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Is powder/tree skiing in the east overrated?

drjeff

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I only recently (a few years ago) got into tree skiing. I raced semi-seriously in college and was scared of injuring myself skiing trees and wasn't particularly good at them. Once out of college I wanted to challenge myself more and diversify what I skied. Trees, with that perspective, are the ultimate challenge. Variable conditions, different routes, hazards. It is a lot of fun. I'm not into super tight trees where you have to bushwhack your way through crap (though I don't know what people's exact definition of super tight is) but I don't want them to be so open that I don't have to think. I want the challenge and I think that is what attracts a good number of people to the trees.

Its kind of like basic science research. Your experiments fail 90% of the time, but you love it for the challenge and reward of really understanding something when it does work out. I think a successful tree skiing run has a higher success rate than 10% too. :razz:

I had a similar background prior to hanging up my GS suit and just skiing the mountain and spending more time in the trees. At times in the beginning of my tree skiing development, I almost felt that I had to tell myself that the trees WEREN'T a slalom gate that I wanted to ski over/through!! Being old enough that at the start of my ski racing career, all the gates were bamboo poles and not hinged plastic poles, I did have some vivid memories of how it felt to try and occasionally from being out of position more often than not in my case, run over those old bamboo race gates, and that helped in my tree skiing line selection process for sure!!

I still today, when I get the chance to free ski with my kids when they're not race training and we head into the trees, occasionally see one of them lining up a tree like it is a slalom gate, and at the last second make the course correction and slide around the tree rather than try and ski through it! It really is a fun thing to see, especially knowing what their racer instinct was thinking before their brains fully processed that what was infront of them was some New England hardwood vs a hinged SPM slalom gate! :lol:
 

VTKilarney

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I think the OP has a point when it comes to some of the more popular resorts out east. Let's be honest. Skiing deep powder at Okemo or Bretton Woods is not going to be as enjoyable as skiing the same powder at a resort with some pitch. There are proportionally more resorts out east that lack in the pitch department.
 

bdfreetuna

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Powder is one of several excellent and fun snow surfaces. As an Eastern skier you should make it your priority to adapt/learn/and love as many types of conditions as possible.

Also great:
Packed powder leftovers. If you struggle with powder and chowder, go a day or two after the storm.
Sun baked, refreezed, spring corn snow.
Fast n' firm stuff if you're comfortable at speed.

Rocks can be avoided and keep your skis pointed straight over the ice. Sharpen your edges and work your tek.

Get up to Jay Peak and northern VT during an active pattern and your tune will change fast.

Powder skiing in the East is the best skiing there is, if we're talking MRG Stowe Smuggs Jay Sugarloaf or any of the other resorts known for epic tree skiing and steep terrain. Magic also qualifies although not usually quite as blessed by snowfall.
 

Jully

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At times in the beginning of my tree skiing development, I almost felt that I had to tell myself that the trees WEREN'T a slalom gate that I wanted to ski over/through!!

Took me a year+ to figure out that my lines should not be directly at trees and another year to make that a habit! The skiing became a lot more fluid and less defensive after I got the hang of that. It was slow moving with more than a few shoulder and shin bruises during that time, but it was fun all the same. I started to like skiing MORE during those years, and it made the open trails feel even better too.

The other benefit of trees, there are few, if any, people around to judge you!
 

Jully

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I definitely agree with you Jully, but am kinda wondering how few and far between those people are. I was that way for a few years, telling myself how much I love powder and trees, and I really thought I did. I think last year I started to realize that's if it wasn't for the general hype in skiing the east now around it and finding secret stashes, I actually would have preferred other methods of skiing.
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I wonder how much of it is just social media bragging too. People get excited for powder because its rare, so the average skier/instagram user posts like crazy and it gets tons of hype. People will post "best day ever" and crap like that, but likely (for the average skier) it wasn't their best day ever and they struggled a bit. Doesn't mean it wasn't fun for them and that they won't hype the crap out of it though because it is part of the culture. I don't think that is a bad thing or needs to change either.

I think if you were to take an average skier who has not been exposed to any of the skiing culture hype and who isn't particularly proficient at powder skiing (or anything not groomed and 50 feet wide) and drop them into the middle of a 12" powder day they will say it is overrated compared to the packed powder they get the day after.

That said though, powder is a special feeling and once you get a little better at it, you long for that feeling of floating through the snow. That's most people on this board (and definitely the ones who are responding like the notion that powder isn't the best is the antichrist.
 

