Forums Splitboard Talk Forum backcountry "etiquette" question
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  • #574564
    wilkez
    176 Posts

    So I was involved in a little bit of an “incident” this past weekend. I will tell the story objectively to try to get some opinions from everybody. I want to get a feel for how the general population feels about this…

    Party A consists of 4 people. They have set a skin track up to an area starting at treeline. The last 150m vertical of the skintrack is through an open meadow (15 degree slope), with a very steep 100m vertical and 100m wide pillow area above it (a somewhat dangerous slope, but not really a high consequence area due to its very small size). The weather is cloudy and lightly snowing. 2 members of party A ski down to photograph the other 2 members of the party riding the pillow lines. 1 photographer is off to the left, out of danger, at the bottom of the pillow line in the meadow. photographer 2 ski cuts above the pillows and get a size 0.5 to go from the top and then moves off to the side in a treed area off the slope to take the pictures. this person relays the message up to the 2 at the top who are about to ride said line, and it’s time to ride.

    Just as this happens, Party B (4 members) comes up the skin track in the meadow below (with plain sight on the pillow line and the photographers on it). The photographer from party A who is on the slope warns party B about what their plan is and that 2 riders are about to come down the slope. 3 members of party B choose to quickly skin up the track and get out of the way, in the time it took for the riders from party A to prepare. A 4th member of Party B was a few mins behind, and his buddies who already crossed the slope yell at him to come up and join them. He asks the photographers to get the riders from party A to stop and wait for him to cross, but the first one has just dropped in and is scoping the line (too late to turn back now). so this member just stand there under the slope and watches.

    Rider 1 from Party A rides down line and ends up right beside this member of party B standing below the slope in the meadow. Party B member decides to tear a piece into the rider, including much vulgar language as he walks away. this member believes that party A put his life in danger by not waiting for him to get out of the way. Party A rider really has no idea what’s going on, because he coulnd’t see or hear what happened before he dropped in and is getting an earful from party B bystander and has no idea why. He then walks away, while still lipping off, and gets out of the way before rider 2 comes down.

    Ok so if that made any sense, who do you think is right and who do you think is wrong? you probably figured out who I am in this story. I was rider 1 from party A. the best part is I actually have gopro footage of this guy lipping me off because I had it on as I rode down. I won’t post though as it would not gain anything for anybody. it will just go down in my collection of funny videos…

    Anyways, as Rider 1 of party A, here is how I see it. I was taking instructions from my 2 friends taking pictures. They told me to go, so I went. Obviously this guy from party B was in a bit of danger being under the slope as we rode it. However, in my opinion, he clearly saw that his group had already passed the danger area and he was behind, and saw that there were already 2 people standing on the dangerous slope. I don’t know why, if you were concerned with your safety, you wouldn’t just wait the 2 minutes for everybody above you to clear the slope before crossing. Yes, there is the other side of the coin saying we should have waited for him to cross underneath, but the problem is that there were already 2 people with cameras on the slope when he showed up. Furthermore, he didn’t express his concern or opinion very well. All I got from him afterwards was a lot of f-bombs and disrespect. Even when I apologized, all I got was a “you better be *&^*&^ing sorry you &*(&(%ing *(&* sucker”. So I really have no respect for this guy at all.

    Anyways, what do you think?

    #637898
    ale_capone
    864 Posts

    a picture of the pillow lines and a map on how to get there would make it much easier to give you my opinion.

    ok,
    first come, first serve. you don’t want to kill anyone but, I think in busier BC areas people need to look up and take other riders and skiers as a sign of instability and get out from under them. quit following skin tracks unless they are taking you where you already intended on going.

    Never quite got the mantra of “suckas droppin in on me” what the hell are you doing down there. get out the way and clear the runout zone foo!

    I watched forrest on top of a steep line waiting to drop as a string of like twenty skiers went below him one by one. Not one of gave into consideration where I just came from, and what we where doing. all just in their own moment.

    #637899
    PedroDelfuego
    758 Posts

    I don’t think you were really “at fault”. Your group was communicating with the other group. The last guy in any group (usually me) is the most tired and may not have been paying 100% attention to the situation. Radios can really help this type of situation.

