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Author Topic: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain  (Read 63875 times)
hop
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The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« on: 12/29/14, 09:12 PM »

Another sunny day, another group of people with no mountain sense. Do they not know that they're skinning straight up a popular descent route, fully exposed to any/everyone that drops in above them? The way the Arm was breaking yesterday and the NWAC "considerable" rating for today - clearly down the the lake and back up the road is the better way to get back up. It might take an extra few minutes or so but 1. you'll get a full length run and 2. you won't be in harm's way the entire time.

These are probably the same people that drove down the hill going 30mph while avoiding all the pullouts. Angry


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Chris S
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #1 on: 12/30/14, 12:24 AM »

You're absolutely right - that's a complete noob move. But in defense of my new hometown, I think its just as likely a group of bro's from WWU. Either way, I hope that you or someone else nearby had a chance to straighten them out. Hope their ears are burning right now too.
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Chris
dave095790
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #2 on: 12/30/14, 02:54 AM »

Not defending anyone, I certainly know this can be annoying, and I'm not too familiar with that area (I don't recognize the specific terrain feature) but ...

Do you think it possible they knowingly chose to go straight up in order to evaluate the safety of coming down? 

Did they get blasted with folks coming down the entire time they were climbing up? 

Many ski routes are best done climbing/skinning the descent route so you can assess the conditions before you drop into a suicide run ....

Just trying to be a little devil's advocate before we paint them too poorly ...
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hop
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #3 on: 12/30/14, 10:56 AM »

You're right, it could be a bunch of WWU or UBC kids.  But IME, after watching that thing get put in time after time year after year, it's usually the older Schoeller crowd vs. young noobs.  Maybe this one is the "Vancouver Variation" to the "Seattle Skintrack", which is usually a bit farther looker's right past the horn.

And as for assessing the snowpack on the way up - that's a pretty good move and easily done w/o putting yourself in harm's way with the many test slopes on the way up the road.  I can see climbing what you're going to ski if you're ski mountaineering on Shuksan or the Gervasuitti Coulour or something like that but not in the urban assault backcountry of Blueberry Chutes/Table. 

I didn't watch them the entire time they were climbing to see if they got dropped in on because I was keeping tabs on my crew and our situation across the way, but I've been on top over there when "those people" are climbing up.  It sucks.  It's hard to see all the way down some of those lines until you're in them, so if you drop in from the top and you're going over the rollover and see that CF down there... oops, sorry if I sluff you out or cut something down on you but I'm not stopping until I'm safe.  I'll do what I can to help once I'm safe but I won't be held responsible for your bad decision. 
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WoodyD
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #4 on: 12/30/14, 10:57 AM »

Not defending anyone, I certainly know this can be annoying, and I'm not too familiar with that area (I don't recognize the specific terrain feature) but ...

Do you think it possible they knowingly chose to go straight up in order to evaluate the safety of coming down?

Did they get blasted with folks coming down the entire time they were climbing up?

Many ski routes are best done climbing/skinning the descent route so you can assess the conditions before you drop into a suicide run ....

Just trying to be a little devil's advocate before we paint them too poorly ...

Uhh.. no.

I personally wouldn't skin a 38-45 slope if I was questioning conditions and trying to eval... this is not deep backcountry, it's within 15 minutes from the car. There is a convenient road that a fit party can climb in 30-40 minutes to the top of this terrain, assessing steep road cuts along the way before ever exposing yourself to hazards such as windloading, cornices, large steep slopes, multiple parties skiing on top of you, etc. It gets tons of traffic, from above.

Just a dumb choice and a serious lack of situational awareness.

Probably the same idiots who were skinning up the center of a major groomed run with multiple blind rollovers at Stevens a few days ago.
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trees4me
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #5 on: 12/30/14, 01:44 PM »

I don't get what the big deal is.  That uptrack gets set all the time (albeit usually further climbers left).

