbornness, and skis in front of you.
9. Build up your endurance
Focus on your endurance. Since you're trying something new—skinning or climbing with crampons and an ice ax—you'll need to be in great shape to handle exercise at high altitude. Prepare for this in the offseason. Running, biking hiking, be active, try to get as many vertical meters as you can. Start easy and as you get in shape, find steeper and higher hills. Do this endurance training two or three times per week.
10. Make the uphills easy
Touring with skins can feel a bit awkward at first. But with a few hundred strides and focus on some technique tips, you can make the uphill feel easy. Practice this skill set often to be efficient and to save energy on your excursions.
Start with a good posture, nice upright body position. Stay tall and relaxed, avoid excess bending at the waist.
Use your pole, transfer some weight on the poles. It gives a little extra power. It takes some weight off skis, this is especially useful when it’s steep.
Keep track angles low. Many put their heel lifters high and attack the slope straight up. Poor form! Lower track angles (about 12°-18° max) tacking up the slope allows for an efficient stride that can be well-paced, with a cadence you can keep up all day long without tiring. Know when to roll your knees and ankles out to flatten your skis for maximum grip with your skins and know when to edge your skis to get the bite and hold across certain slopes that you need.
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