    It can be really tough and aggravating to see somebody do something dumb (not that what you were doing was dumb) and I have been known to see someone and say “look at that dumbf**k!” only to meet that person later and feel like an asshole. Maybe it was that guys little brother you skied in on… and he got pissed and protective.

    Ultimately I think its every person’s own responsibility for their own life. Don’t let yourself get in that situation if you can prevent it. I prefer sometimes not to ride with people that ski first ask questions later. I don’t want to get into the wrong situation to begin with.

    Screaming at people is not acceptable and fighting is an “in-bounds” activity and that’s why I love splitboarding, no Texans.

    They also could have been Tele-Nazis!

    #637900
    TEX
    2486 Posts

    I would have to refer you to my backcountry policy on this one. I also recommended this approach on the Dog in the BC post. It seems to hold up to most any situations you may find yourself in

    If someone gives you shit, ask to see a badge. If they have a badge, prepair for a fine ( no leash) . If they have no badge look them deep in the eye, rare back and as loud as you can yell

    FUCK OFF

    that’s why I love splitboarding, no Texans.

    Uh, you forgot one. Right here sir. Been doin it for a while now.

    And did you know that part of your state was once a part of the republic of TEXAS ?

    http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Map+of+the+republic+of+texas&view=detail&id=D7BE2CB2A922A8495AF14963E6CBED4F3478C11D&first=1&FORM=IDFRIR&qpvt=Map+of+the+republic+of+texas

    #637901
    russman
    689 Posts

    @ale_capone wrote:

    a picture of the pillow lines and a map on how to get there would make it much easier to give you my opinion.

    ok,
    first come, first serve. you don’t want to kill anyone but, I think in busier BC areas people need to look up and take other riders and skiers as a sign of instability and get out from under them. quit following skin tracks unless they are taking you where you already intended on going.

    Never quite got the mantra of “suckas droppin in on me” what the hell are you doing down there. get out the way and clear the runout zone foo!

    I watched forrest on top of a steep line waiting to drop as a string of like twenty skiers went below him one by one. Not one of gave into consideration where I just came from, and what we where doing. all just in their own moment.

    Ale is on top of his jazz… I agree with what he said. It sounds like this guy really did have some ice in his vag. Isn’t the general rule of thumb to “give yield to those above”? I mean, its part of the Responsibility Code at every US ski area. That being said, if I’m above somebody, I try to never ski cut above them. This guy should have communicated better and asked you to hold off for a couple minutes while he got to appropriate terrain? Its difficult to know exactly what my opinion is based on web content alone, but I wouldn’t sweat it too much if I were you. Just log it as “noteworthy” and move on.

    Thanks for posting this!

    #637902
    fullers2oh
    525 Posts

    wilkez it sucks you had to get yelled at – that kind of ruins the vibe and not what bc riding is all about IMHO. if if if i was super pissed i might let someone know but i always try to be very constructive and peaceful when giving any criticizm or feedback to others in the bc. that being said, i think i take responsibility for my own actions and that is about all. if that guy was so concerned about someone dropping in above, he should have waited for you to go, or gotten a clear word from the observers that it was clear to move on up. communication is eveyrthing. if there was even an ounce of concern he should have waited or used another route.

    on another note it is kind of funny you got this person spouting off n your go pro. you should totally post that up! i’d love to see it.

    #637903
    sdmarkus
    407 Posts

    Yup, I think we need to see the video 😆

    #637904
    UPGRAYEDD_2505
    127 Posts

    Good thread!

    I can certainly see both sides of the coin here. Who’s at fault? It sounds like you didn’t know he was there, but I do think that once you realized he was below you, the “right” thing to do would have been to sacrifice the photo shoot for his safety, stop, and let him clear out before continuing with your line. (Not saying that I would have done this — I probably would have tried to spray him — just saying that it’s probably the right thing to do.)

    On the other side of the coin, if this was a true backcountry zone, most of the responsibility rests with the guy to be aware of his surroundings and take responsibility for his own safety. Traversing under somebody ripping a slope for 2 photogs and then getting in their grill afterward is poor form. I bet he thought that you knew he was there (since his friends were yelling at him to join them) and he was upset because he thought that you purposefully dropped in on him.

