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How young is too young?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

 The 'Pushing your kid too hard' thread inspired this question.

 

How young is too young?

 

How old should a child be before bringing them into the dangers of extreme backcountry or sidecountry?

 

Instead of the obvious 'When they are ready', what would be the age?

 

 

 

My own personal opinion is not before 14 years old. I don't care how good they are, there is no way anyone younger than 14 is that good or should be in the elements of extreme terrain, 30' - 80' cliffs and steep chutes.

 

Just my opinion, what do you think?

post #2 of 24

Isn't it Alpinedad who had a signature that said,

you know your kid is ready to ski when the baby sitter cancels and its  a powder day. 

post #3 of 24

I would say 13, and it's not a matter of how skilled they are.

I believe I was, and my children were/are old enough to make their own decisions by then.  Of course if your kids were brought up by the electronic baby sitter, or were overprotected and not brought along gradually to that point, or were not brought up properly for some other reason, they might not be ready to make their own decisions.

And then there are some people who are never mature enough to make sound life or death decisions.

post #4 of 24

You need to understand that steeps, extreme, bc with slide risk and bc with no slide risk are all different things.  A lot of people on here seem to get their "vision" of these things only from ski flicks and lump them together.  BC with slide risk, you might be surprised to hear I more or less agree with you, sort of like when you think a kid is old enought to hunt.  But you can take a very young child on a mellow, safe bc tour if you're mindful of all the exposure issues, keep it fun, etc.  Steeps are different from extreme terrain, too. 

post #5 of 24

I agree with the OP to a degree. A minimum evaluation of maturity/skills is  a good idea.

Baby sitter cancelling and a powder day scenario is based on the parents desire, not the childs ability. Though I know you were being light hearted Trekchick.

 

After reading the book about the son of the extreme skier who died and was egged on to go to the couloir to be filmed for a ski movie ( at the age of 15) at the same spot, I gave this some thought.

 

IMO, that young man was not ready to ski that terrain either by ability ( he had to have intensive coaching to do the skiing required. Had no previous experience in that type of terrain) or emotionally.

 

We, as adults, need to be very careful that we are not egging our children on to do things WE WANT TO DO!.

Encouraging them to acquire the skills for challenging themselves (and which make parents pray for their safety, even if they are atheists), is a different subject.

 

So, I would ask the OP to further define his query. Is he referring to young skiers eager to expand their skills to the next level, no matter what their age ??? or is he theorizing that there is a minimum age at which skill levels and maturity possibly intersect?

 

A very interesting debate, for sure. I am not sure there is any definitive answer, but the conversation could be enlightening.

 

 

post #6 of 24

Having just turned 14 two weeks ago, I regularly ski by myself on vacations out west/to Europe on 40+ degree stuff and 10-15 foot drops.

 

I feel that as far as cliffs go, 20-25 should be max or else serious injury could be involved. And steeps, 50 degree max or else you could fall down the entire slope in a fall.

 

So I was in Kitzbuhel skiing this gladed 40-45 degree chute with fresh tracks to the side of the Barenbodkogel chair with a friend. He's busy joking around when I'm serious as any fall besides a light fall (just losing balance and having your hip hit the upper slope) would result in a nasty fall. And such, I feel that he is putting himself in danger by skiing steep, narrow terrain with a few trees and fooling around. So I say, "_____, get serious! I'm pretty sure a fall would hurt." Dumbassly, he says "yeaaa... sure...." and on the next turn while supposedly saying (as he interprets of the story) "So after skiing we will..." and skis cross, falls down, skis go under the meter freshies and falls just 50 ft down the slope and 10 ft in front of a tree. Nice one.

