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Are black runs the safest runs on any mountain?

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
This may sound like a strange question, but I've wondered what others thought about this.

Are you relatively safer on a green, blue or black runs?

Green runs are easest terrain, but really crowded, mostly by beginners who are going pretty slow probably don't pose too much of a threat.

Blue runs are harder terrain, have less people then green runs, but still quite a few people, but the skiers on them are better (maybe more aggressive, and starting to push the limits of their true abilities?), skiers going faster.

Black runs, hardest terrain, (exluding double diamonds for simplicity) least amount of people on them, hopefully the level of ability is highest here and skiers have spent more time honing abilities and have matured in their skiing and responsibilty to others?

So if you had to choose just for the sake of argument where you would be safer over time which would it be?
post #2 of 36
I have found that I am safe on green and blue runs if I go a bit faster than everyone else on that slope. Not so fast as to be a threat yourself, but fast enough to prevent being struck from the rear.

My problems on such runs have always occured when I am either stuck in a crowd and going at the same speed as everyone, or else skiing with someone who could only go at at slow speeds.

On black runs, the people are generally better skiers, but with unfortunate regularity, a clueless idiot will come flying down the hill in a terrified snowplow, so even these runs are not safe.

Once I was standing at the bottom of a steep pitch with a group of patrollers. We were as far off the trail as we could get (our tails were in the woods). Some teen aged boy fitting the above description plows right into us and knocked all four of us down like bowling pins. Fortunately, I was the lowest one in the line, and all I got was a cut in my leg from the edges of the guy above me. Needless to say, he picked the wrong bunch of guys to hit.

I find the best terrain for safety from poor skiers is crud and moguls of any steepness. It really discourages beginners, and the few that try to ski it fall over before they build up enough speed to be a threat to anyone.

Tom / PM

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 16, 2001 10:04 AM: Message edited 1 time, by PhysicsMan ]</font>
post #3 of 36
It was being run down while teaching my kids on some beginner terrain that encouraged me to seek improvement in my own skiing so I could escape the kamikaze skiers.
post #4 of 36
I am infinitely more terrified on Whiskey Jack at Whistler, an easy Green, than Rock and Roll at Blackcomb, a Blue.
post #5 of 36
Exactly, Kneale Brownson & Lisamarie. This is why I asked the question re Trail classification. I know the LM likes Schoolmarm at Keystone, but I almost always suggest Spring Dipper. It is a blue that is rarely crowded. The pitch does not seem any harder than Schoolmarm, wide open run.

When we take beginners they look a bit fearful "noooo it is a blue" but have not had anyone have problems. SM can get crowded, icy, crud making it much harder than the green sign indicates.

If its crowded with poor conditions I will take a black over green anyday.
post #6 of 36
I've watched GREAT skiers do in ACL's on easy trails because they get lazy, or one of the billion SPORES on that trail decide to ski on your back. Skiing can be hazerdous to your health whether your stareing down Corbets or on the Troll Road. My oppinion is because of the number of people, the condition of the trail, and the relaxed position you put yourself in while skiing it you have a better chance of getting hurt on an easier trail and a difficult one. But now that I say that I'll end up wraping myself around a tree right away and prove myself wrong.
post #7 of 36
My problem has less to do with the type of run (green, blue, black) vs. where the run is located. Ex: Area's that tend to push or funnel all the skiers together as they approach the bottom of the hill; black diamond pitches that empty out onto a green run; intersecting trails, etc. Have had more near misses in those situations than 'open' skiing on any given run.