Hawk

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I have been skiing trees and Powder for onwards of 30 years now. I first started at Sunday River in the 80's where most of my ski friends cut and maintained and elaborate series of runs. Skiing with them at that place was great! After ASC bought Sugarbush I started to ski there quickly realized that it snows a sh*t load there an the woods are really some of the best in New England. So because of my thirst for woods and Powder I abandoned all for my friends and people I had been skiing with for over 17 years. Do I think it is overrated? NOPE
 

KustyTheKlown

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I think the OP has a point when it comes to some of the more popular resorts out east. Let's be honest. Skiing deep powder at Okemo or Bretton Woods is not going to be as enjoyable as skiing the same powder at a resort with some pitch. There are proportionally more resorts out east that lack in the pitch department.

i skied an 18 inch powder day at okemo last season. i would have gone to magic but i was with a big group who got a house at okemo. it was an amazing day. first chair at Jackson gore and ~5-6 runs over there with untracked lines to ski on the trails, before poking into the woods the rest of the day. they definitely are lacking for pitch but i absolutely had an "enjoyable" day there in fresh deep snow.
 

bdfreetuna

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Where can I find some of this powder everyone is talking about?
:snow:
:wink:

Jay Peak consistently delivers above expectations and while they may be slightly exaggerating a 400"+ season total, it can't be by much.

Let's be honest about where we'd be skiing if it weren't in the middle of nowhere...

Half of my trips to Jay involve plowing through mostly untouched + deep snow to the tune of 2000+ vertical feet of it.

The other half are in the spring when they are still 99%+ open when everyone else is closed, and April powder days aren't really a rarity either. I was up there 4/9 last year for the ***best conditions and best day of the season including prime season + pow days @ Tahoe and fresh snow @ Telluride***. The only reason I don't count that as a powder day is because the 2 feet of snow technically fell the day before.

I have decided to focus my financial and energy resources towards more vacations at Jay, Quebec and so forth instead of heading West, based on last season.

We really do have it good out here except for the unpredictability sometimes. When my newborn daughter grows up a bit I'll go back to traveling more, just for her sake.
 
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Cornhead

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Yeah? So, where're you guys heading , The Ridge?



:snow:
Yep, just stopped at my shop, told the lady there that Snow Ridge was claiming 20" as of a couple days ago, she said she heard they got considerably more, stoked. Hope my back feels better, just pulled 3 10 hr days standing on a concrete floor. We're busy as Hell, but I put in 38 hrs this week with taking tomorrow off. Alot better than not working late and taking off, IMO. Maybe skipping the Christmas party Saturday will bolster my claim of being "sick". Go skiing instead.

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flakeydog

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usually we get this sort of inane conversation when there is no snow... yet i feel compelled to participate anyway

Couple of things.
1) no, it is not overrated. Eastern skiing and western skiing both have their own perks (and no, we will not debate them here...)
2) you don't have to be the best at something (or even that good) to enjoy it. If this is your philosophy in life you are really missing out.
3) let everyone have their fun on powder days- with few exceptions, there is room for everyone. People have to learn somewhere and yeah, it may be on your favorite trail or line on a powder day. Get over it, that was you at one time too.
4) finally- the best thing about skiing is that you never stop learning and improving. It does not matter if it is day 40 of your season or year 40 in your skiing career, I always come back after each ski day better than the last one. There is no ceiling. If you think you have reached the "top", think again. or maybe review #2 again.

oh yeah, i almost forgot one of my favorite expressions: "shut up and ski!"

Have a great day, no matter what the conditions are.
 

KustyTheKlown

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If you think you have reached the "top", think again. or maybe review #2 again.

if you think you have reached the top, think again. or maybe follow some teenagers into the park and try to do what they do.

