Steep Skiing 101

| March 2, 2009
Wasatch Weekend Update: Way better than expected!  After two weeks of warm temps, howling wind and no snow, the backcountry still had some soft and fun skiing.

I had a good time at The Big LePowSki event this weekend, where one of the clinics I taught was “How to Assess and Ski the Steeps.”   As much as I love steep skiing, I’ve never put much thought into how to actually teach it, so it was a fun learning experience for me as well.  First off, don’t fall.

DJ Dylan Freed showing how its done in Iceland.

DJ Dylan Freed showing how its done in Iceland.

There have been various semi-popular steep skiing techniques over the years, including the Schmear Turn, the Pedal Hop Turn, the 1-2-3 Turn and the classic over exaggerated double-pole plant turn.  Personally, instead of adding anything extra to a basic parallel turn for steep skiing, I like to strip it down to its absolute bare minimum. This means shoulders square to the fall-line, hands forward, weight on the balls of your feet, keeping your upper body as quiet as possible and doing all of the turning from your waist down.  In a nutshell, this is basically a hop turn, which can be easily practiced on almost any slope angle.

Setting up for a steep turn in Iceland. Photo by Matt Turley.

In the right conditions, one of the coolest things about steep skiing is that it can almost be effortless as you hardly need to unweight at all to send yourself flying into space on a 50-degree slope.  Once you unweight, there is a brief moment when you are suspended above the snow, facing straight down the hill and completely airborne.  This is the stuff that causes people to become terminal ski bums.

To be continued tomorrow…

Help support and get a grip on the steeps with a pair of Mountain Hardwear Torsion Gloves on sale now at Click on the photo below…


Category: 06 Downhill

About the Author ()

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

Comments (4)

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  1. Rob says:

    I’ve never heard of all these fancy turns you are referring to, but a basic hop-turn has always worked out quite well for me.
    – R

  2. David says:

    Nice last sentence…

  3. doubleA says:

    I remember the schmear turn. Scot Schmidt made that one famous right? Back in the late eighties we used to try and emulate that one……until I smashed my hip into a boulder!

  4. Andrew says:

    AA – Yep, Scot made the Schmear Turn famous.

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