    8 people on one slope is just a clusterf*c#. They should have broken their own trail somewhere else if they didn’t want people riding above them. I’ve gotten to the base of couloirs and seen people who got there before me nearing the top. I wasn’t comfortable with people riding down while I was slowly making my way up. They got there first, so I shrugged and went up something else. No yelling or cursing required.

    Not the case here, but when you’re riding above a piste at an operating ski area, it is your responsibility to not cut anything loose on unsuspecting folks below you. I’m pretty sure people have gone to jail for this in Europe…

    You should definitely post the vid. Maybe blur his face or something. :mrgreen:

    #637905
    raym
    385 Posts

    i think its more simple then it seems. The way I see it is that the person on the skin track is more aweair of their surroundings then the person riding. The person on the skin track should have put them selfs in a safe spot till the rider(s) have either droped in and rode the line or been notified to stop to let the skinner by and are in a ‘safe zone’ allowing the rider to pass.

    #637906
    fustercluck
    668 Posts

    1-if dude wasn’t outta shape, this wouldn’t even be an issue
    2-dude was in your skintrack, didn’t even thank you for putting it in
    3-the whole point of being in the backcountry is there is no “etiquette” – save that shit for fancy restaurants and job interviews
    4-do you really care who was right? don’t let it ruin your day
    5-Russman, i think you are confused. at the ski area, downhill skier has the right of way

    #637907
    Scooby2
    620 Posts

    There’s etiquette and then there would be the potential legal result, that I think reinforces good manners.

    Say some members of the party up above knew there was one more person from the party below in the runout zone. Whoever in the above party that knew there was still someone below but then told the rider (who did not know this) to go ahead and drop, That guy, the one who said go ahead and drop, could pretty easily be found to be some degree of negligent and would be open to a suit from the guy below or his family if he was killed or unable to continue to support his family.

    What would happen is that a bunch of avalanche experts and tourers would get on the stand and testify that yeah, you are not supposed to drop in on people in avalanche terrain without their consent no matter what, no expert would disagree with this, and the jury would most likely find the uphill party (the guy who knew of the below party and said go) to have been negligent and award damages. Damages would be the below guy’s injuries, lost time from work or school, emotional trauma of being avalanched, and could be all of his projected earnings to support his family for the predicted rest of his life is he is killed, suffers a serious brain injury or is otherwise incapacitated. Even if you are a 20-something with no assets, such a judgment which can easily be 1-2 million could keep you from ever having any savings or owning a house.

    I think you can safely say that within your own party, or in a heli group, you have probably consented to people in your party dropping in above you by virtue of you touring with them and not telling them otherwise, but I do not think that you could say that other parties have consented to this well known risky behaviour (even if you do it all the time in your own party).

    Having put in a tough skin track makes no difference,
    Having photographers set up makes no difference,
    Having toured for 40 years makes no difference-in fact the more experience, the more you should not drop in over others.
    You really have to wait till everyone you are aware of below you clears out both for good etiqquette, reasonable safety, and legal ramifications. And the rider was probably not at fault if he did not know others were below and his party members below, who did know, indicated that he was clear to go.

    Unfortunately, this will probably happen someday between two different parties in a place like Cardiac ridge or with a heli company and tourers or between snowmobilers.

    #637908
    Scooby2
    620 Posts

    Oh, and I also think that riders on their way up with their skins on would be found to have the right of way because they can not move very fast. Riders up on top have always have the ability to wait. I think that it would be easier to convince a jury also that a rider already on his way down would be less negligent to stay put once already committed to avalanche terrain than to continue because no snow has moved yet and -as most experts would testify- it is unlikely that if a rider had not yet started a slide, it is unlikely that the uphill rider would be in measurably more danger staying put as compared to the increased risk to the below rider for him (the uphill rider) continuing on down.

    #637909
    peacefrog
    376 Posts

    Assuming the photographer (party A) that party B passed was in a safe zone, than Party B should have stopped and waited.
    1.It takes a lot less time for two riders to come down a slope than 4 skinner to go up it. So overall by party B waiting both crews are spending less time on slope which minimizes not only the danger but also minimizes the chance that while Party A is waiting for Party B to finish climbing, Party C shows up.
    2.Party B can watch and get their stoke on.

