Forums Avy Discussion Forum Buddy Systems Viewing 13 posts - 1 through 13 (of 13 total) Author Posts December 25, 2009 at 5:27 am #572593 russman 689 Posts How do you guys feel about solo backcountry travel? I’ve always held the concept of the climbing partner/shred buddy in an almost religious light. Safety aside, for me the sense of comraderie with partners in the mountains is probably the most important part of mountain travel. I was very surprised to see a guy skinning out across a 35 degree slope yesterday 5 miles from the bc line. The slope was wind loaded, and I actually set off a nice 20 foot wide, 9 inch deep powder slab (was in a relatively safe spot and I was able to hold my edge on the hard undersurface). It struck me how stupid it seems to head out solo, not mentioning that he is probably a loner and has no friends! Last thing I’ll dicuss, is the whole saying of “no friends on powder days” also goes against every domain of the buddy system. At Mount Baker, the culture I’ve experienced is that egos and selfish mindsets elicit behaviors that have the potential to be fatal (like bombing from the top of the arm down to the bottom of chair 8 without looking back to see how the buddy is doing). Anyway, I’ve witnessed some things recently that really drive home for me the importance of choosing good partners. December 25, 2009 at 4:27 pm #623654 surfsnowywaves 60 Posts I’m a firm believer in knowing where your head is at. That means that going solo can be completely acceptable. If you feel comfortable with: a) your knowledge level b) your risk avoidance level c) your ability to turn back d) the hard realities of the physical environment (snowpack, terrain, etc) e) the worst case scenario then going out solo is completely O.K. That being said, there’s plenty of people out there who don’t realize all of these things and head out anyways. I don’t deal with the avy danger that you western folks have, but I fully enjoy going out solo. There’s plenty of days when I go ride with other folks, those are the days reserved for steep and deep. However, when I go out solo, I go to places where I feel comfortable in my skill level and ability compared to the terrain. I fully enjoy a solo day of mellow skiing or riding where I can just connect with the woods and the mountains. Edit to add: Just because you buddy up doesn’t intrinsically make you safer. If you buddy up, it adds complexity to any situation because you’re dealing with two inputs, which can be good or bad. Yes, you do have someone that can attempt a rescue, however, that is assuming you choose a wise and capable partner. December 25, 2009 at 9:14 pm #623655 Snurfer 1448 Posts I see both soloists AND groups doing stupid shit all the time…. Hopefully this short sightedness on the matter doesn’t extend into the backcountry. Camaraderie can make a trip fun and memorable, but remains a non-technical reason not to solo. Other than rescue and evacuation I see no technically valid reason to go with partners. Just remember a soloist on tour may just save your ass one day and I’d bet they’d have at least one friend. 😉 Shark Snowsurf Chuna Voile V-Tail 170 BC Voile One Ninety Five Spark R&D Arc December 26, 2009 at 7:24 pm #623656 mountainvoodoo 80 Posts I tend to go solo pretty often. I have learned that I seem to be more cautious going solo than with partners. I do like the safety in numbers aspect of partnership though. When solo I find that I am almost hypersensitive to my surroundings, that I feel and sense more than when I am with a group. I also find that risk assessment becomes easier as I do not have multiple rationalizations about the snowpack, weather, or route complicating the decision process. If I decide to abandon the route, no big deal, i’m not letting anyone down. Of course the downside of the solo scenerio is the smallest mistake can quickly compound into serious trouble. I can attest to Snurfers comments about a solo rider saving the day. Several years ago, I snowmobiled to the base of a bowl nearby. I skinned, summited and dropped all without a problem. While on the way out, I hit something under the snow and was bucked off the sled. Not injured, but the sled wedged itself perfectly between two trees. I coul not move it at all, even with a 3:1 system that I set up. I decided to skin out as it was already dark. Just as I was leaving the snowmobile, this solo tele skier came out of no where and helped me get the machine out. This was pretty remote, and all day, I did not see any tracks. The guy saved my ass from a cold, long, long, skin home. Never got his name as he simply skied off into the night after helping. December 28, 2009 at 12:58 am #623657 ale_capone 864 Posts russman wrote: How do you guys feel about solo backcountry travel? I’ve always held the climbing partner/shred buddy in me….. the sense of comraderie with partners in the mountains is probably the most important part ….. It struck me how stupid it seems to head out solo, not mentioning that he is probably a loner and has no