As every seasoned skier and snowboarder knows, success in the sport can be a gruelling labour of love. For every clean run and exhilarating descent there have been plenty of wipe-outs and ‘crash-and-burn’ situations before them. However, as amusing as this source for tall tales can be, every skier knows and understands the true gravity behind the rules of safety on the slopes. So, in your excitement of grabbing one of those amazing last minute ski deals, don’t forget, or take lightly, the rules of the slopes, especially when it comes to trees. |
On Their Turf
Last minute ski deals can sometimes lead you to new and exciting ski destinations that may also be a little out of your comfort zone. If fate has brought you to some new terrain this season, and it is one which is dominated by forests of snow-laden trees, then you are in for a treat!
Trading in the manicured slopes found at many ski resorts for the wild and rugged forest is like going from climbing an indoor rock wall to actually tackling a real mountain. It is completely different, completely thrilling and requires a few adjustments to your usual tactics and techniques. Skiers must wait for a sufficient amount of snow to be on the ground. Nothing but a healthy base of snow coverage will protect you against the danger stumps, rocks and saplings may pose. However, once it is there the fun can begin!
One of the best ways to access the true feel of tree skiing is to opt for a heli-skiing package. Heli-ski operators also generally tend the forest so that the trees are nicely spaced out, allowing for an exciting line through the forest with plenty of room for turns.
True devotees of heli-skiing will argue passionately that flying through the trees and popping off the snow-covered stumps beats any high-altitude glacier ski run hands down. Many enthusiasts book into ski clinics that teach true tree skiing techniques; some last minute ski deals may put you in the right place at the right time to join one as well. Expert advice is worth listening to as they have generally learnt their wisdom through trial and error.
1. Focus where you want to ski and don’t look at the trees! Fear and hesitation can be a skier’s biggest enemy. Become too preoccupied by the trees and it will affect your flow of movement. 2. Look ahead and plan 2 turns in advance. Otherwise you may fall into a turn-stop pattern which will eventually become exhausting. 3. Keep your balance centred above your feet. Avoid leaning back. 4. Take your pole straps off to prevent shoulder and wrist injuries in the event of a fall. 5. Keep your arms in front of you to improve your balance. It will also put you into a reactionary position to brush away any small branches in your path.
Not a Solo Activity
Most seasoned skiers will agree that while traversing the slopes and tackling the thrilling drop-offs and descents is a personal affair it is even more exhilarating and rewarding when done in the company of fellow enthusiasts.
Tree skiing’s first and most important rule is to never go it alone. Tree wells (the hollow cavity around the base of the tree) pose the biggest, and deadliest, danger to even the best skiers. If you are unfortunate enough to land in one you will need quick assistance to get out of the well and survive. Heli-guides often employ a call system called ‘Hey-Ho!’ for partnered skiers to use to keep track of one another.
So gather a group, take advantage of the best last minute ski deals available, and conquer the wilds of the snow-swept forest together!
Belinda Smythson works for Ski Amis, a specialist ski travel agency and booking service that has been helping avid skiers craft their perfect winter holiday for over a quarter of a century. If you're looking for last minute ski deals in the Three Valleys, Paradiski, Espace Killy or Chamonix Valley, Ski Amis is the go-to company for winter sports fans searching for the holiday of a lifetime.
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