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Author Topic: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain  (Read 63865 times)
Randy
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #25 on: 01/07/15, 06:17 PM »

Yes risk assessment is not binary.  That is exactly my point, I don't see why this slope is ALWAYS deemed unsafe to climb.  ...


Again with the binary thinking.   It's not about how absolutely safe ascending the steep route is on any particular day (or hour) -- but that ascending the gentler route has fewer risks.   

When crossing a bridge over a chasm, it's safer to walk on the sidewalk than to tightrope walk the hand-rail.  But certainly less impressive.
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chmnyboy
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #26 on: 01/07/15, 09:41 PM »

Sounds like the northwest needs some snow.
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hop
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #27 on: 01/08/15, 10:11 AM »

Italics copy/pasted from the post by trees4me since for some reason the "reply w/ quote" function isn't working with Firefox and Safari. 

First off, I thought you were done with this thread? 

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).


As Randy said this environment isn't binary.  It may be safer in some conditions than others, or may react differently to different activities (skiing vs. skinning).  If you're one person on the ascent you might be getting away with less stress, but how often are you one person?  In the photo there are FIVE people all w/in a few meters of each other.  Five people stomping around is probably a bit more impact than one person gliding down.  Also, should something move on you while you're on that slope, it's probably better to be actively skiing down vs. climbing up.  See the video of Jason4 for example.  No chance in hell you'd get out of that if you triggered that while climbing. 

Let’s also remember the uncertainty in avalanche reports There are variables, from “Low” all the way to “High”.  “Extreme” is the only avalanche rating where anything is listed as “certain”.  Re-read the definition of “considerable” (which is what the report was for that area that day) and think about your route.  If you’re more certain than NWAC on a considerable day because you’re assessing that route from below, starting in the flats… more on this later.

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.


Depending on where you are in the queue you can watch people descending from much of the ascent route.  There are also test slopes that have the same aspect on the way that you can dig around/stomp/assess.  It's not the same exact slope you're skiing but that's why they call them test slopes.  If you use the exact slope you plan on skiing as your test slope and it turns out to be no good, well then you really f'd up because now you're on it.  And furthermore, if you try and assess that run from the bottom up you’ll be starting in the runout/flatter section, which is less likely to be the trouble spot.  Once you get to the steeper section where you’d really want to know what’s going on – do you really want to stop and dig around with all the rest of it above you? 


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.


Depending on the actual drop-in ski cuts may or may not be applicable.  You also keep mentioning it’s a terrain trap – unless that zone rips absolutely huge and the runout goes to the base of Herman, that area’s actually less terrain-trappy than the Arm.  It’s a gradually flattening slope that fans out into the flats. 


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?


If it's spring corn then it's probably warm out and that MONSTER cornice is above you looming, ready to fall.  Avalanches aren't the only hazard on that slope.  Go around in the spring too. 


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.

I'm not entirely sure what you're saying here because it seems you're arguing that the safer choice for a group of BC travelers would place their entire group on a low-risk slope vs. a high-risk slope, and only cross or descend or expose themselves to high-risk terrain one at a time.  Which is why putting everyone on that high-risk slope all at once is nuts. 


And yes, chmnyboy, we need more snow.


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Theo-san
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #28 on: 01/08/15, 03:22 PM »

The risk of navigating through this (or any) terrain is a matter of probability and consequence. Although the probability of an avalanche may remain constant (or similar enough to be negligible) with 5 climbing the slope instead of one climbing or skiing the slope - the consequences are drastically higher if an incident were to happen when that many skiiers are all sitting on the same fall line of an avalanche slope. This is the reasoning behind most best practices for BC travel - reduce exposure to risks, even small probability ones.

