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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Good a place to ask this as any.

I mostly ride with people who are intermediate-to-advanced (whatever that means), or the more experienced riders are inbound/groomer speed demons but far less confident on ungroomed/hike-to powder bowls/sidecountry/slack country etc. Obviously, if I find someone who wants to ride the latter I jump at the chance, but it doesn't come along too often.

This results in me doing a number of the following things:
- going off on my own in terrain that's inbounds, but far out of earshot from anyone and in deep powder/trees
- taking someone less experienced into terrain that in hindsight is a bit too challenging for them. this is fine, unless it's trees and you lose each other very easily
- doing powdery tree runs solo, or losing your buddy in there
- going into side/slack country on my own (again, still in-resort.. I would NOT go into backcountry solo for obvious reasons)

I'm aware of the hazards and that any of the above would not be recommended by the book, but I don't see how you'd do it without getting into the above situations.

Is this common and normal, or am I being far too reckless?
 

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I had a bad experience taking someone off piste at Chamonix well beyond their ability, no-one was hurt thankfully (close call) but it taught me to avoid putting people in those situations again. Gambling with your own life is one thing, but a lesser experienced rider will probably need you to make the call to not go into unsafe terrain for their level.

I try not to ride solo if there's higher risk, I'll even pair up with a stranger if they're in the same place.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
I had a bad experience taking someone off piste at Chamonix well beyond their ability, no-one was hurt thankfully (close call) but it taught me to avoid putting people in those situations again. Gambling with your own life is one thing, but a lesser experienced rider will probably need you to make the call to not go into unsafe terrain for their level.

I try not to ride solo if there's higher risk, I'll even pair up with a stranger if they're in the same place.
Yeah and to be fair, I'm not talking about taking a blue-run intermediate into steep and deep, just someone who (for example) can ride bumpy blacks reasonably well and taking them into inbounds off-piste.

The second part - higher risk, I'm assuming you mean avy danger, of which I have no training :|
Maybe should take some? At least to be able to spot a potentially dangerous situation?
I guess I just trust the resort to close stuff if it's hazardous.
 

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The second part - higher risk, I'm assuming you mean avy danger, of which I have no training :|
Maybe should take some? At least to be able to spot a potentially dangerous situation?
I guess I just trust the resort to close stuff if it's hazardous.
Get the training(s). It's never a loss to have knowledge, as you mention you think of heli backcountry riding in another thread. US resorts do the work for you for inbounds, but if you ever consider to travel and ride f.e. in Europe, you'll be glad to have some knowledge as there is no "inbound" over here.

As for your pow-unexperienced friends. Well, they never get experienced if they never try. Do it bit by bit. Go into easy inbound with them, so thegcan collect experience and slowly increase the difficulty. They seem to be proficient riders, they should quickly adapt to pow riding.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Get the training(s). It's never a loss to have knowledge, as you mention you think of heli backcountry riding in another thread. US resorts do the work for you for inbounds, but if you ever consider to travel and ride f.e. in Europe, you'll be glad to have some knowledge as there is no "inbound" over here.

As for your pow-unexperienced friends. Well, they never get experienced if they never try. Do it bit by bit. Go into easy inbound with them, so thegcan collect experience and slowly increase the difficulty. They seem to be proficient riders, they should quickly adapt to pow riding.
That's fair. I've been to Euro resorts, when I had far less experience, and from what I can recall the 'line' between on and off piste is far more clearly defined there. You can go off the groomers, but (at least where I've been - Grand Monets, Mayrhofen, Soll) you can't hit anything too remote without being shown it or going well out of your way to look for it. In many NA resorts you just go through a gate.

second part - yep, agreed, same page.
 

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I believe you've got that turned 'round. I think what @neni is saying (...and feel free to correct me if Im wrong nens,) is that in most EU resorts, you could be in danger from slides and dangerous terrain features even while technically riding "inbounds!!"

I can't recall if it was @neni, or someone else here who linked a vid of an avalanche that rolled into & over the patrolled & avy controlled lifts area & groomed runs of some European resort. Scary shite! :blink:
 

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Good a place to ask this as any.
...
I'm aware of the hazards and that any of the above would not be recommended by the book, but I don't see how you'd do it without getting into the above situations.

Is this common and normal, or am I being far too reckless?
Common/normal vs reckless...is going to largely dependent on your knowledge, skills, prepardness and mental abilities to handle the oooh shite...and a large part is going to be dependent on being a local. The other part is the hill and the patrol. At the local hill there is definitely OH Shit and no go places in-bounds and infact have been numerous deaths over the years due to dumbshittery, being in over their head, not being aware of terrain and snow conditions. However, with some knowledge, skills and good judgement these areas are completely negotiable or appropriately avoidable. The patrollers and locals are quite eagle-eyed, more so than tourist and gapers realize because of being and having local knowledge; and will offer assistance, watch, spot and notify patrol of folks if they look to be getting into or are in trouble. Unprepared folks will get the shit scared out of them, get a patrolled ass reaming or be dead. However, patrols' general stance, if know what you are doing have fun...but you better know what your are doing...cause we will not be happy rescuing or recovering yo ass.

