Going Off-Piste for the First Time? Here’s What You Need to Know
To a beginner it may seem unnecessary to ever leave the groomed runs when you have a mountain with as much terrain and snow as Mammoth Mountain does. When you’re a beginner though, just getting down a run without falling is a thrilling challenge. As you gain control over your board or skis, the trees, sidecountry, and ungroomed areas of a mountain are a great way to explore while pushing your skills.
If you want to drop in off-piste for the first time but aren’t sure how to do it quite yet, then Mammoth Bound has the perfect guide for you to do so below! Check it out, plan where your first off-piste run will be on Mammoth Mountain, and then use Mammoth Bound to book your Mammoth Mountain lodging and lift tickets!
The First Thing to Know About Riding Off-Piste
While off-piste can mean backcountry, for our purposes we’re talking about riding away from groomed trails within resort boundaries.
While you need similar skills to ride off-piste within resort boundaries, backcountry riding requires much more experience and gear to do safely. If you’re heading into the backcountry then you’ll need at least an avalanche beacon, probe, and shovel. You should also never ride in the backcountry alone.
Fortunately, riding off-piste in a resort is more straightforward, but you still must be careful.
Ride With a Partner
If you’re going off-piste for the first time or don’t have experience riding off the groomed slopes then you should take a partner with you.
The snow off-piste is always unpredictable and there can be many obstacles on the trails like trees, logs, and cliffs. Riding around these obstacles while not knowing how to ride different types of snow can be difficult, so take someone with you who can ride reliably for your first off-piste run!
Practice Turns on Steep Slopes First
Off-piste terrain is often steeper than groomed slopes, so if you want to enjoy it then you’re going to need to be able to turn at high speeds. Plus, the obstacles we mentioned earlier could require you to turn and stop suddenly, so your turns must be reliable if you’re going to go off-piste safely.
For skiers, that means practicing pole plants, hop turns, and kick turns, each of which allows a person to make the quick turns required to ride off-piste safely. These techniques require the ability to balance, jump, and land on your skis, so it’s best to practice them on groomed slopes before taking them off-piste.
Snowboarders will need to know how to turn through a nose roll and leaper in order to make the necessary turns while off-piste, each of which requires excellent balance and skill. Like the skiing moves, the best way to practice these turns is by trying them on a steep groomed slope where the snow is predictable.
Keep Your Speed Through Powder
One of the biggest draws of riding off-piste is the chance to ride through fluffy powder, but it’s not as easy as it looks.
While powder on a steep slope is incredible fun, you may encounter it in flat areas while riding off-piste. If you see tracks ahead of you where there is deep snow over flat terrain then focus on keeping your speed up before you hit it and lean back slightly to keep the front of your skis or board from dipping beneath the snow.
Ride Slow the First Time
Lastly, be patient with yourself and your skills while riding off-piste. Always put caution first while pushing yourself and your abilities!