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Spring snow conditions advice and safety re: ice

marzNC

Angel Diva
google Hot Buns
Here's a link. There are variations on the idea, but I've found that Hot Buns design is the best. While they help keep me warm when it's cold, they don't make me hot when it's warm. I prefer using Hot Buns with shell pants than wearing insulated pants unless it's in single digits. When it's that cold, I often still wear Hot Buns over insulated pants to keep warm on lift rides.

https://powdercordpouch.com/hotbuns-butt-warmer.html

Feb 2017, Powder
How To Stay Warm On The Ice Coast
Eight tips to stay warm and keep skiing on the East Coast, because it really is colder here
https://www.powder.com/stories/stay-warm-ice-coast/
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
As some of you know, I'm sitting out the ski season because of Covid-19, so have converted my outdoor activity to hiking, running, and snowshoeing on woodland trails near my home on the North Shore of Boston. With this conversation in mind, I went hiking today in the rain.

I wore waterproof ski pants, a waterproof softshell jacket, a big hat that sheds water like an umbrella, and my ski mittens. The pants and the mittens did indeed get soaked and they both leaked water onto my skin, but not the jacket. That wetness was not a problem as the temps were hovering around 40ºF and I was breathing heavy anyway, creating a lot of body heat. I enjoyed being out there. Of course, there was no one else there so I had the trails to myself. Hoo-Ahhh!

The snow that remains on the trails was corn. Wonderful hike! It was a microspike day, Katoolah microspikes on hiking boots. They grip well on wet dirt, granite, snow, and especially glare ice.

Get thee out into the rain and enjoy that water-infused snow, people!
 
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kiki

Angel Diva
If you ski a lot at one hill, maybe take a lesson and the instructors can point out which slopes they recommend for morning versus afternoon. In general I find the 10-2 window nicest in spring but it depends on what part of the mountain it is and where the sun shines.
 

WhyKnot

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Hi. I'm back. I ought call this "Spring Skiing Part Deux: Mashed Potatoes." Please bare with my long post. It has at the core safety. Thank you for your help!

First of all, I had a feel good week this past week. Took another lesson, a private (with a great woman at Sunapee she also teaches at Pats Peak happy to share name)) and she really helped me, I felt a sense of progression and in the most confident place I have been thus far also knowing what I need to continue practicing. I met some of my goals I have for trails (yay) with the help of feeling safe with this teacher.

