ACL Injury. Returning to skiing.


As a member of the “ACL Rehab Club”, I have a personal interest in ACL Rehabilitation, particularly how skiers can safely manage their return to skiing.

For most people the psychological aspect of getting back on ski’s is fraught with uncertainty,  not least the fear of damaging the ACL again and undoing the hard rehab work to this point.

Looking back at my rehab diary I was back on skis after about 20 weeks and back in the alps after about 7 months. Although I made a fast return to skiing, I had my concerns and tried to manage my return to skiing in a sensible way.

Based on my experience I’m now helping other skiers do the same.

The first thing is to agree the target with your physio (and perhaps surgeon), and only reach for your skies when they are happy you are strong enough.

Once back on ski’s my strategy is to re build balance, propreoception, confidence and gradually speed, starting with the simplest flat land exercises.  Choosing an very quiet slope,   starting very slowly on the flat, and gradually building up from there as appropriate.

I recently helped a friend, Mark, through this process.

Phase 1 and I used our local dry slope during an empty session to start the process.  While plastic slopes do cause you some apprehension, the beauty of the approach is that it allows a slow and gradual building of movement and speed in a controlled way. An empty slope means that fear of collision is much reduced, and as a coach i could manage the progress in conjunction with feedback from Mark.  We called it a day after about an hour and a half, working up to some gentle snow ploughing.

Return to skiing after an ACL knee injury

^^First time on ski’s after an ACL knee injury

Phase 2 involved a trip to a snowdome during an off peak session a week or so later.  Mark warmed up off slope and we started of with a few runs off the beginners ramp, and with building confidence we were soon skiing off the top.

In my own skiing, I’m super focused on skiing ‘centered and balanced’ to avoid any tendency to be ‘back’ on my heals, especially in difficult conditions. Attempting to recover from a slow, backwards is a classic ACL injury mechanism and how I managed to damage my own.

‘Centered and balanced’ was the mantra for the majority of the 3.5hr session and has set Mark up for his upcoming season in the Alps.

Back on snow after an ACL injury

BaBack on snow after an ACL injury

Season Review 2017-18. Shropshire and Welsh skiing. Part 2.

The epic opening conditions in Shropshire lasted four days but by day 5 temperatures were on the up and work called.

The following Saturday I had a very speculative drive up to Pistyll Rhaeadr, the gateway to the Berwyns in the hope that the snow had kept better with a bit more altitude.  There was snow cover but the thaw was firmly underway.

Welsh slab avalanche in the Berwyns.

Slab avalanche on the head wall, below Moel Sych.

Surprisingly I spotted 2 sets of avalanche debris.  The first had crossed the miners track and had probably come down in the week, starting at the top of a gully. The second,  a full depth ‘slab’ was on the head wall above the Llyn, triggered that afternoon by walkers.

I managed a few turns but they were ‘challenging’ !

27th December 2018. Long Mynd.

Church Stretton Golf, Ski Touring, Shropshire

Poppy on her last ski touring outing.

My final Shropshire ski of 2017 was up on the Long Mynd, on the Golf Course.  I took Poppy along and sadly it was to be her last outing, she passed away a few days later.

1st April 2018. Snowdonia.

ski touring, wales, snowdonia, carneddau

Ski touring on the Carneddau, looking up to Carnedd Dafydd.

Snowdonia often delivers late season ski touring, with April snows. This year was no exception and I headed over on April 1st. Conditions were uncertain so there was every chance of an April Fool, but on parking up it looking promising, with a thin snow line at the 500m mark.

After a hike and a skin up, the ski down was good, although the visibility was poor to start.

I finished my season with a few days touring in Scotland with the very last turns of the Winter in powder up on Glencoe  🙂

Season Review. 2017-18. December Powder in Shropshire.

A bit of a late update as it’s almost 12 months since the start of last season.

Yet the early Winter of 2017-18 was epic for Shropshire Skiing, serving up 4 days of touring straight, including a genuine powder day.  It kicked off with snow falling on December the 8th tempting me in to some touch light skiing up the Wrekin.

^^ Friday night ski touring on the Wrekin.

^^ Friday night ski touring on the Wrekin.


Saturday was a tad milder and murky but I was tempted to have a look at South Shropshire and the usual suspects.

^^ Caer Caradoc ski touring on the Saturday afternoon.

