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  1. #126
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    Nov 2002
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    Re: slope angles

    If it looks fun to ski, it is avalanche terrain

    If it looks like meadow skipping, it is probably <30deg.

    Where an inclinometer is hand is assessing alpha angles it big terrain and exposed routes uphill, IMO.

    But yeah, like Gunder (spagettio barf), I have never used a topo overlay or anything like that. Not to say that it could not be useful but it is far from a requirement for a newby.

    I've actually used this training tool. Pretty cool.
    https://www.ortovox.com/us/safety-ac...y-mountain-3d/

  2. #127
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    May 2007
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    [QUOTE=I've seen black diamonds!;5533525
    I also disagree that 30 degrees and 38 degrees are the same. They're not:
    .[/QUOTE]

    If you are going to make decisions about skiing a slope based upon slope angle, you are going to end up dead. A major problem with all avy classes is way too much time is wasted on book statistics and not real time in the mountains actually evaluating terrain and conditions. Never once in 20 years have I ever seen anyone decide to ski a slope because its only 35 degrees, and not the "book target range" At the end of the day its either steep enough to slide or its not. I dont know of a single avalanche professional that can give you an exact number on any given day based upon conditions.

    Paying attention to what slopes slide often is a great way to develop a base line of what typically slides. Once you have that as a reference its a great place to start looking at your snow test results and then make a decision on what to ski. I.E. I got a very easy sudden result, well then its telling me slopes that are a lot lower angle the the slopes that typically slide in this area are also going to be suspect. If I get a very hard resistant result then its telling me that I need to pay extra attention to slopes that are approaching the steepness of what commonly slides in the area. This same principle still works great anytime I go somewhere new. First thing I do is pay attention to where there are trees or not, or any other signs that give me a clue about what are typical slide paths in the area and make a mental catalog of weather on average those are lower angle or steeper then my home area.

    Even with no rime on trees its still very easy to tell what direction wind came from. I.E. surface snow texture always points into the direction wind came from and with a little experience its pretty damn easy to see where pockets are loaded. Its also pretty easy to tell the typically predominate wind direction by looking at all of the various clues, I.E. where are most the cornices, where are the trees missing branches etc.

  3. #128
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    Dec 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gunder View Post
    If you are going to make decisions about skiing a slope based upon slope angle, you are going to end up dead. A major problem with all avy classes is way too much time is wasted on book statistics and not real time in the mountains actually evaluating terrain and conditions. Never once in 20 years have I ever seen anyone decide to ski a slope because its only 35 degrees, and not the "book target range" At the end of the day its either steep enough to slide or its not.
    I think you're missing his point... That learning to identify what that steep enough angle is... is important. I don't necessarily agree with the poster who said measure "everything" all the time.
    Quote Originally Posted by Downbound Train View Post
    And there will come a day when our ancestors look back...........

  4. #129
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    Nov 2014
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    SLC
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    Measuring to help answer the more-or-less binary question "is this slope capable of sliding?" seems fine and good to me.

    Measuring to correlate the slope angle to a statistical table with the intent of reducing the likelihood of a slope sliding by n%... (eg "well we have a PWL here and 71% of those slides fail on slopes 36-40ļ, so let's step down to 35ļ where only 18% of the slides occur")... that's a big "no thanks" for me anyway.

    I don't think anyone here is advocating for the latter though.

  5. #130
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    Dec 2009
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    Paradise
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    All of the mentioned factors vary upon situational circumstances. I think the savvy BC skier is constantly observing and has a keen sense for adaptability, as well as constantly questioning their own belief system and previous experience.

    I've definitely picked a 35 degree slope over the 38 degree slope in certain situations. Shit, I've even gone with the 50 footer to steeper landing than the 70+ footer to flatter landing on sensitive snow packs. On that particular day that 70 footer was sent shortly after I hit the 50 footer and it resulted in an 8 foot crown climax slide. Sometimes it's just a feel that's hard to explain but if you're out there every day you sort of develop a relationship with the pack and take bigger risks depending on your tolerance.

    That being said, I don't take chances like that anymore, that was 18+ years ago and it seems like a lifetime ago, I'm a very different person and don't care to put myself at risk like that.
    dirtbag, not a dentist

  6. #131
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    Sep 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by PNWbrit View Post
    I think you're missing his point... That learning to identify what that steep enough angle is... is important. I don't necessarily agree with the poster who said measure "everything" all the time.
    Yeah, this is pretty much all I'm saying. You need to learn what is steep enough to slide so you can stay out of or retreat from avy terrain altogether. And to plan tours where this is possible. One way to do this is by measuring a bunch of slope angles in a number of different ways. You don't need to keep doing this for the rest of your life. After a little practice you can eye ball it remarkably well.

