Skiing into a Blind Spot More Safely
Still looking for the best way to powder your nose long after the freshies are gone? One place that gets skied less is a triangle of snow below a clump of trees, or a tree with longer branches. To get this fleeting powder patch, there's a tactical (where-to-ski) element, as well as one that's more technical (how-to-ski).
Ski in close below a tree to get at that patch of unskied snow beneath it. Brush the branches with your leading shoulder, looking ahead and down, and use the softer snow to help slow you down.
One nice thing about skiing below the tree is that you don't have to worry so much about hitting the tree. On the other hand, trying to hit the tree – by brushing the branches with your shoulder – gets you a bigger, less tracked pow patch. Overdo it though, and you could end up with a ripped jacket, or worse.
As you finish the turn below the tree, you'll already want to be facing downhill with both hands in front, looking forward to your next turn or two to help you keep your rhythm and momentum. The softer, deeper snow below the tree can be a big help in speed management once you learn to trust that it will slow you down a little. On many days, these triangles of unskied snow are the best skiing on the mountain! Try connecting as many unskied pow patches as you can to get in the most powder skiing and have the most fun!
J. Scott Mcgee served on and then coached the PSIA Nordic Team (USA) 2000-2016 and works as Snow King Mountain Sports School's director. A former telemark competitor, he now dreams of perfect corn on spring backcountry skate-ski tours. Mcgee spends his summers guiding climbs in the Tetons for Exum Mountain Guides.