 

And I'm not saying all kids are ignorant idiots. Just that, well, what I learned was that skiing with friends that you know won't get serious in major situations like this are not the ones to put your kid skiing alone with. This resulted me in skiing all the extreme stuff by myself for the rest of the week, as he would chicken out and I wouldn't want him getting hurt and/or distracting ME. He clearly did not also know the dangers of skiing a steep slope as such, even though he claimed beforehand to say "Let's do this!" (He is also a better boarder than skier, and this was the one of two days in the week that he skied and he could have easily tackled this on board)

 

So what I think is it depends on how you're kid is doing. I know a danger of falling, but does your kid? Steep results in big falls. Big falls result in injury. And if you haven't figured it out, injury is not good.

 

And I should have never been allowed to do this last year. When I was 12, I headed into Mott Canyon @ Heavenly with my sister (during the period of 3 weeks with no snowfall). First time really skiing out west (JH as a lower intermediate doesn't really count... that was also 5 years beforehand). First real steep skiing (steepest beforehand was about high 30 degrees pitches, but Mott Canyon is 37 degrees over 1k vertical about).I  had never seen steeper. Like the fall line escaped before me. Anyways, me and my sister attack the line under the lift. We didn't fall once. Felt great to be skiing our first sense of steep. But then we tried more on the ridge to skier's left of the canyon. Here, a 4-5 ft cornice developed. Somehow, our first cornice was dropped with just a minor fall by both of us onto our sides. Hugh. But then on that first turn, my sister messed up, and fell 200 something feet down the slope. Mott Canyon has trees and rocks and other dangerous hazards. She was okay, except with a small cut on her thumb from trying to stop herself. Another skier quickly skied over to her to see if she was OK. She was okay, but that was the scariest thing that happened. That was the realization that bad things happen out there. She was lucky she didn't break anything, or hit a tree and suffer a concussion or worse.

 

Now, so it depends on exactly how your kid is. He should understand the danger of having a fall on steep terrain. I would have definitely been more careful if I knew that falling in Motts would be this bad and same with my friend in Kitz. On the east coast, a fall is a fall. On 40 degree double black slopes, a fall isn't good. And the steeper, the deadlier.

 

And to fully grasp this understandment, I'd say what I said in the start.

 

 

 

Oh, and question: How old is the youngest person to ski Corbets?

post #7 of 24
Quote:

 the dangers of extreme backcountry or sidecountry?

The question, as asked, isn't about ordinary backcountry or off-piste skiing, but dangerous and extreme backcountry.

 

I'd say, without good supervision, no kid under 18 should be placed in a situation in which his decisions will expose him to significant danger. Kids under that age simply do not have either

(i) the experience or

(ii) the actual, physical development of the brain

to be responsible in life-or-death (or, to be slightly less dramatic, significant-injury-or-death) situations. The second factor can't be cured by how they're brought up or educated. A 14-year-old's brain simply hasn't matured to the point that he's capable of making sound in-the-moment decisions.

 

With supervision that's sufficiently effective for the level of danger, you should be fine, perhaps from around 14, though possibly younger for some kids. There are, in my mind, two factors:

- How good is the supervisor?

- How good is the kid about heeding the supervisor?

 

The first, obviously, doesn't really have anything to do with the kid. If you're the supervisor, you'd better have a made clear-headed, non-optimistic evaluation of your own skills. The second is age-dependent, though very kid-dependent too and also, unfortunately, supervisor-dependent.

post #8 of 24

I do not think I have the right to decide for someone else that they should put their life in jeopardy for a little fun.  That is a decision they have to make for themselves.  If they are not competent to make their own decision and it falls to me to decide, I will decide for them that they should not put their life in jeopardy.

 

Tell me more about this physical brain difference. 

 

Let's do a little thought experiment.

Supposing your kid came into a pile of his or her own money somehow.  At what age would you respect their decision to go out and buy a steet-legal race bike with lights.

post #9 of 24


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sjjohnston View Post

 

The question, as asked, isn't about ordinary backcountry or off-piste skiing, but dangerous and extreme backcountry.