Then again, unlike most of the skiers on this forum, I haven't hit anybody or been hit by anybody since I took a day and tried snowboarding ten years ago (took out two people and was taken out twice that day!). Ummm, knock on wood (probably just jinxed myself good with that one) :
post #8 of 36
I feel much safer on a green run than I do in the terrain park. What tends to be safer from the standpoint of being hit seems to be at greater risk from the terrain with the exception of the terrain park.
I stand very little chance being hit from behind in moguls, polished by freezing rain/ice but have a great risk of injury.
post #9 of 36
I find that blue runs are the most dangerous, mainly because of you get a mix of all abilities and personalities. You get beginners who are beyond their capabilities and unpredictable, sight seers who stop all over the trail and are oblivous to what is above them(even more unpredictable), your intermediate skiers (probalby the safest) who are dodging the other two groups and then frustrated advanced skiers who want to let it go but can't because of the beginners and sigh seers.
post #10 of 36
with trail difficulty and danger, in regards to people on the trails, i don't fear for my safety on any trails i usually ski. i try to avoid resort areas and ski more rugged ski areas/terrain where the locals are experts and blowing by me when they are only 8 years old. when i go to resort areas, i go on weekends, and usually have those places to myself. i can't even begin to imagine skiing on a crowded ski slope, ARGH!!! i'm not claustrophobic or anything, but i do avoid crowds in regards to skiing. if there are that many people funnelling into a trail, i'll simply pick another trail or find one that is not groomed.

with number of skiiers aside, i'd say risk of injury is reallly dependant on the conditions of the trails. as with a previous post about trail difficulty ratings, greens, blues, and blacks can be variable in difficulty. heck, even beginners would think a green circle to be a black diamond if the groomers didn't break up the occasional new england ice storm that settles onto the trails.
post #11 of 36
Interesting. Now that I think, black and double black runs are pretty safe. Only good skiers on them and not very many. Makes sense.

I know the mountains real well. So, I just don't go where the dorks are. Like at Copper, I love Ore Deal - it's off the Super Bee. But I don't go there till after 3. Oops. Now I'm giving away my secrets. Well, I'll give you one.
post #12 of 36
Yeah, I'd tend to agree with the consensus that I'm safer on the harder runs. Assuming it isn't way out of my ability range.

I just hate those traffic jams. And the greens and blues that are actually pathways across a black are the worst. Sunday River has some real horrors in that regard around Barker base - stuff coming in from every direction.

I think I'd rather do the (unbumped) side of White Heat, a straight shot "no fall zone".

Staying off the bumped side of it, of course, is what I mean by staying within my ability level. Actually the unbumped side is above my comfort level - but at least there aren't crazies coming at you from all over.

The other "unsafe" thing on black trails is the ego-bruising from all the little kids skiing so much better than me. Like all those cute little Italian bambinos who blew past me laughing in the black I did over in Bormio. I'm think I'm glad I didn't know enough Italian to understand what they said as they went by [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #13 of 36
not to turn this into a sunday river post, but you bring up an awesome point very relevent to this discussion. the criss cross trails at sunday river set up HUGE potential for disaster. like '3 mile trail' which is really a traverse over a dozens of real trails. you have beginners trying to ski a longer and generally easier and flatter trail, skiing accross diamonds.

i've seen this at other ski areas, these traverse trails really aren't even necisary, and probably create the most dangerous trail situations on the mountain as slow and fast, expert and beginner collide, literally sometimes.

don't know if i would call anything on white heat 'no fall zone.' hehe, especially not the non-bump side. i've often thought white heat's non-bump side doesn't even dserve a double diamond rating, i usually just fly right down that one. although sunday river definately has some 'no fall terrain.' i remember spruce cliffs being one of my ugliest skiing moments ever, haha.
post #14 of 36
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by PhysicsMan:
Once I was standing at the bottom of a steep pitch with a group of patrollers<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Yeah, standing at the bottom of a steep pitch...my FAVORITE place to stand...
post #15 of 36
South Ridge at Sunday River is so full of gapers that you may be safer on White Heat.
post #16 of 36
Regardless of the particular trail, I feel the safest when I'm the fastest...

post #17 of 36
VK -

> Regardless of the particular trail, I feel
> the safest when I'm the fastest.

We are on the same wavelength, brother. That's exactly what I said in the second message in this thread. Now, we aren't talking stupid-fast, are we?

