Terrain Tips: Making the Most of Your Day on the Mountain
We learn something new every single day and skiing and boarding is no different. It can be your first time or your hundredth on your board or skis, either way we can all benefit from maximising our knowledge of everything Perisher Ski Resort has to offer to get the best out of our day when we’re skiing. Here we have clarified the main differences between groomed runs, off-piste and terrain parks and offer some handy tips for handling chairlifts, t-bars and j-bars.
These are the ski runs the ski resort has designated for skiers and boarders as the safest to get down the hill on. These areas are patrolled and groomed with machinery to flatten out bumps and chunks of ice and to cover rocks and other obstacles.
The snow cats (snow groomers) turn these areas into works of art that skiers and boarders lovingly call ‘corduroy’. To truly appreciate corduroy at it’s best, skiers and boarders are recommended to be one of the first up the lifts in the morning before it gets skied out.
To look at, corduroy is named as such because it replicates a pair of corduroy trousers, severe parallel creases that are crunchy to ski or board across and very pretty to see. First tracks are popular with skiers or boarders in the know because they get the privilege of putting their own stamp, or tracks across the blemish-free corduroy laid during the early dawn by the groomers.
Brett Vale is one of Australia’s former ski legends, with a gold in the 2002 X-Games held at Perisher Ski Resort. Brett says groomed runs are ‘a more predictable slope’, which makes them particularly popular with beginner to intermediate skiers and boarders.
Groomed runs are graded green for gentle, blue for intermediate slope and black for the most challenging slope. It is best to stick to one’s ability level, particularly when just starting out or if you haven’t been on the snow for a while, unless you’re ready to step out of your comfort zone and challenge and push yourself. Take care not to risk injury if choosing to do so though.
John Lobban, age 73, has skied all his adult life and prefers groomed runs to other terrain areas. “I’m a cruisy skier. I like groomed runs because I like easy skiing. My technique isn’t good enough to handle off-piste areas and I don’t want to dodge trees”.
This refers to areas ‘off the groomed run’ and provide more challenging runs for intermediate and advanced skiers. Snow on these areas can be unpredictable in terms of hazards underfoot, cliffs, drop offs or creeks.
Brett describes off-piste skiing as better for intermediate to advanced skiers and boarders only as off-piste “provides different challenges compared to groomed runs because of the natural contours of the mountain”.
He says skiers and boarders choosing whether to head to an off-piste area will depend on the snow conditions of the day, the runs (check the resort map before you head off), the season (late in the season means less snow coverage), and the person’s individual ability and confidence.
Always ski off-piste areas with a buddy and never alone, so one of you can call for help if need be. It is best to ski in a group with friends of a similar ability, or at least in a pair. Partner up with someone who you feel confident will assist you and not push you unnecessarily to do things in these areas that will injure you or worse.
Many an accident has occured by jumping off snow covered rocks or down steep sections by people attempting things they are not experienced enough to do.
It’s not all doom and gloom for off-piste skiing though. Quite the contrary. Conditions in these areas for the experienced skier or boarder create an exciting day out. Off-piste worshipers love nothing more than to head straight up the mountain and out off the groomed areas. Often they have it to themselves, surrounded by silence and wilderness. Visually and aurally it is pretty amazing. Mid to late into the season snow can be piled up, and freshies (new snow) can be discovered and the possibility for thrill seeking is endless.
Brett says Terrain parks used to be soley the domain of intermediate to advance skiers and boarders only but lately these areas have opened up to beginners as well. This gives many athletic and plucky thrill seekers the opportunity to use rails, boxes and jumps. Who knows when a new star is born?
Byron Wilson, age 7 has been enjoying jumping boxes and rails placed in the snow since he was 4 even though he can’t quite articulate why he loves them better than groomed runs “I just do”.
