How to Ski a Spine with Seth Morrison - Ski Mag

How to Ski a Spine with Seth Morrison

Pro big mountain skier Seth Morrison shares his tips on skiing a spine.
Seth Morrison, Full Throttle #2

Planning a to-die-for heli-ski trip? Before you go, learn to charge the best feature on those dreamy steeps.

Flutes and spines are formed when sloughed-out snow builds up on rocky ridges or where the terrain naturally funnels into a V. They're most common on monster faces in Alaska and BC, but you can find them on any big backcountry peak.

As you drop onto the spine, make quick, controlled turns to get a feel for the snow. Your line will have two aspects, which means it could be sunbaked on one side and blower powder on the other. Stay light on your feet as you float from side to side.

Spines generate a lot of slough (loose snow avalanches), so keep your speed up-or risk getting taken out. Slough follows the fall line, and you've got two fall lines to deal with. Stay high and you give yourself the option to either stop and look around or hang tight while your slough blows past. Quick Tip: If you do punch through the slough spray, you'll be blinded for a second. Stick with it. Then, like in "Days of Thunder," out you some into full vision again. Nothing matches that.

Because spines are created from snow building up on rocks, they tend to have thinner coverage than other parts of the mountain. Hitting rocks is common, but avy hazard is lower here since most of the snow sloughs off these high points during a storm.

As you exit the spine, take another quick look and make sure you can outski your slough. If it's right on top of you, let it pass, but if it's way back there (or in front of you) point 'em hard and ski for glory.

From, February 2006.


spines thumb

VIDEO: How to Ski a Spine

Skiing a spine, with fall-away turns on both sides of it, isn’t easy. But it’s a great way to sharpen your technique.

Spine Lines Thumb

How to Ski: Spines and Ridges

This type of terrain is ready-made to help you sharpen your technique—and have some fun on the hill.

Powder Click tout

Learn How to Take Expert Ski Photos

The Powder Click photo camp, put on by Ski Magazine, is the perfect excuse to up your photo game while spending a week skiing in Chile.

Shoot a ski photo

How to Shoot Perfect Powder Shots

Get equipped to capture a frameworthy picture every time.

How to Ski Like Reggie Map

How to Ski It: Reggie Crist's INTERACTIVE guide to picking a line

This is how a pro creates and executes a plan of attack.

How To Start Teaching Your Kids To Ski | Family Week

How to Start Your Kids Skiing

What to do when it’s time for your tyke to ski.

How to heli ski thumb

How to Heli Ski: From the Pros at CMH

You don’t have to rip to heliski. In fact, for intermediates and up who struggle with powder, the untracked wilds are the best place to learn.