18February 2014

5 Tips for Powder Newbies

Heli-skiing isn’t only for experts, which means lots of guests are looking forward to day one in real pow conditions. Because hey, outside of heli or cat-skiing, a lot of us just don’t get opportunities to enjoy untouched backcountry perfection.

Don’t let inexperience in the deep stuff hold you back!

Here are five tips to help take you from newbie to veteran:

1. Make having a tail guide a dealbreaker.

Having more than one guide in a group means the heli-ski operator can adapt and be flexible. If you need a little extra time at the beginning to get your pow legs happening (or at the end if you’re running out of steam), a tail guide can hang back with you while the rest of the group carries on at a faster pace, if they’d rather.

The pressure of having more experienced guests staring you down while you’re on day one in unfamiliar conditions does not help the learning curve, let me tell you. Set yourself up to succeed: tail guides increase safety and make a new environment way more friendly.


2. Trust us: take the fat skis (or board). 

We know that for those new to deep turns, powder skis and boards can look strange, intimidating, and surely a liability when you’re trying something new, no? No. They look and behave differently for good reason – they make transitioning to powder easier.

Flat and reverse camber, wide shovels, early-rise tips, wide waists: these things all contribute to easier, smoother turns with the necessary float to make equal balance more natural.

The equipment doesn’t presume you’ll ski or ride any differently. You just do what you do, and it’ll do what it does – which is make pow skiing as fun as it should be.


3. Don’t make it an off-the-couch activity.

Although perfect pow skiing feels effortless when you’ve got the flow, being in good shape is key for first-timers. The adrenaline and nerves of a new environment will rev your system, the conditions may challenge your legs in new ways, and falling in the deep stuff, while soft, can be surprisingly tiring.

Make sure you’ve had plenty of days and vertical in whatever conditions are available to you so your fitness isn’t the issue.


4. Remember the fundamentals (with a twist). 

Powder skiing is still skiing, and almost all the same basics for success apply: keep your upper body facing down the fall line, hands forward, pole plant, coil and uncoil through the turn, stand up tall over your feet.

No need to lean into the back seat to keep those tips from diving (remember the fat skis? they got this). In fact, the only thing that will be different is you’ll have to weight both your skis evenly, instead of pushing against only that downhill ski. This is what can take some time to master, but while you’re thinking equal weight, don’t forget the essentials – same same.


5. Bring your sense of humour with you. 

Perhaps most important of all. Attitude makes changes faster than aptitude – it’s a huge factor in aptitude itself. Your ability to relax, and have a laugh at yourself if necessary, will significantly improve how fast you adapt to the deep conditions, and hey, the whole point is to have fun!

With all five of these things in your favour, deep powder will be skiing bliss you’ll master in no time.

Wondering if you’re really ready to heli-ski? Take our Heli-Ski Quiz to find out.





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