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sticking turns on steep ice


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Speaking of how much effective edge to have on ice. I'd very much like some quality advice on sticking turns on steep iced slopes. I made a mistake today that resulted in a 500 foot vertical slide. Once I lost my edge there was clearly no way I was going to get it back in. Thankfully I kept the board below me, the runout was smooth and I kept my speed down somewhat, so I came out of it without a scratch. Unforetunately the skiier that took the same slide I did ended up in a tumble mid way through and really tore up his knee :(

At the time I was just a little shaken, but the more I think about it, the more I realize it was a good scare I should respect. I need to clean up my technique on steep pitches, and in particular, when it's iced. I plan to pratice on some short steeps that don't have a danger of a long high speed slide.

I'd like some quality advice from someone who knows how to stick turns in bad snow on 50 degree pitches.

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I hope I do not have to give you the safe rider lector but be aware any time some one mentions slide to me I hope they know what's going on. This is where you either come to terms with your real knowledge of backcountry riding and slide prone areas. If you feel that your knowledge is up to par then go get it if not, go get you class on then go get it enough said! Any time pitch increases you then have to match pitch lots of these ya hoos will tell you the ride the steep stuff also and its no sweet. they are lying . You should not even think about getting out into the Nar Until you can make solid jump turns on any pitch your jump turns should be smooth and second nature it may be your bail out turn. Once you feel comfy with the jump turn go out and practice them until they are in the bag.

Now lets talk about that nice wet heavy snow you get to play one some days it some times may have a crust some days it may not. others it may be heavy powder, some times light powder. any way it all ungroomed and it all has its different characteristics knowing how the different conditions feel is a large part or charging steeps. What is truly important is knowing how fair forward you can lean before the nose pearls. If the nose does not pearl you need to be as far forward as possible. If it will pearl you still need to be as far forward as possible until it pearls.

I am trying to tell you to commit forward if you do not everything else is just wasted movement.

The turn should all be initiated by your upper body on real steeps it is no more difficult then a simple turns on the flats if you are committed forward. Turn your head into the turn and allow the energy to coil towards your feel passing threw your shoulders into your hips where it builds pressure and energy then release the coiled energy into your feet with a explosive pop moving your momentum threw the direction change but primarily DOWN THE HILL to do also need to incorporate enough lighting of the board to un weight it also. This motion is the only uphill movement and is best accomplished by small lifting of the knees in conjunction with a small hop DOWN THE HILL. As the edge change happens it is important to continue the rotary motion through out the turn as the board changes edges and your body comes around remember that the new edge will need weight to provide edging it is important that you learn to make weighting judgments based on practice because the board will be side ways you are more of a sidesliping equal weight to both feet position. Depending on snow conditions you will have to feel (this is were the skill part comes in) How mush uphill edge pressure is needed. Powder involves more of a down hill drive while Ice and chop will need some more up hill weighting. Continue driving down hill between each turn if you apply to much up hill pressure you may slide out the edge due to pitch.

Learn it in bounds and be safe.

Rip it OB know your safe!

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sorry, I probibly should have been more clear with my post. This happened at A-Zone at Mt. Hood Meadows resort.

Conditions today were... I'd describe it as frozen compressed mashed potatoes. The particular pitch I was on is in bounds, patrolled and bombed, so I'd be confident that if it's open, it's safe from avalanche within reason. Today there was definately no danger of avalanch, the snowpack was very firm. Everything that was loose you could see in the rubble from the bombing earlier in the week down at the bottom.

What happened to me was there was a small cornice to drop over, only a couple feet. Other people throughout the day had tracked a ledge about a boardwidth wide traversing accross to where the slope was better on the other side of the bowl. Right where you'd drop onto this ledge from the cornice it had gotten kindof chopped up, making the ledge roll with a couple bumps. I took it all at a snail's pace but still rolled off one of the bumps wrong, which put me slightly below the ledge others had traversed out and no way to get back up to it. At this point, I stopped for a moment to pick where my line was going to be. That was mistake one, I should have thought about bail line from the top if I missed the traversed ledge. Mistake two was the automatic reaction to start to sit down. As soon as I started to bend my knees, it released the edge and sliding I went.

I had a fair amount of time to think as I slid down, and besides thinking "I sure hope I don't catch my board wrong here and start an end over end tumble" I remember thinking "hrmmm, having an ice axe and practiced knowledge of self arrests with a board strapped to your feet might be something to obtain".

Anyhow, I don't want to overstate what happened to me. I'm sure several other people took the same slide I did that day. But it is a wakeup call for me to improve my riding. I know I have no business out of bounds until I feel supremely confident end bounds as well as have avalanche training, equipment, and most importantly a buddy I trust to have the same things.

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Good to know you know what's up.

Funny how you mention self arresting while you have a snowboard on your feet! go out and practice in the Nar one thing that saves me is being able to roll and right myself ASAP It is almost my self arrest Being able to slide in control is the most important part of big mountain riding. You are going to fall the question is how do you save your self. Now that I know you were placed into the unfortunate pitch I understand your dilemma. The jump or windshield wiper turn is your number one OH SH$T turn, it is the jump turn I described earlier if you can jump turn from toe to heel and vice versa you can side slip your way out of anything. Also sounds like you learned not to sit down on the steeps as well. Always try to rest on your toe edge usually the snow is just a foot or two in front of your face any way! Plus since your feet are levers that side seems to hold well! I find my self kneeling a lot in the steeps waiting for my friends. Any way Arrest by sliding onto your front with knees bent and slowly bring your board to the snow it works very well!

Good luck in the Nar it the best place on the hill to be!

You just have to make all your movements down hill!

Have fun,


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thanks for the post.

I haven't worked on jump turns for a while now, not since I got comfortable making skidding crossover turns on steeper slopes. I do know that if I'd tried a jump turn on that pitch, I would not have set the edge. So maybe I should practice that first.

I'm digesting the rest of what you posted:

-keep your weight _way_way_ forward

-change edges emphaticly but smoothly, pop hard onto the new edge

I think I'm loosing you when you talk about uphill weighting vs downhill weighting. What I'm picturing is the sort of turn that finishes with a J shape, and what you're talking about is varying weight between front and back foot?

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Ther is not much of a cross over or under you are simple piviting on a center axsis and using the hill pitch to you advantage. As you pressure both feet to control edging while maintaining balance You use a small pop up to break the board of the snow. you must maintain a perpindiculiar posture to the grade for any type of turn to happen hence the foward weighting. When the board comes back to the ground it should be across the fail line eleminating the need for frount or back foot pressure. It only need even pressur on both feet to control slide. Now you are back at the top af the paragraph make sence.

Sorry I just shut down my WP program so no spell check.

I am getting ready to go to bed but send be a response weather you get it befor you say no stand up bend your knees flex down pop up spin 180 and land with you weight on both feet. You just did a steeps jump turn! YEA!!


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Ok, here's something I probibly have wrong then. So far when I do jump turns, I keep my body more or less vertical. I usually think of it as lifting the board out of the snow to my body as I spin around 180, staying vertical.

So when do I time throwing my weight forward relative to rotating into the turn and doing the pop? Once I've gone to where I'm perpendicular to the slope, how do I end up back in a balanced vertical position on the new edge, I'm having trouble visualizing it.

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Jason you have the right Idea and it is hard to visulize intill you are on pitch, The point of the movement down hill is to insure you are perpindicular to the grade. So many people allow fear to kick in and try to lean back into the hill for saftey. You can not start or finish the turn unless you are moving mass down hill on the steeps. You have to realize that you need to move to the up hill edge to apply pressuse for control and braking but... to turn the commitment down the hill has to be made.


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