The idea that it is safe to ski, therefore it is safe to climb 5 at a time while people ski on top of you is not logically sound. Exposing each single person in a group to one hazard at a time is different than exposing all five to the same hazard at the same time. And I think most would agree that this is a good slope to ski one at a time due not only to the probability of an avalanche (which is historically above average on this slope although obviously influenced by snowpack, weather, temp, etc.), but due to the consequences of an avalanche on this slope. Putting an entire group of climbers in danger (however low the probability might be) of getting caught by the exact same hazard at the exact same time to save 10 minutes a lap seems like a difficult justification over taking a much more conservative route which takes a bit longer. Even if in theory you were/could climb this route one at a time, this route makes for a long time on an exposed slope. The more time you are on the slope, the greater the probability of an avalanche. I am also going to make the assumption that most BC skiiers would rather encounter an avalanche while they are downhill skiing, due to the increase in control, options for escape, and ability to use inertia to your advantage to escape the avalanche path. Would you rather be in a parked car with the keys on the passenger seat, or be in a running car when you see someone skidding into you from across the parking lot? The chances may be slim that you can drive away unscathed, but having some semblance of control is better than having none.

Best practices aren't rules, but they are called best practices for a reason - and I think it's good to ask oneself to ask why they aren't following convention.. is this making the group safer because convention doesn't fit an unusual situation? will following convention sacrifice a significant amount of efficiency, and possibly lead to greater dangers later on in the tour (certain aspects receiving more solar because you weren't fast enough)? or are you just too macho badass to follow a 10* skin track when you can blast right up the middle of a 45* chute?
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T. Eastman
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #29 on: 01/08/15, 10:30 PM »

Interesting responses...
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Brandonee
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #30 on: 01/08/15, 10:57 PM »

Was thinking of heading up to Baker for some skimo training, anyone know of any good, steep, direct routes up table mtn?
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Jason4
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #31 on: 01/09/15, 10:26 AM »

Was thinking of heading up to Baker for some skimo training, anyone know of any good, steep, direct routes up table mtn?

Not sure if you're serious...
What distance do you want and what's your objective?
If you want to go from the Heather Meadows parking lot to Artist point I'd recommend the standard route that follows the north boundary of the ski area, your first 10 minutes might be on a groomer, watch out for downhill traffic.  The climb up to the Austin/Blueberry boundary gate from Terminal Lake is decently steep.  From there follow the obvious ridge top towards Table.  Martha's Ladder is just a couple of minutes out of the ski area and is another steep pitch, if it's already been mauled by snowshoers then go left at the bottom of Martha's ladder in the same direction as the road but cut the switchback short.  This should get you close enough to the AP parking lot to figure out the rest depending on where you want to go.

If you want to ski into the bowl towards Bagley Lake (probably terrible skiing, frozen corn with a light dusting on top of it this weekend) then take the 5 minutes to skin from the lake up towards the interpretive center (Granny's house) to Terminal Lake and back up the ridge instead of direct up the north side of Table. 

If you just want to pound steep, frozen laps PM me and I'll give you a couple other ideas.
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Theo-san
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #32 on: 01/09/15, 12:16 PM »

I'm fairly certain that was a joke.
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Jason4
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #33 on: 01/09/15, 12:40 PM »

I assumed so but thought I'd be helpful since I'm not really sure how much those skin suit cut off oxygen to the brain. 

Can't hurt to repeat the standard route up again just for anyone who might have missed it previously.
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T. Eastman
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #34 on: 01/09/15, 08:14 PM »

Quote
Was thinking of heading up to Baker for some skimo training, anyone know of any good, steep, direct routes up table mtn?

Nah, go up the White Salmon...

... no endurance involved on Table.
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hop
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #35 on: 01/10/15, 04:00 PM »

This might as well be Table Mountain.  The terrain looks more or less the same, just bigger.

Holy F indeed.  

Still want to skin up a slope like Table?

http://www.henrysavalanchetalk.com/avalanche-foglietta-north-january-5th-2015-ste-foy-tarentaise
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Chris S
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #36 on: 01/13/15, 04:22 PM »

I propose that arguing if this slope is safe or not to skin is specious. Instead, I'll put forth to you a different reason not to set a skin track up that slope: Good Manners.

