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Author Topic: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps  (Read 17988 times)
Good2Go
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #25 on: 01/25/17, 09:49 AM »

That slope was unequivocally stable on the day they skied it, right?  Hop is saying you should ALWAYS come in from a different slope and ski it blind from the top, because that would be SAFEST.  He's right that it is a better run top to bottom, and not skinning there makes it a better shared resource for others.  But you guys are accusing the OP of doing something unsafe (or maybe worse, implying s/he is inexperienced and making dangerous choices).  The facts don't agree with that assessment.  They didn't "get away with one here".   Haven't you guys ever put a skin track in on a big slope on a stable day?  Let's cut the histrionics and admit this is mostly about resource competition (with a bitter hint of localism).
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hop
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #26 on: 01/25/17, 10:13 AM »

That slope was unequivocally stable on the day they skied it, right?  Hop is saying you should ALWAYS come in from a different slope and ski it blind from the top, because that would be SAFEST.  He's right that it is a better run top to bottom, and not skinning there makes it a better shared resource for others.  But you guys are accusing the OP of doing something unsafe (or maybe worse, implying s/he is inexperienced and making dangerous choices).  The facts don't agree with that assessment.  They didn't "get away with one here".   Haven't you guys ever put a skin track in on a big slope on a stable day?  Let's cut the histrionics and admit this is mostly about resource competition (with a bitter hint of localism).

Unequivocally stable? No way. Let's look at the facts (not "alternative facts").  NWAC had a "Considerable" rating for the 21st.  http://www.nwac.us/avalanche-forecast/avalanche-region-forecast/2863/cascade-west-north-baker/
Considerable

Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making essential.


brainbrian mentioned setting off small windslabs on N facing terrain (which that is) that day as well.  I was in a different BC zone that day and we found similar small pockets of unstable snow.  Who knows how fast/far/wide the debris would have run if someone had kicked off one of those windslabs on the steeper convex rolls above the skintrack?  Maybe it would have been fine, but are you that confident that you're willing to spend the better part of your day exposed under all those potential start zones? 

I can see putting a skin track up a big face (for example the White Salmon glacier) on a stable day because there isn't another way around.  In this case there IS another option that's much safer, and you're not skiing it blind from the top unless you skip all the potential test slopes on the way up the road. 

Just because the OP got away with it this time doesn't mean it was a smart choice. 

As for bitter localism and resource competition: I moved here from somewhere else and those that were here before me taught me about the area and how to safely approach it.  I try to do the same with others that follow behind me because I'd rather share the BC with safe users.  I also don't fault anyone for wanting to ski here - after all, it's where I chose to live!  Furthermore, since I wasn't anywhere near that area on that day I wasn't competing for tracks there.

End histrionics.   Roll Eyes
« Last Edit: 01/25/17, 10:24 AM by hop » Logged

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jwplotz
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #27 on: 01/25/17, 10:18 AM »

I wonder how safe skinning was preached before the internet?  You'd have to be lucky enough to go b/c skiing with someone like Ira Spring, where he could set up his 4x5 camera, shoot a slides, get them developed and then submit them for publication where someone knowledgeable about skinning practices could view the photos and then pen and publish a critique.  

Sounds cumbersome.
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Good2Go
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #28 on: 01/25/17, 10:23 AM »

It was stable Hop.  The pictures and report tell the story. You can keep throwing out red herrings about "10cm wind slabs" and impeccable safety knowledge of your mentors, but I find your arguments unconvincing.  What I keep hearing is you want everybody to "do it like you".  Own it.
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hop
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #29 on: 01/25/17, 10:27 AM »

It was stable Hop.  The pictures and report tell the story. You can keep throwing out red herrings about "10cm wind slabs" and impeccable safety knowledge of your mentors, but I find your arguments unconvincing.  What I keep hearing is you want everybody to "do it like you".  Own it.

You are correct.  I would rather see people be smart and safe in the BC instead of cutting corners and making avoidable mistakes.  I'll own that all day long. 

Apparently you think differently but IMO a poor decision isn't justified because nothing bad happened. 
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Jim Oker
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #30 on: 01/25/17, 11:12 AM »

a poor decision isn't justified because nothing bad happened. 
Key thought.