Then today I thought "oh, let me go out in this sun and warmth." I was out Tuesday in 45 degrees and sun at Sunapee (maybe even closer to 50 with the sun) and it was great. I was feeling more confident and no real ice, yay!. I feel like I could challenge myself on steeper terrain with softer snow. Today (at the Dartmouth Skiway) down below (still some angle but closer to base), there was a lot of mashed potatoes. I have been asking on Facebook and getting advice and I "think" i was misunderstanding the advice for how to ski in this heavier stuff. So I am here to ask for help and clarity.. I am convinced my fall today (or spin around, see below) was in part because I was not doing my correct technique. And I was not doing my correct technique because I am not certain what to do. Hence my questions:
  1. How does skiing in heavy stuff differ from normal skiing. I have heard that “feet closer together” “Be patient, turns my come slower” also I have heard “don’t get too far forward” and “ski like water skiing, with more balance on both skis”. So here are my questions: Do I still do my regular skiing: i.e. pole plant, edge my turns, flatten in the traverse, edge next turn? Do I still carve (or work toward carving?). I asked a buddy who is a skier and he says he carves a lot in spring but maybe it is because he is really good? When I carved today it felt like it made me almost stop or at least go slow. Do I still lean forward, same contact point on boots? I feel like I had to lean back more or I would go out over my skis. I also felt like I ought to bend my knees more (I am tall) and arms more out, basically be more athletic and solidly balanced on my skis, but I am not sure about all of this (especially the body position part-not forward as much and more weight on inside ski) because —
  2. I fell. So I am not sure exactly how this happened. But I was down below, there was still a slope though, and I was going slow. I think the same normal thing happened that sometimes does but crud was involved. Like I think my inside ski caught or hit a clump, something. All I know is I spun around. I actually did not fall from this, I was facing backwards (or looking uphill), and I thought "I am backwards, what do I do" - and I did not know what to do so I fell. (I have been meaning to learn how to ski backwards and want to do 360 and 180s and I will add this to my lessons to take!!). But I mention this because I want to understand #1 above as I think this spin around happened because of wrong technique. I was doing like water skiing, both skis weighted (I grew up water skiing so that is something comfortable for me). I was also NOT edging much and sort of sliding on top of my turns (which I just feel is not great, right?). I have been feeling this is why I fell. Maybe I had it all wrong and I am SUPPOSED to still edge or carve (MY QUESTION #1 above), just a) be more patient b) be a little more in the back seat/be a little more weighted on my inside ski? (like 60, 40 instead of 80, 20 90/10, etc). This is where I am confused because I feel like if I did NOT have weight on my inside ski it would not have caught anything and no spam around. And maybe I was also not forward enough even though not supposed to be THAT forward (what is the sweet spot?). But I may just have been doing my turns wrong (not edging) so the inside/outside weight distribution could be less of a factor. (?)
  3. I just spoke with a friend and she was telling me I ought not be doing so many turns in the crud. I did see skiers - better than me - just going straight through the stuff and not turning as much. I was afraid to do that as I thought I might just stop and get stuck — but that makes no sense - right? I mean IS the answer to be turning less and powering straight through? Or for sure don’t try and turn on clumps?
  4. Equipment. I know equipment matters. I took two runs today. One in my narrower skis (Volkl Flare 76), which I also feel are heavier (which matters in a good way, Yes or no?). I actually really prefer my narrow skis as they are much easier on my knees and feel more easy to edge. The skis I fell on — or got turned around on/caught something on - were my BP 88s. I do love my BP 88 but only really in softer snow. I even took my Volkl 76s with me out to Park City last winter as I feel comfortable on those skis. Should I really be going with my BP more in this snow? Or even try fatter skis (something about me really likes narrower skis, they feel easier to control, but if they tend to get "stuck" more in heavier stuff I am open to switching it up.) I also know wax matters and I had these skis tuned and waxed not long ago. But maybe it was not “spring wax?” Does this matter so much.
  5. With that said, do temps matter? Today not sure exactly what the temp was when I was ought there but maybe 55 or more, i know it hit near 60 today. Should I think of 45-50 as max temp or is this not as much a factor?
I am eager to learn what to do with this snow. (I may take another lesson too). I am certain I need more knowledge and I am eager to learn so thank you very much for any advice and wisdom you have (including what I am not even asking which I ought to be if there is anything). With appreciation and gratitude. Thank you.
 
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newboots

Angel Diva
I know others here are much more knowledgeable, but I just learned (on the forum) that skiing in slush scrapes up (and scrapes off) the wax on your skis. Might have contributed - I don’t know.
 

Iwannaski

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
@WhyKnot ... I am not the expert whose advice you seek, but I will ask how long your skis are?

I’m finding that the first time i noticed that mine were way to short was in the warmer, slushier snow. I’m a super dense 5’7”, and my intermediate skis are only 150cm. If you read about what you experience on skis that are too short, the unpredictable instability I felt was textbook, I think.

Also, re: your friend’s advice on turns: the other week I was having a rough run on an empty trail, so I decided to just bomb it a la the 12 year old. The warm snow REALLY just didn’t let me go that fast. I just stood up and pushed my legs into the tongues of my boots and went at a moderate pace that felt slower than my turns.
 

WhyKnot

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
@WhyKnot ... I am not the expert whose advice you seek, but I will ask how long your skis are?

I’m finding that the first time i noticed that mine were way to short was in the warmer, slushier snow. I’m a super dense 5’7”, and my intermediate skis are only 150cm. If you read about what you experience on skis that are too short, the unpredictable instability I felt was textbook, I think.

Also, re: your friend’s advice on turns: the other week I was having a rough run on an empty trail, so I decided to just bomb it a la the 12 year old. The warm snow REALLY just didn’t let me go that fast. I just stood up and pushed my legs into the tongues of my boots and went at a moderate pace that felt slower than my turns.
@Iwannaski (great name!) -Thanks for chiming in. I hear you on ski size, but for me truthfully I like my shorter skis (And some experienced skier I heard from actually prefers shorter in heavy stuff and recommended that), but of course they/you need/everyone needs to do what is comfortable for them!!! But I can try longer skis sometime too, but I still want to understand all I ask above (which of course holds true for any size ski, just really wanting to understand all those basics). As far as your advice on bombing like a 12 year old - YEAH they really know how to do that don't they! -- That sounds great that you felt it was not fast, I think I will give that a try next time I am out!!! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience !! I hope you have a great spring ski time!! Also shout out that @liquidfeet might grace this thread and my forgive-me-please-it-is-so-long post above with wisdom if around and have time!!
 

