Header Image: Pete MacKenzie skiing the steep upper sections of Pinnacle Gully. Photo: Hamish Frost Photography
Nothing else compares to the feeling of lacing ski turns down steep terrain. When all the pieces of the steep skiing jigsaw fit together it’s a graceful dance with gravity, but to get to this level you must sharpen up on your skills and overcome the fear.
“Nothing else compares to the feeling of lacing turns down steep snow covered slopes”
At the point where all the elements align you will be flowing down the mountain in a state of joy. While we might not be able to jet off to the alps to lap Mont Gele, The Aguille du Midi or La Grave we can start to think about honing these skills right from our backyard here in the U.K. thanks to the bountiful supply of steep terrain in Scotland.
Here are our top tips that will help you progress into skiing steeper terrain or sharpen your skills for those already getting stuck into the steeps.
Check your kit
Skiing challenging terrain requires you to make sure your kit is setup and maintained properly. Get everything out at home and spend time checking it over before your next trip. Basic things to look for are that your skis have sharp edges, the bases are waxed and smooth and your ski touring bindings are set up to your boot.
“Choosing the correct ski goes a long way. Generally a narrower, lighter setup is ideal”
Once in a while it is also worth checking the screws on your skis and ski touring boots, tightening any that are loose.
If you are wanting to develop your skiing in steeper terrain then choosing the correct ski goes a long way. Generally a narrower, lighter setup is ideal. You want something that is manoeuvrable, and easy to turn whilst having a good edge hold for firmer snow. Check out our choice of the best backcountry skis for some ideas.
Practice makes perfect
We’ll dive into the technical pointers in just a moment, but number one is to get thousands of turns in safe terrain under your belt. This is best achieved in a resort where you can progress through the graded runs into marked itineraries and beyond.
Try to find short steep pitches with easy run outs to practice on before going into bigger terrain. Once you are nailing every steep turn you’re ready to step it up.
“Get thousands of turns in safe terrain under your belt”
When you do find yourself on top of that dream line be sure to double check everything before dropping in. You might be spending a whole day working hard in the mountains to get yourself on top of the run so you don’t want to waste it by skiing in walk mode.
Ideally find a small slope to make some practice turns on, if there isn’t much space a few jump turns on the spot can get the brain going and uncover any kit issues before committing to skiing the line.