Posted by Mark (Macca) McDonald on

How to ski steeps the APSI way

How to ski steeps the APSI way

By Mark Mc Donald APSI

Skiing steeps is in. The steep skiing celebration is flashed up at every turn by our industry ski movies.  There is a push towards riding our own mountain wave and finding our own steep line signature. Whether you decide to make your sign inbounds or out in the backcountry, here are some good tips to have in mind.

If you are starting out, to learn your first steep decent make sure you are able to execute a strong hockey stop style turn. This means that you can twist both skis firmly across the hill and use your ankle, knee and hip to flex and bend inwards to set an edge that holds and brings you to a complete and absolute stop. Use the pole plant at the end of the turn to ensure that you have one more anchor and block any upper body rotation. As any rotation of the upper body may bring you around too much, making it easy to fall and the steeps is not somewhere you want to fall. Practice these to the left and right, then slowly link a few with hardly stopping on some blue to black marked terrain.

The next step is to try on a steep slope. Firstly, select a slope like a secret agent, always have an escape plan. Therefore, a small steep section no more than four or five turns that has a flat run out is a wise first choice. Places that spring to mind around Australia are Ruin Castle cornice in Falls Creek, Balls to the Wall in Thredbo, The Cornice race hut, Mt Hotham, the side of Macglocklans shoulder, Mt Buller and some of the steep parts of center valley in Perisher provide some great places to pre-test your skills.

Once you are comfortable down a steep short slope and also can stop at will, its time to move on to longer steeper pitches. This is where at times you will need to have the skills listed below to potentially get you through and out of obstacles or icy sections that may be on your signature line.

  • Edge set checks. Being able to jump and set on the same edges to safely move down a steep section where a turn may be too tight or too steep to risk making a complete turn at this time.
  • Sideslips to maneuver around a rock or past an area to reach a more desirable line.
  • Develop the comfort to be able to hop the start of the turn. Use a strong extension in the legs to get the skis of the snow and then be able to land strongly and softly by bending all the leg joints equally while moving the ankle, knee and hip inwards towards the slope to ensure that you have a solid edge platform to secure yourself with comfort on your new favorite steep line.
  • Remember, choose a line that is with in your ability and that has no surprises. A classic example would be the Rock Gardens at Blue Cow during early season, where the low snow and rocky outcroppings can put you in over your head.

Posted by Mark (Macca) McDonald on

Start Your Season on the Groomers

By Mark Mc Donald

The new season is upon us making it time to dust off the skis, wear the boots around the house and get ready for our exciting 2018 snow season.

So, what can we do to get ourselves back to the same skier we were last year?

While it is tempting to fly straight down the hill and refresh the soul with the wind blasting back up the nostrils it is also a little risky as a first season maneuver.

A wiser approach that may also assist in making you a better skier than last year is taking care to work on some key fundamentals.

Here is a little warm up progression that gives you all the feelings and movements to be a great skier. All movements are designed for green groomed terrain.

  • Starting in a schuss alternate from leg to leg turning each leg out in an arrow shape while keeping the skis as flat as possible. So all you are really working on is, can I turn my legs in the hips?
  • Then roll the inside of the foot over so that you start to feel the edge bite as you turn the leg. Now there will be slight direction change.
  • Take the little turns, make them bigger and take them on a slightly steeper green hill. Don’t be afraid to shorten the inside leg and increase the edge angle as you go through a turn.

Let the skis go to parallel and continue turning with the same movements.

Another way to be a boomer on the groomer this season is to focus simply on getting the balance back over the outside ski.

  • On the flat simply lift one ski in the air. Try to keep the lifted ski horizontal as possible to the snow as this will ensure that you actually bend all the joints equally and correctly in the leg that is on the groomed snow.
  • Then if you can find a clear and safe area go across the hill for about 5m, lift the ski closest to the top of the hill in the air. Do this both ways.
  • Then try to do this in one half turn to the left and one to the right. Start by facing down the hill and making a “J” turn.
  • As you feel more comfortable try doing this in linked turns and then finally keep going down on the groomers with both skis on the ground but feeling like you are balanced and strongly skiing with you outside ski.

Have fun, be ready to take off this season down your own runway on some easy groomers.  Who knows, you may even be better then you were last year!

Mark Mc Donald

Posted by Mark (Macca) McDonald on

Mera Peak

As mentioned by Jarrah there are adventures to be had in the season and in between winters.

Here are some brief facts about Mera Peak.

The group of 8 travellers Alicia Macolino, Natasha Langedyk, Nick Rankin, Lisa Weldon, Kat Keane, Charles Allworth, Jack Percy and myself secured the services of Chola Adventures to assist with guides and porters to carry our skis and equipment to through the trails of Nepal. Six of us managed to ski off the peak and it is one of the most amazing concepts in the world to have your first run of the 2018 season to be looking across at Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, Makalu, Kachanjanga Ama Dablam and Cho Oyu.

There are crevasses, altitude and changing snow conditions that make such a trip one of the most rewarding expeditions in life to do. Strangely enough in short although we all went for the mountains, it is the people of Nepal that stay in your heart and make the journey complete.

Enjoy the photo essay of the trip and hope to be able to answer any questions later in the year upon joining the Hotham Academy.