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Big skis = can't ski? - Page 15

post #421 of 437

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post

Big Beacon = Can't Ski?

 

We're back on track!


Yep,  it's that old vision blocking thing.
 

(and before anybody else says it.....there will be no pictures)

 

(OK...done here before I get a time out or banned or something)

post #422 of 437

 Quote:

Originally Posted by crgildart View Post

Big Beacon = Can't Ski?

 

We're back on track!

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Louie View Post

 


Yep,  it's that old vision blocking thing.

 

Really?  Because I thought it was a Pieps Freeride.

 

 

post #423 of 437

Just wanted to make a comment or two about the day I took a bunch of the Gathering folks out of bounds here at Jackson Hole.

 

It's definitely true that I led two different groups of Epic Skiers on a tour of Rock Springs canyon, which is outside the boundaries of the JH ski resort.  It's also true that almost none of them had beacons or shovels, etc. 

 

So... is that an unforgivable breach of backcountry ski practices?  I guess it's a little hard to say.

 

It's important to understand the context.  Our avalanche report (which I check every day) had the hazard listed at low to moderate.  I had skied Rock Springs and the adjoining canyons probably a dozen times in the days prior to the Gathering and I had a very good, firsthand knowledge of what the conditions were likely to be.  So, based on all the available evidence, I felt there was essentially no avalanche danger in general and in particular ON THE ROUTE WE FOLLOWED.

 

Add to that the fact that I spent a bunch of winters actually working as a guide who was paid to take people out-of-bounds skiing at Jackson Hole.  My guiding years were before avalanche beacons were commercially available, so I was trained to assess avalanche risk and essentially avoid terrain that might avalanche. Back then, we were extremely conservative about the terrain and conditions we skied because we knew with almost complete certainty that if somebody in a party got buried, they were likely going to die.  I *still* believe that's the best policy to follow, although I recognize that the envelope is now being pushed far beyond what we would have skied back in the pre-beacon and pre-Avalung days. 

 

Actually, the saga of taking the Gathering groups into Rock Springs is a good example of why I'm so leery of people who make blanket statements about backcountry practices.  Backcountry skiing is all about understanding the conditions and assessing the risks.  If there is no avalanche risk, is it important to have a beacon, probe, and shovel?  On that particular day and that particular route, I felt there was no more inherent risk to skiing the route I chose than there would have been to skiing down an off-piste route within the resort.

 

So, should I have strictly adhered to the no-gear/no-go philosophy? 

 

post #424 of 437
Thread Starter 

The voice of reason.

Quote:

Backcountry skiing is all about understanding the conditions and assessing the risks. 

Being prepared for something that has a million-to-one chance of occurring is taking risk management to the nth degree; and if you take it that far, you probably should not be skiing at all.

post #425 of 437

My own personal opinion is that leadership in the mountains is complex and involves many factors. In the case I rather doubt whether you did anything dangerous (obviously doing just about anything has some element of danger). However you also have to think about how to discuss it on an open forum. Other people with less experience and skill might draw the wrong conclusions.

 

Similar issues occur in many other adventure sports. Is it OK to free climb without a safety rope? Is it OK to SCUBA dive without a buddy? Is it OK to go skating on a lake without full safety equipment if you know the local conditions well? Is it OK to explore a cave without telling someone where you have gone? My answer to all of these questions is "it depends"....

 

The fact of the matter is that the most important piece of equipment out in the mountains is our own judgement. It's also the case that you have to use that judgement on the internet as well as outside.

 

post #426 of 437

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters View Post

...

 

So, should I have strictly adhered to the no-gear/no-go philosophy? 

 


This is like the helmet debate in a way, but with a Pied Piper twist.
 

To repeat, I think the group was safe with you and that as a practical matter, given the conditions as described, the normal risks of skiing far outweighed any slide risk for that day, with you.

 

Relying on the beacon and other gear to keep you safe is also dangerous, as you correctly note; burial recovery stats still aren't good, even now.  The WildSnow blogs on this point ("Mtyh of the warm, fluffy burial" etc.) are spot-on.

 

However, you could have been encouraging, or tolerating, a number of bad practices, and also setting an example that other people who may not understand all the reasons you did what you did would think they could follow.  I'm still not sure if the beacon in the jacket in question was in fact a beacon or a RECCO, for instance, but assuming it's a beacon there's a reason that for most normal folks the recommendation is either harness under at least one layer, or zippered pants pocket.  (If it's a RECCO, then people need to understand the very important differences.)  Obviously you're with friends and didn't want to sweat them on their gear, particularly since you weren't relying on it, but since you were at the same time doing something they shouldn't then try to do themselves maybe the gear and normal practices could have born a bit of discussion.  I think you know that lots of groups go into that terrain with bizarre decisions like 2 beacons and one shovel for a group of 4 in terrain they don't know that well being "enough," and the only difference between those groups and yours was between your ears.  

 

Maybe that discussion happened and just wasn't related yet on here.

 

 

 

post #427 of 437

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hyperkub View Post

...

The fact of the matter is that the most important piece of equipment out in the mountains is our own judgement. It's also the case that you have to use that judgement on the internet as well as outside.

 


said it better than me.
 

post #428 of 437

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post

The only avalanche I ever saw was caused by skiers who traversed and didn't ski the fall line.

