I played journalist this morning and did a quick phone interview with Chris Davenport:
|Davenport makes a hop turn off the summit of 14,042 foot Ellingwood Peak, looking at Blanca Peak.|
“Okay Chris, how is the fourteener book coming?”
“It’s at the printer, and they just sent us a dummy made with our chosen paper and number of pages. Holding a real bound book the size of the final one was impressive and exciting. Writing a book is something that’s been on my life-list for years and to see that become real is something. And yes, we’re still planning on having printed books around Christmas.”
“Excellent, now let me pose a question. Let’s say a person is on a steep ski descent with challenging terrain. They find them self perched above a monster cliff that they can’t air, and the rock walls are so close on either side they’re needing a hop turn to change direction and thread an exit. Problem is, a tinge of fear is gripping their gut, and they’re used to making big turns.”
“That brings up a good point. In most cases it’s not that steepness of a descent that makes it hard, but rather dealing with constrictions and snow conditions. I’ve been in that situation many times — here are some ideas for making it work.
Much of what you do in those situations in no doubt psychological. Thinking through the whole process from start to finish will make it flow better and helps with the fear. Plan the turn. Could your ski tips hit the rock walls? How much room do you really have? Where exactly will you stop?
For the actual turn: First, you want to be stopped and completely finished with the last turn, and prepare by getting into a position with good balance so you have a solid platform. Think about how you’ll be keeping your body position out of the “back seat” by keeping your hands forward and feeling the front of your boots as you start and land the turn. Almost everyone has a tendency to sit back in those situations — and that’s the cardinal sin. During my fourteeners in a year project, Christian Pondella took a serious fall because of this. Having his boots in walk mode didn’t help. Anyone can make a mistake like that, so watch for those sorts of things.
As you prepare, you want to have your downhill pole set as that’s what you’ll pivot around. How you do the actual hop is super important. What works great is to actually hop off the uphill ski, this gives you more vertical to work with and helps in other ways as well. Try to land with as little speed as possible, and come to a complete stop before your next turn if you’re still in the constriction. Also, if things don’t feel right use sideslipping as an option.
“And take your skis off as a last resort?”
10. Jump start a car without blinding yourself.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.