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Author Topic: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps  (Read 18000 times)
Pierce
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January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« on: 01/23/17, 10:43 AM »

With the report of good, stable snow Dave and I set out to find some turns in the Baker area.  Because of the low light and variable visibility we opted to stay close.  After a short run in the Blueberry chutes to kick off the day, we put in a skin track up the side of Table Mountain.  The north facing aspect kept the snow from baking allowing for consistent snow quality all day, so we opted to lap that till we had our fill.  The numbers stayed down till the afternoon, by then we'd had our fill and headed out.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJf9K9iBLGc



* table_mt.jpg (221.4 KB, 1000x562 - viewed 2526 times.)
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brainbrian
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #1 on: 01/23/17, 03:06 PM »

Turns were really nice even in the sunny aspects. Overall snow seemed to have bonded well. We did set off a couple small wind slabs along north facing ridges (maybe 10 cm in depth and 3 meters in width that never turned into much). Scaled our objective of 'mt ann' back a bit because of the storm slabs and low visibility in the morning. It seemed like snow was consistently being deposited from the south onto the northern facing slopes.

Another great day in the mountains.



* 16142358_10155009368206742_1701269725886942304_n.jpg (46.24 KB, 960x642 - viewed 2374 times.)
« Last Edit: 01/23/17, 09:01 PM by brainbrian » Logged
brainbrian
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #2 on: 01/23/17, 03:17 PM »

One thing I found interesting... with the warming around 1/2pm, the Black Diamond Glop Stopper actually works to keep the snow from sticking to your skins. Anyone have other solutions?
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Jason4
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #3 on: 01/23/17, 03:36 PM »

That skin track is exactly where I found the best turns last Saturday and Sunday, what an unfortunate spot to put it.
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hop
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #4 on: 01/23/17, 04:40 PM »

Please, pretty please, with sugar on top...

NEVER put that skin track there ever again, no matter how stable you think it is.  The life you save may be your own. 

If you're going to ski that area, the preferred method (by ski area management*, ski patrol*, and virtually everyone that taught me about that area) is to ski that from the top to the lake, then go around and ski it from the top again.  You'll get a longer run and be out of the line of fire from other parties that might set off that little windslabs that brainbrain mentioned (or worse) right on top of you on your way up.  The skin around may be slightly longer but you're not exposed 100% of the time like you are when you are in the middle section of that run all day long. 

Edit: looking closely I see nine (!!?!?!?!) people on that track?  Nine people exposed on the same steep slope at the same time?!? 

*yes I realize that MBSA has no jurisdiction over the Bagley Lakes basin but they're generally first on the scene if anything happens nearby, so they do actually care. 




« Last Edit: 01/23/17, 04:52 PM by hop » Logged

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kamtron
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #5 on: 01/23/17, 05:02 PM »

This argument has happened before.
Or is it annual?
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hop
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #6 on: 01/23/17, 05:48 PM »

This argument has happened before.
Or is it annual?

I brought it up a couple years ago.  http://www.turns-all-year.com/skiing_snowboarding/trip_reports/index.php?topic=33188.0 

While many agreed with me, apparently the public shaming angle wasn't the best way to bring attention to the situation so I'm going for a softer approach here. 

This season, snow safety expert Doug Krause started an excellent Avalanche podcast https://soundcloud.com/user-660921194 that covers all sorts of things from terrain and route choices, snowpack, communication, brain traps, etc.

Listening to this throughout the season has kick-started my avy thinking into high gear and prompted me to look back on my previous patterns in an objective manner.  In doing so I've realized that even though I have tried to use the best practices in avy terrain as often as possible, and while I've managed to make back every time, there have definitely been times where my partners and I have blown it and just gotten lucky.  Minimizing time in avy terrain is one of the golden rules and that applies to the up-track just as it does to the downhill route.  Clearly the OP made it home safe and sound this time, but there might be a day when the snow isn't as stable.  Will they be able to make that assessment and not do that thing they've done before, or will they just go for it because it's worked for them in the past?  I try to minimize the variables - just as I wear my seatbelt every time I'm in a car - I go around when I ski that route because I'm never 100% certain I'm going to be fine.  The scariest thing to me about that skin track is the fact that you don't know who is dropping in from above where it's steeper and there are more technical start zones.  If someone above you kicks off something small, it could easily propagate into that whole slope (seen it happen multiple times over the years). 

