telemark skiingbackcountry skiingPacific NorthwestWashington and Oregonweather linksThe Yuki AwardsMt. Rainier and Mt. Adams
Turns All Year
www.turns-all-year.com
  Help | Search | Login | Register
Turns All Year Trip Reports
Backcountry Skiing and Snowboarding

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
06/28/17, 12:18 PM

Solar Halo over Tahoma
on TAY home page
 
Trip Reports Sponsor
Feathered Friends
Feathered Friends
Turns All Year Trip Reports
(1) Viewing these pages constitutes your acceptance of the Terms of Use.
(2) Disclaimer: the accuracy of information here is unknown, use at your own risk.
(3) Trip Report monthly boards: only actual trip report starts a new thread.
(4) Keep it civil and constructive - that is the norm here.
 
FOAC Snow
Info Exchange


NWAC Avalanche
Forecast
+  Turns All Year Trip Reports
|-+  Hot Air
| |-+  Random Tracks: posts that don't fit elsewhere
| | |-+  Solo BC Skiers
:
« previous next »
Pages: [1] 2  All | Go Down Print
Author Topic: Solo BC Skiers  (Read 12979 times)
joepa
5Member
Offline

Posts: 47


Solo BC Skiers
« on: 03/01/17, 09:31 AM »

Over the last few years, I feel like I've noticed an uptick in the number of solo BC skiers I come across out there. Call me old-fashioned, but when I can't find a partner, I just don't go. Even to the "safe" places. (OK, I've skinned up Hyak face and skied back down by myself before work.) Yeah, it's a bummer when I can't find a partner on a powder day, but it feels like the right decision to me.

Curious about what others think. Have you noticed more solo BC skiers? Do you go solo or stay home and do your house chores?
Logged
jakedouglas
Member
Offline

Posts: 124


Re: Solo BC Skiers
« Reply #1 on: 03/01/17, 10:08 AM »

I end up doing most of my touring alone, and often prefer it that way. I don't know that there's a whole lot to this conversation aside from the same differences in risk/reward perception that are the basis of most safety disagreements. Being alone is obviously worse in the event of an accident. Whether you're more or less likely to get into an accident alone depends on you and your partners.

I carry a bunch of stuff. I ski conservatively, whatever that means. I'm vigilant about watching changing weather and conditions. I'm quick to back off if I see something that I'm not comfortable with. I'm aware of whether anyone is around that could potentially render aid, while accepting that I'm probably still on my own most of the time.

I might not take on quite the same objectives that I would with a partner, but there's also nothing about a partner that makes the mountains a care-free playground for me. In practice my behavior isn't all that different when I'm solo.
Logged
joepa
5Member
Offline

Posts: 47


Re: Solo BC Skiers
« Reply #2 on: 03/01/17, 10:43 AM »

Thanks for the perspective. Just curious to hear people's thoughts. I'm often tempted to go solo but have rarely done so. You're right, it is a similar risk/reward discussion that you can have about many of the things we do in life, and it's probably one that's been debated on TAY before.

I choose to head out with someone not only to be able to help each other out in an accident (like the fluke fall I took that sliced open my leg on the way down to Melakwa Lake last year), but also for bouncing thoughts off of one another about avy conditions, terrain, etc. Having a partner certainly doesn't ensure a care-free journey; but for me, I think it makes it a more careful adventure. Again, risk/reward ...
Logged
jakedouglas
Member
Offline

Posts: 124


Re: Solo BC Skiers
« Reply #3 on: 03/01/17, 11:12 AM »

I think it's indisputable that having a partner in the event of an accident like the one you describe is better, and this is mostly what weighs on my mind when I'm out alone.

I think it's much less clear and highly variable that partner input on avalanche decision making leads to better decisions. It seems like it would totally depend on the disposition of you and your partner and the dynamic between you. So far my own intuitions have served me pretty well and looking back I can't put my finger on any cases where I would have made a more conservative decision with partner input, at least not since being a complete newbie. This is all said with the caveat that I'm not usually skiing the most exciting terrain when solo, or even with a partner for that matter.