    I'm sure as hell not suggesting that on a given day it will be safe to ski something that is 35 degrees vs 38 (although CAIC does have a habit of recommending folks avoid slopes over 35 degree on moderate days, which I find oddly specific). But here, in the land of the persistent deep layer, it is not a coincidence that if you want to ski up high in open terrain in the winter, and your risk tolerance isn't high, you will often find yourself on slopes between 25-28 degrees, i.e. steep enough to build up some momentum, but not steep enough to slide under most conditions.

  7. #132
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    Feb 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by Foggy_Goggles View Post
    Maybe us selfish fucks should consider mentoring part of our responsibility to the sport instead of pointing to the other guy? I think professional avalanche education is important but I do not think of it as comprehensive training for backcountry skiing.
    That is good advice. Sharon and I do that every year to a few noobs and view it as a public service + good karma for all the mentors who passed it down to us. But like someone else said there are so many noobs compared to the experienced. Someone else said hire a guide for a day or a weekend and you can soak up so much knowledge. Split the cost among the group.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunder View Post
    To be perfectly honest I think this advice is totally useless. In 20 years the only time I have ever measured slope angle or pulled out a compass is when I had to on the CAA forms for my Opps 1.
    Not to detract from the social media discussion or the mentorship discussion but one of the most experienced persons I knew at passing along terrain management and terrain reading would teach us by hanging a clinometer around his neck and forcing us to constantly guesstimate slope angles. After a while you start getting good at it. But it was the constant habit of practise that made you good. Anyhow I see that ISBD already clarified as to it being a teaching tool.

  8. #133
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    Sep 2010
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    Does social media overhype avy danger?

    Quote Originally Posted by I've seen black diamonds! View Post
    Yeah, this is pretty much all I'm saying. You need to learn what is steep enough to slide so you can stay out of or retreat from avy terrain altogether. And to plan tours where this is possible. One way to do this is by measuring a bunch of slope angles in a number of different ways. You don't need to keep doing this for the rest of your life. After a little practice you can eye ball it remarkably well.

    I'm sure as hell not suggesting that on a given day it will be safe to ski something that is 35 degrees vs 38 (although CAIC does have a habit of recommending folks avoid slopes over 35 degree on moderate days, which I find oddly specific). But here, in the land of the persistent deep layer, it is not a coincidence that if you want to ski up high in open terrain in the winter, and your risk tolerance isn't high, you will often find yourself on slopes between 25-28 degrees, i.e. steep enough to build up some momentum, but not steep enough to slide under most conditions.
    +1

    A big part of the communication problem here seems to be stemming from location. Being around (deep) persistent slabs for most of the year makes me way more sensitive to slope angle than I ever was in the PNW. If there is a decent enough chance of large destructive avalanches with random trigger points you just avoid avalanche terrain - plain and simple. Otherwise youíre just rolling the dice. That just so happens to be the majority of most ski seasons out here in CO, regardless of wind, sun, layers, etc.

    So yeah, identifying slope angle is a pretty critical skill out here. I do play in microterrain on occasion however, but thats more about risk tolerance than decision making to avoid avalanches.

    It sucks seeing avy incidents shoot through the roof back in the PNW when the Ďrarerí persistent slab problem occurs. But, the train of thought of just simply avoiding avalanche terrain isnít as omnipresent in that community.
    Last edited by Lindahl; 12-18-2018 at 08:49 PM.

  9. #134
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    Sep 2010
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    97
    The difference between CO and WA, besides the nature of the snow and depth of the snowpack, is that we have lots of great skiing in trees that are never subject to slides (that's right, I said never). Other places have mostly alpine terrain, where pretty much any skiing automatically equates to avy exposure, which leads to relying on really weak science (like pits and slope angles). If you want to be an old backcountry skier, leave the guessing out, and just ski them trees whenever there is any significant doubt.

    As for the original point, the answer around here is unquestionably yes; social media consistently overstates the extent (both geographically and as to probability) of the risk, and its duration. NWAC will almost always say it is High across the entire region whenever there is any significant new snow and social media typically treats High as "it's unsafe to go anywhere outside the resort right now". We named our favorite protected run on East Peak "Certain Death" after a clueless Crystal patroller who told us that was what would surely happen if we ventured up there one day, We've skied that zone many times over many years without incident during High forecasts. As for Gunder and Kyle's recent surprises, well, if you are truly avid, you will eventually discover the reality of spatial variability. I do not view either of them as having made any obviously bad decisions, but their risk tolerance is probably closer to mine than most of the pundits on social media.