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
I'm not an instructor, but I can tell you what works for me in crud:

• Don't worry about carving. I tend to treat it as I would powder skiing and do extension/retraction turns. You need to unweight your skis by bringing your knees in, then extend your legs out to the side. And yes, take a more direct line down the hill.

• NO sudden quick turns. Take it easy, and keep your knees and ankles soft to absorb the inconsistencies in the snow.

• Maintain a strong, athletic stance, and stay balanced over your skis. As part of this, keep your hands in front.

• Don't turn your upper body; keep it facing down the hill.
 
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DebbieSue

Certified Ski Diva
Slush and crud allows you to take a more aggressive stance, since it slows you down.
Point those tips downhill, along the rest of you, and as ski diva says . . . NO sudden turns.
Shorter skis allow you quicker turns, but you can't do quick turns in this stuff, so you have to "ride" the skis just as in powder.
Disclaimer: I am not an instructor.
 

lisamamot

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
It has been an interesting skiing & snow science week!

Thursday it started at 33 degrees and climbed to nearly 60 degrees at Sunday River. The groomers were so soft and delightful first thing, but as the day progressed they got mashed up and downright draggy. Seeking out shaded spots on traverses and low pitch runs was the name of the game. Great advice above on skiing the mashed potatoes. As temps increased it was a steeps and bumps day; the mountain emptied quickly. Anyone who prefers groomed terraib would have been unhappy at that point. We skied 9-2:30 straight through and it was seriously an amazing spring conditions day.

Friday on the other hand was a horse of a different color! Overnight temps stayed well above freezing, but the wicked winds dried out the snow and turned it solid. I did not expect that. Wind holds and a second round of grooming, as well as many closed trails due to concrete conditions made for an interesting start. We avoided the shade and searched out the sunniest spots. Groomers and some sunny bumps softened up nicely, but it was a different mountain than the day before.

Saturday (today) - temps plummeted overnight and winds howled and my husband and I are choosing to take the day off and snowshoe with one of the pups instead. Looking forward to a report from @MissySki who generally braves all conditions :smile:
 

MissySki

Angel Diva
Haha I will indeed be out in a little bit, didn’t feel the need to rush out this morning so I did some yoga and I’m having some breakfast now.

My focus areas when skiing spring conditions-

1) Make sure your tips are following your tails! i.e. if you push your tails around once things get too heavy and sticky, you’re going to have a bad time.. just like crud and deeper powder. That doesn’t mean you always have to carve, though sometimes in very sticky snow I find it helpful because it gives less surface area on the snow to suction down.

2) Try to stay relaxed in the knees and ankles to absorb the variety in terrain and also the warmer/colder areas of snow which helps with jerking. If you’re constantly bracing with the downhill leg it’s a lot of work and really tiring. I don’t mean this as forgetting about those parts of your body, you need to stay in a good athletic stance and then allow for absorption.

3) On super hot and sticky days I abandon groomers once things warm too much. Bump time! If you can’t avoid them though try sticking to steeper areas and any shade near the edges you can find.

4) I personally struggle with getting thrown into the backseat a bit in these conditions, try as much as you can to stay forward. Being too far back will kill your quads, it’s way too tiring. I do sometimes have my weight concentrated on my arches or heels when very sticky since it seems to help with sticking in some situations, but that is a super subtle shift of weight and not riding the backseat which again kills the quads and I think puts your knees in a precarious position in heavy snow as well.

5) Get the mileage in.. there’s no quick fix, you just need to work on it. I used to find spring skiing MISERABLE. I now really enjoy it and only occasionally find it annoying lol. Up to around 50 degrees I’m good. Our recent 60 degree day was at times more tiring because I was fighting with the backseat, and at other times awesome. Definitely still a work in progress, but a long way from where I used to be so, progress!