This is an outgrowth of a thread centering on the Palisades.  The question that starts this thread, as asked, seems to also view steep chutes, 30-80 foot cliffs, and extreme terrain as all the same thing.  To understand why the answer is "it depends" you have to address why those are not synonymous.  Even taking drops, many people on here seem to focus almost entirely on the height of the drop, not on the transition and runout; they don't understand that a 6' boulder-hop to icy flat landing can be more dangerous than a 25' drop to a steep, soft landing.  There've likewise been past threads on here, for instance one focusing on the Big Sky ESA, where people seemed to confuse steep, controlled inbounds terrain with backcountry, and to not know nor understand even once it was laid out for them that the vast majority of backcountry users dial subjective risk back relative to inbounds terrain both because of the objective natural hazards present and because of the distance from rescue. 

 

If this thread is solely about noncontrolled, fall-you-die terrain outside of resort boundaries, then 14 at a minimum (though even for that terrain there have been people younger to do it).

post #10 of 24
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sjjohnston View Post

 

The question, as asked, isn't about ordinary backcountry or off-piste skiing, but dangerous and extreme backcountry.

 

 

Exactly, for sake of argument on exact locations and what qualifies 'extreme', lets say anything off groomers that poses an above average threat to bodily injury and/or would be advanced/expert terrain, difficult for most adults.

 

This stems from a dad pushing his 9 year old to attempt a steep chute with 30 - 80' cliffs in the area, that thread topic was about how far do you push your kids, the little girl was screaming in terror.

 

That thread raised a question in my mind, should ANY 9 year old irregardless of skill level, even be in the situation, not of terror (That's pretty obvious), but the environment of expert off piste terrain?

 

If I'm beating a dead horse, I apologize, I thought it would be a good topic to explore.

post #11 of 24


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jag View Post

 

 

 

Exactly, for sake of argument on exact locations and what qualifies 'extreme', lets say anything off groomers that poses an above average threat to bodily injury and/or would be advanced/expert terrain, difficult for most adults...


 

Ok.  Look at it this way.  There are 12-year old kids competing in the junior division of freeskiing comps.  They didn't start ripping at that level at the age of 12 while having spent their prior ski lives on groomers.  They are also not typical kids; they are definitely better than 97% of posters here.

 

Ask yourself:  do you ski (or ride) this terrain?  Do you understand this terrain -- and if so, why do you think that advanced/expert off-piste terrain meets a "normal," real-world definition of extreme?  Do you understand why having an 80' cliff "in the area" says nothing about a specific line?  Do you understand how much of a "good" resort qualifies as "expert off-piste terrain?"  Let people who can answer yes to those questions decide what's right for the kids they deem ready for some of that terrain.  Trust me, by using that broad a definition you are saying in essence that if someone's kid is a good skier they shouldn't be ablt to ski Dick's Ditch @Jackson or lots of other really fun terrain.  You would be cutting off a huge portion of a mountain to them because of your lack of understanding.

 

 


Edited by CTKook - 4/1/2009 at 03:21 pm


Edited by CTKook - 4/1/2009 at 03:22 pm
post #12 of 24

I'd say no kid under 10 (or any age for that matter)  is "ready" mentally and physically  for any terrain that they are deftly terrified of.  Any adult that tries to make them do it anyway is a complete a-hole...even if the kid can really ski like Plake. 

post #13 of 24

This question (youngest Corbett) sets the stage for poor judgement, as it pushes people (young skiers and their parents) for external reasons.
 

I read your accounts with interest, as you are at the transition age.
 

It all points out that skills on the skis are important, but judgement trumps that totally.

 

I look for signs of mountain maturity in my son:

>willingness to understand avi dynamics on the mountain, and buddie systems for watching each other.

>attention to detail in gear.

>physical strength training involvement.

>respect for the mountain and the run, understanding consequences

>strong skiing, ie: make a strong turn where you commit to it, ski in control (know speed control turns) in any condition, read the line and the snow.