Why don't you complain about traffic?  Or maybe government indecisiveness?  Oooh, I know, complain about little to no progress on climate change!


After skiing down blueberry/table it's natural to turn around and head back up.  It's the fastest way back up and if you are comfortable skiing the slope then you should be comfortable skinning the slope (where you are likely placing less stress on the snowpack).  Also, in case you are new to skinning in North America, we like to go STRAIGHT UP everything, not dink around a mile climbers left.   Roll Eyes
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hop
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #6 on: 12/30/14, 03:55 PM »

I don't get what the big deal is. That uptrack gets set all the time (albeit usually further climbers left).

Why don't you complain about traffic? Or maybe government indecisiveness? Oooh, I know, complain about little to no progress on climate change!


After skiing down blueberry/table it's natural to turn around and head back up. It's the fastest way back up and if you are comfortable skiing the slope then you should be comfortable skinning the slope (where you are likely placing less stress on the snowpack). Also, in case you are new to skinning in North America, we like to go STRAIGHT UP everything, not dink around a mile climbers left. Roll Eyes


So that was you?

If you read my first post again you'll see I did complain about traffic. Roll Eyes  I may or may not complain about the others but if I do, it won't be in the "Weak Layers - Decision Making in Avalanche Terrain" portion of TAY. 

Also, just because things get done all the time doesn't make them the right thing to do.

FYI I'm not new to North America and not new to the region. Many of my European friends complain about the "straight up" skin tracks that they've encountered while skiing in this region, such as going up Mt. Herman w/ zero kick turns. Skin tracks don't bother me as long as they're not stupidly placed in the middle of the descent.

The big deal is that the 1st rule of skiing in avalanche terrain is to minimize your exposure, so by hanging out in avalanche terrain for however long it would take to make a skin track up ~38 (you know, the prime angle for slides) terrain using about 30 kick turns makes no sense to me when you could just go around it and be out of danger. The point you don't seem to be grasping is that you're unlikely to be the only group in the area. Why expose yourself to someone else's cornice drop or ski cut while you skin back up? Your "comfortable on the down = comfortable on the up" attitude might work when you're deeper out in the BC where there's nobody else around but as noted above, the Blueberry/Table area is about as urban as backcountry skiing gets.

I guess you won't be bummed if I accidentally drop in on top of you and flush you and your skin track back down to the lake.





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trees4me
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #7 on: 12/30/14, 05:24 PM »

Nope wasn't me.  I hold that area in the same category as Muir:  places I never want to go.

It just gets old hearing people whine about the same thing over and over again.  That skin track does make sense in that it is more direct and saves time if set right.  I never get what the big deal is.  That bowl is very wide, how hard is it ski off to the side or just cross the skintrack once?  It seems like that's very common many places, but a few Baker locals like to whine about it under Table. 

Table and blueberry are sidecountry and a very beginner area.  It's many people's first tour and IMHO it's not a place where you should rely on other parties behavior to ensure your safety.  If you feel like you need to ski down the skin track someone is setting, more power to you just don't hit them. 

You are right tho, I don't understand your argument:  that a slope with a terrain trap at the bottom is safe to ski, but not safe to skin.  That's never made any sense to me.  Either you think it's safe or it's not.  If it's not then why are you skiing it?  Why do you choose to accept increased risk on a popular slope (that may have someone else dropping in next to you) only on the way down?  That's not logic I follow.  That slope is only about 600' and you can skin it direct in about 20 min or so.  Depending on the day and time that may not expose you to that many skiers from above.  It's a short window.


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hop
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #8 on: 12/30/14, 07:07 PM »

Nope wasn't me. I hold that area in the same category as Muir: places I never want to go.

Sweet. That means there will only be 29,153 people there instead of 29,154 on any given day. I assume this means you prefer to go places where there are fewer people, which might explain your "if it's safe to ski down it's safe to climb up" mentality which may hold true if there's nobody else around.

