Narrated Couloir Video

| May 3, 2013 | 1 Comment

I’ve been in a video uploading frenzy lately and put together this 4:30 clip on chute skiing. The couloir itself was a 40-45 degree line which was about 1,800′ tall.  After editing the clips together, I went back and narrated over the top of it afterwards.

There is obviously far more to skiing couloirs than can be described in 4:30, (or, maybe not..), but this highlights a few key strategies. In general, here are some things I think about:

  • Make sure everyone is ready to go before you start down so that they will be able to quickly get to you in case of a fall or avalanche rescue.  Don’t start down if your partners are hanging out eating lunch with their skins still on.
  • Give the top of the slope a nice hard ski cut, preferably in both directions.
  • Give a quick pause before diving into your turns after the ski cut.  Sometimes it takes the slope a few seconds to “wake up.”
  • I like to stick by my booter near the top as you know what the snow is going to be like while you are doing your first few turns, plus you are not deeking out to the side into potentially loaded untouched pockets.
  • Look for good, safe sheltered places to pull off and stop.
  • When/if regrouping, try to make it easy and obvious for others to pull in below you rather than above.
  • I like to keep plenty of leg power in reserve in case of a fall or avalanche.  That way I’m not maxed out and have some room and energy to maneuver.
  • I prefer to “leap frog” down couloirs instead of having everyone regroup together.  This helps spread out the skiers, yet also keeps you relatively close in case someone falls or needs help for some reason.
  • Skiing in sluffs is fun, but they have a way of rapidly escalating and becoming dangerous.  Getting clocked from behind, especially on a steep line, is no fun. Give them some respect.
  • A lot of times the tail of a chute will have a short section of “burnished” snow or runnels from prior sluffs running over it. This is usually no big deal, but also no fun to hit unexpectedly with fried legs.
  • Be aware of crossing back into the 38 degree slope angle bulls-eye after leaving steeper terrain.  The chute above may be steep enough to sluff, but that all ends up in a big pillow right at the base, and also right when you might be thinking you’ve got it made.
  • Try to ski as far out of the way and off to the side when you are done.

And a few million other things.  ;)

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Help support StraightChuter.com and catch a couloir by the tail with a Contour Contour+ 2 Camera from Backcountry.com. Click on the photo below…

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Category: 06 Downhill

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber and Mountain Unicycle rider. He and Polly Samuels McLean are the parents of two very loud little girls.

Comments (1)

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  1. Greg says:

    I often find myself gravitating towards more experienced partners in the backcountry for their wisdom, and for that same reason I appreciated this little glimpse into your thoughts. Keep up the good work my friend…. Also that cooley looked pretty awesome.

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