i'm not too ashamed to admit that I was too lazy to read all 4 pages of this thread, so if i'm repeating something, i apologize in advance.
was it ever stated when all this duct tape and old gear was seen?
if it was early season, could be that folks are bringing out the old gear for rock skiing. if you have old beaters (skis and clothing) why wreck your new gear on rocks and shrubs?
i have been told countless times that all the new 2006/07 skis are sold out around California, yet after riding at Sugarbowl, Alpine, and Heavenly I have to wonder who the hell bought all the new skis. Everybody I've seen is riding at least 2-5 season old gear (and in some cases up to 15 seasons old). I pointed this out to my buddy at Alpine the other day and he nonchalantly said "Probably everyone's riding their rock skis, don'tcha think?"
If I had older gear, I would have been knocking that about the mountain instead of turning my 1 season old-only ridden 5 days Karmas into rock skis.
In closing, my cousin, who no longer skis because he got fed up with lift tix $$ and too many people, always had this to say: "A person's skiing ability is usually inversely related to the type of gear/clothing they use/are wearing." He came to this conclusion in the early '80s during that teal color schematic rush (you know, where all the ski companies had a model of ski that was teal and all the clothing companies made complimentary teal jackets, gloves, hats, and pants).