Saturday at Wolf Creek, I ride a chair with a pair of guys from Boulder who came down for the storm cycle. Its been puking snow all day and not forecasted to stop for the whole weekend.
Avalanche risk forecast as "Considerable." Listening to weatherband for a few minutes on our way to Wolf, there is a special CAIC warning about the new snowfall overloading slopes, substantial wind loading, etc.
So anyways, back to guys from Boulder on Alberta chairlift.
They are giddy, best conditions for them all year. They have never skied Wolf Creek, never made it this far South in Colorado, terrain is better than they expected, snow is great. Having a good day.
So then, this conversation ensues:
Dude: So, if we ski off the back of Knife Ridge, where do that get us?
Me: Uhh, It gets you about 7 miles from any road up the East Fork of the San Juan River in 6 feet of snow, and the whole traverse out would be under slide paths.
Dude: Oh, so we can't get back to lifts?
Me: Uh, no.
Dude: So where are some sick sidecountry lines to hit this weekend?
Me: Ok, look. You've told me you've never skied here and don't know the local geography, and have no idea what terrain you are skiing into, where it leads, or how to get out. I doubt you've checked the avalanche forecast, because its a High risk day (turns out that it was actually considerable, but I think the point still stands- they didn't correct me, so I'm pretty sure they hadn't checked, if they even knew about it). I don't see that you have any gear, but that is kind of beside the point. I want you to have a great weekend, but I can't in good conscience talk to you about backcountry lines.
Dude: Well, what about that expansion area where they want to put the tram? Where is that?
Me: Come on man, I'm not talking about this with you. You want great snow today? Here's where you can find it inbounds (proceed to share where I've been skiing all day).
Dude: Yeah, but we just really wanted to get something out of bounds where we could ski back to the lift.
Me: I'm done here.
Is it just me, or is this completely and totally insane behavior? I doubt they had any avalanche training (I sure hope they didn't, as if they did, it doesn't seem like it stuck), and I doubt they had avy gear, but even if they had both, is it really considered normal behavior to go skiing someplace for the first time, in the middle of a storm cycle, on a day with very real avalanche risk, when you have no clue where you actually are?
I've seen a few threads on here where first time vistors to an area are asking about backcountry lines. Maybe, maybe this is something I would consider in Late spring conditions with a homogenous corn snowpack, with an exact plan of where I was skiing and what my exit is.
But, the chairlift conversation on Saturday leads me to thinking I just talked to a pair of future victims, and am really hoping I don't have to read a terrible news article in the upcoming days.