^^ Caer Caradoc ski touring on the Saturday afternoon.


Snow fell overnight and into Sunday making the roads difficult, but by the afternoon it has eased off enough to make a trip to the Wrekin worth a try. The side paths were empty with lovely cold snow. The main path was busy, almost pisted by all the walkers,  with a few boarders and skiers taking advantage.  I couldn’t resist dropping off the side to sample some Shropshire tree skiing !

^^ Sunday, back at the Wrekin, skinning up the side paths.

^^ Sunday, back at the Wrekin, skinning up the side paths.

Monday was the day. More snow overnight but dawning clear, if windy.  Emma and I hooked up and we headed up the Caradoc eventually scoring some pleasantly steep powder turns off the Little Caradoc.

^^ Blue bird ski touring in Shropshire.

^^ Monday. Blue bird ski touring in Shropshire.

^^ Our ski tracks on Little Caradoc

^^ Our ski tracks on Little Caradoc

Emma had to head back, but with plenty of light I decided on a solo skin up the Lawley. In the past the grassy slopes are a good bet and they didn’t disappoint today. For the first time I wished for better over my ancient Salomon 1080 rock ski’s.

^^ My powder tracks on the Lawley

^^ Solo over to the Lawley. Shropshire Powder.


The Lawley is always a good bet for Shropshire Skiing.

The Lawley is always a good bet for Shropshire Skiing.



Level 1 Ski Instructor training weekend. Telford.

Snowsport England Level 1 Ski instructor training course, Telford, Shropshire.

I’m running a Snowsport England Level 1 ski instructor course at the Telford Snowboard and Ski Centre over the weekend of the 25th November.

The course is a great way of starting your snow sports instructing career, and is backed up with shadowing opportunities at the slope. Your Level 1 qualification is completed with an assessment day at a later date.

Price: £175 to cover 2 days training. 

More information here:

Our last course sold out so book now directly with Snowsport England:




Season Review, 2016-17

With Winter fast approaching, here’s a quick review of the highlights from last season.

Carneddau, Snowdonia.

My winter kicked off with November ski touring in Snowdonia which gave some of the best snow of the season.  I hooked up with Emma and Kuba, hiking up to the snow line from the A5 and skinning up to the ridge east of Carnedd Dafydd.


Tignes, Early season

A week later I was in Tignes for some early season skiing.  Snow had been late coming but piste skiing was pretty good. The last day saw us doing a short tour that amazingly served up some fresh tracks.  Credit to Floss at for insider info 🙂

^^^ Joe scoring some pow pow. But wait, something is missing... ;)

Gressoney, Monte Rosa.

A highlight for the season was a road trip taking in a weeks off piste skiing in Gressoney and a weeks steep skiing in the Vanoise. Snow was falling as we drive into Gressoney but high winds didn’t help our search for powder.

^^ On the ridge before dropping in to 200m of pow and 1500m of breakable crust.

Vanoise Steep Skiing.

Week 2 of the road trip saw us pitch up in the Three Valleys with Simon Christy of for his Steep Vanoise week. Good lines from excellent Guides. Recommended.

^^ Jack on the North Face of the Bellcote


The start of April was back in Chamonix for some more exams and CPD where I finally got around to finishing the last module required for the ISIA qualification.  The week was Teaching focused which was a nice refresher on work already covered in other systems.

^^ Looking down on to the glacier from the midi.

Back to Snowdonia to finish.

Fittingly my last turns on snow were back in Snowdonia in late April.  The forecast had been hinting at snow for about 10 days and sure enough a small window in the weather appeared and the hills were white. It’s fair to say there was more walking than skiing but a great day to finish a great season.

Footage of the day shot by myself and Mark of Snowdonia Adventures plus Mikes photos and video.

Level 1 Ski Instructor Course

I’m planning to run a Level 1 ski instructor training course at the Telford ski slope on the weekend of 29th and 30th April.  The course will be ran through Snowsport England.

The course will give you the foundation training with which to become a ski instructor and attendance at Telford gives you the opportunity to follow up with Instructing placement\shadowing hours at the slope before you present for your Level 1 assessment.

Information regarding the L1 award and requirements can be found on the Snowsport England web site link here:

To confirm your place, book directly with Snowsport England here:

If you have any questions feel free to email me directly.