  10. #135
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    Nov 2006
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    colorady
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wapow View Post
    The difference between CO and WA, besides the nature of the snow and depth of the snowpack, is that we have lots of great skiing in trees that are never subject to slides (that's right, I said never). Other places have mostly alpine terrain, where pretty much any skiing automatically equates to avy exposure, which leads to relying on really weak science (like pits and slope angles). If you want to be an old backcountry skier, leave the guessing out, and just ski them trees whenever there is any significant doubt.

    As for the original point, the answer around here is unquestionably yes; social media consistently overstates the extent (both geographically and as to probability) of the risk, and its duration. NWAC will almost always say it is High across the entire region whenever there is any significant new snow and social media typically treats High as "it's unsafe to go anywhere outside the resort right now". We named our favorite protected run on East Peak "Certain Death" after a clueless Crystal patroller who told us that was what would surely happen if we ventured up there one day, We've skied that zone many times over many years without incident during High forecasts. As for Gunder and Kyle's recent surprises, well, if you are truly avid, you will eventually discover the reality of spatial variability. I do not view either of them as having made any obviously bad decisions, but their risk tolerance is probably closer to mine than most of the pundits on social media.
    I was pushed into a tree well by an inbounds slide at Mt Baker once and would have died without a partner finding me. Two totally different dynamics of snowpack, Iíll give ya that, but trees arenít safer in the PNW.

  11. #136
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    Quote Originally Posted by flowing alpy View Post
    yeah, heíll talk about it till oneís blue in the face
    Heís social media IRL.

  12. #137
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    Quote Originally Posted by ULLRismyco-pilot View Post
    I was pushed into a tree well by an inbounds slide at Mt Baker once and would have died without a partner finding me. Two totally different dynamics of snowpack, Iíll give ya that, but trees arenít safer in the PNW.
    yikes. glad you made it.

  13. #138
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    Dec 2015
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    well i just read stuff and haven't done any touring yet but i can say that the first thing that i have always considered a given when i start is that i will not venture to areas steep enough to slide. it seems like the obvious way to eliminate most of the risk.

  14. #139
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    Sep 2010
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    WA
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    I took a 5-day AST2+ class from Colwest out of Kamloops, BC last winter and it was outstanding: every single day was tour planning, touring, and assessment of the day including weather, forecasting hazard, etc etc. Did some snow science, pits, companion rescue, first aid, but just a bit each day; not a shit ton. The focus is on how to manage terrain and conditions, not diagram pits all fucking day, which is why I specifically took this class and not one in the US. 2 guides, stayed in a hut, tons of 1x1 and group feedback. Best class Iíve ever taken by a long shot. Way more practical and less academic. Picked up a ton of things I use all the time. PM me if you want more details.

  15. #140
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    Oct 2004
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    50 miles E of Paradise
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    Quote Originally Posted by ULLRismyco-pilot View Post
    I was pushed into a tree well by an inbounds slide at Mt Baker once and would have died without a partner finding me. Two totally different dynamics of snowpack, Iíll give ya that, but trees arenít safer in the PNW.
    Yup. Tree wells are their own special hazard in the PNW. More like another way to get your shit fucked up rather than some safe place
    Check Out Ullr's Mobile Avalanche Safety Tools for iOS and Android
    www.ullrlabs.com

  16. #141
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    May 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wapow View Post

    As for Gunder and Kyle's recent surprises, well, if you are truly avid, you will eventually discover the reality of spatial variability. I do not view either of them as having made any obviously bad decisions, but their risk tolerance is probably closer to mine than most of the pundits on social media.
    My risk tolerance is actually quite low. Especially compared to what it was 20 years ago. Loosing as many friends as I have to the mountains over the years will do that to you. Plus Iím in a position where if I tell a client it was too dangerous they trust me. If I told them that 20 years ago Iíd be out a job. Thankfully that culture had changed.

    At the end of the day a lot of comes down to exposure time. Iíve actually had very few close calls over the last 20 years especially when you consider how many more days I am on snow then your average weekend warrior. I.E. my yearly average has probably been around 150-200 days a year on snow over the last 20+ years. So thatís just a lot of time out. At some point you are going to make a mistake. So my thought is to do everything possible to limit mistakes and then be as prepared as possible for when they eventually happen. I feel this last close call was just a fluke accident. You just donít expect an inbounds run to slide after significant avalanche control work.

  17. #142
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    Dec 2011
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gunder View Post
    My risk tolerance is actually quite low. Especially compared to what it was 20 years ago. Loosing as many friends as I have to the mountains over the years will do that to you.
    Man can I relate to this.

