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  1. #1
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    Setting and sticking to a conservative plan.

    Here in BC this year we have an uncharacteristically complicated and unstable snowpack. The issues are pretty fucking obvious, and the protocols for dealing with it (plan for the underlying hazard, rule out the hazardous terrain, and stick to the plan) are well established and are being aggressively promoted by the CAA. Yet, most of my (nonprofessional) ski touring network are persisting in risk management protocols (easing into progressively more challenging terrain) completely inappropriate to the actual hazard. Iím fine with being a contrarian, and sticking to my convictions, but itís a sobering insight into human nature. WTF.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by kootenayskier View Post
    Here in BC this year we have an uncharacteristically complicated and unstable snowpack. The issues are pretty fucking obvious, and the protocols for dealing with it (plan for the underlying hazard, rule out the hazardous terrain, and stick to the plan) are well established and are being aggressively promoted by the CAA. Yet, most of my (nonprofessional) ski touring network are persisting in risk management protocols (easing into progressively more challenging terrain) completely inappropriate to the actual hazard. Iím fine with being a contrarian, and sticking to my convictions, but itís a sobering insight into human nature. WTF.
    I've been thinking about that a lot recently. I live in the east side of WA and we have some similar but less severe issues compared to BC. Last weekend I went skiing with my neighbor who is a guide. The acceptability of ruling out terrain while at the snowmobile and sticking to that was quite refreshing vs having ski partners that want to keep poking out further.

  3. #3
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    Apr 2006
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    Some seasons you just have to enjoy meadow skipping. Sign it off and hopefully the next season is more typical. This is a bad year in BC for bc. It is what it is.

  4. #4
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    So... it's like every year in Colorado?

  5. #5
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    Feb 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by I've seen black diamonds! View Post
    So... it's like every year in Colorado?
    I'm heading up to Golden next week. Have been looking at the Av Can forecasts and talking to some friends up there... and keep coming back to "so its like mid winter Colorado". Although things may be worse up there than here right now. We're just dialing our plans back and will have fun lapping some lower angle stuff. Yes, this time of year is about planning your areas and route, sticking to that plan, and checking angles to be doubly sure.

  6. #6
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    Oct 2009
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    Also heading that way in a few weeks. Trying to sort mellow terrain without overhead hazard.

    I would guess two factors are pushing folks. One that the mellow terrain is getting tracked up. I don’t know much safe terrain so trying to sort where it is. Second we get a lot of false positive traveling in the bc and that leads us to be overconfident in decisions we make

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
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    Yet, most of my (nonprofessional) ski touring network are persisting in risk management protocols (easing into progressively more challenging terrain) completely inappropriate to the actual hazard. I’m fine with being a contrarian, and sticking to my convictions, but it’s a sobering insight into human nature. WTF.
    Opinion: when dealing with a Persistent Weak Layer, this is the way to stay safe. The imperfect feedback loop and extreme spatial variability of the problem does not lead it's self by "testing" the snowpack by venturing into increasing hazardous terrain.

    This is a lesson best learned from others. Humans are horrible at managing the risk inherent with low probability high consequence events.

    The enemy is us. We want to go powder skiing with out friends. Sometimes, the only way to keep our addiction in check is to avoid the avalanche hazard entirely. For me, knowing how bad I want that fix, I have to avoid the temptation by not going backcountry skiing. I used to be much for of a fiend at that but me at risk. Nowadays I just go snowmobiling, XC skiing, lift riding, working and so on until conditions improve.

    As mentioned, other people and ski tracks influence my decision making. It is a challenge to go to Bethoud Pass on a weekend and ski pow on your skiing meadow of choice.

    Even for those outside of Colorado, consider reading the Forecast Discussion https://avalanche.state.co.us/?lat=4...63391113281249 from the CAIC. You can scroll backwards through time. There is a lot of wisdom regarding managing the heuristic traps of a Persistent Slab.