** Update ** The course was oversubscribed and with great feedback from the participants. The next course should run late Summer. Drop me an email and I can let you know the dates when they are confirmed.


Ski touring Carneddau, Snowdonia

It’s the 30th April and I’m cresting the rise on the A5 before the descent down to Lyyn Ogwyn. I’m looking up and right trying to see the snow conditions and judge if the 2 hour drive has been worth it.  It’s looking surprisingly good !

My second ‘speculative’ Welsh ski tour started from the lay-by on the A5 just above Lyyn Ogwyn. We walked up to Ffynnon Lloer before swapping to skins and ski’s. Our route took us Easterly before turning up towards the better snow, topping out on the ridge and shallow col.


^^ Shan boot packing up with Y-Garn and Banana Gully behind.


^^ Wind filled runnels gave us good snow cover as we made the ridge.

Bwlch yr Ole Wen

^^ Some excellent lines tempt off Pen yr Ole Wen for next time.


The weather was sunshine and showers and the temperature above freezing. The snow was a little warm as a result but the wind had done it’s work filling in runnel lines with skiable snow.


^^ Tryfan caught by a sunny interval.

Yr Elen and Carnedd Lewelyn

^^ The other side of the ridge, Yr Elen and Carnedd Llewelyn
  revealed yet more opportunities.

The ski down was excellent despite some grabby snow and we skied down to around the 700m mark by the small lake before hiking out.

Mark Ski

^^ Missey the dog winning the race down!

Shan Ski

^^ Snow cover got thinner as we lost height.

Walk Out

^^ We found Spring in the valley as we walked out.

Thanks again to Mark and Shan for an excellent day 🙂

Ski Touring in Snowdonia. Carneddau, February 2016.

The 2015/16 Winter has been poor for skiing on my local ski hills with little or no snow to get out in.

However the English Lakes have had a good season, with good snow cover through most of the Winter.  In February Winter arrived in Wales, with snow fall in the Beacons and Snowdonia.

I had a free day but it was tough to decide where to go ?  The Lakes has snow but were 3 hours away. Pen Y Fan in the Breacon’s  was a ‘maybe’ but I wasn’t sure how much snow had fallen.  However the Internet suggested that Snowdonia could offer some sport and after a fair bit of indecision I loaded the car and headed up the A55.

Mark from Snowdonia Adventures had very kindly given me the heads up on parking and conditions and was also planning a ski tour with a friend from the same car park.They duly parked up just as as I leaving to to walk up.

The route follows a short stretch of an old roman road to gate, at which point you head South and up along a wall onto the tops of the Northern Carneddau range.  2/3rd of the way up I heard a shout and spotted Mark who was trying to catch me up. Never one to miss an excuse for a rest I sat down and waited. It turned out that Marks friend had forgotten a good portion of kit so Mark and I head up together.


^^ Mark heading up with Anglesey in the sunshine.

The snow line was at around 600m where we could put skins on. Ground conditions were a mix of snow and icy rime covering rocks and grass but it was easily thick enough to skin up.  The wind had done it’s work and there were some nice snow filled depressions to aim for on the way down.


^^ Grass, Rock and Rime.

On making the summit of Foel-Fras we continued along the ridge to the next col for a look at the conditions. Although the range was white over the snow cover was relatively thin so we headed back up for the ski down.


^^ Thick rime 'waffle' formations on the sheep netting.

The initial section didn’t look appealing with the prospect of rocks at every turn, but genteel turns on flat ski’s did the trick and we soon managed to find some clearer lines. Needless to say they were over too soon and we were back to rocks and grass, although we did manage to ski right to the stepping stones at the return col.


^^ Smooth snow if you pick your line

All that was left was the walk out. Although the skiing element was at the combat end of the scale, it was an excellent day and whetted my appetite for more Snowdina skiing.

The Ordinance Survey suggests that we covered 13km, with a total ascent of 548m.  The ski descent was around 222m.


^^ Ready to walk out.


^^ A short video, shot by Mark gives a good idea of conditions.





Scottish Skiing, An annual pilgrimage.

For the last few years my wife and I have made an annual pilgrimage to Scotland to score some end of season Spring skiing.

It all started because we were restricted to the Easter school holidays and wanted to find some affordable skiing, plus it was a good excuse to check out resort skiing in Great Britain.

We tend to stay in Fort William and typically ski Glencoe and Nevis Range, and on occasion have driven over to Cairngorm. This year we stuck with Glencoe, and found lovely Spring conditions.

