March 3, 2011

Andrew McLean’s Side-Step Tutorial

In cased you missed it, Andrew McLean put up an interesting chute-skiing tutorial video on his site a few days ago. I recommend checking it out. What I really like about the video is that it shows what real ski mountaineering/steep skiing often looks like: you traverse in, feel things out, discover conditions aren't exactly what you expected, and wind up spending the majority of your "skiing" using whatever techniques and tricks best work to get you down in once piece.

While I find Big Mountain Movie Skiing™ just as thrilling as everyone else, real, human-powered skiing deep in the backcountry is often very, very different. Ice, rock, and exposure are typically the rule, often in nasty combinations that don't in the least allow for pretty skiing. Vanity can get you in a lot of trouble in these situations—especially if someone happens to be pointing a video camera at you.

So watch Andrew's video, and remember: if he can side-step, so can you. The first and most important goal is to always get home safely!

Andy Lewicky

ANDY LEWICKY is a Los Angeles-based writer and photographer who enjoys good books, jasmine tea, long walks in the rain, and climbing and skiing the big peaks of the California Sierra. email | follow



  1. Scott says:

    Exact same as my take on it, I thought it was such a good characterization of what ski mountaineering is really all about that I now send it to any friend who asks what it’s really like out in the BC. For every great slope filled with perfect pow that leaves you grinning and cheering, there are ten of them filled with ice, rocks, and windboard leaving you gasping and glad to be alive at the bottom.

  2. Scott says:

    Heh, it’s as if your post of this video were prescient. I had one of these descents today off Mt. Baden Powell. Apparently if you head a little too far skier’s left on the descent you enter a chute that ends in a frozen waterfall (100ft to either side are skiable chutes, but not accessible once you’re in this chute). Had to downclimb the waterfall, and from there on out it was skiing through avalanche debris to get to the road. I spent most of the downclimb wishing I had Whippets, those will definitely be the next purchase.

  3. Andy says:

    As an aside on current conditions, I was at Baldy resort today. Warm temps notwithstanding, there is a lot of ice and hard snow on north aspects. Be aware out there!

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