We've all heard stories of impossibly steep descents and found ourselves on slopes that are just that little bit steeper than we'd ideally like! But what really is a steep slope - and what do you do when you come across one?
About the pitch of your average European black, or North American black diamond. Challenging but not impossible - still, it's enough to send you flying downwards after a fall. The steepest pisted run in Austria is the Harakiri in Mayrhofen, at a healthy 38 degrees.
The exit of the Tunnel in Alpe D'Huez, The Extreme in Whistler, parts of G2 in Obertauen. Things are starting to get tricky... generally the steepest incline you will find on any marked trail.
Halfway to vertical, this is where serious skiing begins - a fall at this angle can really hurt!
Standing, you can now touch the slope with an outstretched arm; turning involves an edge check that kills your speed almost completely, a brief free-fall as you swing your skis in the direction of the fall line, and then a shower of white dust as your skis fight to counter the sudden acceleration. Don't fall!
- Practice short jump turns on a flatter slope, taking off and landing on both feet and with a wide balanced stance.
- Once on the steep, use your pole plant as a positive aid of support and balance, helping you to establish control before the next turn. Keep your upper body and hips facing the direction of your descent - your legs must do all the turning.
- Swing your skis round across the fall line (not straight down) to check your speed.
- Take your time! It is important you have complete control of both speed and skis at all times.
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