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i agree that it can be difficult, i experienced this around heather ridge last year. We were dropping to the SE from the cell tower at the top of the road. There is not really a steep slope to assess right there. I was checking the snow at some of the road cuts on the way up, and on the NE facing slope at our drop in point, and didnt get any reaction. The run starts out in a mellow treed slope heading mostly east, part way down we would veer to the south, the terrain lower down was much steeper and into/across some gullies. I instantly started thinking "watch out things are changing" "terrain trap" I stopped the group and discussed what we were seeing. We agreed to traverse the gullies with extra wide spacing between us and found a treed rib to descend.
In montana i find my self climbing very close to what i am going to ski, at least close enough i can go a little out of the way to get on and assess the slope i plan to ride. I am sure with more experience you begin to gain confidence in relating one aspect/elevation to another, but with the sporadic distribution of weak layers in our mountains i prefer to have a understanding of the snow i am about to ride.
another Continental vs maritime issue i've been dealing with is safe zones. Riding in montana i prefer to ride most slopes top to bottom and stop in a safe area at the bottom of the run, runs usually have limited trees and good visibility, communicating with your partner is not that difficult. In Washington a lot of riding is in trees but still avy terrain. You can loose sight of your partner in a matter of feet, and have limited visibility of the slope above and below. When riding terrain that is not familiar safe zones are hard to find/ decide on. Add in the tree well, deep snow suffocation danger and it is a interesting problem.
Last edited by walove; 09-03-2013 at 10:06 PM.