It just gets old hearing people whine about the same thing over and over again. That skin track does make sense in that it is more direct and saves time if set right. I never get what the big deal is. That bowl is very wide, how hard is it ski off to the side or just cross the skintrack once? It seems like that's very common many places, but a few Baker locals like to whine about it under Table.

The problem is you don't know where they are going to be coming up when you drop in, and I've seen people kick off slides there that propagate far wider than their initial start point. I agree with you that it's the most direct route, but is it the smartest? The safest? NO.


Table and blueberry are sidecountry and a very beginner area. It's many people's first tour and IMHO it's not a place where you should rely on other parties behavior to ensure your safety. If you feel like you need to ski down the skin track someone is setting, more power to you just don't hit them.

Please define "sidecountry". Just because it's next to a ski area doesn't mean it's patrolled or controlled. It's still got complex terrain that has seen many people get in trouble due to poor judgement.

Since it is an easy access area used by all types of people from beginner to expert I feel it's important to set the right example from the get-go vs. giving people a false sense of doing it right because someone else did it before them. And yes, in such areas I DO rely on other people's good behavior to keep me safe, just like I trust that you're not going to observe the rules of the road when you're on the road. You can do whatever you like when you're in the middle of nowhere with nobody around but when you're in a heavily-used area you owe it to your fellow tourers to not endanger yourselves and others unnecessarily.

You are right tho, I don't understand your argument: that a slope with a terrain trap at the bottom is safe to ski, but not safe to skin. That's never made any sense to me. Either you think it's safe or it's not. If it's not then why are you skiing it? Why do you choose to accept increased risk on a popular slope (that may have someone else dropping in next to you) only on the way down? That's not logic I follow. That slope is only about 600' and you can skin it direct in about 20 min or so. Depending on the day and time that may not expose you to that many skiers from above. It's a short window.

You seem to know a lot about the area for someone that never wants to go there.

IME, when I see people set a track like the one I pictured they end up lapping it numerous times. They never top out so their entire touring day (aside from initial approach and final exit) is spent in the danger zone. It's not just 20 minutes on the up and one minute on the down.

Who says I'm dropping in with someone dropping in next to me? The beauty of starting at the top is I can see who's around me and can communicate with them. I do this all the time in this area. I can't communicate w/ people halfway down the slope, and they certainly can't communicate with me. They're playing Russian roulette with the odds of someone coming down on them growing the longer they stay down there. Clearly you're more comfortable with those odds than I am because if I am going to ski something that may slide (and let's face it, everything interesting enough to want to ski is potential slide terrain) I want to be in and out as quick as possible, AND I want my partners to be in safe zones ready to respond if something goes wrong w/o being in danger themselves. This party had about five people in it, all on slope at the same time. ALL OF THEM were exposed ALL THE TIME. Who's going to dig them out if something goes wrong and takes out the whole group? You can see they're all clustered up nicely. Wouldn't take a big slide to take them all out at once.

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chuck
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #9 on: 12/31/14, 11:25 AM »

Hop has it right. There is no reason for this up track but ignorance, selfishness and bad decision making. He's not whining, he's educating.

WRT to this being a beginner area, it certainly is. Not because it is beginner terrain but because it is near and visible from the lot. This is why many beginners go there. It actually is fairly avy prone terrain with complex, steep features. That is why it is very necessary to call out such mistakes so these beginners have a chance to learn how to ascend properly.

I also have a hard time with the concept that it is always safest to climb the terrain you are hoping to ski. Parties should be looking for the safest up track that gets to the goal while minimizing exposure. That safest route is clearly around, not straight up an avy path. This would be true even if Table was remote and you were the only party present.

Would you rather discover wind slabs from the ridge above or by skinning up the potential path and onto the slab?

How do you feel when your skin track is destroyed by an avalanche?