I'll be the first to admit I'm not perfect; there have been plenty of times (and surely there still will be more times) when I've defended my dumb mistakes instead of learning my lessons.  As I get older and hopefully wiser (and lose more friends to avalanches), I find myself more open to constructive criticism, especially if it can keep me from making a mistake that might kill me or my partners.  If I'm doing something stupid, please tell me! 

I encourage everyone to listen to Slide and reflect objectively about their own practices, and those of their BC partners. 
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dberdinka
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #7 on: 01/23/17, 06:11 PM »

Oh yay!

The annual "SEATTLE SKINTRACKERS $&@#%!&@& URGGH GLAGG!  dRRRR...."
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hop
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #8 on: 01/23/17, 07:02 PM »

Oh yay!

The annual "SEATTLE SKINTRACKERS $&@#%!&@& URGGH GLAGG!  dRRRR...."

Curious if you have anything constructive to add to the discussion or just something in your throat?   Huh

An interesting article from JH:
http://www.jhnewsandguide.com/sports/sports_extras/outdoors_snow_survey/if-we-screw-up-and-shut-up-nothing-is-learned/article_9980334c-86dd-5285-81fa-c209bf278e03.html#.WGRcaKHyImk.facebook

"So we are faced with a conundrum. To learn from our mistakes, we have to be willing to share them and probe into the root causes. We have to separate the individual from the act and try to listen with empathy. We have to recognize that failure is the incubator for growth and change and that only by examining our failures can we improve.

But we also have to realize that in a crowded world we cannot disregard the fact that we are not alone out there. If our decisions hurt innocent bystanders, we need to accept the consequences."
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z-bo
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #9 on: 01/23/17, 07:14 PM »

Bad form is bad form.  That track my friends is bad form.  Our dear friend hop is speaking from a place of love, and hoping to dissuade future mistakes that could lead to bad outcomes.   The backcountry is no doubt crowded nowadays, and a great number of the new or new-ish are of below average skill on the up and the down.  It's sad for many of us who have honed our skills over many moons, to see such atrocities in real life or the internet.  Know that we don't despise you.  We too once made Gross mistakes on the very same slopes.  I too once upon a time broke trail up that very same slope on a warmish slush-a-lanch day.  I regret it fully now that i have seen the light, and fear the white walker.  I wish I had such a mentor as sir hop when I was just a newbie.  I hope you can find solace that we don't want to hurt you, we just want to help you.
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skykilo
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #10 on: 01/23/17, 07:52 PM »

Saw that precise phenomenon while lapping Herman a day or two into 2017 and thought that it was a strange way to farm the pow.  Saw lots of other weirdness happening in the area too.  The cat's out of the bag and Heather Meadows is a great starting point.

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mtkato
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #11 on: 01/23/17, 08:53 PM »

My first ingnorance of reading the snowpack conditions and subsequent avalanche was on that slope in 2004.  Believe "little AK" is the run and the slide started at the knob/cliff/convexity directly above the skin track; between the skin track and table proper.  Ran well past where you guys topped out at. 

As much as this seems like an annual rant from hop, he IS spot on.  Due to the steepness and rolling nature of that terrain, a skier shredding from above would not see u before placing their weight on the slope/potentially triggering an avalanche. 

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brainbrian
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #12 on: 01/23/17, 09:00 PM »

That skin track was bad, agreed, but I think the tracks on Herman were even worse. At least with this track this group who decided to do it were basically putting only themselves at risk. I'm not sure that's actually 9 people on the skin track, I didn't see that many myself, but it did look like 1 group was continually lapping that area. I don't believe anyone else was near that area on Saturday (*there were some tracks on lil alaska though)... still they could not be sure of that and it's a dangerous spot to put yourself in for an extended period.

What was actually worse were the tracks put in on Herman... and the individuals riding down said skin tracks. It was a scary, free-for-all seeing people ride down it from the other side of the valley. There was clear avalanche activity in recent days... including a whole rock face that slid recently.

