Tales from the Back Country. Euan, ‘Eurika’ and Eagles.

8th Feb 2A Morning Commute
Our busy morning commute on the Seehorn lift!

Gressoney Back Country Ski Course with Snoworks – Day 3

I managed not to cock up the porridge this morning and the tactic of putting grated cheese in the pups’ food seemed to get us over the hand feeding issue! The pups saw us off with a look of resignation rather than reproach, but we both felt like we had been steamrollered. After two full days skiing off piste, I was so stiff that I could hardly walk!

It was snowing! My first sight of the morning was Snoworks’ Nick Quinn skidding powder snow off the piste over his head, whooping with excitement and shouting “Look at THIS!!!!!!”

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An ominous-looking Indren – “Ski like you’re on eggshells!”

Today was one of our days with an instructor rather than a guide and I had an immediate ‘Eurika’ moment with Euan. I mentioned that sometimes my downhill ski judders. He said it was a result of me jamming my downhill leg out straight. A counter-productive defence mechanism, which pushes me right off balance and into the hill. No wonder I keep sitting down!

We went up Indren and asked for advice on tackling the windblown slab that had caused us so many problems yesterday. “Ski like you’re on eggshells, but if you break through the crust, be FIRM!” Euan advised. “You want to ski on either on top or through it.”

We skied the Eagle Couloir again. I felt that I did much better, but after his heavy fall yesterday, Mark’s head was just not in the right place. We did some work on skiing steeps. A 35 degree slope, Eagle was a good place to practise!

The key, we were told, is to get your downhill hand BELOW your waist to weight the downhill ski and keep your visual focus just below. As with windsurfing (and EVERY other sport IN THE WORLD) you need to keep your vision glued where you want to end up. In skiing, that is DOWNHILL!

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If you collide with something – it was probably because you were LOOKING AT IT!

You will understand the concept of vision if you have ever skied into a tree, ridden your mountain bike into a boulder or collided with anything, anywhere. The reason that you did it is because you were LOOKING at it – and probably thinking “Oh my God…  OH MY GOD! I don’t want to hit that…” Then you hit it. It is called target fixation!

My advice for next time you find yourself travelling at high speed towards an object, DON’T LOOK AT IT! Look elsewhere. Do that and I GUARANTEE – you will miss it!

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A perfect example of vision in action. Look where you want to go – and you will go there!

Anyway, back to steeps. I was first down and Euan stood with me as we watched the rest of our group and a few other skiers coming down Eagle. His critique of every skier who passed; “Hand above the waist.” “Hand above the waist.” “Hand above the waist.” “Hand above the waist…” I, it seems, am not alone in my bad habits!

9th Feb POW (9).jpg
Hand above the waist. I am not alone in my bad habits…

We went up Salati with the aim of skiing Olen into the next valley. The visibility was so poor that we dared not even venture slightly off piste and opted to ski down the marked run. That was hard enough. Skiing blind, we had to use every tool in the box to get down safely; not too many turns and gliding to lose height and conserve energy. Mark’s goggles seemed to have steamed up between the lenses and he was having real problems, so we bought him a new pair of low-light goggles once we got down into Alagna.

6th Feb E.jpg
Hand above the waist.

We were so exhausted that we decided to go home at lunchtime. It still took us an hour to get back in the terrible visibility. Euan was planning to take the group to do the trees at Seehorn, but I think that by the time they had lunch and skied back over, we were probably missing only a couple of runs. We even bailed on the avalanche training in the evening as we were shattered and everything was aching. I virtually had a bath in Zheng gu Shui (literally “bone setting water!”) my failsafe Chinese rub-on medicine which cures all aches and pains!

Euan concurred that some of the snow that we skied was “horrible!” The couloir was nice, although a lot of the powder was on top of slab.

While it was wonderful to have a relaxing afternoon off, it meant that we finished our last series of Game of Thrones. We are now bereft!

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There’s always a welcome in the hillsides!

If you are interested in improving your skiing, I can strongly recommend a Snoworks course. Courses run throughout the year in various locations around the world. However, if you are already hankering for the slopes, Snoworks can help you to prepare for next season in Tignes and a few more exotic places during the summer! My blog How to Improve Your Skiing IMMEASURABLY! has all the details!

For more information about skiing in Monte Rosa, see Gressoney, Monte Rosa – Hidden Gem & Off Piste Ski Paradise!

Tomorrow, we go for a Better Bettolina Bassa with Nick. Follow my blog and stories such as this will arrive unaided in your inbox!

To catch up with our Off Piste exploits and the Pups on Piste, click here.

One thought on “Tales from the Back Country. Euan, ‘Eurika’ and Eagles.

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