  8. #8
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    For those of you more accustomed to a continental snowpack, this must all seem pretty obvious. Here, these conditions are more of a once in a decade anomaly, and we donít like to change. Easing into progressively more challenging terrain seems hard wired into most of my ski touring network. I recently debriefed with a close friend who (skiing with his inexperienced adult kids) but for compromised visibility on the last day of a 5 day trip, would almost certainly have skied a steep, shallow, unsupported line (which weíve both skied many times before) on which two people got avalanched and died the day after. It was like heíd seen a ghost.

  9. #9
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    Dec 2008
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    Salida, CO
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    ex girlfriend: "the avalanche doesn't know you're an expert"

  10. #10
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    Jan 2017
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    Itís interesting how wildly different the decision making and generally accepted practice is between continental and maritime snowpacks. My network is also like to ďjust seeĒ how it is, but that doesnít work for PWLs

  11. #11
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    All of Foggy's post is excellent as usual.

    From talking to a CO buddy that just got back from Canukistan it really does sound like a typical mid-winter Colorado snowpack. Unusual for Canada. Remember that unusual conditions create unusual avalanches and as Foggy says... learn from others.

    Reading the CO forecast discussions is great advice. Here is an accident report from Vail Pass several years ago that really highlights just how tricky persistent slab and deep persistent slab avalanches are to manage, and why the progressive "stepping up" mentality is dangerous when dealing with them: https://classic.avalanche.state.co.u...=504&accfm=inv

    -the terrain had been ridden many, many times in the hours, days, and weeks leading up to the accident
    -a lack of any obvious feedback such as cracking or collapsing, other than recent avalanches reported by CAIC
    -although parts of the slope were extremely deep and beyond the range of human triggering, all it took was finding the one not-so-sweet spot where the slab was thinner
    -these kinds of avalanches are rarely survivable

    That last point is super important. You can get away with a lot when dealing with PS and DPS problems, especially as the likelihood of trigger decreases over time. You could even spend years poking the dragon and get away with it. But if you find that not-so-sweet spot.... you just die. Not something that I want to take my chances on, personally.

  12. #12
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    Aug 2016
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    Setting and sticking to a conservative plan.

    A friend sent me this recent picture posted by somebody in a Revy FB group. Pretty wild how people are still trying to get after it up thereÖ

    Looks like great skiing though! FOMO kicking in hard for folks I guess.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  13. #13
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    Nov 2016
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    SEA>DEN>Spokanistan
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    Setting and sticking to a conservative plan.

    ^^^ if you look closely you can see a third ďski trackĒ from his balls dragging in the snow on the descent.


    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums

  14. #14
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    Aug 2014
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    Imaginationland
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    Definitely a ballsy skintrack to go all the way across the slope. Holy shit

  15. #15
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    Mar 2008
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    northern BC
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    Quote Originally Posted by kootenayskier View Post
    I’m fine with being a contrarian, and sticking to my convictions, but it’s a sobering insight into human nature. WTF.
    A while back I was on the edge of an incident where one of the bro's took a ride, after that I started setting pre-trip goals and sticking to them period

    I know the guy in the incident has taken at least 2 rides and the other guy didn't take a ride but he was in an incident where a partner was killed in an aviy, still it didnt seem to affect them or make them question their decision making process of which there was none

    while I was freaked to be on the periphery of any incident

    stay the course my friend
    Last edited by XXX-er; 01-31-2023 at 04:08 PM.
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

  16. #16
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    Feb 2009
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    731
    At least theyre going one at a time! But yikesÖ a lot of time on and under that slope

  17. #17
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    Dec 2005
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    Kootenays
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    I think that recreationists adopting some of the principles of a run list as used in professional settings has a lot of merit. It's something we started doing in my little posse last year, and is extra relevant with this year's challenges in this region.

    The argument that it's easier to make good choices when you have less distractions (ie not lured into a nice pow run) and lots of information resources (ie maps, avalanche report, weather, etc) in front of you is pretty hard to argue with IMO.

    While we don't necessarily assign specific lines as Red or Green, we will identify terrain characteristics that are off the list for the day. So we might decide, for example, that with what we know before we go out, N aspects at TL or ALP are no go (Red) for the day. The trick then is to not get swayed by negative feedback that you experience in the field. It's OK in this game to add to the Red list due to things you observe in the field, but not to the Green list.

