Steep Skiing Clinics

Written by Dan
30th November 2017
skills, steep, mountain, course, touring, clinic, winter

We all remember the sensation that took over our bodies when we linked our first carving turns on the piste and the unadulterated joy that overcame us when etching our first snaking lines through an untouched powder field.

While there are always new challenges in your skiing path, moments of euphoria after realising your goals can be spread fewer and farther between. Progression can become elusive and many skiers can find themselves feeling plateaued. If you’re looking to feel that rush again a dabble into the world of steep skiing may be exactly what you need.

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Steep skiing is a unique and revered subculture within ski culture itself. Often thought of as something only attainable by hard-core skiers and ski town locals, steep skiing might be something you’d like to try but have never really been presented an opportunity to do so. As one of the most exhilarating styles of skiing, the Mountain Tracks program would not be complete without our steep skiing clinics.

Based in the two meccas of steep skiing Chamonix and La Grave our steep ski clinics are a great opportunity to progress with your skiing technique while enjoying epic descents. These courses are not about jumping or pushing to the extreme but are about learning how to make controlled steep turns while progressing into more technical terrain. The focus is to get in as much skiing as possible while seeking out the best runs and conditions.

Read our "guide to steep skiing" blog here

We sat down with IFMGA and award-winning mountain guide Miles Smart to help answer some questions you might have about steep skiing and our courses.

Do I need to be a pro-skier to do this type of course? 

No, you don’t need to be a pro skier to do this course.  Prior to the course, you should feel confident getting down short 45-degree slopes in control.

I’ve not done much ski touring or climbing before, how much will I have to do, and will I be shown the basic skills first? 

No climbing experience is needed for the course.  We will work on climbing skills during the course as they apply to ski mountaineering.  You should have basic ski touring experience before the course.  You should feel comfortable skinning on hard snow and doing kick turns.

I’m not comfortable with exposure, can you help me manage this?

It’s normal to have a fear of exposure.  We will use different techniques to manage exposure during the course including being belayed on a rope.  When appropriate we will avoid exposure altogether.

What if conditions are bad? 

If conditions are bad for one type of skiing they are good for working on other skills.  We will go with the conditions and work on the skill appropriate to the current conditions.

What kind of physiological outlook should I come with?  Are there things I can think about before I come to prepare?

Come to the course psyched to ski, learn, and progress with your steep skiing technique and high mountain awareness.

Why should I aspire to do this type of course?  As a good off-piste skier in most conditions will it offer me the chance to move my skiing up a level?

Improving your steep skiing technique will give confidence with all of your skiing.  Steep skiing technique is specific and this course focuses on what’s needed to make controlled turns when the skiing gets more technical.

Mountain Tracks runs two steep skiing clinics during the winter guided by IFMGA mountain guide Miles Smart, these courses are an excellent way to inject a little excitement into your ski holiday. Click on the links below for more information and to book a place. Spaces are limited as these courses are guided on a maximum 1:3 ratio.

La Grave Steep 2019

Chamonix Steep 2019

Who is Miles Smart - IFMGA mountain guide?

Miles Smart is an American IFMGA-qualified mountain guide. He spent his first winter in Chamonix in 1999 and has been based in the Alps each year ever since. He is the 2004 recipient of the AMGA Guide of the Year award and is an instructor and examiner for the American guide scheme. Miles worked alongside Doug Coombs running the Steep Skiing Camps in La Grave, France and has since taken over these steep skiing camps. Miles works equally within the disciplines of skiing, climbing and mountaineering. His guiding highlights include a guided ski descent of the Grand Teton in Wyoming and a guided ascent of the Bonatti Route on the Grand Capucin above Chamonix. Miles has climbed El Capitan in Yosemite more than twenty times and has made many speed climbing records on this wall, and has also skied many steep lines such as the Gervasutti Couloir on Mont Blanc du Tacul. Miles lives in Chamonix with his wife Liz.

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