Technique Mixed terrain

David Pujol, UIAGM Guide

After years of practicing and feeling the need to find a method to improve the progression on areas with short and slightly steep descents, where assembling the board does not make any sense, and the snow plow position with such wide and soft skis is almost suicidal, I had the idea of imitating the telemark skiing technique.

This sequence shows the position of your upper body, and how much you have to bend to keep our centre of gravity as low as possible.

The term “mixed  terrain” is used in ski touring competition, where it is used often to save some precious time. Our case is different, but it also translates into saving some time. Mixed areas for “splitters” are crucial and they are an unresolved issue. It’s not about stopping the watch one second before everybody else, but about saving time without assembling and dismounting our splitboard many times or having to walk down small sections. Imagine a 4 day long tour… we will find plenty of mixed areas where as guides, we will have to manage as good as we can to speed up our march.

This method obviously has its limitations; on very steep slopes I wouldn´t advise it unless they are quite short and they end up on a final counter slope (e.g. a small cornice). It’s neither advisable on very icy terrain, nor in forests or areas with obstacles; it could be dangerous as it is very effective to turn or avoid obstacles. We can turn using telemark technique but it’s not the point here, neither is it advisable.

The front view allows us to see the position of the open arms, very important for the stability of the descent.

On flat terrain (without a counter slope) it doesn’t matter which leg leads, we will use the one that feels more comfortable, but on descents with a side slope, the outer leg will lead while we bend the inner leg, thus lowering the centre of gravity and gaining stability. Arms should be low and open to maintain a good balance with your back straight. To stop we can straighten our body and side slip as in skiing, or maintain a mid flex and swing on the outside ski, thus creating a turn.