What is Bowl Skiing?

Bowl Skiing

There are many types of skiing, and there are also many words to describe each one. As such, if you don’t know the common jargon, the sport can get pretty confusing pretty quickly. Though some terms are straightforward, many of them will leave you scratching your head.

One term new or non-skiers may not be familiar with is bowl skiing. The phrase refers to skiing on a particular type of terrain found in mountains across the world. The following paragraphs will go further in-depth into the discipline and analyze why you should try it if you ever get the chance.

A Quick Explanation

If you’ve spent even a small amount of time at a ski resort or scanning a ski map, you know there are many differences in mountain terrain. The base tends to have a lot of trees, while the higher regions are much steeper and come with terraces or valleys.

As you approach the mountain top, the trees begin to disappear and things get much more wide open. That region is not only great to ski, it also resembles a large bowl. That is why areas of open terrain that round down the mountain face and pour into a valley are known as ski bowls.

Bowl skiing is simply skiing within one of those natural bowls. While that may seem daunting, shredding through such terrain often leads to incredible ski days. In fact, some of my favorite days out on the mountain were spent zipping through powder conditions inside a bowl. If you’ve ever had such an experience, you know how great it can be.

The Benefits of Bowl Skiing

Every skier has their individual preferences in terms of conditions and terrain. Beginners should explore the mountain and see what they like the most. Bowl skiing is fun and offers newcomers a chance to improve their skills. If you haven’t tried a bowl yet, I’d highly recommend it.

Bowl skiing offers wide-open stretches of skiable terrain that allow you to carve and turn to your heart’s content. Some skiers like to make wide, sweeping turns, while others like to bomb down the mountain. Bowl skiing gives you the opportunity to do either one.

As an advanced skier, I love steep bowl skiing in deep powder conditions. Those elements don’t always come together, but when they do, it makes for a truly remarkable experience. A steep bowl full of fresh snow is like skiing on a cloud. You can bounce through your turns with a smile on your face, or point your skis straight downhill and feel like you’re flying.

Things to Know About Bowl Skiing

While some resorts offer easy to access bowl skiing, some bowls can be really difficult to get to. Some of my favorite bowl locations are either hike to only or in the backcountry. This means that there is extra effort required to access the bowl you wish to ski. It’s often more than worth the hard work of hiking to the top of a mountain, but be sure you are in solid physical shape and carry water and food with you to fuel the adventure.

As with all skiing, you also need to pay attention to changing conditions and safety concerns. Because ski bowls are usually wide expanses of open terrain, poor weather conditions can quickly lead to difficult skiing. If the wind picks up or a storm rolls into a bowl, visibility can become limited and make it harder to see the terrain below you. If this happens, slow down and bit to make sure you stay safe and in control.

You should also have the appropriate skis for this type of skiing. Ski conditions and terrain in a ski bowl can be varied and constantly changing. I’d recommend an all-mountain type of ski for this situation. This type of ski will give you the flexibility to float on top powder and bust through crud or chop with ease, both of which can occur suddenly in a bowl. Ski bowls are usually not groomed or maintain as much as other areas of the resort. You need to be prepared.

Final Thoughts

Bowl skiing is an amazing way to ski. I have had a ton of memorable days in ski bowls full of fresh snow, and each experience left me with lasting memories.

Every skier can enjoy bowl skiing. Just be sure you have the ability to handle the conditions. If you do, and if you’re looking for some extra fun out on the mountain, explore a bowl and see what you think.

Have you ever skied a bowl before? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below.

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