When I'm out alone I also have nothing to prove and no one to disappoint if I back off of something. This makes it very easy to do when I have doubts.
Logged
Pete_H
Member
Offline

Posts: 262


Re: Solo BC Skiers
« Reply #4 on: 03/01/17, 11:32 AM »

In some ways I feel that skiing solo is safer because I ski more conservatively and it's easier to make decisions to back off. It's easier to make the decision to ski something more dangerous when you're in a group. I think the people I ski with make good decisions and have good experience but you definitely tend to push it more when you ski with partners.
Logged
aaron_wright
Member
Offline

Posts: 573


Re: Solo BC Skiers
« Reply #5 on: 03/01/17, 11:40 AM »

Do you ever hike or bike alone in remote areas? It's really no different. When I'm alone I'm always way more conservative than when I'm with a partner. I do most of my backcountry travel solo or with the dogs, year round.
Logged
David_Lowry
Member
Offline

Posts: 124


Re: Solo BC Skiers
« Reply #6 on: 03/01/17, 11:53 AM »

I prefer a partner. Wife's knees crapped out long ago, kids have either moved away or are too busy with other stuff. When you live in East Jesus like I do, you can find lots of partners to go kill wildlife but not to go BC skiing. I skijored for the last 20 years but have wound that down. There was a zero percent chance of finding anyone to do THAT with. Solo is consequently my primary mode. I should spring for a PLB but I do tend to stick close to 2M repeaters and cell phone coverage.
Logged
haggis
Member
Offline

Posts: 382


Re: Solo BC Skiers
« Reply #7 on: 03/01/17, 12:41 PM »

I will say that the recent explosion in wintertime BC users has increased the risk of getting an avalanche knocked down on you from above.  This is how it is suspected that Monte Busby died last season when out solo.  A partner helps there assuming both don't get caught.  If you have an accident there is always the likely chance you can press the SOS on a GPS locator if it came to it.  Avalanche and you are likely out of luck.

That being said, if I go solo its likely just for the exercise and the views and not for the turn quality unless I can mitigate the risk of other users which limits terrain choice substantially.
Logged
Charlie Hagedorn
Member
Offline

Posts: 1785


WWW
Re: Solo BC Skiers
« Reply #8 on: 03/01/17, 06:47 PM »

The biggest thing about solo travel and safety is that the consequences of many small mishaps are amplified, some to the ultimate degree.

Making sure that your body can be found is important. Searchers will look for you; their risk and effort deserves respect. A plan shared with a responsible party, an active satellite tracker, a Recco tag, and a turned-on cell phone can all aid a recovery effort (not necessarily in that order).

I've loved skiing alone for many years, the freedom and efficiency is unmatched. "The sensation is akin to coasting down the motorway after being held up at every set of traffic lights in Glasgow" -- Tom Patey

Great partners are really wonderful, and lower some risks; I haven't skied alone this season. I'll ski alone again in the future, but for now, it feels good to come home.
Logged

Randy
Member
Offline

Posts: 1262


Re: Solo BC Skiers
« Reply #9 on: 03/01/17, 07:16 PM »

Remember Monty Busbee.

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/remains-found-june-4-near-snoqualmie-pass-confirmed-as-those-of-missing-skier/
Logged
Kyle Miller
Member
Offline

Posts: 630


WWW
Re: Solo BC Skiers
« Reply #10 on: 03/01/17, 07:20 PM »

To me solo trips have a completely different feel than touring with other people, especially in isolated areas where you know no one would find you for quite some time. A few years back I bought a DeLorme Inreach so friends and family could track my progress, communicate and if there was an emergency my location could be sent out. As Charlie said I also wear a beacon as a potential body recovery tool, it may be morbid to think that but it is also realistic. I've had the good fortune to do a few solo week long traverses and I always went to areas I was familiar with and had the perfect weather windows. For the most part I will tone down the riding and as always be careful with exposure both riding and navigation wise. Yes it may be frowned upon but I would never take back those sunrises I watched by myself and taking a nap on top of the 3rd Burrough in early spring for however long I chose.

