Steep Skiing Clinic
Six members, with dreams of steep ski lines and powder descents, spent two days at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort (KHMR) getting their wiggles woke by the perpetual stoke of Level 4 CSIA instructor Steve. The stars aligned for our weekend, with 38 cm of powder dropping on the resort during our Friday drive out. We stayed at the Kicking Horse River Lodge, right on the access to KMHR, and within walking distance of the Whitetooth Brewery and the local sledneck, pro-dogs bar, the River House (best burger in town).
Our first day was a powder day, with everyone stoked to discuss the impending apocalypse of a Trump presidency while the gondola ride up was delayed by high winds and avalanche control. I made the mistake of telling Steve we were fairly advanced skiers before double ejecting during our first powder turns of the day due to low DIN settings and a boot neglectfully left in walk mode. Some quick adjustments and a sheepish click into walk mode saved the day - along with a quick screw at Selkirk Sports shop to save the Vice-Chair’s boot - kept us going.
Steve kept us going, getting us in balance, and focusing our ‘small and tall’ movements in the turns while leading use through powder filled chutes and trees. Every small success was met by Steve interminable stoke, and he quickly caught on to the group’s love of bad German accents. We were quickly disavowed from close, evenly weighted, upright stances while he drilled into us each run the body positioning, open hips, and downhill weighted feet needed to execute turns at will. Every steep entrance of the CPR and Redemption Ridges came with an approach strategy. By the end of Saturday we had done nearly 7,500 m of vertical skiing on steep powder laps.
Powder is a finite resource, and the lack of refresh overnight meant that we got to put our balance skills to the test on steep, chopped up, dense powder and crud. While Steve kept giving us hints on how to farm the last of the soft stuff, we focused on refining and consolidating our gross and fine motor techniques: the balance points and stances Steve advocated allowed us to powder through the increasingly marginal snow conditions. Someone must have told Steve I loved bootpacks before he brought us up in to the Whitebowl. More than a few goofy exercises with our ski poles really cemented the movement we were trying to achieve. With our final victory laps we managed another 5,600 m of skiing and we all felt it as we accommodated this with our new skiing positions
Of course, we had to start the cannonball run back to Edmonton, but not before one last stop for some swag at the Whitetooth brewery. The Steep Skiing clinic increased everyone’s ability and confidence skiing all types of terrain. These skills will really increase our confidence in the backcountry, especially when leading trips.