Tom / PM
post #18 of 36
Seriously, Tom

When I go faster than those around me, I am in control of situation (and I can control the situation better than those around me). I know I won’t be hit from behind and I can avoid skiers in front of me. Some get upset about me passing too close, but hey that is not my problem, I can control my line to a few inches and as my friend used to say regarding collisions (though he was applying it towards cars): “An inch is as good as a mile ”.

As far as stupid-fast speeds… I do not think I reach them on closed race course, leave alone a crowded trail. Though my laid-back cruising speed could be stupid fast for others...

Which brings us back to the theory of relativity...

...hmm... here is another angle to the problem… I can consider all slower moving skiers standing still relative to me... No, man, this whole thread gets me back into a goofy mood pretty quick….

post #19 of 36
VK - Again, you are taking the words right out of my mouth about being in control of the situation, nobody overtaking from the rear, etc. When I am driving, I use exactly the same approach.

The only thing I might differ with you on is intentionally coming close to people. I used to do a lot of that myself, and took pride in the fact that I never once ran into another skier.

Unfortunately, my luck ran out one day when a bunch of slow / stopped skiers all decided simultaneously to do different and unpredictable things right in front of me.

I'm sailing down the edge of an easy blue trail at pretty high speed. The trail is not that crowded, but there are knots of people here and there.

My first problem was a ski school class that was lined up a few feet out from the RH edge of the trail. So as not to ski between them and their instructor or get involved in the heavy traffic in the center of the trail, I decided to go in back of them, between their tails and the woods.

Unfortunately just as I'm entering this narrow passage, one of the novices, without any warning whatsoever, suddenly started to slip backwards towards the trees. By itself, this was not a big deal - I just jumped over his tails.

As I'm dealing with this guy, a few feet further down the trail, a second novice (not in the class, but listening to it) suddenly started to slip forward towards the RH edge of the trail and managed to fall down in my path, right at the edge of the trees. Now, I'm in the air when I see this guy and realize that I need to turn instantly upon my return to ground. I manage to do it and abruptly veer in back of him towards the center of the trail. Unfortunately, now there is a big knot of people right in front of me, all rigidly snowplowing their way down like a bunch of automotons. I still have a way out, but my options are getting real limited. Another 15 feet later, an out-of-control novice that I hadn't seen passes right in front of the crowd of robotic snowplowers, unintentionally heading for the same spot I'm heading. I have no options left, so I make a sharp RHT, head back towards the dense trees, and bail out. I didn't hit anyone, but it took my right knee about 2 seasons to get back to normal after the damage.

I learned a good lesson that day. People (especially newbies) do very unpredictable things, and sometimes they do it all at once.

I still try to go faster than everybody else in these sorts of situations, but I now give myself lots of maneuvering room when I'm threading my way through the slower skiers. I really don't need an injury at my age. Besides, I don't think its very nice to intentionally scare the bejesus out of other people by coming too close to them.

Tom / PM

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 17, 2001 01:09 AM: Message edited 2 times, by PhysicsMan ]</font>
post #20 of 36

Did not mean to give the impression that I cut people off just to scare the it out of them.

I plan my line about 3 turns ahead trying to anticipate everybody's movement. Whenever I can I put as much distance between myself and others, just like you said most novices are unpredictable. If there is no way to keep a clean arc without coming relatively close to someone, I do not sacrifice a turn. Since I am the one taking over, it is my responsibility to assure safety. Two - three feet is plenty of distance in my book and if someone does not think so - tough, I fulfilled my responsibility. Whenever my line is closer than a few yards to another skier, I plan it so that the person I'm passing by is on the inside of my turn:
- easier to keep the "target" in my field of view
- chances of them falling unexpectedly are way higher than those of them picking up speed... thus I'm erring on the safe side
- same goes for the rare chance of me being bitten by a snow snake - I'll be falling away from them

Also I always keep good distance by any standard on blue and green runs (not that you see me there often... lunch run and last run) . That is novices turf and I respect their right to feel safe. However, blacks are my playground.....

The only people I would intentionally "buzz" are snowboarders sitting in the middle of a trail, especially when under a knoll. But that is the whole different topic, that I believe was already covered.