    You can take back info you learn that day, and perhaps apply it to pushing out into new terrain tomorrow, but separating some of the risk assessment from the desire to have fun seems to be a good strategy.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
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    109

    Setting and sticking to a conservative plan.

    https://www.drewhardesty.com/experti...nche-problems/

    Iíll add this paper about strategic mindset written by Roger Atkins while he was at CMH for the 2014 ISSW.

    I think itís a good read, and having a mindset is very useful for sticking to a plan.
    https://arc.lib.montana.edu/snow-sci...aper_O9.02.pdf
    Last edited by benzo92; 01-30-2023 at 06:51 AM.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by benzo92 View Post
    https://www.drewhardesty.com/experti...nche-problems/

    Iíll add this paper about strategic mindset written by Roger Atkins while he was at CMH for the 2014 ISSW.

    I think itís a good read, and having a mindset is very useful for sticking to a plan.
    https://arc.lib.montana.edu/snow-sci...aper_O9.02.pdf
    Thanks for sharing that Atkins paper. Iím sure Iíve skimmed it before, but itís during seasons like this one that it truly resonates.

  20. #20
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    Jan 2005
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    Keep Tacoma Feared
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    Quote Originally Posted by kootenayskier View Post
    For those of you more accustomed to a continental snowpack, this must all seem pretty obvious. Here, these conditions are more of a once in a decade anomaly, and we don’t like to change.
    This is why I chose to live West of the Cascades. We don't really get a PWL here, even in funky years like this one. The only sketchy incident I've had in 20+ years of backcountry skiing was at Ymir hut in January on a similar year to this one. Friend triggered a slide that stepped down and went massive. Fortunately he stopped just above the crown. Never had a step down slide in the extreme maritime snowpack where I ski. It's very predictable and you are generally just dealing with the top layer.

    When I started backcountry skiing 25 years ago in CO I remember seeing a tracked out slope at Berthoud Pass that slid to ground the next day. Seems much more of a game of Russian Roulette when you move away from the coast.

    I can't deal with the anxiety of PWL (takes the fun out of bc skiing). I think I would just meadow skip or nordic ski if I was living in interior BC this year. Good news is models are starting to show the return to the way it should be; PNW and BC getting hammered by snow while the rest of North America gets jealous of us. This might get rid of the PWL you guys are dealing with.

  21. #21
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    Mar 2022
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    Quote Originally Posted by thefortrees View Post
    A friend sent me this recent picture posted by somebody in a Revy FB group. Pretty wild how people are still trying to get after it up there…

    Looks like great skiing though! FOMO kicking in hard for folks I guess.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    So I'm still in my infancy of back country, but why the fuck wouldn't you just skin up/bootpack the spine instead of taking that risk?

  22. #22
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    northern BC
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    There are some big guns in revy but I think the question is why go up there right now period ?
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by XXX-er View Post
    There are some big guns in revy but I think the question is why go up there right now period ?
    Yeah, that was my first thought. Clearly someones been sticking to the mellow stuff bottom left. Maybe they got that FOMO.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuntmonkey View Post
    So I'm still in my infancy of back country, but why the fuck wouldn't you just skin up/bootpack the spine instead of taking that risk?
    Because if you can't skin it you sure as shit shouldn't be skiing it.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuntmonkey View Post
    So I'm still in my infancy of back country, but why the fuck wouldn't you just skin up/bootpack the spine instead of taking that risk?
    Because they are lazy. They probably figured skiing from that low spot saddle was the safest spot, or best snow, so if they went up the ridge, they would have to go down ridge. It also looks like it might be a pain in the but to stay right on that ridge where it is most safe versus the mindless skinning up the face.

    But if you are going to skin up that face, their route is as good as you can do. Keep everyone at the safe spot lower left in the photo and send one person to break trail all the way to the top solo. Then others follow one at a time. That way, only one gets caught in a slide and you have a lot of eyes on that person ready for the search.

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