Wind and storm slabs regularly happens in this very spot. Here's a link to a post with slide pics from a couple years ago in this very spot: April fools on Table Mountain
If these clowns were ascending on April 1 they'd have gone thru the wringer.
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trees4me
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #10 on: 12/31/14, 03:37 PM »

There are plenty of reasons for the uptrack there which is why it keeps getting put there.  That is the point. 

It may not meet the approval of the "all knowing locals", but fortunately public land is there sole responsibility.  The uptrack there is faster, more direct, and if you've already been down a lap and assessed conditions as stable then the risk of that slope may be viewed as acceptable.  How can you not understand this?  I'm not saying it's the safer, or even preferable, route, but there sure are reasons to take it. 

Linking to threads on avalanches in the area is totally useless in this context.  Of course that slope can and does slide.  That misses the point.  The point is on a given day when a party has evaluated that slope as within their acceptable level of risk, then why the heck can't they climb it direct and save the time?  Just because it irks a few locals?  Why are the locals dropping onto that slope unless they've deemed that slope *unlikely* to slide? 

Are you really arguing that people shouldn't skin that track because you want to ski it solo when it's likely to slide?  That seems like a crazy position. 
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hop
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #11 on: 12/31/14, 08:46 PM »

There are plenty of reasons for the uptrack there which is why it keeps getting put there. That is the point.

People do a lot of stupid things until they learn not to do them.  I consider this a pretty simple case of unaware touring parties not knowing any better, just like a child doesn't know to look both ways before they cross the street.  They either learn or get squashed. 

It may not meet the approval of the "all knowing locals", but fortunately public land is there sole responsibility. The uptrack there is faster, more direct, and if you've already been down a lap and assessed conditions as stable then the risk of that slope may be viewed as acceptable. How can you not understand this? I'm not saying it's the safer, or even preferable, route, but there sure are reasons to take it.

Just because your party didn't bring it all down doesn't mean the next party won't.  It's apparent your level of risk acceptance and confidence in your ability to perfectly assess the conditions is FAR greater than mine.   

Linking to threads on avalanches in the area is totally useless in this context. Of course that slope can and does slide. That misses the point. The point is on a given day when a party has evaluated that slope as within their acceptable level of risk, then why the heck can't they climb it direct and save the time? Just because it irks a few locals? Why are the locals dropping onto that slope unless they've deemed that slope *unlikely* to slide?

Conditions change and group slope assessments aren't always spot on (if everyone had it right all the time there would be no human-caused avalanche incidents).  Therefore, it's prudent to minimize your exposure.  Some of the people I've encountered on that skintrack have told me they've felt uneasy when people end up dropping in on them.  If they're so confident, why would they feel uneasy unless they all of a sudden didn't trust their assessment when people were on top? 

Are you really arguing that people shouldn't skin that track because you want to ski it solo when it's likely to slide? That seems like a crazy position.

Huh? I have no idea where you're getting this from.  Where did I say I was skiing this solo when it's likely to slide? 

Clearly I'm not going to change your mind so feel free to camp out in avy zones all day long and justify your actions however you want. When it all comes crashing down on you it's your life.

Happy new year.
« Last Edit: 12/31/14, 09:04 PM by hop » Logged

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philfort
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #12 on: 01/01/15, 03:23 PM »

It's certainly not the safest place to go up, but in reasonably stable conditions it's not an unreasonable place to go up. I've certainly been there when the majority of people have ascended that way, and felt fine doing the same. You want another quick run, and you make a judgement call that this is quick, and safe enough for the conditions that day (maybe that wasn't the case a couple of days ago though). Normally, I'd agree going around the long way is much better - at least until you've got a feel for the conditions.

From what I recall (and looking at the photos), it's on a bit of a cone (and so less exposed than adjacent areas).

Wind and storm slabs regularly happens in this very spot. Here's a link to a post with slide pics from a couple years ago in this very spot: April fools on Table Mountain
If these clowns were ascending on April 1 they'd have gone thru the wringer.