If tourist folks look like they know what they are doing but unsure of the route/line, I will often offer a guided tour. Otherwise, I'll just drop the line by myself and if they choose to follow it at their own risk.

edit...but @chomps1211 reminds me that its ok to push/challenge folks...for fun and entertainment...brahhaa:hairy:
 

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Wrath is right- you're depending on yourself, your friends, and your collective knowledge of the local area and conditions. Ducking through the trees on your own or with noobs is different than going into unpatrolled slackcountry. Patrol doesn't really blast back there like on the frontside, and they don't patrol the area looking for people either. It's best to treat it as backcountry that you got to ride a couch up to. I'd recommend sticking to the patrolled glades by yourself until you make friends who can hang or your buddies get up to the task. I wish I had more slackcountry friends myself.
 

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In lots of Europe as soon as you get off the groomers (off piste) you are on your own and it's effectively back country/side country

Resorts do blast snow off the riskiest slopes that might slide onto marked pistes, and they don't open lifts and slopes until they class them as safe, but they don't guarantee an off piste slope won't be at risk of avalanche. It's left up to the rider to decide if safe or not (avalanche risk is published each morning)
 

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I think it's fairly normal to lose your buddies in the trees sometimes, everyone should know there's some risks involved with doing so. Seems like good communication in any form be it a pre plan, old fashioned yelling or technological based is the key.
For the most part when people brought inexperienced me into the trees they often tried to wait at certain spots where the trees cleared up and did bird calls or whistles to try and keep in communication if the line of sight is gone. As a novice I instinctively tried to keep their track in sight and would eventually meet back up after I had a fall and spent too much time trying to get up in powder because they were nice enough to wait. I do the same kind of thing when I bring people in the trees now that I'm more experienced. I try my best to keep them in the line of sight even if it means riding a little slower or losing a bit of full out ripping to keep dibs on them. If I do lose sight I'll stop and do a few "hooot" calls and keep alert for a call back or a visual of them. It gets tricky to know when to move on or keep waiting. If that fails I'll ride down to where the trees meet the run and try to find a spot where I can wait some more with a good visual line of the run so I can see them wherever they pop out, or wait at a major intersection where they will have to pass by. If all else fails I usually make a plan to meet back at the last lift we were on.
Seems like most riders have the common sense to wait on the main runs or at the lift if we get separated. My backup plan if I never do find them is to ride the same run and look for them in case they are injured or stuck in a tree well, thank god it has never come to that for me. But like I said, of course there are risks and at the end of the day it's up to you as an individual to know your limits or when you can push them a little, and also accept the outcome of your decisions. Luckily cell reception is surprisingly good where I ride so that also helps sometimes. Some good walkie talkies would make a huge difference too.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Common/normal vs reckless...is going to largely dependent on your knowledge, skills, prepardness and mental abilities to handle the oooh shite...and a large part is going to be dependent on being a local. The other part is the hill and the patrol. At the local hill there is definitely OH Shit and no go places in-bounds and infact have been numerous deaths over the years due to dumbshittery, being in over their head, not being aware of terrain and snow conditions. However, with some knowledge, skills and good judgement these areas are completely negotiable or appropriately avoidable. The patrollers and locals are quite eagle-eyed, more so than tourist and gapers realize because of being and having local knowledge; and will offer assistance, watch, spot and notify patrol of folks if they look to be getting into or are in trouble. Unprepared folks will get the shit scared out of them, get a patrolled ass reaming or be dead. However, patrols' general stance, if know what you are doing have fun...but you better know what your are doing...cause we will not be happy rescuing or recovering yo ass.

