Look, guys from Texas are what puts Wolf in the black, without a doubt. Several times, I've personally adopted folks visiting from Texas and shown them where to find the goods. This is my statement equivalent to saying how many black friends I have just before making a racist statement. Charging on...
There are very real reasons why Texas skiers are stereotyped and why you can annoy the hell out of us. The last two screengrabs are from Texas Invasion, a/k/a Christmas-New Years and Texas Spring break. I forget which these captures document, but i think it was Christmas.
What you probably noticed first was the crowds- but that isn't what should be noticed. Crowds can be irritating, sure.
However, specifically, what I want to point out is the run lookers right of the screen. One of these pictures was captured in the AM. The busier one, as I recall, was around 11:00. In both pictures, one run is all but totally blocked by stopped skiers (lookers right near the top of frame). Similar blockages show up on the other runs too.
Here is TX Spring Break in video form.
Pay close attention at the total s*&^show at the lift queue at the end of the video. People lying down in front of the queue. People exiting the queue. People falling over in the queue. People blocking lanes of the queue, and people skiing over their skis.
I don't want to paint too broad of a brush here, but that kind of stuff is what gives you guys a bad rap. It isn't about the poor skills, it is what appears to either be a lack of respect of other people, a lack of desire to learn skiing etiquette, a lack of awareness that such etiquette exists, the assurance that one's proficiency is far above actuality, or some combination of the above. Certainly none of this is Texas endemic- but we see trends.
As I see it, the issue is this. Many beginners to a sport or activity are very concerned with how their actions affect others. They don't want their lack of skills to intrude upon others, which in some cases can mean things like studying rules of the activity (like not stopping in a place that would block a run). In many cases, people will choose to limit their participation out of fear of annoying others. For example, I have known more than one first-timer skier refuse to board a bunny hill lift unless there is no line and the chair is empty or as near-so as possible- both so that they don't inconvenience others if the chair needs to stop, and for fear of ridicule. I have to convince them that the bunny hill chair exists with the expectation of frequent stops.
For better or worse, Texans as a stereotyped group seem quite a bit more assured, assertive, and less likely to change their behavior in response to others. In some cases this is admirable, in some cases, obnoxious.
We already covered blocking runs and failing to know how to stand in a lift line. Some additional obnoxious things related to Texas invasion are:
1. Constant lift stoppages- to the tune of every other chair requiring a stop due to a fall at load or unload- and fitting with another stereotyped Texas behavior, these constant stoppages happen regardless of the difficulty of terrain served by the lift.
2. Failure to clear the unload area. It just doesn't matter how many signs are up- Texas invasion means people will slide 7 feet down the terminal ramp, stop and put on their ski poles- or lie down and strap into the snowboard. Again, this is totally divorced from the difficulty of terrain served by the lift, and totally divorced from the volume of the lift ops screams, wheedles and outright begging for people to clear the unload area.
3. Long term damage to snowpack. The stereotyped TX skier behavior of getting into terrain far above their ability fits here. During TX invasion, unless the snow has been bottomless, I can expect a nonstop line of skiers slideslipping choke points down to rock. In a marginal year, it will set our coverage back weeks because snow is scraped off rock instead of packed in. This seems especially prone on runs visible from the lift- despite seeing the steady stream of skiers/boarders damaging their rental equipment going sideways over exposed rocks- in the same place, over and over. I can only surmise that the motivation is bragging rights- so one can point out to his buddies that he "skied" that.
4. Risks to surrounding skiers. Texas Tuck is a thing. And of course, Texas tuck has to be paired with skiing at a speed far out of control.
5. Keeping people from killing themselves. In one case in 2013, I encountered a level 1-2 skier about to enter a controlled access gate that led to a 50 foot cliff. He had already skied through a double diamond access gate and another that said "avalanche area." He was moving through these gates because the terrain he could see where these gates were (above the rowdy terrain at the point before one was committed) "Didn't look too tough." I directed him to an area that was merely steep, and I assume he had a ball of a time trying to wedge down in deep crud. In three separate incidents, I encountered skiers with no gear planning to leave the area boundary off of Knife Ridge- into an area that cliffs out hard and is about ten miles from any roads that get plowed in winter- multiple groups have died from exposure doing exactly this. In each of these groups I encountered, the skiers had zero knowledge of where they were going, the risks, or how in the world they would get out (can't climb uphill in 120" of unconsolidated snow- and you can't walk ten miles in it before you freeze to death)- but the terrain looked "sick" and they had heard something about WC sidecountry being good.
6. While this is certainly not Texas specific, Texas Invasion consists of locals being bombarded with questions and comments about legal weed- both where to procure it, how we are ruining our state, and in some cases the same individual saying both. There also seems to be an upswing of politically charged statements in general, usually with the apparent assumption that everyone in earshot agrees.
I distinctly remember in Taos last year during Texas Invasion, a lift op had to devote his entire whiteboard to "Please do not spit chew on the loading ramp." And yes, there was chew spit all over the loading ramp.
Plenty of cool guys from Texas out there, and when I find them, I try to make sure they have a good time. But as a whole, due to the minority population of absolute jackasses, the whole experience of Texas Invasion is seriously aggravating and one we just grit our teeth and bear for the sake of our ski areas.
Edited by anachronism - 9/28/15 at 4:21pm