Looking at the original pic, and the video, I disagree. They would have been off to the side of the slide path (the ascent path is on a bit of a cone, as I mentioned).
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hop
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #13 on: 01/01/15, 03:52 PM »

Apparently I'm not the only one thinking about backcountry travel "rules of the road". This was posted yesterday and covers just about everything in this thread.

http://backcountrymagazine.com/stories/mountain-skills-managing-risk-responsibility/

Philfort - where the party is at the top of their skintrack, yes, they're on the top of an extremely subtle ridge. That being said, their skin track goes well into the slide paths of Heart Shaped Box (looker's right) and whatever that chute is called on looker's left that Jason4 brought down with him. They were in the line of fire of the April 1 slide at least 50% of their ascent, and there is no guarantee that if either zone pulls out it won't take the other with it. I regularly see crowns and debris linked all the way across that entire zone.

Also, this is just one variation of ascent routes in this area. There are often skin tracks waaay looker's right past the horn, and farther looker's left under 10 Minute Trees. They're all sketchy, some more than others.

Read through Graham Clark's avalanche project and notice that basically everything in the Blueberry/Table area in question is RED. 

http://deptweb.wwu.edu/huxley/huxweb/gis/EGEO452/08_projects/Clarkg/results.htm#

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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #14 on: 01/01/15, 06:29 PM »

However subtle your argument, publicly shamming skier's route decisions are not the most effective method to educate and inform.  To add a bit of historical reference, these slopes were skinned for many years without incident.  More accidents have occurred from people dropping in from the top then from getting "bombed" from above.

I spent many happy days skinning these slopes back in the day with my 210 cm karhus in stable snow.  The gear and attitudes change, sometimes not for the better.
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hop
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #15 on: 01/01/15, 07:49 PM »

However subtle your argument, publicly shamming skier's route decisions are not the most effective method to educate and inform. To add a bit of historical reference, these slopes were skinned for many years without incident. More accidents have occurred from people dropping in from the top then from getting "bombed" from above.

I spent many happy days skinning these slopes back in the day with my 210 cm karhus in stable snow. The gear and attitudes change, sometimes not for the better.

I appreciate your concern. It would've been kind of hard to talk to that party from where I was on the top of Mt. Herman. Pointing it out here's the best I can do.

Given that the gear and attitudes have changed and possibly for the worse - it's a lot easier to get in over your head with all this new-fangled ski technology and there are a lot more people going out there, what do you suggest? We're far from the good ol' days of your 210 Karhus.

See the Backcountry Magazine link. They cover it better than I do.
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trees4me
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #16 on: 01/02/15, 02:27 PM »

Another sunny day, another group of people with no mountain sense.


Hop, if you want to have a productive conversation then try not to start with a combative statement and title.  There are plenty of Seattlites that are sensible and accomplished backcountry skiers. 

As others have chimed in, this is not as black and white as you (and previous threads) make it seem.  On a given day it may be totally inappropriate for an uptrack there, but on another day it may be appropriate.  I haven't heard any compelling arguments that those slopes should be a permanent no-climb zone.  If it is such a problem, then the local skiers should have a dialogue with the ski area and the national forest to determine and post an appropriate uphill policy for the bagley lakes backcountry area. 
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hop
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #17 on: 01/02/15, 04:38 PM »

Hop, if you want to have a productive conversation then try not to start with a combative statement and title. There are plenty of Seattlites that are sensible and accomplished backcountry skiers.

Sorry to ruffle your feathers with my title and opening statement.  The Seattle Skintrack isn't my name for it - I learned it last century from people who have been in the area far longer.  I consider it one of those pet overgeneralizing terms like "a$$hole Californian" and it rolls off the tongue better than "that up track somewhere between 10 minute trees to past the horn on Table". 

Clearly there are sensible and accomplished backcountry skiers from Seattle just as not all Californians are a$$holes. 