As for powder day single day laps I will also tour solo but will attempt to minimize my exposure to slabs and sluffs both from myself and above but in all honest I don't do this any differently when with others.
Logged

In a perfect world, everybody would act with the correct etiquette and follow the rules. Human nature as it is= NOT GOING TO HAPPEN....no matter how many discussion on ski blogs/websites. Face reality............
BCSchonwald
5Member
Online

Posts: 22


Re: Solo BC Skiers
« Reply #11 on: 03/01/17, 10:24 PM »

The key issue in solo travel is no one is there to tell you are wrong. No one to give you feedback on how you can be safer. Cognitive Bias and Confidence make it difficult  be honest about how much risk you are actually taking. Solo travel is not safer, just a choice you make.
Logged
Donnelly_M
Member
Offline

Posts: 148


Re: Solo BC Skiers
« Reply #12 on: 03/02/17, 01:06 AM »

In my experience, I often see more groups of people or duos than I see those going at it solo. I see nothing wrong with people touring solo. Some people may prefer to go at it solo while others may have issues that make it difficult for these individuals to make friends and and or maintain relationships with people. Personally, I would rather have the chance to be able to do both solo and tours with others, but unfortunately my social skills are rather weak to say the least plus I realize now in my 40s that I may be paying the consequences for my actions during my 20s. Since I do tour solo quite a bit, I find it interesting that some of my best tours where I ski the hardest are when there are no other people present as has been the case on Heliotrope Ridge on a few occasions. Often times, my most intense feelings of loneliness are when I'm touring and I encounter many groups of people and even remember passing this one group where this man was touring with eight other women on the Muir snowfield. One reason I ski at Stevens and not at Baker is I'm opposed to their mandatory buddy system to ski the BC. Skiing solo in the BC and taking extra risks for training purposes while going at it solo may not be the smartest thing to do, but it's better than turning into a basement dweller which is often the case for those in similar situations I find myself in.
« Last Edit: 03/02/17, 01:11 AM by Donnelly_M » Logged
Jim Oker
Moderator
Offline

Posts: 1511


Re: Solo BC Skiers
« Reply #13 on: 03/02/17, 11:03 AM »

I've noticed more  skiers in general, so yeah, there are also more solo skiers. I have  no idea if the percentage has changed.

Aside from "training  laps" at Hyak on  clearly low hazard days, I'll do some  very familiar meadow-skipping style tours on days that may not be great powder opportunities, but where I know travel will be good and relatively safe on the routes I'll choose. E.g. last Thursday, when most of what I skied was either  low angle or had relatively little new snow atop the rain  crust, and what  was on top was not slabby. On  such days, I ski fairly defensively. I see it as sort of "hiking on skis" which  is almost always  more fun for me than hiking on dirt in  wintertime (though I'll choose the  latter when  I don't want to  drive  to  the snow). The biggest difference from hiking being that if I do become incapacitated or worse, it will be much harder for anyone to find me than it would be on  a trail. So  yeah, higher consequence, but I don't think much higher risk of accident than a lot of the solo hiking I've done.
Logged
AlpineRose
Member
Offline

Posts: 168


Re: Solo BC Skiers
« Reply #14 on: 03/02/17, 02:10 PM »

Well put by the previous OP - solo skiing has higher consequence, but the same or lower risk.

What particularly struck me about the Jan. 4th burial in Silver Basin at Crystal Mt. was the fact that if this solo skier had been with a companion, rescue would have been straightforward not even requiring avy gear.  Her burial was so shallow.  She was visible right at the surface.

One other thing.  As one gets older and/or more infirm - and can no longer keep up with the "big boys" - previous partners fall away.  As it becomes harder to find ski companions, the choice more frequently becomes ski solo or not at all.