Thanks for bringing it up to the group again. Often it's how it's phrased... coming out with "Seattle Skintrack" is maybe a bit abrasive considering one can only assume where others live.

Be safe out there and think of more than just your group.
« Last Edit: 01/23/17, 10:13 PM by brainbrian » Logged
brainbrian
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #13 on: 01/23/17, 09:06 PM »

Reviewing the photo a second time, you are correct. 9 on that track. all congregated towards the top. I guess it wasn't one group. Again, Herman was just as bad.
« Last Edit: 01/23/17, 10:07 PM by brainbrian » Logged
SKIER-X
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #14 on: 01/23/17, 09:35 PM »

 This great conversation may reach a broader audience in Weak Layers...? Thanks everyone for moving the situational awareness component forward .   X
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hop
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #15 on: 01/23/17, 10:16 PM »

That skin track was bad, agreed, but I think the tracks on Herman were even worse. At least with this track this group who decided to do it were basically putting only themselves at risk. I'm not sure that's actually 9 people on the skin track, I didn't that many myself, but it did look like 1 group was continually lapping that area from what I saw. I don't think anyone else went near that area on saturday... still they could not be sure of that and it's a dangerous spot to put yourself in for an extended period.

What was actually worse was the tracks put in on Herman... and the individuals riding down said skin tracks. It was a scary, free-for-all seeing people ride down it from the other side of the valley. There was clear avalanche activity in recent days... including a whole rock face that slid recently.

Thanks for bringing it up to the group again. Often it's how it's phrased... coming out with "Seattle Skintrack" is maybe a bit abrasive considering you have no idea where the people live who set it.

Be safe out there and think of more than just your group out there.

As I mentioned in my thread two years ago I didn't make up the name "Seattle Skintrack".  I got that name from a mentor when I first moved to the area in 1999.  If it makes any difference he was from Seattle, and extremely experienced in the Cascades and elsewhere.  Sadly he passed away ski mountaineering in Argentina in 2005.

Technology, marketing, and other factors (powder scarcity inbounds after 0915) have advanced to the point where the backcountry is where people want to be, but not everyone has the experience to safely negotiate the terrain once they leave the ski areas.  There's also no question the Bagley Lakes basin is easily accessible and heavily used.  There were some people in the other thread that said the area is "sidecountry" which is a term I think is totally meaningless and actually dangerous because it immediately puts someone in false sense of security or complacency.  I also disagree with the area being labeled as "beginner terrain".  The terrain in question is often steep and highly complex and proximity to the ski area or the parking lot doesn't make it safer than more inaccessible terrain hours away (I seem to recall a snowshoer getting buried at that corner of the road maybe 100m from the Blueberry access gate a few years back?)  There are terrain traps everywhere, and you are exposed from nearly every aspect when you're at the bottom of a run that ends at the lake. 

Throw a handful, ten handfuls, or a hundred handfuls of users of all experience levels into the mix skinning and skiing all over the place and the situation gets even more complex.  It's amazing there haven't been more incidents.  We're lucky that the PNW snowpack is generally rather forgiving in that regard. 

Still, in the interest of self-preservation and also not wanting others to get hurt or killed by making shortcut/overly risky/poor form choices, I think it's important to bring up when the opportunity presents itself.  Less than a month ago I lost a friend to a slide and now I regret not saying anything to him about his somewhat loose approach to self-preservation the last time I saw him a few days before he passed.  Who knows if it would have made any difference but NOT saying anything certainly didn't help. 

So yeah, if I see someone doing something overly risky I'm going to bring it up.  Maybe they've thought it through but maybe they haven't and don't know any better. 

I certainly hope if I post a photo of a skintrack that screams "RED FLAG", someone lets me know what I'm doing wrong so I can learn from my mistakes before it's too late. 
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kamtron
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #16 on: 01/23/17, 10:21 PM »

This season, snow safety expert Doug Krause started an excellent Avalanche podcast https://soundcloud.com/user-660921194 that covers all sorts of things from terrain and route choices, snowpack, communication, brain traps, etc.

