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European vs North American skiing: pitch and snow quality - Page 2

post #31 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Defcon View Post
 

It all comes down to cultural differences - the US is a litigious society, so customers wouldn't think twice about suing the ski area for any harm, and management knows this. People here also expect everything to be spelled out explicitly and don't like to take personal responsibility. Europe is much more lassez-faire, Asia is more unstructured.

I don't think it has anything to do with laissez faire. It has to do with the enormous area that would have to be controlled for avalanches, the impossibility of controlling crevasses at the areas with glaciers, and the greater instability of the snowpack in the Alps. There are plenty of lawsuits and criminal charges in Europe over deaths in the mountains--go to the pistehors web site and go back through the archives. And the fact remains that most avy deaths in the Alps and the Pyrenees involve tourers, not people ski off piste near the resorts from resort lifts. 

 

The Vallee Blanche is a particularly dangerous place, especially since the regular route is accessible to high intermediates. Both times I was in Chamonix there were ski professionals killed--an Italian guide on the regular route from the Italian side the first time and a PGHM (ski police) officer there. The first time I skied it there were 12 crevasse rescues that day (it was a very low snow year so the snow bridges were thin).  Getting from the slopes below the Requin hut onto the Mer de Glace involved crossing a 2 foot wide, peaked snow bridge between two yawning crevasses. Certainly the most nervous I have ever been skiing a flat section. That same year a guy we were skiing with had gone into a crevasses up to his armpits in a guided group on the Grands Montets, and the day we skied there I was traversing on the Pendant Glacier near the top on Le Face route when I glanced down between my skis and saw a black hole. I didn't stop. When I reached the guide I asked if it were a good place to rest. He didn't say anything--just pointed to the huge seracs above our heads. We didn't rest. That's my favorite run on the Grands Montets BTW, although the area is huge and I've only skied a fraction. And most of it can safely be skied without a guide although I would think avy gear would be a good idea when the risk is 2 or 3. When we were there most of the non groomed easily accessible slopes with mogul fields. Obviously very low risk.

post #32 of 34
I'm just on my way home from 3 days in St Anton - we had a crazy storm yesterday- feet of Cascade Concrete followed by intense rain. The runnels and the remote as well as controlled releases were crazy. There was lots of terrain closed which you could still poach without being busted if you were that stupid. Not many people were fortunately.
post #33 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Defcon View Post
 

It all comes down to cultural differences - the US is a litigious society, so customers wouldn't think twice about suing the ski area for any harm, and management knows this. People here also expect everything to be spelled out explicitly and don't like to take personal responsibility. Europe is much more lassez-faire, Asia is more unstructured.


Which is why people skiing in Europe need to purchase "skier's insurance" in advance or pay upfront for any extraordinary type of ski patrol mountain rescue or other emergency services?

post #34 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by ToastedPopsicle View Post
 

 

I don't buy this excuse.  Why couldn't they just patrol a manageable area of off-piste terrain, like say just one face of one mountain, and then mark the rest as OOB, like North American resorts?  You could still limit it to just groomers everywhere else.  Sure it costs money to do so, but they could charge an extra few bucks to access that lift.  Seems to me like it has to be mainly a cultural thing.


There are lots of 'controlled' off-piste in Europe.  They are not necessarily patrolled but they are controlled for avalanche.  These 'runs' or areas are clearly marked on piste maps and perfectly 'legal' to ski.  However, they are not necessarily sign-posted or flagged.  Anything else is "at your own risk".

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