As others have chimed in, this is not as black and white as you (and previous threads) make it seem. On a given day it may be totally inappropriate for an uptrack there, but on another day it may be appropriate. I haven't heard any compelling arguments that those slopes should be a permanent no-climb zone. If it is such a problem, then the local skiers should have a dialogue with the ski area and the national forest to determine and post an appropriate uphill policy for the bagley lakes backcountry area.

If it wasn't a problem then why do the people that put up the Seattle skin... I mean that up track somewhere between 10 minute trees to past the horn on Table get pissed when they get buzzed or sluffed by parties coming in from above?  Since everyone's level of comfort and risk is different, your "good to skin here" is someone else's "no way". 

The local skiers DO have dialogues with the ski area, at least ski patrol and the Howats.  In fact, my party discussed the aforementioned skin track w/ Duncan that very morning on our way out the gate.  They all think ascending in that area's insane.  Still, it's not the ski area's problem.

Do you really think we need official regulations or are backcountry skiers capable of self-regulating? 


 
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mc
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #18 on: 01/03/15, 07:37 AM »

sounds like the legendary baker raven clan is still at it and new members being hatched daily. i thought the raven clan left that area and was all about sled access now anyway?

speaking of driving....many people put their egos into it.  letting someone by is just too much of a slam to them.  same applies to bc travel.  take an existing skin track for example.  if someone comes up behind you and they're hauling ass just let 'em cruise by when you're in a safe spot.  not a big deal.  who knows, maybe they'll stoke you out later with a doobie at the top.
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hop
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #19 on: 01/05/15, 01:24 PM »

Andrew McLean chimes in with his backcountry etiquette list. 

http://straightchuter.com/top-ten-bad-bc-ski-habits-that-must-go-for-2015/?fb_action_ids=10152583893742304&fb_action_types=news.publishes&fb_ref=pub-standard

BTW, I did find out through the grapevine who some of those folks were.  Quite disappointing. 
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trees4me
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #20 on: 01/05/15, 06:35 PM »

Anyway, I gave up on this thread a while ago...  So to continue with the soul intent of flaming this thread:

Andrew McLean chimes in with his backcountry etiquette list.

http://straightchuter.com/top-ten-bad-bc-ski-habits-that-must-go-for-2015/?fb_action_ids=10152583893742304&fb_action_types=news.publishes&fb_ref=pub-standard

BTW, I did find out through the grapevine who some of those folks were. Quite disappointing.

Not sure which of those top 10 apply except #6, and it's not clear how you're applying that to this thread:
Are you apologizing for #6?  Or bragging that you followed McLean's "remedy" by breaking your own track?  Or maybe you've finally come around and you are now complimenting the skinners for breaking their own track?  Nice.


 I did think of a solution for you to consider:  John Henry's like the bike routes use.  You could go out after every big dump and spray paint directions on the snow for everyone to follow.  That way no one would get confused and go the "wrong" way.  On second thought, they should probably just ban backcountry skiing and skinning except on designated trails.
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #21 on: 01/05/15, 09:17 PM »

That list wasn't for you since we've already established that neither of us are going to change the opinion of the other.  That's fine. 

I just put it here since this thread is about route finding and decision making in avy terrain and that list has some relevance. 

Have a great season.
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Jason4
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #22 on: 01/07/15, 09:07 AM »


Linking to threads on avalanches in the area is totally useless in this context. Of course that slope can and does slide. That misses the point. The point is on a given day when a party has evaluated that slope as within their acceptable level of risk, then why the heck can't they climb it direct and save the time? Just because it irks a few locals? Why are the locals dropping onto that slope unless they've deemed that slope *unlikely* to slide?


I was going to link directly to Vimeo but Chuck beat me to the original thread.

The same size avalanche would have happened if the line had been into Heart Shaped box instead of Blueberry 2 but a slide in HSB would have taken out the skin track.  Who would be at fault in that condition?  The skin track isn't visible until you get past the break in slop angle near the trees and by then it could be too late. 