PS: I'm a proponent of aggressive driving myself - defensive one dulls my senses and puts me to sleep, which is way more dangerous :
post #21 of 36
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by VK:
The only people I would intentionally "buzz" are snowboarders sitting in the middle of a trail, especially when under a knoll.


PS: I'm a proponent of aggressive driving myself - defensive one dulls my senses and puts me to sleep, which is way more dangerous :

Ah, another Bostonian with well-honed aggressive driving technique. I'm in good company! I totally agree that slow and defensive driving is a snooze-inducing bore. "Keep 3 seconds between you and the car in front" Bah! I'd rather blow past the car in front so that there's nobody right around me who might react stupidly.

In terms of skiing, I'm not as good as you VK, (see my comment about non-bumped side of White Heat being a "no-fall" zone and riverc0il's response - yeah I know it isn't really that hard but leave my non-quite-advanced-yet ego-boo please!) but I know what you mean about going close to people while you're totally in control. I'm doing it at a lower level, but I will make turns close to lower/slower skiers, if I've safely predicted my line and have a backout plan. Hopefully not as serious as PM's backout over-under-and through the woods knee-biter plan!

Totally agree with buzzing the sitting snowboarders when they're camping out in the middle of the trail. I've been known to yell out "Whee! Boarder Bowling time!" just before I turn to miss them.
post #22 of 36
I would have to go with the Blue runs being the most dangerous, as was sited before, you have a mix of all different abilities and speed on the same hill. A shining example of this is Cramner at Winter Park, everyone and there brother is on the run on a Saturday. I will see 5-10 people brought down in sleds on any given weekend from there. When I am over at the Jane, I rarely see any patrol, unless they are setting ropes, or marking rocks, and if anyone knows the area knows that MJ is 80% black runs. It is this first hand experience that I has made me think this way, In general, I feel that black runs are safer, but when an injury occurs, they tend to be much more serious, on blue runs, the may not be as severe, but happen with far greater frequency.
post #23 of 36
There is definetly a difference in the danger level on diamond trails like "White Heat" and other black diamond/expert trails less accesable to the general novice. White Heat can look RTE. 128 at rush hour. I avoid that trail like the plague just because it is easy to get to and everyone wants to say they skied it when they go home and talk to their buddies about the weekend. Nothing wrong with that but it makes that trail or that type of trail whether there is a bail out option or not more dangerous
post #24 of 36
I think the answer[ I don't even know why I am spending the time to do this other than the initial premiss of the thread ]is: Risk Assessment.
The steeper and more difficult the run the less people and the chance that others will be able to avoid hitting you.
Of course if your skills aren't up to the run, then it is more dangerous.

All this assumes excellent visibility, because there have been times when bottom of the mountain green runs have been more risky, because of fog, than more advanced runs above clouds. :

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 17, 2001 07:58 AM: Message edited 1 time, by wink ]</font>
post #25 of 36
I think the blacks have gotten more dangerous in the last few years.

I like bump runs and ski them almost exclusively when I'm skiing alone. 6 years ago, before I took a 3 year break from skiing, I rarely, if EVER saw someone on a bump run who didn't belong there. I would share the run with accomplished bumpers or serious learners who were working on technique. The worst thing I can remember seeing was the typical snowboarder in over his head and side-slipping down the back of every bump (thanks, DORK, that's great for the lines!).

Upon returning to the mountains 3 years ago, I was shocked at the number of people I saw trying to ski the bumps when they could barely survive a groomed blue. I distinctly remember one bump run at Winter Park where there were, quite literally, more people standing on a bump putting their skis back on than there were skiing.

I mentioned this to a patroller on a lift ride and he explained the change quite matter-of-factly. According to him, the marketing folks had done such a good job convincing skiers that the new shaped skis would immediately make them ski like gods that people were jumping onto runs that are MUCH too hard for them.