 

 

 

 

Why do you keep talking about the fall line??  Do you really think skiing the fall line does anything to prevent avalanches?? 

post #429 of 437
Thread Starter 

Of course skiing the fall-line doesn't prevent avalanches, but crossing slopes can cause avalanches.

 

Here's a sobering thought:

 

Quote:

Often our equipment gives us a false sense of security. Because everyone in the party has beacons, shovels, probes, avalanche air bags, and Avalungs, we tend to cross slopes that we would avoid otherwise. Although impossible to prove, I think you could make an argument that beacons have caused more avalanche deaths than they have saved. Not that I suggest leaving beacons behind, but we need to always ask ourselves if we're willing to cross the slope without them. If not, maybe we shouldn't be there."

 

--Bruce Tremper, p. 265, Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain

post #430 of 437

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Powderhog View Post

 

 

Why do you keep talking about the fall line??  Do you really think skiing the fall line does anything to prevent avalanches?? 


Or before that question... "know the difference between a traverse and a deliberate ski cut?" And other related things to ponder... ;)

 

I'm no gnar gnar skier. Not even close. But even inbounds, there are times and places I make no apology for cutting the crap out of an off-piste entrance or a break -- or even the upper section of an entire pitch. 

post #431 of 437

This thread seems to have gone in so many different directions but after reading the various opinions and comments I must add one more.  First & foremost, "it's a bad athlete who blames his equipment" and it's not the ski it is the skier.  I read a lot of threads for people looking for advice to buy skis that will do everything for them.  Come on, get the most out of the gear you have!  Too many people go out to buy the perfect ski only to find out their skiing hasn't changed... Surprise!!!  What has changed for me is I've went from my 200 Rossi 7S (a great ski) to a 170 Volkl Mantra and work a lot less to have a lot more fun, especially in the powder.  I should note that when I had my last 200 cm ski I was 39 and now I'm 50.  So does this make me a cheater?  I don't think so, after all I worked my 200 7S through a lot of conditions, ice, deep snow, back-country, etc.  But at the end of the day I was a lot more tired!

 

As for our guide at JH who took is group out I must disagree but also agree.  Disagree: I would hate to ski back-country or side-country without transceivers.  Shit happens and it's best to be prepared.  BUT if you're with a group who don't know how to use them than why bother.  After all the transceiver is only as good as the person using it and if they don't know how to use it you'll probably be dead before they find you anyway.  People make an whole career out of risk management, but I never forget that no matter how much you plan, shit does still happen!

post #432 of 437

After being in an Avalanche(s) you tend to get a different outlook on where you go and what you do in the mountains.  Sometimes you never see it coming.

post #433 of 437

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post

 

 

Often our equipment gives us a false sense of security. Because everyone in the party has beacons, shovels, probes, avalanche air bags, and Avalungs, we tend to cross slopes that we would avoid otherwise. Although impossible to prove, I think you could make an argument that beacons have caused more avalanche deaths than they have saved. Not that I suggest leaving beacons behind, but we need to always ask ourselves if we're willing to cross the slope without them. If not, maybe we shouldn't be there."

 

--Bruce Tremper, p. 265, Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain

 

 

My level 1 avalanche instructor had a really good suggestion that relates to the quote above...

 

Carry a beacon with you and turn it off. If you feel that you need to turn it on, reconsider (and probably don't do) what you are about to do. 

 

I know it's not the most politically correct suggestion, but it makes tons of sense.

 

Keeps my nose out of trouble.

post #434 of 437

Absolutism is idiotic.  Even in a ski resort there's a (miniscule) chance that you'll get caught in an avy.  Outside of a ski resort, even when you're only out on low risk days and you observe good travel protocol, there's still a chance that you'll get caught.  Better to have your beacon beeping.  How stupid would you feel buried in an avalanche trying to reach your beacon to turn it on? 

post #435 of 437

Man you all are way too worried, chill!  Toss your complaints, peeps and just shred over their tracks more!

The rugged challenges don't listen to any of that, it's up to the elements, any of you that give all you

have to make a run or a day you never will forget, that's what were liven it for. 

 

Keep snork'in that Pow ya Bridger Bowlers!


 

 

post #436 of 437

Yes indeed, sometimes it feels like a series of linked recoveries!

post #437 of 437

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters View Post

 

So, should I have strictly adhered to the no-gear/no-go philosophy? 

 

As long as the parties involved had at least a basic understanding of the risks involved (as in, skiing isn't sitting at the computer) I can't imagine anyone with a clue questioning your judgment.

 

Reading your post makes me wish I could ski with you.  I'd rather ski with a guy who is assessing risk with years of experience and a calm head than with a guy who is berating people for not having the latest gadgets right before he takes huge risks he isn't even cognizant of.  I've seen that latter type around, and I try to avoid those guys like the plague.  I strongly agree with the idea that I'd rather not be buried and broken at all than be buried and broken wearing a gadget.

 

I'd like to take a look at nolo's use of "one in a million".  FWIW, a common definition of "safe" is something that will kill you once if you give it one billion hours to try.  If I accept skiing being 1000 times more dangerous than "safe", and I manage to ski 40,000 hours in this life, I'll have around a five percent chance of kicking it while skiing.  Sounds good to me.  If we discretize risk into individual decisions, "one in a million" is not a good description of low risk.

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