    I had a lot of 100 to 130 day years. A lot.

    I can't imagine 20+ years of 150 to 200 day years.

    But I've lost a lot of friends and acquaintances. A lot.

    I actually swore off the bc for about a decade because of it.
    Quote Originally Posted by XXX-er View Post
    the situation strikes me as WAY too much drama at this point

  18. #143
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    Jan 2011
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    Alta
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    458
    You certainly don't. But I spent a long soul crushing time probing for a girl who was died at snowbird in bounds after extensive control work. And while I'm sure some people skied some steep stuff in the backcountry that day. It taught me that even the most controlled slopes, being controlled by the best patrollers can be dangerous. In the end for me I have one simple rule. I never fuck with persistent weak layers and deep slabs. And every time I mention it to a professional avie person or avid BC skier I get the same awnser. You'll live to ski more that way. In the past I was more likely to take risks. But my philosophy has changed to have more fun for me time . Still down to send big lines and big air but have the patience to wait for things to line up. For me, I ski in the BC when my worries are only about newly deposited snow or changing temps. Simple as that. I don't judge those who have a higher danger threshold not should they judge those whose threshold is lesser. In the end is all about having fun and coming home safe. Terrain selection is your friend and good partners are to. It's a big picture process and each group must paint their own picture. Over hyped or not. I've yet to ever read a forecast that was just plain wrong anywhere. There's anyways good info whether you like the format or forecaster or you hate them. They might bring another color to your picture that wasn't in your palate and that alone is worthy. Stay safe or there. All data helps the WISE, only the fool rejects based upon impulse.


    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums

  19. #144
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    Feb 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by plugboots View Post
    Attachment 260528

    Pretty straightforward, hype needed?
    And I still watched people head out into avalanche terrain today
    ďI have a responsibility to not be intimidated and bullied by low life losers who abuse what little power is granted to them as ski patrollers.Ē

  20. #145
    Quote Originally Posted by Andyski View Post
    I took a 5-day AST2+ class from Colwest out of Kamloops, BC last winter and it was outstanding: every single day was tour planning, touring, and assessment of the day including weather, forecasting hazard, etc etc. Did some snow science, pits, companion rescue, first aid, but just a bit each day; not a shit ton. The focus is on how to manage terrain and conditions, not diagram pits all fucking day, which is why I specifically took this class and not one in the US. 2 guides, stayed in a hut, tons of 1x1 and group feedback. Best class I’ve ever taken by a long shot. Way more practical and less academic. Picked up a ton of things I use all the time. PM me if you want more details.
    One of the over riding reasons why the educational outlets/AAA have divided Professional courses from Recreational courses.

    Sounds like a good course.

  21. #146
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    Feb 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wapow View Post
    The difference between CO and WA, besides the nature of the snow and depth of the snowpack, is that we have lots of great skiing in trees that are never subject to slides (that's right, I said never). Other places have mostly alpine terrain, where pretty much any skiing automatically equates to avy exposure, which leads to relying on really weak science (like pits and slope angles). If you want to be an old backcountry skier, leave the guessing out, and just ski them trees whenever there is any significant doubt.
    so like the x country trails?
    .

  22. #147
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    Dec 2005
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    Closed Area
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    Did somebody say hoar frost?

  23. #148
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    Sep 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andyski View Post
    I took a 5-day AST2+ class from Colwest out of Kamloops, BC last winter and it was outstanding: every single day was tour planning, touring, and assessment of the day including weather, forecasting hazard, etc etc. Did some snow science, pits, companion rescue, first aid, but just a bit each day; not a shit ton. The focus is on how to manage terrain and conditions, not diagram pits all fucking day, which is why I specifically took this class and not one in the US. 2 guides, stayed in a hut, tons of 1x1 and group feedback. Best class Iíve ever taken by a long shot. Way more practical and less academic. Picked up a ton of things I use all the time. PM me if you want more details.
    Another vote for investing in AST2. Long days including the debrief in the evening for an hour or two, but worth every penny.

  24. #149
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    Dec 2003
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    Seattle
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    Quote Originally Posted by flowing alpy View Post
    so like the x country trails?
    Never is a bold statement.

    Safer maybe but too widely spaced to rely on.

    Automatically.
    Quote Originally Posted by Downbound Train View Post
    And there will come a day when our ancestors look back...........

  25. #150
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    Dec 2011
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    4,971
    Never use absolutes.

    Quote Originally Posted by XXX-er View Post
    the situation strikes me as WAY too much drama at this point

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