Originally Posted by crgildart
Just like on a trail, the best way to pass someone is to pick a spot where you can swing around them with enough room so as to not impede any possible unexpected move on their part. You may still startle them some, but at least they are in a comfortable position and you are past them before they realize it. In fact, I will leave the catwalk and go in the woods myself to pass someone on a catwalk rather than make them feel crowded.
Exactly. Use your brain and your accumulated skills to overtake and pass with room to spare. Reading some of the worry-wart hand-wringing here about sensory acuity, stereo-hearing-essential-for-directional-information, and distraction in general, I have to guess that some of you ski relatively slowly and when and where it's crowded. I can't identify with any of those three as being quality skiing. Velocity is why we ski, and if you're stuck with weekends and holidays, you're stuck; deal with it. Skiing in traffic takes a lot of looking around and making judgments that are similar to what we do on multi-lane freeways, but without the lanes: calculating speeds and vectors for lots of other actors and adjusting your speed and lines accordingly. It really doesn't make a difference to me whether I have silence, talk radio, or music while driving, and music or not while skiing is the same, for me.
Someone mentioned head swivels; yes, and often, especially where trails merge. One quick glance can let you get back to building and releasing G-forces with confidence.
I tried skiing with a Walkman back in the 1980s, when that was the most compact and portable device available. Not bad, except for that yard sale on Squaw's North Bowl in a foot of pow that permanently separated me from my cheapo Radio Shack cassette player. An iPod safely zipped into an interior pocket is close to perfect, albeit with one slender wire to keep track of. I've skied hundreds of days without tunes and dozens with. All were fun, but the experience of listening to one's own custom playlist while enjoying an uncrowded bluebird day is just short of Nirvana (the Buddhist kind, not grunge). I've had it loud enough to hear easily over loud powder and soft enough to go away gently in/on the soft stuff; depends on the mood. I got tired of pulling one earbud out for chairlift or on-slope conversations, so I put a little vinyl bumper (1/2") on the pause sector of the iPod's control wheel so I can feel it easily through my jacket pocket from the outside. One touch stops the tunes, and two restore them if it's been a few minutes. More tech than that I don't need.
Of course, as a singer-songwriter, sometimes DJ and sound guy, who got started with pro sound doing ski race announcing with upbeat music, maybe I'm more invested in having more in my ears than the wind. I've never felt that it made my skiing less safe or enjoyable.
If it's so crowded that I feel like I'm dodging unguided missiles all around me, I stop skiing. When I lived in Bend in the 1990s and had a flexible schedule that let me choose my ski times, if I happened to go up to Bachelor on a weekend or holiday day for some reason, the first collision near-miss was my cue to go home for the day...