• falling sharply
  • precipitous
  • sheer
  • sharp
  • almost perpendicular
  • vertical
  • opposite to gentle
  • sudden
Just a few of the words to describe steep. Excitement, apprehension, anxiety, nervousness, scary are some of the emotions the term ‘steep’ brings about. Most skiers love the idea of skiing steeper terrain. Most of us also like to be in control. True, a few launch themselves off precipices without a care in the world but most so called ‘sane’ skiers enjoy a feeling of being in control.

How can you get good at skiing steep terrain?
First step would be to start learning the skills. You’re likely to get nervous and panic if you have ‘all the gear and no idea’ as the saying goes. So where do you start? Why not a list?

Momentum based skidding
Strength based skidding
Turn shape
Snow displacement

If you don’t have these you’re going to be in trouble. Speed control is not luck. Think of how brakes work. The activity between two surfaces. In cars, pads and disks. On bikes, brake pads and the rim of the wheel. Skiing is no different, you need to create activity between two surfaces. In our case, edges (or ski base) and the snow. For more information on this have a read of the blog ‘Snow Displacement‘.

Then there are other skills:

Sounds simple. You need to change the edges of the skis you are using.
Change edges of both skis at the same time.
One and then the other.
On the snow.
And in the air.

Then you have the EMOTIONAL SKILLS
Controlling anxiety
Controlling focus
Wide and narrow focusing

PHYSICAL SKILLS. Get in shape before you go skiing. That’s relatively simple. The fitter you are the better you will be at coping with the mountain.

Selection lines, angles, awareness of hazards, snow texture.

Then lastly and the most important, SAFETY.
Transceiver use, companion rescue, terrain selection and awareness of snow. Of course FACETS. Along with all the other factors involved in moving around the mountain safely as a group.

If booking the Steeps course, specialist climbing or mountaineering equipment (ropes, crampons, ice axes) are not used to access itineraries. The itineraries on the Steeps Course are accessible using standard ski touring equipment (skins and ski crampons where necessary) or boot packing with skis attached to your backpack along with the ski lifts.

Go To Steeps Courses

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Phil Smith is founder of Snoworks All-Mountain Ski Courses. Snoworks runs Ski Courses and Race Camps throughout the year where you can embrace these tips along with much more to become a competent ‘open’ skier learning to cope with everything the mountain throws your way.