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Skiing the buddy system, what is the protocol

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
With a huge storm bearing down on the West, we will be skiing some deep, heavy snow for the first time this year.

How does the buddy system work, exactly? 2 persons, three or more? Guest explained the basic three person system on an earlier post, yet personal experience anecdotes could flesh out our practical knowledge.

Information on the roles of skiers in a buddy system group with respect to their relative ability would be important to know.

Currently reading the Avalanche Handbook. good read, particularly on selecting line with respect to conditions present.
post #2 of 12
Rule number one: On powder day's you have no friends.

Rule number two: On powder day's you have no friends.

Rule number three: repeat rules 1 & 2.




In your case get radio's so you can stay in touch.
post #3 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Max Capacity View Post
Rule number one: On powder day's you have no friends.

Rule number two: On powder day's you have no friends.

Rule number three: repeat rules 1 & 2.




In your case get radio's so you can stay in touch.
Rule number four: In avalanche conditions you better have friends and the right equipment and knowledge.
post #4 of 12
Yeah, not sure what you are getting at. If you are resort riding, have a good time. There are no friends on a powder. That said, make sure you are sliding in areas that see traffic. I would also have a partner if you are doing tree lines.

If you are talking backcountry, in addition to the gear and knowledge, you should have a buddy with the same. So a group of two in the bc can function. Three-four people being the ideal size to help deal with any unfortunate situations that may happen. Just make sure you follow the right protocols. One at a time on exposed slopes etc. Better yet, just ride the resort for now. Sounds like it's going to be plenty good.
post #5 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Devils Fiddle View Post
Rule number four: In avalanche conditions you better have friends and the right equipment and knowledge.
No Joke.

It is also easy enough to fall in a tree well and suffocate in a few minutes. Ski with a buddy that you trust and have the better skier follow the newbie.

Michael
post #6 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Max Capacity View Post
Rule number one: On powder day's you have no friends.

Rule number two: On powder day's you have no friends.

Rule number three: repeat rules 1 & 2.

Yeah I agree!

at one time a bunch of "gaperbears" tried to tell me otherwise, they know who they are!
post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri View Post
With a huge storm bearing down on the West, we will be skiing some deep, heavy snow for the first time this year.

How does the buddy system work, exactly? 2 persons, three or more? Guest explained the basic three person system on an earlier post, yet personal experience anecdotes could flesh out our practical knowledge.

Information on the roles of skiers in a buddy system group with respect to their relative ability would be important to know.

Currently reading the Avalanche Handbook. good read, particularly on selecting line with respect to conditions present.
Assuming you're serious about the question, here's my answer:

If safety is your primary concern and you're skiing OUT of bounds, you need at least three. If there are only two of you and one is seriously hurt and needs attention to maintain breathing, stop blood loss, or provide warmth, then there's nobody left to go get help. You have to have a third or you're, as they say, effed.

So let's assume you're backcountry and there are three (or more) of you. If the line you're about to ski is sketchy, I believe in having the MOST experienced beacon jockey go last. (The possible exception is that there's a specific line that MUST be followed exactly, but that brings up the question of whether you should be there AT ALL if it's that dicey). The first rider down takes the conservative line and hightails it to the safest spot in sight. The next guy might go a little more aggressive. The last guy makes whatever decision he thinks is appropriate given the experience of the others. But what you never, never do is put two or more people on the same exposed slope if there's any way to avoid it (and if there's no way to avoid THAT, then back up two or more steps and figure out how in the world you got into a situation where two or more of you are exposed at the same time

It's also REALLY important to know your group dynamics. "Goal-attainers" or type-A peak baggers have a very hard time backing off. It's really important that everyone in the group - even the least experienced - speak up if they feel nervous about a decision. The older you get, the more you realize that there are a lot of powder turns available in a person's normal lifetime. Being buried under a couple of tons of snow seems like a really bad way to cut down on that potential number of lifetime turns.

If you're skiing inbounds, I'm the wrong one to ask. I ski alone inbounds in blizzards all the time. I'm willing to suffer the consequences of my own decisions (my wife might not totally agree but she knows how I feel). That's why I carry a whistle all the time.
post #8 of 12
I ski alone inbounds on sunny high vis days all the time...but on powder days I believe in friends and am willing to wait alittle to ensure we are all safe.
post #9 of 12
any out-of-bounds stuff i've done (which is incredibly minimal) i've usually gone with a group (except for my first time at Alta and I followed a few people up an OB slope, which in hindsight was kinda stupid). the group has always been mixed, but filled with people i've ridden with who know my abilities.

in terms of in-bounds on powder days, 79% of the time i'm riding with one other buddy, who lives in Tahoe and has been a good friend since we were roommates in college. He's one of the few fellow single dudes i know that's willing to get out and get some (most of our other buddies are either married or too wimpy to endure a storm).

i have also done powder days with my cousin and i have a couple other buddies i've gone out with, but the crew is small and it's rarely ever more than 2 of us together, both similarly experienced/skilled.

on the rare days that i find myself skiing solo on a blizzardy powder day, i usually have ended up befriending someone on the lift. Last season my cousin bailed on me during "The Storm" in Feb (his wife chickened out, so he opted to stay with her and head home early...they got stuck for 4 hours between Tahoe City and Truckee while I ripped pow!). At any rate I skied most of the morning solo but mid-day rode the lift with a gent from UK. His buddies had ditched him in favor of coffee and booze in the lodge. So he and I rode the trees at Homewood together. It was nice having a buddy in case of the aforementioned tree well vortex.

two days later on a left-over powder day I made friends with a retired school teacher on the lift at Sugar Bowl. He schooled my a$$ all day (he on 1st gen Explosivs and rebuilt titanimum knees, me 25+ years his junior on brand new Spats...so it ain't the equipment, it's the experience!). he showed me the goods and we rode a few OB tree runs together (though we lost each other every time!). Still it was a bit comforting to have somebody in unfamiliar terrain. Although on our last run he missed the turn off and ended up way down in the auxilory parking lot. I ended up searching for him for 45 minutes before finding him in the lodge!

so, long story, short, on stormy-a$$ days I usually ride with one other person (again I have a short-list of about 5 people who are game for inclimate weather and Sierra wet pow). i also just like having the company. first tracks aren't as important to me as having a good time. plus it makes getting first tracks that much more of a treat.
post #10 of 12
I second Bob Peters post. I will also ski alone inbounds in storms and love it. I know where I am and where I am going all the time after years of experience. This does not make me completely safe, I am just functioning at a risk level I am confortable with. I also wear a whistle for the same reasons as Bob and have for over 15 years. I have never blown it. Get a plastic one so I doesn't freeze to your lips. I never ski solo in the backcountry or without gear. If I ever get to freeski again I will resume wearing my pack and gear every day, even in bounds.
post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters View Post
...It's also REALLY important to know your group dynamics. ...
Good post, Bob. And on that note I quoted above, here's a good article by Andrew McLean on Group Dynamics that directly relates to the OP's query (at least as I understand it).
http://www.telemarktips.com/AlpTouring2.html

It's oriented to the backcountry, but the gist of it is applicable to in-bounds powder days with partners.
post #12 of 12
If you haven't been out yet, the resort openers have happened already and I tracked up your in bounds pow. Nothing to worry about.

Bob Peter's post is gold, and covers lots of situations. Tahoe got a lot of snow, but the inbounds terrain is pretty reliable after avy control. Nevertheless a big slide occurred injuring two skiers at Squaw below KT22. Tree skiing can pose some risk of being inundated in a well or just a lot of deep snow. A partner can be a good idea, but don't let it rule your day. Things will consolidate and stabilize very quickly this week.
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