Do you have a powder plan?

Skiing and boarding ‘purists’ will think me mad to share my powder plan with you, but here goes.

Before the invention of skis the size of doors powder days used to be just that, days. Now it’s more like an hour of powder before it turns to chowder as powder hungry locals and tourists get powdermodium and go crazy for first tracks.

On days like these it is important to have a powder plan and stick to it. It is easy to be swayed by murmurs of powder stashes and lifts opening for the first time. But you could spend your day chasing your tail on the mountain and coming home with nothing.

I am spending the ski season in North America and have based myself in Telluride during this El Nino winter. The locals here all head to Chair 9 at the first sign of snowflakes and there is a lift line at Chair 8 (which accesses 9) on any given powder morning.

Don’t get me wrong, the terrain around 9 is fantastic. It is steep with a longer fall line and plenty of fun tree runs.

But while the locals are hitting up 9 I am over on Chair 5 lapping Henry’s, a double blue run that warms up the powder legs and keeps the gnarly must have double black diamond powder locals away while I bide my time. If the powder day is mid week then I can lap Henry’s terrain up to 6 times before crossing another track and it can feel like my own private heli ski field.

Why am I biding my time? For that rope drop. The one that accesses Chair 12 and 14 (though 14 is all I have my eye on).

That precious rope sits at the top of Chair 5 so I can check in with the safety guys in yellow coats to see what the ETA on rope drop is as ski patrol throw their bombs and do their avalanche work in order to allow that rope to eventually be free. If I was on 9 I would miss this rope drop, it’s too far away.

On occasion I may even lap 6 a couple of times as many of the runs there funnel back down past 5 and THAT rope.

When the rope does drop my legs are already warmed up and I’m ready for the Chinese downhill of mad crazy powder obsessed people that follows just to get on the first few chairs to get to the really really good stuff. We’re talking a choice of Telluride’s biggest deepest bowl of chairlift accessed powder, Revelation Bowl which often ends up with double the powder due to it’s location and the wind. Or you could hit all the chutes and double black tree runs beneath the Goldhill (Chair 9) lift or head out further.

This is powder paradise when it’s on and it was on like donkey kong this weekend just gone.

This simple powder plan hasn’t let me down yet and I realise by giving it away I am just creating more competition for those hallowed turns but powder is for the people, right?

Do you have a powder plan that never fails?

Read more: Are you THAT skier or boarder?

Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of SnowsBest.com. A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Learn the terrain, so you always know where you are, and where you’re going, and ski the storms. (That’s my plan, though I did miss the top rope once at Golf Course Bowl in Thredbo last season and ended up at Dead Horse Gap for the first time by mistake!) Plan B means having the experience to know when to traverse and climb out so you don’t end up in a creek or cliffs. (Rachael!)

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