Spring Skiing at Glencoe.

Glencoe. Spring Skiing.


The snow cover was slightly reduced on last year which meant a little walking to access the more interesting runs but the Spring Run was excellent as always and we lapped the Flypaper run a couple of times.

The Flypaper arguably counts as Steep Skiing with a quick check on the OS showing a pitch of around 45 degrees, although the actual pitch will depend on the snow profile at the time. This was my wifes first steep ski descent and she completed it in good style.

Flypaper, Glencoe.

The Flypaper, Glencoe. Plus a small point release wet snow slide.


Glencoe has a lovely vibe. Many of the runs are unpisted and the whole place has a great unpretentious feel to it. For sure, it’s not like the Alps, but if you have a sense of adventure, like your skiing ‘raw’ then you’ll love it.

In the last couple of years Kenny Biggin has published off piste guides to both the Nevis and Glencoe area’s and these have proved a bit of an inspiration. Although I’ve not had chance to ski many of the runs in the book, this years trip added a new line to my ‘To Do’ list with the obvious narrow line which can be seen from the Glencoe access road:

Stob a' Ghlais Choire - Ghlais Couloir.

Stob a’ Ghlais Choire – Ghlais Couloir. (#26 in Kenny’s book)

So, if you have a few days to spare consider Glencoe and Scotland. An easy drive, so no hanging around airports, no weight restrictions for kit plus you get stunning scenery on the drive up. Glencoe is open this year (2015) to the May bank holiday weekend while the back country gully skiing season stretches to June.

Helvellyn to Red Tarn. English Skiing.

I see my last ski related post was another English Skiing adventure, up on The Riase in the Lake District.

That trip piqued my interest in some of the steeper lines in the Lakes, specifically skiing the Helvellyn head wall down to Red Tarn.  To be honest it seemed an unlikely possibility, not helped by the fact that I live 3 hours drive away. A quick walk up to see if it’s in condition isn’t really on.

Still, ever the optimist I spent a very pleasant late Summer day walking the area, looping up and over the Raise and around to Helvellyn checking out the ground. A few people have done the line over the years so I knew it was possible and looking down from the ridge it looked a tempting pitch.

Fast forward a few months and it was clear that the Lakes were having a good Winter. Come March it started to dawn on me that perhaps Helvellyn was a possibility and an assortment of forums, facebook groups and web sites allowed me to keep an eye on the condition of the face.

Plan A was to head up on Saturday 14th. However the preceding days were a bit wintery and temperatures stayed low enough to cause me to cancel in the expectation that the face would be too icy which apparently was the case.  Plan B was to head up on the Thursday in the expectation of sunshine and clearer weather.

Conditions held and Thursday morning found me heading up the M6 towards the lakes. The plan was to time my arrival so that I’d make the summit at around midday in the hope that the face would have softened up in the sun but not have been too hot as to become unstable.

The walk in is about 3.5 miles with 750m of ascent. I decided to head up via Red Tarn so that I could see the face and line. The final section off Swirral Edge needed crampons and Ice Axe such was the build up of consolidated snow and hard ice.

helvellyn & swirral edge

Helvellyn head wall with Swirral Edge to the right.


The ascent up Swirral Edge revealed some soft snow and evidence of a line from a boarder who’d dropped in a day or 2 ago.  However a portion of the descent was in shadow cast by the buttress, hinting at harder snow for a portion of the line.

Topping out put me in the sunshine among lots of walkers who were interested to know ‘If you are really going to ski down there ?!’. Five minutes, a walk along the ridge and a sandwich later I’d decided where I’d drop in and roughly the line I’d take. Caution was the order of the day given my uncertainty about the snow and that it’s not a place to fall.

Dropping in I found nice soft, Spring snow. However I soon encountered a patch of ‘new’ unconsolidated and humidified snow from the recent wintry weather which was best avoided.

helvellyn head wall skied

My tracks on the Helvellyn headwall.


While the initial snow was mostly spring like, it turned to frozen crud as I hit the deeper  shadow. Tracking back into the sunshine put me on to the final run down to Red Tarn, all the way to the water.

ski helvellyn red tarn

The Line.


Locals reckon the pitch at the top is 50+ degrees. I reckon that counts as Steep skiing – and in England 🙂