« Last Edit: 03/02/17, 02:21 PM by AlpineRose » Logged
MW88888888
Member
Offline

Posts: 477


Re: Solo BC Skiers
« Reply #15 on: 03/02/17, 02:12 PM »

I don't think it's any mystery what I think about solo skiing if you take a look at my
TRs.  I have very intense experiences when solo in the bc- is it like rock climbing where the risks make you feel more "alive?"  Don't know, but I love skiing solo.

But your question on more solos?  Not really by proportion of new skiers, I wouldn't think.  A lot more folks, but mostly new skiers in groups, which is cool.  Solo skiing, especially in the bc, I think people realize is not the recommended way if there is an alternative.  But let's not confuse preference for necessity.

I ski solo a lot because I can't sit at home or would go BONKERS, and life has too many obstacles for me to find partners on 75% of my outings - who wants to ski at 6am so you can be home by 9am for 'responsibilities'?  Or ski in the rain at midnight because that is the one day I can?  Going skiing isn't a choice, it's a living for me.

So when I do ski alone, I do not get crazy skiing weird shit in winter, but will try new stuff when bagging 14ers in spring/summer - why?  Because winter snowpack is much more dangerous here in Colorado in winter.  Hero corn opens up opportunities I wouldn't think of skiing solo in winter.

But always in the back of my mind is the "worse case scenario"- there is no ski patrol in the bc.

On a night ski last year I hit a hidden tree stump and twisted my knee pretty bad.  Laying on the snow thinking I had broken my leg, and the long, cold hike out (well, more like a drag) that night had me thinking long and hard about that practice (night skiing solo in the winter).  But alas, I skied that same slope last month solo and at night.

Its not perfect, but it's a living.  Be careful out there and have fun.
Logged
river59
5Member
Offline

Posts: 59


Re: Solo BC Skiers
« Reply #16 on: 03/02/17, 04:42 PM »

I spend the majority (>75%) of my BC days solo, mostly out of necessity. Like MW8, I don't know many folks that want to or are able to get up before dawn for a 15 miles tour. In mid-winter I don't often see too many other solo skiers, mostly groups of 2-5. It is a little more common to run into solo skiers on the volcanoes in the Spring.

The consequences of being involved in an avalanche while out solo are serious, but if you are making conservative route choices and carefully assessing the snowpack I think the most serious and likely risks are associated with gear failures and debilitating injuries.

It is certainly not the safest choice to head out solo, but there are steps that I take that make me more comfortable with the choice, all of which revolve around being prepared to self-rescue or stay put and stay alive, including:

Carrying more gear (mostly clothing, hardware, med supplies) than what is required under ideal conditions.
Spending LOTS of time building and using shelters and fires in terrible conditions, and making sure that I always carry the gear needed to get these tasks accomplished.
Forcing myself to navigate with map and compass at all times, to ensure that it is second nature.
Carrying a ham radio pre-programmed with local LE, fire, SAR, FS frequencies. PLB w/ sat coms would be better.
I could go on and on and on...

I used to subscribe to the fast and light is right mentality, but after many SAR missions I noticed that many subjects and victims that I encountered were not carrying the necessary gear to overnight safely and most of them seemed to not have the knowledge and experience needed to improvise when things got hairy. Knowledge and experience weigh nothing.

I acknowledge that there are many scenarios where gear, experience and knowledge are no substitute for sheer manpower...

Logged
TN
5Member
Offline

Posts: 70


Re: Solo BC Skiers
« Reply #17 on: 03/02/17, 08:09 PM »

All good thoughts above.  I feel that the knowledge, mindset, skills, equipment and confidence to tour ALONE are essential to your safety even if you do not.  Yes! If you are not "good enough" to do it safely alone MAAAYBE you need to "up your game" so to speak even if you don't tour alone! I now carry a DeLorme and have always carried enough to spend the night out (Insulated pants, Puffy with puffy hood, Thick hat plus tall neck gaiter, firestarter etc.)  I used to do evening through next day tours and would hunker in under a good canopy and sleep for hours sitting on my pack against a tree. (My best "weapon" was rear entry Salomon boots with which I could easily change socks so fast that the boot would stay warm for reentry, add heat packs at that point and your whole body will warm up.) Also, to warm up, all I had to do is get up, click in and ski away with all my clothing on.
Most days, I prefer to be with a good crew.  I am "full time" at it now though and don't always seek out partners.  Some days it is so nice to just go my own speed, take looong breaks that few others are equipped for, and totally enjoy JUST BEING OUT THERE!
Logged