6) Have fun, no pressure! If you find yourself getting too tired and having really poor form you can and should stop! Take a break or be done for the day and enjoy the sun and social piece of spring skiing. It’s really fun to have a snack, drink, and watch the show of other skiers from the base. :smile:
 
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MissySki

Angel Diva
Saturday (today) - temps plummeted overnight and winds howled and my husband and I are choosing to take the day off and snowshoe with one of the pups instead. Looking forward to a report from @MissySki who generally braves all conditions :smile:

Off topic, but in case anyone was wondering.. today was actually really fun at Sunday River! @lisamamot I took the Stocklis out today and everything was plenty grippy on them and they also smooth out a lot as you know. Quantum Leap was surprisingly fantastic on skier’s right with a bunch of sugary snow. We did that one twice, and that was my favorite of the day. Aurora and Jordan opened later and were really good too. Even did White Heat which wasn’t great but wasn’t a no fall zone either. All in all things were fast and firm, but not crazy slippery as I’d feared after the warm up the last few days.

Definitely one of those days where I wasn’t super enthused to actually go out, but was so glad once I got out. It isn’t often where I regret going out to ski though haha. It was another nice change up from my bump and tree concentration this season to work more on other parts of my skiing.
 

WhyKnot

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
So much to read up on here - yay - and will and respond. One thing though I have been told to CARVE in the heavier stuff/slush, and I am reading here NOT to carve. Thoughts? Anyway, will get to all of this and thanks to all. I went out yesterday and just kept feeling my skis were going to catch something (was really slushy like watery and no fun for me) so went super slow down to get back to my car. I for sure need to learn to trust my skis to go through this stuff. Anyway, will read more and maybe practice going straight down the hill more.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
So much to read up on here - yay - and will and respond. One thing though I have been told to CARVE in the heavier stuff/slush, and I am reading here NOT to carve. Thoughts?
1) Make sure your tips are following your tails! i.e. if you push your tails around once things get too heavy and sticky, you’re going to have a bad time.. just like crud and deeper powder. That doesn’t mean you always have to carve, though sometimes in very sticky snow I find it helpful because it gives less surface area on the snow to suction down.
Tips following tails is carving (by my definition). Rotating the skis manually when they are embedded in dense snow, when they refuse to rotate because the warm heavy snow won't move out of the way, is a recipe for knee damage. However, on corn, rotate if you like, because the snow won't be resistant. Corn is so compliant.

On steep ungroomed terrain, gravity may help you skid your turns, even when the snow is heavy and dense. Gravity's downward pull will move the snow out of the way on this steep terrain, if you keep your skis somewhat flat. But if you edge the skis to carve a turn, intending to get your tails to follow your tips, you will be in danger of mistakenly "catch an edge" and having your skis take off in an unexpected direction at speed. That can be dangerous, if the terrain is challenging (cliffs! rock faces!). In such situations, you may be told not to carve, but instead to lose as much elevation as possible in each turn. Skid along with flattish skis.

Such is not my normal terrain here in New England, and back when I was learning, it took me some time to figure out why in New England everyone said to carve dense heavy snow in the spring, but out at Snowbird in April we were all told to ski with flat skis and intentionally skid our turns. My question to the PSIA National Team member leading my group was, why are you telling us to ruin all this edgeable snow? These Rocky Mountain skiers don't know what a joy it is to finally have edgeable snow instead of boilerplate.
 
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MissySki

Angel Diva
Tips following tails is carving (by my definition). Rotating the skis manually when they are embedded in dense snow, when they refuse to rotate because the warm heavy snow won't move out of the way, is a recipe for knee damage. However, on corn, rotate if you like, because the snow won't be resistant. Corn is so compliant.

On steep ungroomed terrain, gravity may help you skid your turns, even when the snow is heavy and dense. Gravity's downward pull will move the snow out of the way on this steep terrain, if you keep your skis somewhat flat. But if you edge the skis to carve a turn, intending to get your tails to follow your tips, you will be in danger of mistakenly "catch an edge" and having your skis take off in an unexpected direction at speed. That can be dangerous, if the terrain is challenging (cliffs! rock faces!). In such situations, you may be told not to carve, but instead to lose as much elevation as possible in each turn. Skid along with flattish skis.

Such is not my normal terrain here in New England, and back when I was learning, it took me some time to figure out why in New England everyone said to carve dense heavy snow in the spring, but out at Snowbird in April we were all told to ski with flat skis and intentionally skid our turns. My question to the PSIA National Team member leading my group was, why are you telling us to ruin all this edgeable snow? These Rocky Mountain skiers don't know what a joy it is to finally have edgeable snow instead of boilerplate.

You’re right on that definition, sorry if I made that part confusing. I had meant to say that when spring snow is prime you don’t always have to carve, corn snow is so surfy and fun! When it gets super mucky and thick/wet/heavy that’s when I find it way better to carve through versus trying to push your skis around.
 

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