Chutes provide a hair-raising challenge to expert skiers and snowboarders. These narrow swaths of snow require focus and skill, with even the most advanced athletes pushed to the limit. With rock walls on both sides and a dramatic pitch, a chute is reminiscent of a harrowing rollercoaster ride. It’s also a thrill.
Recently, Italian outdoor adventurer Matthias Weger took a novel approach when skiing a chute. By using an ingenious yet lighthearted method, the skier negotiated a pitch even the finest skier would struggle with. Here’s how it played out.
Typically, chute skiing uses hop turns to scrub speed and maintain control. Or, in some cases, dropping in and straightlining provides a high-speed thrill. But recently, Matthias Weger encountered a chute where neither was possible.
In video footage, with rock walls crowding both sides, Weger is squeezed like a sardine with nowhere to go. On a dramatic pitch with a 3-4 ft. wide strip, the skier is forced to resort to an unorthodox technique: walking.
Laying with his back against the snow, he “steps” down the chute like a staircase. Digging in the tail of one ski, lifting the other out, and then stepping down, Weger slowly but surely makes progress. As he stated in his Instagram post, “Weird problems – strange solutions.”
When encountering a challenging situation, Matthias Weger found an innovative solution. While it wasn’t pretty, it worked. Though chute skiing is an art in and of itself, it typically doesn’t account for chutes this narrow. So, if you’re in a similar conundrum, the “step down” method may be just the ticket. It’s all about reaching the bottom safely.
Another technique is to “self-arrest” with an ice axe. By holding an ice axe(s) on the descent, skiers and riders can dig in if they lose control. These tools can also serve as a balance point for the gnarliest lines.
But more than anything, the big-mountain experience helps you ride chutes with the flow. It’s that gradual building of skill, step by step, that reassures you with each subsequent drop-in. When the pitch looks impossible, you can draw on previous runs, knowing you have the chops to make it down.
Matthias Weger’s recent “walk” down a narrow chute was both unique and playful. Though it won’t win any style contests, the method got Weger to safety, which, in the end, is what really matters. For skiers in a similar situation, the “walking” technique is good to know and could mean the difference between calling for help or reaching the bottom. Either way, chute skiing is an art learned over time, and playing on big mountains is the best way to improve.
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