Originally Posted by Cirquerider
Truth is, the most common ski-pole accident is by far, skier's thumb. This is followed by injuries to the shoulder and arm from the ski pole basket being caught in a fence or tree and yanking the arm of the skier. You could also blame this on using straps. Skiers caught in tree wells or avalanches are in danger of having their hands tied in the straps as well. There are some anecdotal stories of impalement, but they are extremely rare, basket or no-basket.
Sure, a pole basket will prevent a through and through spearing, but really, how many people are really impaled by a ski pole? So few that there are no accident stats on it. It is RARE! This is a non-issue, to the extent that the claimed rules requiring baskets may not even be able to be documented. Show me the rule. Pole baskets are used to prevent the pole from being sucked in to the snow and twisting your arm. Poles don't even have a point any more, they have a sharp circular edge.
I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm wearing a Kevlar vest from now on. Gawd knows, Rita is out there, and she is gonna git ya. You could put your eye out.
It's not a non-issue, it just doesn't seem to come up much.
I've been skiing almost as long as Rita, and can remember many mountains that I skied at in the early 70's (Vernon Valley, Great Gorge, Huntah, etc.) having signs posted stating baskets were required on poles, and seeing patrollers enforce it. Also, safety straps, or runaway devices on skis, but now I'm dating myself.
I've got some new Black Daimond poles that have a nice pointy tip, and some older Kermas that have the circular type you mention. Either could probably do equal damage under the right (admittedly rare) circumstances. Regardless; just because something doesn't exist in your realm of experience, doesn't make it a non-issue, or even terribly accurate.
The advice about not wearing pole straps in trees or avy terrain is spot-on, although we did have one skier get caught and completely buried on Loveland Pass this winter who was wearing straps, but no beacon. A split-boarder saw what appeared to be a recent slide/debris field, and decided to investigate. While conducting a beacon search, he noticed just the tip of a pole sticking up out of the debris. When he pulled on the pole, he found it was attached to a wrist/person. According to the trapped skier, the boarder uncovered him just as he was losing consciousness. I'm not saying that's any kind of evidence to support wearing straps in avy terrain, but the end result does kind of run contrary to conventional wisdom.
Speaking of running contrary to conventional wisdom; if the OP can show proof of one ski pole manufacturer that sells a basketless ski pole (trekking poles don't count), I still probably won't agree with her, but would be interested to hear the meanie instructor's reaction should she present him with a link.
The other reason you mentioned for having baskets, (punching through the snow and getting arm yanked) should be justification enough for the OP, even if she rejects the jousting argument, but she doesn't seem open to any other viewpoint except her own, so I doubt she'll accept yours either.