Its rude to set a skin track UP something that other people would like to ski DOWN. Unless its absolutely necessary, like when the only way to access a run is to climb it, or its in the middle of a BIG tour and you need to save every minute possible.

This is a heavily trafficked area by skiers and riders with a wide-range of avalanche and downhill experience. Skintracks should be judiciously placed to take advantage of natural terrain features that maximize safety, minimize time, and limit putting tracks onto slopes that are best enjoyed on the descent.

I think its simple. Don't be a JERK. Don't be a selfish prick just out to get yours. If you don't want to share, then go someplace where you don't have to.
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Chris
Jason4
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #37 on: 01/14/15, 09:48 AM »

I think its simple. Don't be a JERK. Don't be a selfish prick just out to get yours. If you don't want to share, then go someplace where you don't have to.

Thank you!  I think you hit the nail on the head.  I'll be surprised if it's easier to convince someone not to be a jerk than it is to convince them to be safer.

Please let is snow so none of the internet matters.
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Free your heel, free your mind.
Fix your heel, fix your problem.
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TN
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #38 on: 01/18/15, 06:35 PM »

Thanks hop for your persistence.  And Chris S for hitting the nail on the head like Jason4 said.  Thanks to the other voices of reason also.  It should be simple FACT that in popular areas we have a responsibility to act in a communal manner and NOT in selfish stupidity!  For some folks, the more self evident the truth is, the greater their resistance becomes.  Taking the safer route away from downhill traffic should be the norm no matter how much longer it is.  Littering the good stuff (even in no hazard terrain) with extra up-tracks to save 5 or 10 minutes is laughably inconsiderate!
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"Slow down!  Let ME break trail!  Save the turns and the steep stuff for the way down.  We'll get there sooner,  ski all day and you'll still be able to stand up after dinner tonight!"  The Trail Nazi
HillsHaveEyes
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #39 on: 01/20/15, 07:33 AM »

The shame campaign doesn't appear to be working. Try flapping arms harder?
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Floater
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #40 on: 01/24/15, 08:51 AM »

I am no expert and have not skied there in a long time.  Here is what I would do and it may not be right for everyone for sure. 

I would go around then assess the run from above and then drop in.  It is nastier when you get caught skinning up if you are in a group.  It is usually but not always the convexities at the top that get you is what I have experienced.  Now once the slope has been skied a ton the straight up route might be the way to go.  I just do not like big steep crap above me if I can avoid it.  I am scared of big freight trains coming down on me from above since I violate the ski rules by solo skiing which is also just plain dumb.  This is why I should not talk about anyone's ski habits since mine are bad.

I have found going around often is just as quick as zig zagging straight up.  Skinning shallower slopes is often faster.  However this is a pure judgment thing for individuals and groups.  If they get zapped by folks from above well then that is their fate.
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Jim Oker
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #41 on: 01/24/15, 10:00 AM »

Interesting thread. Hop posted a nice backountry mag article on page one. I'm thinking that opening the conversation with a loud residence-based slam and using a healthy dose of attempted public shaming does not really follow the spirit of the "get the dialog rolling" rule from that article, which went on to suggest:
Quote
“We have to own and acknowledge the consequences of our actions in the backcountry or create a social contract.” And that means starting the conversation with anybody who’s willing to participate: friends, guides and avy professionals are good people to start with…over beer, preferably.

I'd agree that I've seen several sketchy uptracks on that face of Table on considerable hazard days with a decent depth of new snow while cruising past Bagley lakes getting to or coming from points further out which aren't such a gong show as is that whole face (the final rule in that article? "Go Farther:Ask Yourself: Are there crowds over the next ridge?"). I've also seen a great many downtracks there which I would not personally have made on those days (particularly constrained chutes with convexities up top and a flattening where a big pile-up will happen quite a ways below, as well as cornice hops from the plateau of Table onto loaded, long slopes). Risk tolerance is of course relative.

