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  1. #1
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    To say anything or not?

    Yesterday my partner and I were skiing in the San Juan near Silverton.

    The area we were skiing has one main hazard: a large west facing avalanche path coming off of a ~12,700’ peak. It’s easy to avoid, with the most common objective being the N. Facing trees to the skiers left of the path. The west facing glades to the skiers-right of the path are also commonly skied.

    On our approach we passed a group of women on a professionally guided “introduction to bc skiing for women” course.

    Coming down from our first lap, I noted that they were laying in a new skin track toward the gully. I mentioned that there were three skiers heading up the center of the path to the summit. I didn’t want to be below them in the event it slid, and thought I’d share. Also though, I was trying to be sensitive to an all-women’s trip and not trying to mansplain how to bc ski to the professional guides. I figured they were planning to cross the gully low and ski the west facing trees to the R of the path.

    When my partner and I topped out at our knoll @ ~12000’ we saw the group of women center-punching the gully. Right in the gut of this path they decided to transition to downhill mode and descend. 200’ in either direction they would have been in relative safety. But they chose the only dangerous place in the entire zone. It does not appear they dug a pit (they had a pretty quick transition).

    In their defense, west facing slopes are currently in the box down here (per CAIC guidance), and this slide path ran large earlier this winter, possibly clearing out a lot of the basal layer junk.

    My gut-feeling, however, is that an introduction to bc skiing course should discuss how to avoid obvious hazards and not roll-the-dice on exposing a group of ~6 skiers to the only objective hazard in a zone.

    Also, Im not a professional guide, though I do have ~20 years of backcountry skiing experience. And I try to be sensitive to not mansplain when my advice isn’t solicited.

    I’m Facebook friends with one of the (female) guides for this organization and I’m debating asking her who the guides were so I can share some feedback on their route choice. The guides seemed awesome, but young.

    Or do I just STFU and not meddle in the way they do their shit?

  2. #2
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    I think asking what their decision making was based on as a way to educate yourself is a lot different than trying to rat someone out. Just be sure your intentions are for your own benefit.

  3. #3
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    Yeah wouldn’t be to rat someone out or get them in trouble with senior guides.

    I’m also not certain that I can honestly say that I’d be doing it for my own benefit. (I’m certain I wouldn’t choose the middle of a hazard as my safe zone regardless of snowpack)

    But I do think having a discussion about route-choice may help these young guides in the future

    Or I just move on

  4. #4
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    This is an interesting one. I think, if it was me, I’d let it go. I wasn’t with them so I wouldn’t know the thinking and discussion in the group, nor what snowpack evaluation they did. It sounds like a debatable situation, and it doesn’t seem like I’d have a strong info set to carry on the debate.

    If I knew the guide(s) and happened to sit with them over a beer, then I’d ask them what the thinking was, but I wouldn’t go to their supervisor. That’s just me.

  5. #5
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    Mansplaining can real, but it can also just be a shield for a fragile ego. Sadly ego is prevalent in the BC especially in intergroup interactions, doubly so when the group being questioned is hierarchical like a guided group is.

    Guides are NOT infallible and qualifications for guides vary wildly in the US. I've seen some wild choices by BC and heli guides, male and female. I've even seen an avalanche 2 course instructor make mistakes that a know before you go attendee could spot. No human is beyond mistake. To not address something because you are afraid of hurt feelings, or the crime of mansplaining, is not virtuous. One should check their own assumption and assessment first. But otherwise valuing perceived feelings over safety does not actually value the individual, the group, or the community.

    That said, as mentioned, seeking understanding and discussing is a vastly more professional and genial approach than the approach of "hey you done fuct up!" In the moment, if you remain concerned after getting understanding from them, state you are concerned and what the concern is rather than telling the other group a variation of "you are doing wrong because of Y you should do X instead."

    Flies. Honey. Catch more.
    Quote Originally Posted by blurred
    skiing is hiking all day so that you can ski on shitty gear for 5 minutes.

  6. #6
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    Yeah, thanks for the feedback.

    This particular incident triggers me a bit as my two teenage daughters have been getting really into bc skiing, and we’ve discussed sending them to some kind of all-women’s level 1 (in causal chatting the guide told me that they were not teaching avalanche skills, just an intro to bc skiing).

    If one of my daughters was in the group and I saw them parked under that big bowl I would’ve lost my shit.

    My gut feeling is to let it go, but this was a pretty blatant fuck-up (IMO)

    And my approach would certainly not be to attack them or lecture.

    My ski partners and I have been trying to make a point to debrief tours over a beer at the car: what we did right, what we could’ve done better, etc.

    I was hoping the guide that we chatted to would come down to her car while we were hanging out, but they were having their own end-of-course discussion, so it didn’t happen. I was hoping to offer her a beer and include her in our conversation to make it causal.

    Once again, the human-factor is the challenge.

  7. #7
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    Click image for larger version. 

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    This is a pic from last winter. Not the best, but they were about 100’ below the red X.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tech Tonics View Post
    Click image for larger version. 

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    This is a pic from last winter. Not the best, but they were about 100’ below the red X.
    Wow, yikes. Holy shit.

    Yeah, I would have found a tactful way of asking them about their decision making process. Mansplaining is bad but digging people out is even worse.

    Sent from my Pixel 6 Pro using Tapatalk

  9. #9
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    Maybe the tack to take is to acknowledge the mansplaining (& Karen) angle & just report it to the guide group. They can do what they want with it.

    It seems like it's sticking in your head enough to be concerned.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by tgapp View Post
    Wow, yikes. Holy shit.

    Yeah, I would have found a tactful way of asking them about their decision making process. Mansplaining is bad but digging people out is even worse.

