How to Find a Lost Snow Ski in Deep Powder

Skiers treasure fresh powder. The deeper the better, right? But when the powder gets deep, it presents some problems. Like how do you find a lost ski when you fall and your skis release from your ski boots? I’ve had this happen so many times that I have made my own method for finding a lost ski in powder that has never failed.

So let’s go through a scenario where you are skiing in knee or deeper powder, and you fall with your skis releasing in the fall. You come to rest after your slide, and immediately wonder, “I wonder if I am going to be able to find my skis?” Here’s what to do:

1) Mark the spot you landed by placing both your poles there. This will keep your spot as you dig for your ski. It will also indicate where you landed even if the wind is blowing snow and filling in holes as you dig. My experience has shown that virtually all of the time your skis are above where you landed because you body has more weight and therefore more momentum.

2) If you still have 1 ski on or are skiing with a friend, take that 1 ski and slide the tail of the ski up to the binding laterally as you work your way up where you fell. So now you are sliding the ski in a 3-4 foot width about 1.5 deep seeing if you hit anything solid. When you hit 1 ski, look to see if it is your right or left ski. Try to remember if you came out of both skis at once or 1 at a time.

3) If you came out of both skis at the same time, the other ski is probably somewhere next to the one you’ve found. If you came out of one then the other, chances are your second ski is still above you. If some how you do not find the ski on your first try digging through a 3-4 foot width of snow as you go up from where you landed. Then your ski must be to one side or the other.

4) Go back to where you marked your landing spot and try a 3-4 foot swath to the left and the right of where you have already searched, and you’ll find your lost ski.

I have used this technique when others were ready to leave their lost skis, and ride the chair down the mountain. That is an expensive mistake with skis and bindings of top skis running about $1200. One time, I was skiing Sun Valley with some friends on a really windy day. A friend of a friend did 3 turns, high-sided and fell losing both skis. We all stood around bracing ourselves against the wind on this ridge hoping he will find his ski quickly so we can get to a part of the mountain that is less exposed.

He dug around and the snow was filling in the hole as fast as he could dig. Everyone was just standing around, and no one was helping him find his skis. After about 10 minutes he announced that he was going to abandon his skis and ride the chair down. I said, “Not on my watch.” and began asking him questions about if he came out of both skis at once or each individually.

I took off my skis, and used 1 to dig with the back of my ski sliding it back and forth from the point where he fell. Within 2 minutes I found 1 of his skis. I asked him to identify if that was his right or left ski, he told me, and I dug in the snow with my hand where I guessed the other ski would be. I put my hand right on it, and handed him his second ski. We skied the rest of the day with no problems.

But on powder days, I always see skiers looking for lost skis and failing. Then I see them walking down the mountain, or riding a chair down abandoning their equipment. The reason I am writing this article is I want you to not only be able to find your lost ski, but I want you to help others find their skis too!

Take this knowledge, and when you see someone who has lost a ski, help them find it. You’ll do your good deed for the day, and you’ll save that skier hundreds of dollars replacing their lost skis. I can only hope to have this problem alot more this ski season because I love skiing in knee to thigh deep powder. See You On the Slopes!

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