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How To....Kick Turn

Guy talks us through kick turns and pole position

One of the key elements in ski touring is efficiency. Equipment is built to be light weight for this reason but it it is not enough to have carbon fibre poles and the latest boots if you don't move in an efficient way.

We have already addressed some basics of route selection and skinning techniques in earlier videos so now it's time to look at some more advanced techniques that will help keep touring as easy as possible.

“Kick-Turns” are an essential technique that make moving up steep terrain easier and allow tourers to climb steep faces without exerting too much effort. The idea is to traverse the face, climbing in a zig-zag fashion, rather than straight up the fall-line. To do this easily the end of each traverse should be finished with a 180 degree about turn.

Start this by taking a step and a half past the end of your traverse then take a few steps on the spot to create a stable platform. It is important to ensure that at this point both skis are perpendicular to the fall line, across the slope and unable to slide down the hill.

With your weight on the downhill ski lift the leg of your uphill ski from your knee. When your knee is at ninety degrees swivel your up-hill leg from the hip until your torso is facing up the hill and your raised leg is now facing in the opposite direction from you downhill leg. Put your foot down so your feet are almost together with your feet facing in different directions.

If the first part of this manoeuvre has bee done successfully it should be easy to transfer weight from the down hill ski to the up hill ski, Move your poles to their finished position and use them for extra balance and begin the second part of the move.

The move of the second ski should be done as one fluid movement. Start by lifting the down hill ski and straightening your leg out behind you. Rotate your leg as you do this so that when your leg is straight your raised ski forms the top stroke of a “T” with the ski still on the ground With your leg fully extended you can roll your hip which will swing the ski round so it is parallel with the downhill ski. Bring your new uphill ski forward by bending your knee and bringing your feet together.

If all has gone well you will now be facing in the opposite direction, well balanced and able to continue with your ascent.

To help you make the following traverse easier, especially if the slope is steep, move your up hill hand off the grip of your pole and onto the shaft so that your hands are level. Your hands should be free of the wrist straps anyway so this should be easy to do and will make the climb more comfortable.

Using these two techniques you should find travelling through the back-country easier and more efficient and climbing even steep slopes should be a gentle affair.