friends! Quote: I am a loner and I solo all the time. Sorry you think you need a boi friend to enjoy the mountains. December 29, 2009 at 6:05 pm #623658 rky mtn srfr 152 Posts @russman wrote: It struck me how stupid it seems to head out solo, not mentioning that he is probably a loner and has no friends! That’s a very poor assumption. I would bet that the safety in numbers herd mentality is far more responsible for avy accidents than the soloist. When you’re solo, whether it’s by choice or not, you minimize and manage your risk appropriately. However, I absolutely would not recommend solo bc tours for beginners. You need solid knowledge on all fronts, skill, experience, trustworthy gear, and a plan that someone else also knows about before going solo. December 30, 2009 at 4:54 am #623659 russman 689 Posts I’m glad this started discussion!! Mostly I just think it’s good to talk about these things. The real issue is choosing a great partner. I’m guilty of solo stuff, and those days remain some of my most amazing experiences. Although going solo inreases awareness and possibly also conservative behavior, I realize that if I got into trouble on those days that bad stuff could have happened. Basically, I don’t think anyone can deny that 2 is safer than 1. The attitude of each individual the key…. December 30, 2009 at 4:59 pm #623660 ale_capone 864 Posts I was going to originaly mention about how some of the most inspiring(to me) ski mountaineers in the PNW go do some rad shit solo all the time. Then loooky here… Wonder, was this the guy you seen skinning off on his own? Dan the man on shuksan December 30, 2009 at 5:21 pm #623661 russman 689 Posts @ale_capone wrote: I was going to originaly mention about how some of the most inspiring(to me) ski mountaineers in the PNW go do some rad shit solo all the time. Then loooky here… Wonder, was this the guy you seen skinning off on his own? Dan the man on shuksan Well, I saw the guy out near White pass… It was only surprising because the slope seemed wind loaded and he was in a potentially gangerous position as I’d seen slide action that day… I wonder what Reinhold Mesner would pipe in? 🙂 December 30, 2009 at 6:12 pm #623662 ale_capone 864 Posts =”russman I wonder what Reinhold Mesner would pipe in? 🙂 probably… “Why the fuck have I not been boarding back down?” :thatrocks: December 30, 2009 at 7:09 pm #623663 russman 689 Posts @snurfer wrote: …….I see no technically valid reason to go with partners….. 😉 Dude there are countless “technical” reasons to have a partner in the mountains! For example, would you cross a crevasse bridge without a belay? What about sketchy traverses or icy climbs up chutes? Without pickets, a rope, and a PARTNER some of these activities become absolutely irresponsible. I won’t for a second dispute the amazing value of solo ventures into the wilds. Yesterday I skinned up to the saddle between Table Mountain and Mt Herman. I was by myself and had the plan to climb the chute linking the saddle to Table’s summit plateau, skin across the top and then drop down the North side of Artist Point. At the base of the chute in a safe zone I dug a snow pit. There was about 1.5 feet of new windblown powder on top of the hard chunder from earlier in the season. Everything looked super solid except for the top 2 inches which had formed on surface hoar. I’m sure it would have been fine, but I realized that without a partner there was no margin for error. So, I turned around and rode down the way I came. This was just another example of self-preservation taking priority over my ambitions. Its hard to say whether or not I would have climbed up the chute even with a partner; I’m guessing the answer is probably yes, as my decision yesterday was pretty conservative. Ideally, having partners should never influence mindful behaviors, but the situation yesterday probably could have been safely managed with a buddy (could even belay up). The thing is, is that so many amazing soloists have died over the years and nobody was there to even know what happened. Being able to draw the line on risk management is something I think even people like JJones have to work on. December 30, 2009 at 8:47 pm #623664 chase_e 81 Posts I think it comes down to who your riding partner is. I for one feel much much safer when I am with someone else. It gives you two point of views on the given conditions. As a avalanche noob it’s a must have. It also helps that my riding partner is my brother whom I would trust with my life over anyone in this world. But on those days he can’t go out, I go solo, Watch conditions closely, and take things with a conservative approach. December 30, 2009 at 9:41 pm #623665 Snurfer 1448 Posts @russman wrote: @snurfer wrote: …….I see no technically valid reason to go with partners….. 😉 Precisely….. “I see no”, as opposed to “There are no”…… :doobie: Shark Snowsurf Chuna Voile V-Tail 170 BC Voile One Ninety Five Spark R&D Arc Viewing 13 posts - 1 through 13 (of 13 total) You must be logged in to reply to this topic.