 

As maturity varies, there is no given age, but the transition to being a real mountain soul skier probably occurs between 12 and 16.  

 

Originally Posted by skiking4 View Post

 

snip....... 

 

Oh, and question: How old is the youngest person to ski Corbets?

regarding the specifics on pushing your kid: the difficulty of that line was that it involved a minimum air in of 30+ ft. The landing was firm chalk. The lip was glare ice. The average pitch near the top is over 50 degrees.The runout was cut/set up pow/chalk. The exposure is a steep slide of 200 ft. There exist conditions that generally require a high level of physical strength, even power, that a young kid just doesn't posess.
 


Edited by davluri - 4/1/2009 at 03:35 pm


Edited by davluri - 4/1/2009 at 03:42 pm
post #14 of 24
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CTKook View Post

 

Ok.  Look at it this way.  There are 14-year old kids competing in the junior division of freeskiing comps.  They didn't start ripping at that level at the age of 14 while have spent their prior ski lives on groomers.  They are also not typical 14-year olds; they are definitely better than 97% of posters here.

 

Ask yourself:  do you ski (or ride) this terrain?  Do you understand this terrain -- and if so, why do you think that advanced/expert off-piste terrain meets a "normal," real-world definition of extreme?  Do you understand why having an 80' cliff "in the area" says nothing about a specific line?  Do you understand how much of a "good" resort qualifies as "expert off-piste terrain?"  Let people who can answer yes to those questions decide what's right for the kids they deem ready for some of that terrain.  Trust me, by using that broad a definition you are saying in essence that if someone's kid is a good skier they shouldn't be ablt to ski Dick's Ditch @Jackson or lots of other really fun terrain.  You would be cutting off a huge portion of a mountain to them because of your lack of understanding.

 

 

Well, when you put it that way...

 

Still, I think nine is to young, just my opinion judged on my lack of understanding danger.

 

post #15 of 24


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jag View Post

 

 

 

Well, when you put it that way...

 

Still, I think nine is to young, just my opinion judged on my lack of understanding danger.

 


 

That's cool.  Your 9 year old should listen to you and ski where you judge appropriate. 

 

Other people's 9 year olds should be able to ski on terrain others deem suitable. 

 

I also did bust your chops a bit on the "extreme backcountry or sidecountry" thing in this thread.  In fairness to you, on this forum the definiton of those terms does, very oddly, get used to define inbounds, non-extreme terrain a lot.  Just realize that the real-world usage is different.   

post #16 of 24


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri View Post

 

...regarding the specifics on pushing your kid: the difficulty of that line was that it involved a minimum air in of 30+ ft. The landing was firm chalk. The lip was glare ice. The average pitch near the top is over 50 degrees.The runout was cut/set up pow/chalk. The exposure is a steep slide of 200 ft. There exist conditions that generally require a high level of physical strength, even power, that a young kid just doesn't posess.
 


Edited by davluri - 4/1/2009 at 03:35 pm


Edited by davluri - 4/1/2009 at 03:42 pm


 

Given your description of the snow conditions that day I'd agree with you, for that day.  (You know that the average pitch near the top actually lessens forces, not increases them, of course, but others may not.) 

 

Generalizing from what may have been a bad scene -- and you didn't check in with Dad, even though you implied you'd at least seen Dad and kid around, so you may not have the full picture -- to say that kids should have some sort of "terrain-limiter" attached to them figuratively speaking that keeps them off  "extreme backcountry and sidecountry" terrain that might be off of groomers is something different.       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

post #17 of 24

Hmmmm.

 

This is an interesting topic.

 

Like many of our other arguments/discussions here on Epic, the heart of the question lies in the definitions.  I think Jag's original question is a little ambivalent - he asks about appropriate ages for "extreme backcountry or sidecountry", but I'm not exactly sure what he means by that. 

 

Here in Jackson Hole, there's a huge amount of sidecountry and backcountry skiing but in my own opinion only a pretty small percentage of that available terrain is what I would call "extreme".  To me, "extreme" essentially means that if you fall you could die. 