Great resource and constructive comments here
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hop
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #17 on: 01/23/17, 10:31 PM »

Great resource and constructive comments here

While I knew (or was aware of) many of the things he covers in his podcast, for some reason hearing Doug tell stories about the information really hammered it home and caused me to reflect on my own experiences and practices in a way that just reading it didn't.  Thank you for Special Story Time Doug-san! 

He's extremely knowledgeable and responsible for some of the best runs of my life so when he talks, I listen. 

(his sense of humor is also pretty on-point)
https://www.instagram.com/p/BBinoi_mz4h/  
« Last Edit: 01/23/17, 10:35 PM by hop » Logged

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Jason4
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #18 on: 01/24/17, 10:05 AM »

As someone who has blown out a knee by landing in a firm traverse line where there shouldn't have been one (as witnessed by Hop) I'm a bit sensitive to skin tracks in places where I might be coming in hot.  I'd like to think that it's common etiquette to put skin tracks in places that won't hurt other people and especially won't get the people in the skin track hurt.
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Free your heel, free your mind.
Fix your heel, fix your problem.
- Pred, 2013
rlsg
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #19 on: 01/24/17, 04:02 PM »

On a pat-on-the back note..i'd like to congratulate you on
the nice fall line tight turns..seems like the lemingish traversing precious pow is iin vogue these days...
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Good2Go
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #20 on: 01/24/17, 06:26 PM »

Curious if you have anything constructive to add to the discussion or just something in your throat?   Huh

An interesting article from JH:
http://www.jhnewsandguide.com/sports/sports_extras/outdoors_snow_survey/if-we-screw-up-and-shut-up-nothing-is-learned/article_9980334c-86dd-5285-81fa-c209bf278e03.html#.WGRcaKHyImk.facebook

"So we are faced with a conundrum. To learn from our mistakes, we have to be willing to share them and probe into the root causes. We have to separate the individual from the act and try to listen with empathy. We have to recognize that failure is the incubator for growth and change and that only by examining our failures can we improve.

But we also have to realize that in a crowded world we cannot disregard the fact that we are not alone out there. If our decisions hurt innocent bystanders, we need to accept the consequences."

I'm confused.  How would these guys "hurt innocent bystanders" by lapping that bowl? What was their mistake again?  Skinning where you wanted to make turns?  I never realized there were so many rules up there.  Can somebody please put up a sign?
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hop
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #21 on: 01/24/17, 07:13 PM »

I'm confused.  How would these guys "hurt innocent bystanders" by lapping that bowl? What was their mistake again?  Skinning where you wanted to make turns?  I never realized there were so many rules up there.  Can somebody please put up a sign?

The JH story isn't 100% directly applicable to the situation in the Bagley Lakes basin but I linked to it because it talks about learning from one's mistakes, accountability and responsibility in the backcountry.  Try reading the thread again with that in mind.  Other posts outlined clearly what I (and many others, not necessarily posting in the thread but regular visitors to that area) think the mistakes are. 
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T. Eastman
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #22 on: 01/24/17, 08:05 PM »

Go track skiing...

... better skiing, fewer assholes, and more fun...
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toph
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #23 on: 01/24/17, 09:41 PM »

Haven't really kept up with the thread, but would just like to say I was up there this past Saturday, saw that skin track, and immediately thought NOPE. That track goes against everything they teach you in touring/avy safety 101. Good on @Hop for calling out an obvious red flag! We could all stand to learn something from these TRs. I know I have learned a great deal!  Cool
« Last Edit: 01/24/17, 10:33 PM by toph » Logged
natefred
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #24 on: 01/25/17, 08:34 AM »

First thing I thought when I saw that pic was that I'm glad I have safer options for skiing. I assumed what they were doing must have been their best option. It don't like loitering below objective hazards.

Hop I appreciate what you're doing. The struggle against human nature is upstream, so I hope you don't let it get to you too badly when you see people doing this time and time again. The smart folks will figure it out themselves or notice the grizzled old fellas taking the long way and wise up, but for many that wisdom is slowly developed over many years & all too often tears.

I think most people only learn the hard lessons the hard way. Unfortunately for backcountry skiers that usually involves near death experiences or the loss of someone close.
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