Sounded good to me!
post #26 of 36
> Since I am the one taking over, it is my
> responsibility to assure safety ...
> Whenever my line is closer than a few
> yards to another skier, I plan it so that
> the person I'm passing by is on the inside
> of my turn:
> - easier to keep the "target" in my field of view
> - chances of them falling unexpectedly are way higher than
> those of them picking up speed... thus I'm erring on the safe side
> - same goes for the rare chance of me being bitten by
> a snow snake - I'll be falling away from them ...

Real Good Stuff, VK

Here's a couple more things I do:

1) Try to pass to their rear, but not cut it real close (just in case they decide to sit down). This scares people much less than passing directly in front of them.

2) If they have any rhythm to their turns at all, I plan my pass so that I'll go straight down the fall line in back of them immediatly after they make a turn. Often, they won't even notice that someone just passed them.

Reason #1: You never have to worry about a novice making two turns in quick succession [img]smile.gif[/img] , and there's no way for them to suddenly start backing up since they are already in motion. (This was the big error I made in my knee injury story: Stopped people CAN suddenly start going backwards.)

Reason #2: I want to put as much distance between me and them as quickly as possible. This is exactly the same reason I don't linger when I'm passing someone on the hwy.

Tom / PM
post #27 of 36
Physics Man,

Some great ideasmabout avoiding a collsion.

With snowboarders especialy if their toes are pointd downhill [ huge uphill blindspot,], I let them know which side I am passing on.

On catwalks, I also let them know where I am. I do this, to see how they react, and then pass if they are still in control.

It's just like driving. You have to assume that the unexpected will happen, or someone is going to do something stupid.
post #28 of 36
I don't know what I'll do if I ever ski some place like you guys are describing.
I just don't know.
Some runs on Turner you would have to wait probably a half of an hour for anyone else to come down it. That's some.
MOST would take 1 hour to 2 hours. There are some areas that see 4-20 skiers per day. maximum.
traffic while skiing? No thanks, man.

post #29 of 36
I had the exact same thought last year. I think its an amazing irony that the absolutly nastiest snow conditions and crowds are always "reserved" for beginners.

I can't think of how many times I'm having an absolutly beautiful day of skiing, sun shining, perfect snow, and along the way travelling back down the mountain or moving across it, end up in some god-forsaken gully full of beginners, nasty ice and/or slush, with good and not so good skiers dropping through it at high speed just to get the hell out of it. :

Its a wonder any beginers ever come back! When I ski with people who are learning, I try to get them a little bit off the beaten path, still gentle, but not insanely busy. To the instructor who does the same, good for you! They might have a chance to expereince what skiing is _really_ like.

If we look to why more people aren't taking up the sport, that simple thing might be a big part of the problem -- maybe resort management should take a much closer look at this? Slow zones, etc.. are not enough -- Perhaps beginers need more and better terain. Putting all of their runs at the base of the mountain and in primary pathways does not seem to be the way to do it.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 18, 2001 03:29 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Lodro ]</font>
post #30 of 36
Lodro, you bring up a real good point. As one who first skiied after turning 40, it was really difficult to overcome the fear of incompetence that I had left behind in some (not all, I fear) parts of life and keep going. I am forever grateful to some really understanding instructors who know how to deal with adults, who after all actually embarrass a lot easier than kids, and to the existence of uncrowded runs they knew about to build up confidence while learning. Now when I run across that crowd of students or that terrified snowplow on a steep run, I try to stifle the urge to slide past three feet away in a hurry ( how many of you can remember how scary that is?)and to remember that those folks are the future. If the resorts don't find ways to make them enjoy their time, and keep herding them onto the places everyone else needs to cross, there won't be enough volume to keep the lifts running or to maintain the unbelievably rich smorgasbord of equipment choices that you all debate in my favorite forum here.

And after having hiked for turns a few times in Colorado when the lifts went down, it's overrated after you hit a certain age.

Having said that, I admit that I avoid the areas I know the learners frequent, especially the ones that "friends" use to teach their buddies. So I guess I think the easiest blue runs are the most risky.

BTW, as a voyueur here for 2+years, thanks for all you guys have said. It makes the time from May to Thanksgiving bearable.
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