Glade Skiing Tips

Tips for Safe Glade Skiing

Glade Skiing. Mike Doyle
Skiers in the northeast have for years yearned to expand their commune with Mother Nature and though they may be limited in elevation they are not limited by terrain. Taking skis into the woods has always been an option for adventurous mountain climbing or back country skiers, as well as for skiers in other parts of the country.

However, in recent years ski resorts have responded to the call of patrons to open more of the wooded area within their boundaries.

Referred to as glades on most area trail maps, and invariably marked expert or Black Diamond terrain, many areas are adding more and more acres each year to this category. In fact, a few resorts are saying “if we own it you can ski it.”

Skiing in the glades, or tree skiing as it’s also called, has its own unique hazards that can be minimized by following these common sense tips:

Be a competent skier. There is no Ski Patrol or skill checker standing anywhere and waiting to assess your ability. The resort warns you to be responsible and ski on terrain for your ability. Glades are rarely marked lower than Black Diamond and for a good reason.

Never ski on closed glades trails. Resorts cannot patrol every inch of woods on their property and if a marked glade is roped off don’t ski under, or around, the rope.

Never ski alone in the woods. Again, remember there are a limited number of ski patrollers.

For optimum safety ski with at least two other people, one to stay with a downed skier and one to go for help.

Carry a cell phone or radio. Many skiers forget they may not have full cell phone service in the mountains so a two way radio comes in handy.

Wear helmet and goggles. Trees are hard even if you are skiing slowly.

Even little branches can be a threat to eyes.

Look before exiting the woods. Skiers on groomed trails aren’t looking for someone to come flying out of the woods.

Don’t tree ski in late afternoon. Remember you might have to catch an early closing lift and nobody wants to even think you might be in the woods after dark!

A last word or two of advice and caution: Think of skiing in glades as skiing through moguls that you can’t catch an edge on and ski over. Remember what my friend the Ski Patroller says about skiing in glades "Ski good or eat wood."