I expect things to get more circus-like up there  before getting any better, but it's still important to shovel at least some  sand against the tide. When on the lifts this year, I  keep  running into  folks who have BC gear that they haven't used in the bc yet but who plan to start "getting out soon..." but most haven't taken AIARE level 1 nor have they found any form of "mentorship" to help  ease them a little more safely into the all important routefinding task.

Ya sure many of us have set lines directly up  slopes, but at least some of us still avoid it when there's a way  around unless we have bomber spring consolidation or are ski cramponing up  raincrust we hope will thaw a bit for  the descent. Why take even a low percent chance when it only costs a fraction of a run's time to go the  smarter way?? The only reason I can fathom is "scarcity..."
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jacoblmandell
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #31 on: 01/25/17, 11:26 AM »

It was stable Hop.  The pictures and report tell the story. You can keep throwing out red herrings about "10cm wind slabs" and impeccable safety knowledge of your mentors, but I find your arguments unconvincing.  What I keep hearing is you want everybody to "do it like you".  Own it.

I skied in the bagley zone on sunday 1/22 and there was certainly instabilities in the snowpack. I triggered 5-6 inch by 30 ft windslab on a N facing aspect near that skin track. I was on a steep roll on a relatively small start zone but a skier could've easily triggered something much larger above that skin track.

There is a safe and easy up track to all these lines and you can easily scope them out on your way up. Use them so we can have a safer backcountry ski community in such a high usage area.

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Good2Go
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #32 on: 01/25/17, 11:44 AM »

If it was dangerous, you shouldn't have skied it, right?  if it was safe, you could skin it, right? Which is it?  Personally, I prefer to assess a slope like that from below.  Experience (not my home area, but I've skied it plenty of times over the past 15 years or so), has taught me that the instabilities are generally at the ridgeline up there (like most places).
« Last Edit: 01/25/17, 11:47 AM by Good2Go » Logged
z-bo
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #33 on: 01/25/17, 12:01 PM »

Good2go needs to move his chronic dissension to tgr where he can fully expound his patriotism for alternative facts and anti-agreement with anything resembling common sense.  The padded room is waiting for you buddy!
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hop
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #34 on: 01/25/17, 12:04 PM »

If it was dangerous, you shouldn't have skied it, right?  if it was safe, you could skin it, right? Which is it?  Personally, I prefer to assess a slope like that from below.  Experience (not my home area, but I've skied it plenty of times over the past 15 years or so), has taught me that the instabilities are generally at the ridgeline up there (like most places).

It's both.  If it was dangerous, yep, probably best to not ski it.  If it was "safe" (how did you decide it was safe?), you COULD skin it, but as many people have chimed in saying - it's not the smartest choice given there are much safer options right there.  

How do you safely assess a slope like that from below?  It's flatter the lower you are so you're unlikely to be able to assess much of anything at the bottom.  If you climb it and assess as you go you're already deeply committed to the slope by the time you can find out anything meaningful.  If you're in the middle of that slope and you don't like what you've found - too bad, you're already there and fully exposed.  It's definitely possible to trigger slides from below so you better hope you don't bring the whole thing down on top of you while you're there.  

There are plenty of short test slopes on the road that can give you all the information you might want without being exposed to that entire run right off the bat.  If those indicate it's probably good to go (ahem) then you can move on to the start zones, and further assess them.  If they are still good to to you rip that thing top to bottom and have a great time.  If you don't like what you find you just turn around and leave the hazards below you.  You can't do that from the bottom.  

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hop
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #35 on: 01/25/17, 12:05 PM »

Good2go needs to move his chronic dissension to tgr where he can fully expound his patriotism for alternative facts and anti-agreement with anything resembling common sense.  The padded room is waiting for you buddy!

Backcountry Asshattery? 
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bfree32
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #36 on: 01/25/17, 12:06 PM »

If it was dangerous, you shouldn't have skied it, right?  if it was safe, you could skin it, right? Which is it?  Personally, I prefer to assess a slope like that from below.  Experience (not my home area, but I've skied it plenty of times over the past 15 years or so), has taught me that the instabilities are generally at the ridgeline up there (like most places).

Really? You can't see the difference between spending 2 minutes on an avalanche prone slope (during which you know what is going on around you) vs. spending hours on a slope (where others are likely to drop in on top of you, in the upper terrain that you have agreed is more likely to slide)?
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jacoblmandell
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #37 on: 01/25/17, 12:09 PM »

If it was dangerous, you shouldn't have skied it, right?  if it was safe, you could skin it, right? Which is it?  Personally, I prefer to assess a slope like that from below.  Experience (not my home area, but I've skied it plenty of times over the past 15 years or so), has taught me that the instabilities are generally at the ridgeline up there (like most places).