(spoiler - i followed some teenagers into the park on rime, watched them each effortlessly jump, do a 90 degree rotation, and grind perpendicular to the box. they made it look so damn easy. i followed, ate shit, goggles popped off helmet, and i'm standing there like i am a million years old clutching my ass and hip. i can hit a box straight, hit jumps and throw some grab and daffy shit, but grinding rails and sideways grinding boxes is something i will never be able to do. until i try tomorrow. and bust my fucking ass again.)
 

mbedle

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usually we get this sort of inane conversation when there is no snow... yet i feel compelled to participate anyway

Couple of things.
1) no, it is not overrated. Eastern skiing and western skiing both have their own perks (and no, we will not debate them here...)
2) you don't have to be the best at something (or even that good) to enjoy it. If this is your philosophy in life you are really missing out.
3) let everyone have their fun on powder days- with few exceptions, there is room for everyone. People have to learn somewhere and yeah, it may be on your favorite trail or line on a powder day. Get over it, that was you at one time too.
4) finally- the best thing about skiing is that you never stop learning and improving. It does not matter if it is day 40 of your season or year 40 in your skiing career, I always come back after each ski day better than the last one. There is no ceiling. If you think you have reached the "top", think again. or maybe review #2 again.

oh yeah, i almost forgot one of my favorite expressions: "shut up and ski!"

Have a great day, no matter what the conditions are.

Perfect
 

Bumpsis

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I would say that tree skiing is overrated unless there is still powder to be found there after a good storm. I'll ski trees for as long as they are not overly tracked out. When they are, it's just bumps with trees.
I see people being all excited about skiing trees even if conditions are at best, marginal. Thin cover, all tracked out, yet they out there...Not my cup of tea.
And then, there is also the issue of the actual tree runs. Some areas are just great, Sugarloaf's Bracket Basin comes to mind. Others, not so much. For instance, I really don't care much for what Cannon has to offer in terms of tree runs. Most are short and really tight. Although, I do hope to try the Golden Birches Glade at Mittersill, once the woods fill up a bit.
 

snoseek

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I had some wicked good days skiing tight trees and deep snow at the cat last season.

I do get tired of the mad rush for untracked. I love nothing more than a sleeper Tuesday where everyone burned up their time off getting the early main part of a storm. Those end of cycle surprise snowfalls that catch you off guard....that is the dream.
 

SkiFanE

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I still can't get past the "who cares"? So what if someone waits since 6am for freshies and "sucks" skiing it. If they have fun - all that matters. I suck at powder. I can confidentially say I could probably beat many here down most bump lines. I'm a lifelong eastern skier with zero west powder experience. My experience is so limited no way I can't suck. Even if there is a pow day and I break out my mid-fats, I'm back on my SL skis and in the bumps after noon in the soft perfect bumps. Is it just me - but cruising down deep pow just looks kinda boring. One of the best pow days I've had was in Casablanca at Saddleback after 18" dump. Nicely covered bumps - perfect pitch and trees...I guess the combo of bumps and pow is what I like. But life often keeps me away from freshies so I'm always happy with leftovers. Like this weekend - the weekday crew never tracks out edge of trails where I spend most of my time anyway.

So - give eastern skiers a break on their pow skills. Unless you get trips out west - it's really hard to get good in the east, in my opinion. Even a 36" snow can be dust on crust when it's covering boilerplate and some good wind.
 

mister moose

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So - give eastern skiers a break on their pow skills. Unless you get trips out west - it's really hard to get good in the east, in my opinion. Even a 36" snow can be dust on crust when it's covering boilerplate and some good wind.

Yes, it's is harder to get powder time in the East compared to the West. Out west there is never any rain, the snow is drier, and there are huge expanses of powder filled bowls above timberline.

But. If you're willing to do the drive, if you're willing to take the time, if you seek out powder on skins under powerlines, unplowed CCC roads, closed ski areas, you will get the goods in the East. Pico for instance is tracked out on some trails even before the lifts open on Thursdays. Why? All the tele folks were skinning up Tuesday and Wednesday. Too much effort? I'm sure it is for some people, but I'm going to disagree that you can't learn to ski powder well in the east. You just need the dedication.

Bumps on the other hand are there almost all the time. There is almost never a line to ski them. Early on they get better over time, not worse. Having done a lot of both, I think bumps are harder to ski well than powder, but you get the chance to practice on bumps far more often.

I've had epic powder days when all you do is ski fresh tracks. You get so spoiled that when you see a trail with 10 tracks on it you say, "well that's ruined, let's move on to the next one." Any other day you'd bleed to ski that trail with only 10 tracks. So yes, after a while you do get your fill. Your legs are half baked, or worse, so you get picky. But the next storm you are at it again.

For me, powder skiing is quiet, it is soft, it is ever yielding, it is the one time you dictate the path free of moguls and ice patches (well, not always) and you are moving in a 3 dimensional fluid, not sliding down a surface. For those reasons, it can't be boring. It is almost a different sport, or different in the same way tele is different.
 
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