If tourist folks look like they know what they are doing but unsure of the route/line, I will often offer a guided tour. Otherwise, I'll just drop the line by myself and if they choose to follow it at their own risk.

edit...but @chomps1211 reminds me that its ok to push/challenge folks...for fun and entertainment...brahhaa:hairy:
What's the local hill out of interest? If you don't want to say, list a few of a similar nature :)

Everything you say makes complete sense. I think it's maybe just difficult to judge yourself on "knowledge, skills, prepardness and mental abilities to handle the oooh shite". I feel pretty confident pretty much anywhere I've been (which has included a lot of side/slack country, but no true backcountry). But I've definitely been in places, especially trees with deep pow and poor vis, that I get a sobering realisation that if I crash I could be in deep trouble. I do then of course ride a bit more conservatively. Hopefully, this is an example of the 'good judgment' you also speak of (y)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
In lots of Europe as soon as you get off the groomers (off piste) you are on your own and it's effectively back country/side country

Resorts do blast snow off the riskiest slopes that might slide onto marked pistes, and they don't open lifts and slopes until they class them as safe, but they don't guarantee an off piste slope won't be at risk of avalanche. It's left up to the rider to decide if safe or not (avalanche risk is published each morning)
I think this is the same in NA though, especially if you go through a gate or hike to terrain. Maybe they do more blasting to reduce the avy risk than in Europe (no idea), but even if it is patrolled it's certainly remote enough that you'd have a very slim chance of being found in time if you get into serious trouble.

They certainly never guarantee that any part of the mountain is guaranteed avy safe. You know what litigation is like in the US, the waiver you have to acknowledge when buying a pass is pages long :LOL:
 

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What's the local hill out of interest? If you don't want to say, list a few of a similar nature :)

Everything you say makes complete sense. I think it's maybe just difficult to judge yourself on "knowledge, skills, prepardness and mental abilities to handle the oooh shite". I feel pretty confident pretty much anywhere I've been (which has included a lot of side/slack country, but no true backcountry). But I've definitely been in places, especially trees with deep pow and poor vis, that I get a sobering realisation that if I crash I could be in deep trouble. I do then of course ride a bit more conservatively. Hopefully, this is an example of the 'good judgment' you also speak of (y)
Mt Baker, its a fun little hill that you can make as challenging as you want or not. Part of the challenge is that it is wickedly seductive...you get lured in and once in, its like o'shit (what's the route out, can't see ((due to blind lines, fog or puke)) and perhaps its more of a technical terrain.) It becomes...am I going to make it...at least gonna get my ass handed to me. There are places depending on skill level, that when the conditions are right its glorious and if conditions are bad...its suicidal. There are some hour-glass lines that once you roll over there is no way out except for down...but the kinked throat is 36" wide so no side slipping...technical when its great (however there is still risk of the upper bowl sluffing and mashing you through the throat) and dicey/deadly at other times...some seasons its not ever ridable. Another place comes to mind...the little sign on the tree notes "Are you sure, you should be here?"...however by the time you see the sign...its too late brahahaa.

As for judging yourself...at least at an unfamiliar hill, its best to tag-a-long with a competent local. Btw after 16 seasons there are still quite a few places at Baker I want to hit, but will not do it without someone to guide me through. And some places that I've done once or twice but still not confident to hit it by myself.

The whole thing about backcountry, is its the scale. If you get in trouble, equipment malfunction or simple injury, it could easily be 6-16+ hour ordeal to get out...even with help. Quite a few years ago went out with Killz and crew to get my cherry popped...got my ass handed to me...but learned a lot. Anyway, a few days later one of the crew iirc got taken down in a small avy and blew out a knee...despite three of the crew being all good, it was still like a 10 hour slog and arriving after midnight back to the parking area...only 2-3 miles out.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Mt Baker, its a fun little hill that you can make as challenging as you want or not. Part of the challenge is that it is wickedly seductive...you get lured in and once in, its like o'shit (what's the route out, can't see ((due to blind lines, fog or puke)) and perhaps its more of a technical terrain.) It becomes...am I going to make it...at least gonna get my ass handed to me. There are places depending on skill level, that when the conditions are right its glorious and if conditions are bad...its suicidal. There are some hour-glass lines that once you roll over there is no way out except for down...but the kinked throat is 36" wide so no side slipping...technical when its great (however there is risk of the upper bowl sluffing and mashing you through the throat) and dicey/deadly at other times...some seasons its not ever ridable. Another place comes to mind...the little sign on the tree notes "Are you sure, you should be here?"...however by the time you see the sign...its too late brahahaa.

As for judging yourself...at least at an unfamiliar hill, its best to tag-a-long with a competent local. Btw after 16 seasons there are still quite a few places at Baker I want to hit, but will not do it without someone to guide me through. And some places that I've done once or twice but still not confident to hit it by myself.
Yup that makes perfect sense. Been to Baker once and conditions were really challenging - that really deep, but really wet snow that you often get in the PNW, and poor visibility.