There would be a big difference in the consequence of getting hit from above by that slide versus being near the crown at the start of it and having a plan on how to get out.  I know where I'd rather be.  The avalanche bulletin that day wasn't too different than it was last week during the high pressure.

I have no sympathy for people who climb that line.  They are trading 5 minute faster laps for the assumption of risk.
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Randy
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #23 on: 01/07/15, 03:31 PM »

..
You are right tho, I don't understand your argument: that a slope with a terrain trap at the bottom is safe to ski, but not safe to skin. That's never made any sense to me. Either you think it's safe or it's not. ...

Risk factors aren't binary -- if you needed 100% certainty that a slope is safe -- you couldn't really ski anywhere -- including developed ski area, in-bounds avalanche incidents and fatalities do occur.

Taking a route with a lower risk profile on the ascent reduces risk exposure in the following ways.

1) You learn more about the snow-pack as you ascend, perhaps you turn back partway up or choose to retrace your lower risk ascent route.
2) Ski cuts and other techniques can be used to gauge slope stability from above without commiting to skiing the steeper slopes.
3) Time of exposure to risky terrain is greater during the ascent than during the ascent.
4) It is more feasable to spread out party members so that only one is exposed to higher risk terrain at a time on the descent.
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trees4me
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #24 on: 01/07/15, 05:51 PM »

Quote
Taking a route with a lower risk profile on the ascent reduces risk exposure in the following ways.

1) You learn more about the snow-pack as you ascend, perhaps you turn back partway up or choose to retrace your lower risk ascent route.
2) Ski cuts and other techniques can be used to gauge slope stability from above without commiting to skiing the steeper slopes.
3) Time of exposure to risky terrain is greater during the ascent than during the ascent.
4) It is more feasable to spread out party members so that only one is exposed to higher risk terrain at a time on the descent.

Yes risk assessment is not binary.  That is exactly my point, I don't see why this slope is ALWAYS deemed unsafe to climb.  Let's try not to regurgitate avy 1 generalizations and focus on the slope of table mt being discussed.

To respond specifically to your 4 points in the context of this particular slope:
1) IF you've already skied the slope and are heading up for another lap then you should have made a solid decision on the risk of this slope.  If it's risky, then why would you go around and ski it again?  Why not just stand in the middle of the freeway and wait for a car to hit you?  If you think it's got the potential to slide then why ski it?  If you think it's safe to ski then it should be safe to climb (less stress on snowpack). 

Also, going around and up the heavily travelled route to artist point tells you very little about the snowpack on this slope.  I think you're much much more likely to arrive at the top of this zone with no clue on snowpack if you go around the route that many have suggested.  Going around doesn't allow you to observe this slope, it doesn't allow you to observe similar aspects, and it puts you in a well traveled path on a ridgeline that likely has very different snow conditions.

2) That is a wide slope with very little or no islands of safety.  There are several rollovers at the top.  If you think you're going to trigger something with a ski cut, then see you at the bottom where it piles up in a terrain trap.  In my mind, this is the kind of slope where ski cuts should NOT be applied as they can not be done in a safe manner.

3) Yes, by going around you limit your time in exposed terrain.  That's fine and many times the right choice.  If you've already skied this and you feel there isn't a chance for it to slide, then why not lap it?  Let's say it's spring corn, do your hard rules still apply?  To me that's overkill.  Once again, if you really think this slope is going to slide then why are you willing to accept that risk on the way down?

4) Party spacing is always an issue.  And for me that might be why I choose to take the group I'm skiing with around.  I think that's a compelling argument for not going up this slope.  This implies that a party is accepting higher risk when it's just one person.  That's certainly better than placing everyone on a highly risky slope at the same time, but what about placing everyone on a low-risk slope at the same time?  That's a call that just needs to get hashed out by the party.
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