 

So, if *that* is the definition that Jag is using as well, then I think you can pretty much take the "age" component out of the equation entirely.  No *person* should be in that kind of terrain unless they have the skills and the judgement to ski it safely - doesn't matter how old they are.

 

On the other hand, if what Jag means by "extreme backcountry or sidecountry" is simply steep and difficult terrain outside the boundaries of a ski area, then the discussion changes entirely. 

 

I don't have kids, but I *have* guided and instructed lots of them over a lot of years.  I've guided many, many teenagers and even pre-teens into Jackson Hole's out-of-bounds areas.  They may not have had the *judgement* skills (or experience) to pick a safe line during serious avalanche conditions, but they definitely had the *skiing* skills to ski very difficult lines once the lines were pointed out to them.

 

As CTKook has correctly pointed out, some of these kids today are skiing very serious stuff before they're even ten years old, and they're skiing it safely.  Our local junior ski club has a freeriding team that has some of the hottest little ten-year-olds you've ever seen.  Would *I* let a ten-year-old loose in Jackson Hole's backcountry?  No.  But I *would* take a ten-year-old along to ski a 40-degree chute if I already knew the he/she had the skills to ski it.

 

My eyes were utterly opened on this subject only about two months ago when I skied with Epic Skier Eug and his 8-year-old son.  First off, Eug is an extremely good skier and his son is a classic prodigy.  The kid could ski almost anywhere (see photos below).  What impressed me most about the kid, however, was his AWARENESS of what was going on around him.  I took father and son into our backcountry and the kid amazed me by pointing out recent fracture lines on the slopes around us, changes in snow texture and consistency, and he was even smart enough about aspect to make predictions on which choices below us were likely to produce the better skiing.

 

Admittedly, this kid stands out.  He's the youngest kid I've ever personally seen with such a outstanding combination of strong skiing skills, great attitude, and snow awareness.  I can't wait to ski with this kid again in three or four years!

 

I guess I'm just saying that there's no way to draw an arbitrary age line and expect it to mean anything.  Plenty of adults ski places they have no business being.

 

Here are some shots of the kid.  I posted these in a TR a couple of months ago:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

post #18 of 24

As sometimes happens, this thread seems to be devolving into a discussion of what he question is (or what it should be, why, what that says about the world and the person who posted it or an opinion on the subject, etc.).

 

There are at least three separate ways to come at the "extreme" angle, at least in relation to kids.

 

Extreme = dangerous

That's how I interpreted it, based in part on the presence of the word "danger" in the original post. "Dangerous" can mean something short of "if you fall you die," though certainly that must fit anyone's concept of what's dangerous! More like, "If you make an ill-advised choice between immediate thrill and the consequences thereof, you may be seriously injured, or even die." That is the case in a fair amount of backcountry skiing situations, if only because of avalanche danger.

 

In that case, I'll stick by my answer, that such situations aren't appropriate for anyone under 18, unless effectively supervised, where the effectiveness of the supervision needs to be evaluated both in light of the ability of the supervisor and the willingness of the kid to be supervised by that particular person.

 

Extreme = difficult to ski

Lots of stuff that's not at all dangerous is difficult to ski, or at least difficult to ski with anything approaching reasonable grace. A narrow, steep run in lousy snow conditions is tough to ski, but if there's a runout it doesn't really pose any danger that's not present in any skiing. It might even pose less.

 

No problem with a kid of any age doing this, at least so long as he wants to and it's not so over his head that you're going to wind having to carry him. The only big worry is whether you're going to traumatize the poor kid into thinking he's completely incompetent.

 

Extreme = subjectively scary

Maybe this was implicit in the original question, due to its relationship to an earlier threa I haven't read.

