RIDING THE POWDER: BEGINNERS TOP TIPS
Skiing powder should be like skiing on clouds. Soft, untouched snow helps skis glide over the surface; powder, however, can be a daunting prospect for a beginner, but there many who attempt the off piste before they master the techniques. To make sure you have all the skills you need to head into the unknown we're sharing some of our top tips for riding powder for the first time.
Know the basics
It goes without saying that before seeking out fresh powder you need to make sure you’ve cracked the basics. You should be confident parallel skiing and making parallel stops, and be comfortable skiing at speed.
Speed will become your friend off-piste and help you glide over the fresh snow instead of ploughing through it. You can get used to building up speed on-piste before trying it out in the backcountry and practice turning your skis down the fall line.
Start small and build from there. Don’t head straight for the deep stuff, start out in powder that’s only 10-15cm deep. It will give you a good idea of how your skis will react and allow you to build your confidence before tackling more challenging back country routes.
Fit for the challenge
Heading into the backcountry is more physically demanding than skiing on-piste, so it pays to get fit. When starting out in powder stick to smaller sections before attempting longer more tiring runs.
Narrow your stance
In powder you should ski with your skis closer together so one ski doesn’t lead off into the snow on its own, that being said you don’t want them so narrow they touch. Aim for a hands width closer than your regular stance and you'll have a good position to tackle the more challenging terrain.
Weight + balance
Leaning back in your skis to ski powder is a myth that will not produce an easy position to turn both skis. Instead, maintain an upright, central posture and distribute your weight evenly over both skis.
Rather than putting your weight on your outside ski, which is what you would do on the piste, concentrate on bending your knees, flexing your ankles into the turn and straightening as you come out, turning both skis at the same time.
Keep your turn smooth and slow in the beginning, using your poles to mark the way. Turning too hard can create too much edge angle and cause your skis to dig into the snow.
When skiing in knee-deep powder, there is a possibility of sinking if you’re not carrying enough speed and have your weight too far forward, allowing the ski tips to dig into the snow.
If this happens and you have a face full of snow but your skis are still attached, take a couple of breaths and try to regain the upright position on your skis.
Don’t attempt to turn straight away; let your skis run down the mountain for a moment or two, to gain some speed.
Lost + found
If your skis have detached, this is where the shovel in your avalanche pack becomes useful! It may be a case of looking at your ski path and seeing your skis on the mountain. Sometimes, it is buried under the snow, so mark out where you fell and dig around the area until you locate them.
Make sure that the base of your boots are clear before you clip back into your skis!
Like anything, powder skiing takes practice. Don’t let a couple of falls knock your confidence, everyone has to start somewhere!
If you are planning to find some powder fields on your next trip, read our avalanche awareness and mountain safety guide and always take an avalanche kit (and know how to use it). Never explore the backcountry without an experienced local mountain guide.
The most important advice? Have fun and be safe on the mountain!
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