Skiing the off piste spring snow.

March 20, 2012

Skiing off piste is not just about skiing the steep and the deep, it is about skiing off the marked and groomed trails and seeing and skiing slopes in all sorts of conditions and this time of the season (spring) gives you some of the best off piste conditions that you could wish for.


We are currently having glorious sunny days with temps climbing above zero but the nights are cold and below freezing, so the top snow layers are going through  a freeze thaw cycle.  After a few of these freeze thaw cycles the snow starts to develop a crust, to start with the crust can only be a few millimetres thick, but as the days go by this crust can be up to 10 cms thick and more than strong enough to support a skier.


Early starts, if you can hit the slopes as soon as the lifts open or even earlier if you want to walk up the mountain you can time it so that you ski the off piste runs just as the suns warmth has thawed the snow a little, not enough that you break through the crust, but enough that the snow is easily skiable and giving you a ‘gripable’ and very slightly loose top layer.  The skiing sensation is a joy and you ski it with a mid stance position with your weight on the balls of the feet and trying not to excessively weight the outside ski, keep everything as smooth as possible and nothing too aggressive! You don’t want to break through the crust.  By about mid to late morning the snow has melted too much and the off piste becomes too heavy and the likely hood of you breaking though the crust is a lot higher and not worth the risk.  If you are caught out off piste when the snow has ‘turned’ the best solution is to traverse out and get back on the piste.


Have fun and enjoy the slopes nice and early before the rest of the resort have had their breakfast!

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