I understand that it's known to be a mountain that you do not fuck around off-piste unless you know the conditions, terrain and what you're doing (or are with a local, as you say). Given the conditions I had that day, I can see why. Hope to get there again this winter (y)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I think it's fairly normal to lose your buddies in the trees sometimes, everyone should know there's some risks involved with doing so. Seems like good communication in any form be it a pre plan, old fashioned yelling or technological based is the key.
For the most part when people brought inexperienced me into the trees they often tried to wait at certain spots where the trees cleared up and did bird calls or whistles to try and keep in communication if the line of sight is gone. As a novice I instinctively tried to keep their track in sight and would eventually meet back up after I had a fall and spent too much time trying to get up in powder because they were nice enough to wait. I do the same kind of thing when I bring people in the trees now that I'm more experienced. I try my best to keep them in the line of sight even if it means riding a little slower or losing a bit of full out ripping to keep dibs on them. If I do lose sight I'll stop and do a few "hooot" calls and keep alert for a call back or a visual of them. It gets tricky to know when to move on or keep waiting. If that fails I'll ride down to where the trees meet the run and try to find a spot where I can wait some more with a good visual line of the run so I can see them wherever they pop out, or wait at a major intersection where they will have to pass by. If all else fails I usually make a plan to meet back at the last lift we were on.
Seems like most riders have the common sense to wait on the main runs or at the lift if we get separated. My backup plan if I never do find them is to ride the same run and look for them in case they are injured or stuck in a tree well, thank god it has never come to that for me. But like I said, of course there are risks and at the end of the day it's up to you as an individual to know your limits or when you can push them a little, and also accept the outcome of your decisions. Luckily cell reception is surprisingly good where I ride so that also helps sometimes. Some good walkie talkies would make a huge difference too.
Yeah, you've almost word for word explained my general MO for dealing with losing mates in trees. The problem is that yelling and bird calls often go unheard, and there are so many ways down, so as you say it's tough to know whether to stay or wait. And if you bomb down, wait at the chair for 10 minutes, head back up and try to follow their tracks.. if you can even locate them, if they're stuck in a tree well it's probably too late. Likewise it's thankfully never come to that!

Walkie talkies are a good idea. Smartphones have a habit of dying in cold or wet conditions, and it's a general pain to get your phone out.
 

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Yup that makes perfect sense. Been to Baker once and conditions were really challenging - that really deep, but really wet snow that you often get in the PNW, and poor visibility.

I understand that it's known to be a mountain that you do not fuck around off-piste unless you know the conditions, terrain and what you're doing (or are with a local, as you say). Given the conditions I had that day, I can see why. Hope to get there again this winter (y)
PM if you plan on getting out this way...and bring your splitty and avy gear.
 

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Yup that makes perfect sense. Been to Baker once and conditions were really challenging - that really deep, but really wet snow that you often get in the PNW, and poor visibility.

I understand that it's known to be a mountain that you do not fuck around off-piste unless you know the conditions, terrain and what you're doing (or are with a local, as you say). Given the conditions I had that day, I can see why. Hope to get there again this winter (y)
For real.
I did a trip to Baker with my wife and at the time we were riding Big White where a ski boundary rope usually means fresh powder and some more challenging terrain. We thought nothing about ducking the ropes at Baker as we saw some tracks that already did, but the tracks quickly veered out of the fresh and back to the run, my first thought was to keep going straight but luckily I listened to my gut and somewhere at the bottom we could we we avoided a 300 foot death drop.
 

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For real.
I did a trip to Baker with my wife and at the time we were riding Big White where a ski boundary rope usually means fresh powder and some more challenging terrain. We thought nothing about ducking the ropes at Baker as we saw some tracks that already did, but the tracks quickly veered out of the fresh and back to the run, my first thought was to keep going straight but luckily I listened to my gut and somewhere at the bottom we could we we avoided a 300 foot death drop.
At Bakes, if it looks great but nobody is hitting it...that's a warning...there is a reason. Cause otherwise its fuck'n animals here that tear up the place.
 

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age also has an effect on this. I take less risks the older I get. Fear can be very useful sometimes....It also depends on who you are with.
I was riding with my wife last season in the Vail back Bowls and she is kind of a klutz on skis in powder. We get separated even with walkie talkies and she wouldn't answer. I didn't know if she could even hear me buzzing her or not. I rode down thinking she might have got around me through the trees, but she wasn't at the bottom of the lift. Needless to say I became worried. do I wait here for her or ride the series of lifts and do the loooong traverse to get back to where we dropped in and look for her? is she in a tree well ?
Thankfully she buzzed me after about 45 minutes of worry that she was OK. She was floundering in the powder and couldn't reach the radio.

Even with experienced friends, I know it would be quite easy, either in bounds or out, to be riding powder and get separated in the trees. Someone could easily end-up in a tree well in a matter of seconds and the partner may never see this happen. If the partner rides downhill even a hundred yards before they notice the other is gone, good luck figuring out what happened.... I've been in snow so steep & deep that it would be literally impossible to climb back up to look for someone who has disappeared
 
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