Everyone skis or snowboards for their own reasons. However, thanks to the remote locations of ski resorts and the spectacular mountains that surround them the people who ski and snowboard to escape from the crowd and find solitude are often the happiest in the mountains.
If that sounds like you but you’re not riding tree runs, then your trips to the slopes will never be the same after your first adventure into the trees. If you’re like the team here at ASO Mammoth then it doesn’t take much to get you out the door and towards the mountain, but before you do check out our tips on tree runs!
If You Ride Tree Runs, Ride with A Friend
If you take nothing else from our tips, please remember to ride the trees or any type of off-piste terrain with at least one friend.
It is vital that you ride with a friend because when you’re riding away from the groomed trails, even within a ski resort’s boundaries, there is no way for the ski patrol or anyone else on the mountain to find you if there is an emergency. This is especially true when riding trees because of the possibility of falling into a tree well.
A tree well is created when branches prevent snow from compacting around the base of a tree. The result is loose snow that can be deep enough to completely swallow and eventually suffocate a person if they ride too close to the loose snow. Tree wells are just one danger of riding off-piste, so always, always ride with a friend.
Don’t Strap Your Poles to Your Hand. Do Tuck in Your Arms and Head
Cutting and dodging between trees is one of the best parts of tree runs, but if you have any loose straps hanging off your gear or need to put your arm out for balance you could get injured by the trees.
Before you drop into the trees, make sure that your turns and riding are ready to be tested by tight spaces and sudden turns. If you can’t make quick turns and stops while keeping your arms and head tucked away from trees, then you shouldn’t be riding tree runs. Next, make sure you don’t have any loose straps hanging from your gear. A great example is the straps on a ski pole. These straps can get hooked onto a branch, and if your hand is also in the strap then you will get jerked back.
To avoid accidents, make sure that you have all of your gear tucked away before entering the trees.
Keep Your Eyes on Where You’re Going
Having your gear strapped down is a great way to avoid accidents on tree runs, but it won’t help you if you collide with a tree. You don’t realize how solid trees are until you collide with one, but if you do then you’ll quickly understand why hitting a tree is a serious accident. The best way to avoid hitting a tree is to keep your eyes on the space between them because your board or skis will go where your eyes are looking. That may sound obvious, but once you’re heading towards a tree it’s hard to avoid looking at it because you want to avoid it so badly. Fight this instinct and keep your eyes on the open space where you want to ride!
Don’t Duck Under Ropes
If a ski resort has tree runs that are safe to ride, then they will open those areas. If the runs are not safe, then they will mark them off accordingly. Do not think that you can judge the snow and terrain better than the ski patrol otherwise, you will be putting yourself and others in danger!