How to Ski Steep Terrain or Slopes

Skiing is always a fun time, but there’s something special about dropping into some particularly steep terrain. The anticipation that comes along with looking down a steep slope really gets your heart racing and shoots your adrenaline level through the roof.

However, if you’re new to the sport or don’t have a lot of experience, steep runs can be quite terrifying. That’s because skiing tricky terrain requires a specific set of skills that you need in order to prevent injuries.

To help you conquer the steeper slopes without such problems, I’ve decided to put together a helpful guide that shows you how to handle steep skiing terrain.

1. Get Your Basic Skills Down First

Before you try to take on steep terrain, you first need to be sure you’ve all but mastered the basic skills.

Always practice on simple groomed runs to learn your craft. You need to be comfortable carving at decently high speeds. Shifting weight when turning should be smooth and deliberate as well.

You will need to be able to make quick and agile turns. In addition, being able to edge the skis and find the right angle is also important when hitting tougher runs. That can give you more control, which is always crucial on a steep hill.

Knowing what to do when faced with a run that makes you uncomfortable is also important. That can include regions that require techniques like sideslipping or performing a kick-turn.

Always first practice those maneuvers on easy runs first. Only once you have them down should you try them in steeper areas.

2. The Position of Your Body is Extremely Important

While the skills you have in your arsenal are important for skiing steep terrain, the way your body is stacked and balanced is just as crucial.

Your knees should be in a loose flex, your hands should generally stay a little in front of your body, and your head should be up and looking ahead of you down the slope. Your body as a whole should be stacked up over your skis, not too far back or to the sides.

In addition to your body’s position, you need to do your best to remain stable. Many skiers will have a lot of unnecessary movement in their shoulders and arms, which can lead to more fatigue and shorten your day.

There are many common mistakes to watch out for when positioning. Be sure to avoid them.

3. Practice Makes Perfect

While knowing what to do on a steep run is important, you still need to practice. Then, even if you know everything by heart, don’t get too cocky.

Steep runs can be a whole different beast. You need to put in the time on some steeper runs to truly get a sense of how your skills develop. Once you’re confident enough in your abilities, you can slowly work yourself up to steeper and steeper runs.

If your first steep run is a double black diamond, you might be in for a rude awakening. There’s no rush. Be sure to take your time before moving on to the next.

Another aspect to watch out for during your practice on steeper hills is leaning back. When some skiers run a steep hill, they have a tendency to ski defensively. You need to do your best to keep your momentum going forward with a slight lean.

Final Words

The tips and information outlined in this guide should be able to help you master the art of skiing on steep terrain.

With enough practice and some confidence, you’ll be taking on steep terrain like a pro in no time at all. It’s all about understanding the basics and then applying them in a new environment.

Are you aware of some other helpful tips when it comes to skiing steep terrain that you think should have been included? If so, don’t hesitate to let me know in the comment section.

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  • Eric Thompson

    Hi , Christine, today I did it! I skied my first black diamond! We haven’t been getting much snow this season here in the Midwest United States. Especially where I live. So my daughter and I have been going a little farther north in my state of Michigan. We’ve been to our favorite up north ski resort. This my first full year skiing. I’ve been been doing the hard greens, and easy blues the first few times we went. The resort we go is divided up into 3 peaks. My daughter and I were getting kind of bored. With just going down the 6 runs. She said to me let’s go try that North Peak. It’s higher,and steeper than what I’m used to, but I went for it . Like you said make longer turns across the hill. That’s what I did . Only fell once in 6 times down. Your ski tips helped me out so much. Ski girl Christine rules!

    • Christine

      That’s amazing! Congrats, and I’m so happy to hear my tips helped you out. That’s what it’s all about. Hope you and your daughter are having a great season, even if you don’t have that much snow yet. Keep after it, and you’ll be going down double-blacks soon!