Like floater, I've not been there in a long time, in part due to what a circus it had been becoming when I was last there. And I've only skied any of the blueberry chutes on well consolidated snow in springtime on a return from cruising around the backside of Table. But from my memory I'd agree that, risk aside, I'd just rather skin round than set a zillion switchbacks going right up something that steep when there is such a reasonable alternative.
« Last Edit: 01/24/15, 10:31 AM by Jim Oker » Logged
CookieMonster
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #42 on: 01/25/15, 01:34 AM »

I applaud Hop for having the stones to come here and say this.

Are we seriously debating whether or not it's acceptable to call people out for behaviour that is stupid, idiotic, and dangerous?

Would we even be having this discussion if it was about "people who think it's okay to drive through neighbourhoods at a high rate of speed because it was late at night and there was a low probability of an accident"?

People should call each other out more often and loudly. If you don't like being called out by people who know better, then maybe you should A) become one of the people who knows better, or B) work on making sure that you, and not your ego, is in charge of your life.

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TN
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #43 on: 01/25/15, 07:34 AM »

Cheers to Cookie Monster, again someone hits the nail on the head!
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"Slow down!  Let ME break trail!  Save the turns and the steep stuff for the way down.  We'll get there sooner,  ski all day and you'll still be able to stand up after dinner tonight!"  The Trail Nazi
Skier of the Hood
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #44 on: 02/20/15, 09:25 AM »

Well it seems "seattle skintracks" aren't only a problem around Mt. Baker, they are also popping up around Cooke City created by yours truly! Apparently our creation was the talk of the town for the evening! https://instagram.com/p/zOVqtqoM4Q/


The insta photo is a bit unfair however as you cant see that the slope has already been farmed, it was exceptionally stable around Cooke, the fall line doesn't send directly off the cliffs, and when looking up from town it is not obvious that there is a good backdoor to this line.
« Last Edit: 02/20/15, 03:01 PM by Skier of the Hood » Logged

"As we all know, the true driving force behind every early morning wake up is not necessarily safety, but the overpowering drive to be sitting on a patio by 1 pm, intoxicated, and spraying loudly about the morning's adventure."

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freeski
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #45 on: 02/26/15, 10:13 AM »

  I am scared of big freight trains coming down on me from above since I violate the ski rules by solo skiing which is also just plain dumb.  This is why I should not talk about anyone's ski habits since mine are bad.


This is a good point. Many of us don't always follow the best safety practices but it's still ok to talk about it as long as we are willing to talk about our own mistakes in judgement.
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chuck
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #46 on: 04/13/15, 10:21 AM »

Weirdoes skinning back up the descent route were at it again yesterday. I'll bet the skin track gave them a close up view of the heart shaped box slide path from hours earlier.

I turned my back and skinned in the opposite direction so I didn't have to look at the nonsense. It was a great day in deep snow. Winter is back.
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snoqpass
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #47 on: 04/14/15, 11:17 AM »

I turned my back and skinned in the opposite direction so I didn't have to look at the nonsense. It was a great day in deep snow. Winter is back.
Best advice in this thread so far
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hop
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #48 on: 04/14/15, 06:23 PM »

Weirdoes skinning back up the descent route were at it again yesterday. I'll bet the skin track gave them a close up view of the heart shaped box slide path from hours earlier.

I turned my back and skinned in the opposite direction so I didn't have to look at the nonsense. It was a great day in deep snow. Winter is back.

I was wondering if you guys noticed that crew zig-zagging up the descent route from where you were.  Given how many folks were out I'm surprised they didn't get clobbered by anyone. 

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pipedream
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Re: The "Seattle Skintrack" on Table Mountain
« Reply #49 on: 02/12/17, 08:17 PM »

So this is a thing now

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