    Sent from my Pixel 6 Pro using Tapatalk
    That would’ve been my plan, but didn’t want to infront of their clients. We had to go while they were still circled up.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tech Tonics View Post
    Click image for larger version. 

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    This is a pic from last winter. Not the best, but they were about 100’ below the red X.
    Whoa!

  12. #12
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    I've been called out for mansplaining in a not too dissimilar situation. It was worth it. The group of women I spoke with decided not to ski the avy prone terrain trap they were standing above (which is adjacent a nice, safe zone). Maybe they didn't need my input to reach that decision but they got it anyway. I've also spoken with a group of young men who were indignant at my unsolicited input (in the exact same spot, which happened to slide naturally last week). I can deal with someone thinking I'm a meddling old know it all. I'd rather not deal with a burial or a death.

    If you're worried about maintaining a relationship with this guide and other guides it is obviously more complicated than pointing out to strangers that they are about to do something pretty dangerous, but I would still try to have the conversation. I think it is very reasonable for a dad considering enrolling his daughter in a course to want to have a conversation about this. And I would agree that putting a group of novices in that spot is pretty questionable even if a slide was extremely unlikely. If anything they should be talking about why they should avoid that spot. Hopefully we're both wrong and she has a strong explanation for what they were doing.

    I'll add that about 15 years ago a friend of mine was buried in an avalanche and died of asphyxiation while skiing with a guide who made one of those classic mistakes they teach you about in Avy 1 (ignoring aspect changes as they tracked out a large bowl). We need to be able to talk about this sort of things and help each other stay focused.

  13. #13
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    Say something. Sick of this shit. Guides do stupid shit and all the while they were explaining to a bunch of newbs how smart they were for choosing this spot. Now those newbs will go out and follow their logic and kill themselves and others.
    I have lost more than one friend who followed a guide. They need to be held more accountable.

  14. #14
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    I say something. Often, get a smart ass reply. Better to be able to sleep if something goes wrong and I held it in.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Canada1 View Post
    I say something. Often, get a smart ass reply. Better to be able to sleep if something goes wrong and I held it in.
    Exactly. And I hope people say something to me too if I'm ignoring something important.

    A few weeks back I snapped this pic of 3 guys transitioning under a whole lot of snow.

    I would have said something, but I wasn't willing to go stand where they were standing.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  16. #16
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    I'd probably ponder.. what if one of them was my daughter? Would I be grateful that some busy body went and meddled? But, at the same time, this situation looks like it would only have helped to catch them before they got to that red X. Heading over there yourself to that spot after they are already there just makes for more disruption and another potential victim right?
    Go that way really REALLY fast. If something gets in your way, TURN!

  17. #17
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    I was skiing at Butler Gulch and ran into a similar situation with a guided snowshoe group. The guides and most of the group were women of a certain age. Conditions were moderate to considerable. The weather wasn't particularly nice. The guides told me they planned to hike to the end of the trail and up the ridge. Pretty dangerous exposure given the conditions, I'm no avi brainiac, but I had no reservations giving the guides suggestions for safer alternative options. It was up to them to take the advice or not. They opted for something different away from the ridge.

  18. #18
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    once upon a high danger day
    the kind of day the uac tells the annual lcc postman who wouldnt deliver story
    we were out for a tour and to dig in the snow
    we skied figure 8 and had headed back up to tlp
    we roped up and dug a pit
    we were deciding on skiing the slope or other options
    when we look down and theres now 2 dudes bootering up the slope
    mr toaster asks the then president of our local sar sfotex you gonna say anything
    they look at me and i say nope maybe its jamie pierre
    Jamie and his partner top out we share pleasantries
    they drop back into griz and we ski the slope they tested in a manner none of us had the balls to
    Ski In Peace JP
    "When the child was a child it waited patiently for the first snow and it still does"- Van "The Man" Morrison
    "I find I have already had my reward, in the doing of the thing" - Buzz Holmstrom
    "THIS IS WHAT WE DO"-AML -ski on in eternal peace
    "I have posted in here but haven't read it carefully with my trusty PoliAsshat antenna on."-DipshitDanno

  19. #19
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    Sometimes you have to be an asshole.

  20. #20
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    I struggled with this a lot during my rock climbing decades. Saw people doing stupid dangerous shit all the time. Didn't say anything except once or twice and it never seemed to penetrate. You can try but people instantly get defensive. A friend of mine used to go ballz out giving people shit about unsafe practices, practically berate them into stunned silence. I dunno maybe that is the best approach rather than being diplomatic and giving them any wiggle room. Just be an asshole and hope they reflect on it later.

  21. #21
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    Not sure in this age that would have much effect other than to harden people into saying, "fuck that asshole".
    I have been in this State for 30 years and I am willing to admit that I am part of the problem.

    "Happiest years of my life were earning < $8.00 and hour, collecting unemployment every spring and fall, no car, no debt and no responsibilities. 1984-1990 Park City UT"

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Canada1 View Post
    I say something. Often, get a smart ass reply. Better to be able to sleep if something goes wrong and I held it in.
    +1

    we read a lot of stories about momentary lapses in attention or judgement leading to accidents. Comments from a place of concern can heighten awareness, hopefully without causing too much defensiveness.
    north bound horse.

  23. #23
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    I think it depends who you are talking to. “Expert” guys are more likely to ignore any suggestions. Women might be more receptive if approached with advice.



    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums

  24. #24
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    To say anything or not?

    If you don’t say something and then read a report later how are you gonna feel?

    If it’s life and death outcomes I say something now in situations like this. Fuck decorum. It might keep someone alive at some point.

  25. #25
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    Can't control what someone does when you voice concern.
    But we can control whether or not we say something, and give them that chance.

    If Ms Middle was in a guided group, making a bad decision, I would want you all to say something.
    north bound horse.

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