 

Of course, lots of things that are very scary - at least to kids - aren't really dangerous. Roller coasters, for example. On this one, it just depends on the kid, your relationship with him, and how well you understand him. On the one hand, you really can traumatize a young kid here, just as you could by forcing him to watch "Eraserhead" or "The Shining." On the other, kids (some, anyway) do sometimes need a push to overcome fears that are well overcome.

post #19 of 24

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jag View Post

 

How young is too young?

 

I think the standard rule is half your age plus seven years, right?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jag View Post

 

How old should a child be before bringing them into the dangers of extreme backcountry or sidecountry?

 

Instead of the obvious 'When they are ready', what would be the age?

 

OHHHHH!!!!

 

Yeah, when they're ready.  And that age varies from kid to kid.  It even varies among my own.

 

Sorry -- as in much of life, there are no easy answers.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CTKook View Post

 

Even taking drops, many people on here seem to focus almost entirely on the height of the drop, not on the transition and runout; they don't understand that a 6' boulder-hop to icy flat landing can be more dangerous than a 25' drop to a steep, soft landing.

 

Bingo.  And a kid who does know that -- and demonstrates a history of making the right decisions as a result -- is far more ready to face it than an adult who doesn't.

 

Both of my eight-year-old twins like hucking off stuff.  One is more interested in doing more "extreme" hucks than the other.  But for every single drop, he asks me first, and then if I say he can, he asks me to scope and describe the landing, and vets his planned speed and direction.  He has also shown himself to be acutely aware of obstacles and changing conditions, and to adapt accordingly.  I'm actually more comfortable with him taking the big drops than the other one -- or their 11-year-old sister -- taking the small ones.

 

post #20 of 24
Thread Starter 

Guess I didn't think a descriptive word like 'extreme' would be so controversial.

 

I always interpret the word as meaning above the highest level, or in this case, above expert terrain where life safety would be a large factor. thought it was obvious.

 

So, I goggled it...and this is what I found:

 

Quote:

Wikipedia

 

Extreme sports is a media term for certain activities perceived as having a high level of inherent danger

 

 

Quote:

Dictionary.com

 

 

ex⋅treme

 

Chiefly Sportsextremely dangerous or difficult: extreme skiing.

 

 

 
Although there are many interpretations of the word, I thought the reference in this case was pretty self explanatory given I listed terrain features in the description, I can see how someone could pick it apart if they so inclined.
 
BTW, awesome kid stoke pics!

 

post #21 of 24

No one picked the term apart initially; initially you just were told that steeps, backcountry, and extreme weren't the same thing.   Whatever term you choose to use, though, the central issue is that because you don't understand the terrain you don't understand the safety issues.  That's fine, too, but when on a public forum you misstate those issues and at the same time say that it's inappropriate for kids to do something, that can create the wrong impression of people whose kids may do those things.  There also are a number of related recreational outlets that have already been limited one way or the other out of misguided concern for kids' safety. 

post #22 of 24

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by alpinedad View Post

 

I think the standard rule is half your age plus seven years, right?

 

I was wondering if I was the only one going there with this thread title.

post #23 of 24
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by alpinedad View Post

 

I think the standard rule is half your age plus seven years, right?

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaobrien6 View Post

 

I was wondering if I was the only one going there with this thread title.

 

Can't believe I missed that!

 

 

 

CTKook,

 

I do understand where you are coming from, thank you for bringing light to my judgment, I was looking at one situation and not the picture at large.

 

I do however wish you would stop saying I don't understand the terrain, I may not be Bob Peters, but I'm not exactly from Texas either.

 

 

post #24 of 24

I think the answer is even simpler, the parent make the decision based on what they think the child can do vs. what the child may want to do.  He may want to go down a DBD but is he/she ready?  You may want them to go down a DBD but do they want to?  Come on, be the adult.  I must add that the most dangerous runs on a busy weekend are the Greens & Blues.  I'm an expert skier and when I'm with a beginner on a busy day I try to get them away for the crazy people traveling way to fast when they shouldn't be. 

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