How To Ski A Chute? (Off-Piste Narrow Steeps)

by Kenny Jarvis | Updated: October 27th, 2022 |  Skiing Articles
Important: Before you ski a chute you should be an advanced skier on steep terrain. Chutes are off groomed slopes and can be dangerous if unprepared.

Skiing is fun and exciting, but it can be tricky. Narrow areas such as slopes and chutes are tempting to ski but you need to be ready and experienced. If you're looking to ski your first chute, here's what to know.

To ski a chute you first need to look for potential hazards and then pick your line carefully. Once you have decided on your line, it is time to start skiing! Keep your weight forward and use your edges to control your speed. Read on as we go into the right techniques in a lot more detail. 

Powder Snow Down Slope

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Proper Techniques for Skiing Down a Chute

If you want to ski a chute, you have to focus on avoiding hitting the chute’s walls as well as any obstacles in your way. It can be a daunting task.

There are only a few techniques that can be useful in skiing a chute. You can rely on the jump turn technique, which is really helpful in passing narrow and steep spots. When you jump turn, you plant your ski poles into the snow, then you make a quick jump.

This way, your body will go in the opposite direction and you will smoothly pass the steep area. But this is not as easy as it sounds. Sometimes, executing this hopping around the pole technique won’t be the best solution for chutes or slopes.

Sometimes, you might fail at getting your skis at the right speed for a successful hop. Here are a few useful tips that you should consider while you try to ski a chute:

1. Perfect Your Skidding

Carving is often not the best approach for skiing chutes and steeps, as it will lead to accelerated speed that you may not fully control. Trying to carve a narrow chute is not practical if you need a tight turning radius. 

So, skidding (or parallel skiing) is a better and wiser step in this case. When you skid, you can be in control of your skiing speed without unnecessary acceleration. This way, you can smoothly perform the release from one turn to a new one.

To perform the best skid turn, you need to start in a less challenging chute. Twist your legs so that your skis are pointing in the direction of the mountain. The rest of your body should not go in the same direction, as it should be directed to the fall line. Before releasing the edges, you should slip slightly in the downhill direction.

2. Stay Balanced

You know by now that while taking a turn, your skis will be either outside or inside. The outside ski is typically the farthest one from the center of the turn. And it is the other way around for the inside ski.

To create the best balance in a skid turn, you should concentrate your body weight on the outside ski.

3. Maintain The Best Position For The Body

Beaver skiing
Photo by Snow Snow licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

The best stance is to make your body’s balance point in the center. But you have to be a bit more forward of the center point, as this allows you to make smooth steering of your skis.

It is also useful to make the area under your feet the center of gravity and body tension. You can do this by imagining that your feet have magnetic properties to attract your hands and torso.

4. Pole Planting Is Essential For Skiing Turns

Pole planting is important for executing the turn properly. This action is necessary to make your body more balanced and stable. Also, it gives you further control over your speed in chutes. 

5. Don’t Stop Before Making The Second Turn

Typically, you can’t perform a turn from a static posture as easily. You need to start a series of consecutive linked turns to go down the mountain smoothly instead of going across the steep area.

So, after doing the first turn, keep in mind to maintain some of the turn’s energy to do the next one. You will immediately lose that energy if you stop. So, the best action is to slip slightly toward any of the sides.

6. The Direction Of Your Eyes Matters

skis slide

You might not believe it, but you will go exactly where your eyes are looking. So, keep your eyes focused on the downhill area (between trees of they are present). If you lose focus and your eyes become engrossed in looking across the steep area, you will end up there rather than skiing down the mountain.

Keep in mind that when you end any of your turns, your shoulders and eyes must face the downhill direction.

7. No Need To Swing Your Arms

Proper positioning and remaining still on your skis are necessary for maintaining your balance. It is not right to keep swinging your upper limbs while trying to make turns.

Doing so will negatively affect your ability to remain balanced, and it has nothing to do with being a pro skier. It is important to notice that properly positioned hands are evidence that you are balanced on the skis.

8. Find The Ideal Edge Angle

Edging your skis properly is what will make your turns and entire skiing adventure successful. There is no specific ideal angle, but you can use the snow and chute conditions to determine the right angle for you.

Many skiers, however, think that low angles are always better for steep areas. This is less aggressive and allows for greater control. 

9. Look Carefully At The Line

Before deciding on a fall line, you should consider the risks involved. For instance, you need to see if the line has any rocks or other obstacles that could make it more challenging for you. You need to decide the best line for skills and readiness.

Without experiencing steep areas and chutes, your skiing experience would be incomplete. But it is necessary to be ready enough for it by practicing and observing the conditions of snow and the steep area. And remember, safety comes first!

Key Things To Remember

green jacket

A chute is a narrow, steep slope that is typically lined with trees. skiing a chute can be an exhilarating experience, but it is also one of the most challenging things that you can do on the slopes. Here are a few tips to remember:

1. Choose your line carefully. When you're looking at a chute, you will want to pick a line that looks smooth and relatively open. You don't want to pick a line that is too close to the trees or has a lot of rocks sticking out.

2. Don't be afraid to turn around. If you get to the top of a chute and you're not feeling confident about skiing it, don't be afraid to turn around and try another line. There's no shame in admitting that something is too difficult for you.

3. Practice in safer areas. Perfect all the techniques that we’ve looked at above in more open areas. Make sure you’re confident with those tight turns before you head down a chute.

4. Be prepared for the worst. When you're skiing a chute, there is always the possibility that you could fall. Make sure that you are wearing proper safety gear, such as a helmet and pads, in case you do take a tumble.

With these tips in mind, you'll be ready to take on any chute that comes your way. Good luck!