"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
glenn_b
Member
Offline

Posts: 311


Re: Solo BC Skiers
« Reply #18 on: 03/02/17, 09:20 PM »

I've got some ski buddies but my most faithful companions over the last 35+ years and many solo tours have mostly been dogs.  First, Levi, a shepherd/yellow lab mix, a good ski dog but prone to attacking small animals(notably marmots, don't ask!) and incessant whining when he wanted to get going.  Now I've got Ariel, our shelter-adopted, Lab/Great Dane mix without Levi's flaws.  Got to say that I love solo touring.  You select your own routes, pace and risk.  I'm more into the tour than the turns so a nice workout up to a view point with a comfortable descent is all I'm usually looking for.  I look at the NWAC forecast, selecting routes accordingly.  I remember a solo tour above Blewett the day Jim Jack and crew got caught at Stevens Pass.  I worked hard that day to find the safest possible route down.
Logged
Pete_H
Member
Offline

Posts: 262


Re: Solo BC Skiers
« Reply #19 on: 03/02/17, 09:59 PM »

I was solo touring that day too up the icicle. The wind was shaking the burned trees and it was snowing and nasty and I remember thinking this would be a shitty day to be skiing anything of consequence.
Logged
freeski
Member
Offline

Posts: 529


Re: Solo BC Skiers
« Reply #20 on: 03/03/17, 08:54 AM »

The key issue in solo travel is no one is there to tell you are wrong. No one to give you feedback on how you can be safer. Cognitive Bias and Confidence make it difficult  be honest about how much risk you are actually taking. Solo travel is not safer, just a choice you make.
 

It would be interesting to see the stats about accident rates for solo skiers vs group skiers.



The only avalanche that took me unaware was when i was with a partner many, many years ago. Right before i saw the crack, i relized that i was in a terrain trap and was starting to exit. I wound up skiing off of the slab and avoided certain death.

The last solo blunder that i made was when i skiied a steep icy coulour and on the first jump turn, my ski pooped off.

 I made the first turn above  the top of one of the only white bark pine trees still sticking out of the snow and was able to get my tools in right away and self arrest, other wise it would have been bye, bye foolish solo skier, wtf were you doing skiing that line solo or even with a partner.

Lesson noted and on to the next test of risky behavior.

let's not kid ourselves, solo or with a partner, many of us are still taking big risks to ski big lines.   
as i'm writing this, i'm getting ready for a solo tour and yes i will be skiing avalanche terrain, with a nasty tree exit.

 my skills will be tested and i going for the rewards  of complete focus, and entering a meditative state, completely surrounded by nature's bliss.


   
« Last Edit: 03/03/17, 09:02 AM by freeski » Logged

"I'm not making love to anyones wishes, only for that light I see." Cat Stevens
Scottk
Member
Offline

Posts: 144


Re: Solo BC Skiers
« Reply #21 on: 03/03/17, 11:56 AM »

I rarely ski alone and when I do I generally try to avoid less traveled routes and often try to hook up with other groups doing the same route.  I've had some great trips with folks that let me tag along.

I usually do a couple climbing trips alone every summer, usually in pursuit of the 100 highest and no class 5.  Sometimes it can be a challenge finding buddies that are interested in 6-10 hours of driving, many trail miles, and some nasty bushwacking to climb a crumbly pile of choss.   I've carried an ARC PLB the last few years which provides some piece of mind that I won't be stuck out there for days with an injury (assuming I have the capability to open my pack and push a button).
Logged
andyski
Member
Offline

Posts: 450


Re: Solo BC Skiers
« Reply #22 on: 03/03/17, 01:00 PM »

I rarely ski alone and when I do I generally try to avoid less traveled routes and often try to hook up with other groups doing the same route.  I've had some great trips with folks that let me tag along.