But Brett says “Using terrain park areas will depend on an individual’s ability, balance and skill level. If you love that feeling of getting some air, get to the terrain park and start jibbing” he grins. John Lobban prefers to leave terrain park areas for the young ones “I’m not really a jumper”, and surmises that this kind of skiing and boarding came about with the skateboard and the half park “and all that sort of business”.
T-bars, Chairlifts and J-Bars at Perisher Ski Resort
Perisher has a total of 47 ‘lifts’ and uses a mix of T-Bars, Chairlifts, J-Bars and Ski Carpets to take skiers and snow boarders up to the top of runs. And if you’ve ever wanted to know how to get off a chairlift with a snowboard or skis, keep reading.
Skiers and boarders are encouraged to pair up and point skis or boards straight up the mountain standing in a loose but straight stance with knees slightly bent and upper body weight up and over the feet (not behind the feet). When waiting in position for the t-bar, its best to look behind (inside shoulder not outside shoulder) for the t-bar to be adjusted in place by the liftie, so you can place your inside hand on the t-bar for balance.
When heading up the mountain all attention has to be on the journey up, as out of control skiers can head towards you at any time (rarely but it does happen) and it gives you a chance to call out to them or push yourself away from the t-bar if conditions allow it (on a flat section and it is looking like the injury to all parties will be less if you do so).
T-bars are not built to pull up the full weight of passengers, so don’t sit on it but let it pull you upwards. The bar ideally should sit right under the buttocks, like sitting on a railing. T-bars are also not built to swing from side to side, and when people do the rope holding up the bar can come away suddenly.
For skiers, detach pole straps from your wrists and place both poles in the outside hand with the points facing up-mountain. Boarders can also travel up singley, especially when less confident. For the first few times or on a new t-bar it’s a great idea to let the liftie know you need the t-bar slowed down, they can also radio up to the liftie up the top to help you off as well.
To get off at the top, the more confident of the two holds the t-bar one or two seconds longer while the other gently skis or shuffles the board out of range of the bar then gently let the bar fall away out of range of any legs or bodies.
J-Bars are similar to t-bars but built to be used singly and have a round disc (pomer) at the end designed to be placed inside the thighs of the user, with the user loosely grasping the rope up mountain from the pomer. Remember not to put any weight (don’t sit) on the pomer, but keep knees soft and upper body weight slightly bent forward.
To get off, just open the knees and guide the pomer out with your hands. Just like the t-bar, shuffle off the landing area as soon as possible to avoid getting cleaned up by the next person. Perisher has Home Rope tow and Smiggins has Scott J-bar to lift weary skiers and boarders to the areas they want to be. Be mindful to keep your gloves on, that rope burns!
Chairlifts are hugely popular at Perisher Ski Resort and luckily for beginners the Village 8 Express Chairlift at the front valley area is kind to users because it is a nice and slow entry and exit. Again, for those not confident, it is best to tell lifties you need help getting on and they can slow it down even more and give you encouragement or tips. They can also radio ahead to the lift operator at the top so your exit is gentle and assisted as well.
Once on the chair lift it’s a great place to rest your legs on foot rests and pull the safety bar over your lap to keep you safe and secure. Sit back and enjoy the great view and opportunity to check everyone out. Have a giggle at the stacks and action going on below you.
Take your pole straps off your wrists prior to getting on the chairlift, keep your poles pointed forward and held in one hand and keep your tips pointed up. Keep your wits about you approaching the landing station up top and lean forward slightly with weight slightly forward and keep the speed up to steer clear of this area. If you stick around for 5 minutes you’ll see why.
Ski Rider Has Great Spring Specials
Now that you know the difference between groomed runs and off-piste, and the ins and outs of chairlift safety, why not book a late season snow holiday at Ski Rider? We currently have some fantastic spring specials on our Perisher accommodation. For $420 per person twin share you’ll get three nights accommodation, three breakfasts and three dinners, not to mention three days ski or board hire. Get into spring skiing at Perisher Ski Resort and get onto the Ski Rider Facebook page to let us know how you go on the terrain this snow season.