As I described in my initial post it was a small slope that would not propagate and potentially encompass a large amount of terrain, unlike the place where the skin track was. It was a risk I felt comfortable taking and understood, therefore I ski cut the slope and went to safe zone.

On the descent you spend less time in the line of fire and can minimize risk more effectively- i.e. ski cutting if done properly. Putting skin track up a potentially unstable slope and opening yourself up to a ton of hang fire above on a very popular descent is completely different.  
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chuck
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #38 on: 01/25/17, 12:31 PM »

If you look at the original picture, in the left third you can see a crown and slide path. It wasn't huge but it happened on Saturday, about the same time this up track was put in. If someone dropped in from the top a similar slide would have likely run right thru this up-track. It would have been unpleasant.

We saw the circus going on and were happy to be heading elsewhere. Before we lost sight of this group of 9 densely packed ascenders, I noticed 2 people poking around directly above this up-track. Their presence combined with the earlier slide on the same aspect just a few hundreds yards east made me take notice. The 2 folks eventually retreated to artist pt.

We don't know if they retreated because:
  • the descent was choked up with selfish ascenders
  • they didn't want to take the chance of pushing snow down on parties below
  • or they felt unsafe dropping in

None of these options say good things about those camping in the lower half.

If you think this is a reasonable way to operate in the bc then good luck to you. No one is going to put up signs or attempt to stop you. Those of us who know the area are also not going to be adding you to our parties or sharing info because you've demonstrate unsafe and selfish methodologies.
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Good2Go
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #39 on: 01/25/17, 12:43 PM »

Good2go needs to move his chronic dissension to tgr where he can fully expound his patriotism for alternative facts and anti-agreement with anything resembling common sense.  The padded room is waiting for you buddy!

Ha!  I probably hate Trump more than you!  I'm not disagreeing for sport. I honestly think you guys are kidding yourselves about your superior safety knowledge.  Sometimes it's OK to ski the big open slopes and sometimes it's not.  You are imposing the latter assumption on the OP, which is very TGR like.  TAY usually gives the benefit of the doubt.  What makes you guys so sure you know better than the OP?  Hubris, I'm guessing.
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Good2Go
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #40 on: 01/25/17, 12:44 PM »

If you look at the original picture, in the left third you can see a crown and slide path. It wasn't huge but it happened on Saturday, about the same time this up track was put in. If someone dropped in from the top a similar slide would have likely run right thru this up-track. It would have been unpleasant.

We saw the circus going on and were happy to be heading elsewhere. Before we lost sight of this group of 9 densely packed ascenders, I noticed 2 people poking around directly above this up-track. Their presence combined with the earlier slide on the same aspect just a few hundreds yards east made me take notice. The 2 folks eventually retreated to artist pt.

We don't know if they retreated because:
  • the descent was choked up with selfish ascenders
  • they didn't want to take the chance of pushing snow down on parties below
  • or they felt unsafe dropping in

None of these options say good things about those camping in the lower half.

If you think this is a reasonable way to operate in the bc then good luck to you. No one is going to put up signs or attempt to stop you. Those of us who know the area are also not going to be adding you to our parties or sharing info because you've demonstrate unsafe and selfish methodologies.

Ha!  I wouldn't want ski with you guys.  Way too boring and paternalistic!!!!
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Good2Go
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #41 on: 01/25/17, 12:46 PM »

As I described in my initial post it was a small slope that would not propagate and potentially encompass a large amount of terrain, unlike the place where the skin track was. It was a risk I felt comfortable taking and understood, therefore I ski cut the slope and went to safe zone.

On the descent you spend less time in the line of fire and can minimize risk more effectively- i.e. ski cutting if done properly. Putting skin track up a potentially unstable slope and opening yourself up to a ton of hang fire above on a very popular descent is completely different.  

This is actually just plain wrong.  Vast majority of avy incidents happen on the way down.  Believing you can ski cut your way to safety on a big slope has killed many "experts".
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Good2Go
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #42 on: 01/25/17, 12:48 PM »

Really? You can't see the difference between spending 2 minutes on an avalanche prone slope (during which you know what is going on around you) vs. spending hours on a slope (where others are likely to drop in on top of you, in the upper terrain that you have agreed is more likely to slide)?