That's great that you've had luck with this, and it does make sense, however I will say that I've personally experienced this dynamic several times in the last couple years in a way that I found really irritating.

A lot of thought and preparation goes into putting together partners and routes, and it's usually a compromise and almost always a delicate one if you know these people well. Having someone no one in the group has ever met show up and inject themselves into the day while it's going on is something I'm not down with personally.

I have no idea what type of skier or person you are, what avy training you have, what your risk tolerance is, what your expectations for the day are, how fit you are, etc. These are all things typically covered off on before even setting foot on snow. Showing up solo during a tour an expecting another group to take you on seems like a selfish imposition to me, though I'm sure others feel differently or are more charitable.

Like anything, there are better or worse ways to do this, and I've definitely had experiences where this came together really nicely, but I've had way too many occasions recently where our party has been in the middle of a tour or even making a key decision and someone pops in out of nowhere and either assumes it's cool to tag along or tries to beg their way in. Have that convo in the parking lot, not the top of the chute.
« Last Edit: 03/03/17, 01:29 PM by andyski » Logged
kolockum
5Member
Offline

Posts: 22


Re: Solo BC Skiers
« Reply #23 on: 03/03/17, 01:48 PM »

That's great that you've had luck with this, and it does make sense, however I will say that I've personally experienced this dynamic several times in the last couple years in a way that I found really irritating.

A lot of thought and preparation goes into putting together partners and routes, and it's usually a compromise and almost always a delicate one if you know these people well. Having someone no one in the group has ever met show up and inject themselves into the day while it's going on is something I'm not down with personally.

I completely agree. If I am skiing an easy route with friends in terrain I know fairly well then I am fairly-open to having somebody tag along at the last minute. Most people are pretty cool but I have told skiers no because of their poor attitude.

If I am skiing a hard route, long day or multi-day trip then there is no way I would let somebody join at the trail-head.
Logged

Live Hard and Die Old
Andrew Carey
Member
Offline

Posts: 1392


Re: Solo BC Skiers
« Reply #24 on: 03/03/17, 03:37 PM »

Can't help it ;-) :  I haven't skied in British Columbia (BC) in years.  But when I did, all the bc (backcountry) skiers I saw were in groups.  In WA I ski bc solo about 50% of the time, maybe more, and the other times just with my wife.  For me, bc is about solitude; when I want to go to the mall (ski socially, ski front country), I go to White Pass.  Pls excuse the snarkiness.  Nothing ruins my bc experience more than seeing  long lines of people, groups of 8-12, whether they are snowshoeing or skiing.  But, yes, I routinely can find solitude bc, esp mid week.
Logged

... want your own private skintrack? Better move to the yukon dude. (B'ham Allen, 2011).
...USA: government of the people by corporate proxies for business.

Andy Carey, Nisqually Park, 3500 feet below Paradise
Pages: [1] 2  All | Go Up Print 
« previous next »
Jump to:  



Login with username, password and session length

Thank you to our sponsors!
click to visit our sponsor: Feathered Friends
Feathered Friends
click to visit our sponsor: Marmot Mountain Works
Marmot Mountain Works
click to visit our sponsor: Second Ascent
Second Ascent
click to visit our sponsor: American Alpine Institute
American Alpine Institute
click to visit our sponsor: Pro Guiding Service
Pro Guiding Service
Contact turns-all-year.com

Turns All Year Trip Reports ©2001-2010 Turns All Year LLC. All Rights Reserved

The opinions expressed in posts are those of the poster and do not necessarily
reflect the opinions of Trip Reports administrators or Turns All Year LLC


Turns All Year Trip Reports | Powered by SMF 1.0.6.
© 2001-2005, Lewis Media. All Rights Reserved.