Story and Artwork by Mike Roth
Over the past 50 years of my skiing experiences, I have skied more than 140 different ski areas all over the world. They vary from the earliest cruisers to some very extreme trails that I must admit have never really gone over well. Yes, I made it down, but it certainly wasn’t pretty in some cases. But you know when you are following the crowd you never know what you getting into until there is a point of no return.
As I approach my 80’s I certainly have taken a different approach as to what and where I am going to ski. That is never to overstep my bounds as far as my capabilities are and to watch out for the other guy!
I used to ski in the trees and still do on occasion depending on the trail. There are some that are very steep and challenging and others that are more forgiving. I like skiing in the trees because there usually is no-one there you have to watch out for and that is a plus, but you do want to watch out for those immovable objects (the trees) and branches and twigs going up from the ground that can grab you like a snow snake.
Being in the solitude of the trees is so nice due to its quietness (other skiers scratching their way past you). The conditions are usually more natural snow and less icy moguls, and having to negotiate from mogul to mogul and around tree to tree does slow down the pace.
Some of my memorable tree runs have been in the East, since most of my skiing is eastern skiing. Just to mention a few:
I have skied all the tree runs on the North face at Mount Snow and they are a challenge. However, there is a delightful intermediate tree run on the main face to the left of One More Time. At Carinthia there is also a nice tree run between Mineshaft and Nitro. I have taken these numerous times and probably would still do it even at my advanced age.
Over at Killington there are plenty of tree runs but I have tended to stay out of most of them since I never know what I am going to get into. But at Ramshead, to the right of the Timberline trail is a tree run called Squeeze Play, that can be handled easily and the last time I was there (last year) I skied it!
At Gore Mountain my favorite tree run is the Twister Glade. At this point it has not been open due to limited natural snow. However, when we get a good snowstorm, it will be in the cards.
Bromley has Avalanche glades which I have done in the past and Everglade to the Glade which is a bit easier.
On Okemo’s south face, I have skied Forrest Bump (cute name) Double Diamond and Outrage, as well as Loose Spruce which I skied by myself and a snow snake twisted my leg. Not pretty and the next day it hurt a lot!
There are certain rules while skiing in the Glades that are a must.
- Never tree ski by yourself. It is best to ski with 3 people so if there is an issue someone can stay with you as the other can get the ski patrol (they generally do not ski in the trees, and you are at your own risk).
- Never put the straps of your poles on your wrists. Catching them on a branch can do damage to your arms as you go by. It’s easier to let go of the pole.
- Keep a whistle in your pocket in case you get lost and go outside the ski areas boundaries, this is one that most people do not do.
- Ski within your ability.
- And last but not least wear goggles and a helmet.
Here are some pointers if you have not had much experience in the trees:
- Anticipate the turns. Always look ahead to visualize where you are going to turn next.
- Make smooth rounded turns. The bumps are usually soft and there are plenty of places to set an edge
- Look where you want to go (between the trees) rather than at a tree that is not going to move.
I have some great memories of skiing in the trees but unless it’s going to be an easier run, I probably am not going to do it anymore. Plus my skiing partner, Mike Riley, won’t do it so I would be by myself. Rule number 1!