This exemplifies the fallacy. If you think there is a reasonable chance that slope will slide, you shouldn't ski it.  Plenty of other options around there.
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Good2Go
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #43 on: 01/25/17, 12:50 PM »

Question for the Bagley Police:  Would you have raised this fuss if the OP had placed that track 300 yards to the lookers' right?
Backcountry Asshattery? 

Guarantee I have smashed more untracked pow than you bud.
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Jim Oker
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #44 on: 01/25/17, 12:55 PM »

When the cost is not great, I'd MUCH rather assess a slope from clues gathered from adjacent slopes on a climb somewhere not exposed to one long slope, as well as from a bit of checking of snow conditions while skiing down from above. Add to that the  high probability of folks coming in from far above at such a busy area and I know what my choice would be on any day that was  worth skiing, even a moderate hazard powder snow day. It's about margin  of error - even if I'm not worried about the  slope (why else would I want to  ski it?) this gives me a little more margin of error. Over a lifetime the odds add up... I get that others make a different decision - that much is rather obvious. That whole width of Table from the Bagley Lakes side is just such a nice "lapping slope" when  it's not already tracked up, that I think it's always going to lure folks even to the spots lookers left where there is  very reasonable top-access via an only-moderately-longer climb. It's a free world and more of us than ever are enjoying it.

But nonetheless I think it's good that the decision is being discussed as IMO this is hitting on some super important route planning factors.
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RonL
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #45 on: 01/25/17, 01:04 PM »

Ok that does it. I am putting on my snowshoes and coming for your skin track. These pictures will be helpful.
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hop
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #46 on: 01/25/17, 01:19 PM »

Question for the Bagley Police:  Would you have raised this fuss if the OP had placed that track 300 yards to the lookers' right?
Guarantee I have smashed more untracked pow than you bud.

Yes, for all of the same reasons already listed.  No matter what alternative facts you want to believe, it's impossible to safely assess that slope from below if you're 300m to the right, left or anywhere on that wall.  Maybe if it's frozen solid and you're climbing with crampons and an ice axe but when it's pow, on a "considerable" day with signs of instabilities already there, you're fooling yourself to think otherwise. 

Guarantee that I don't care if you think this is a pow-smashing competition, pal. 

Clearly you're as stubborn as the rest of us, just on the other end of the safety spectrum.  Like Jim Oker said - I would much rather have a larger margin for error because I don't know everything and am never 100% sure that my assessments (or that of BC users around or above me) are bombproof. 
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Jim Oker
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #47 on: 01/25/17, 01:49 PM »

Worth adding that it's quite possible to ski  that  slope one-at-a-time with  radio  or cell phone contact between the first and last skiers in a group to give the "slope is  clear!" signal from below for each skier after the first crust-and-slab detector. It doesn't add lot of time to a trip down. Much harder to limit group exposure on that  uptrack...
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Scotsman
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #48 on: 01/25/17, 01:53 PM »

It should be noted that the most recent avy death in Washington involved a  friend of mine and occurred while she was skinning not skiing in the Crystal BC.
See the latest  NWAC accident report.
The were of course other circumstances particular to that accident that were tragic ( solo).
One of my biggest fears is being on an avy slope with skins on ( toes locked, huge anchors on my feet) no possibility to try and ski to a safe zone etc.

Thank you HOP for a thoughtful intervention.



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Jason4
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Re: January 21, Table Mountain Area Laps
« Reply #49 on: 01/25/17, 02:02 PM »

If it was dangerous, you shouldn't have skied it, right?  if it was safe, you could skin it, right? Which is it?  Personally, I prefer to assess a slope like that from below.  Experience (not my home area, but I've skied it plenty of times over the past 15 years or so), has taught me that the instabilities are generally at the ridgeline up there (like most places).

I've frequently found instabilities at mid slope in the Bagley bowl area.  If I had to put a count to it only 1/4 of the avalanches I've been involved with in that bowl have been at the top of little AK (the real little AK off the top of Table, not from the side entrance).  The rest have all started somewhere mid slope well below the ridgeline.  I've made lots of mistakes, hopefully other people can learn from them.
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