    If I was skinning and and saw or was notified of riders above getting ready to drop in on the slope I’m going to climb; I’d wait in a safe zone. Doing otherwise is stupid. As said before this is all assuming that the photographer was in a safe zone.

    #637910
    wilkez
    176 Posts

    Here is the best perspective picture I can get of the slope (just a screen shot from video. Red is party A, blue is Party B. I rode the red line down the middle. Basically I was standing right beside the guy who was pissed from party B at this screen shot. x = approx photographer position for party A. blue x = leading 3 members of party B.

    A few more comments/responses:

    1) In my opinion, where this guy was standing at the time (where I stopped) was not really a dangerous place at all. The slope above was not big, and could not have slid to where he was in an open meadow. The skin track, where he was standing, did not go in a dangerous position regardless of whether people were on the slope or not. Either way, I respect anybody’s opinion who thinks they are in a dangerous position in the backcountry so I won’t take that away from him.

    2)angry member of Party B’s best judgement was to wait down lower and not be under the slope. The first 3 members of his group, who passed this area, encouraged him to hurry up and get there. He listened. I think he should have waited since he could clearly see people on the slope already. Obviously he was uncomfortable being in that situation so it’s a good lesson not to be pressured into anything in the backcountry.

    3) It’s a no brainer that I would never knowingly risk somebody else’s life if they had no control over it. I would not blatantly go ski right on top of another group. With that said, I also would never go ski right under a group I could see on a slope…hence the etiquette question…

    4) Luckily I live in canada, and we don’t sue the pants off of everybody to get rich! And even if that did happen, I have a hard time seeing how party A could he held negligent for party B standing under an avalanche slope. The slope is a hazard whether there is somebody skiing it or not. If you don’t wanna be under it, don’t go under it. Keep in mind this is not a resort area so there is definitely no confusion of the risks you are taking as soon as you throw your skins on here.

    5) No I won’t post the video because it’s pointless, and you can barely hear what he says to me anyways and I only recorded the first 15 seconds of it. I wish I recorded the rest but oh well…

    6) In the end, this is really a question of who should yield to who. My thoughts on this are that the group in the best position to yield should yield. All I can do is speak about what I would do if I were in party B’s shoes, and I can say in certainty that if I was following a skin track, I would expect to see people skiing down somewhere nearby. And when I did see them, I definitely wouldn’t walk right under them, especially when I could see them and even a communicated with them. Had my party (party A), been standing at the top and been able to see party B before they approached the area, I would gladly wait for them to cross. I just think it should be done out of courtesy, whichever group is best able to wait without putting anybody in danger should do so.

    #637911
    shasta
    143 Posts

    Vibe in the B.C. sucks. Fuck Off and ride off, unless you’re clearly in the wrong, which you were not, is the only solution for the B.C. police.

    Regarding any “legal liability” for your negligence (assuming any exists): B.C. users “assume the risk” of the “ultra hazardous activity” they engage in. Assumption of this risk includes the risk that another’s negligence might cause all kind of bad shit to you.

    Hope the ride was as sweet as it looked.

    #637897
    SerreChe
    124 Posts

    * Party A photogs should have tried their best to stop next rider
    * If party A 1st rider do not hear the warnings, Party A 1st rider down should stop as soon as he sees Party B guy even if he is slow, using your skin track and ruining your shoot (safety 1st hollywood shots 2nd)
    * Party B Mr. Mouthy meanwhile should endeavour to move his fat ass to a safe spot as quickly as possible once party A has gone on hold for him and thank them and apologize for disturbing their ride once done. After all he may not have been there if he had not blood-sucked their skin track.

    Radios would have helped in this situation as mentionned by others.

    peace.

    #637912
    wilkez
    176 Posts

    Also let me say when I said photographer, I do not mean we are professionals. It just happened that those 2 members of our group were taking pictures at the time haha.

    #637913
    Scooby2
    620 Posts

    Actually it is Canada that has the hallmark avalanche liability case. My point is of course you can do anything you want in the backcountry, and it isn’t going to matter one whit until someone gets hurt or killed and then if its between different parties, I would expect the granola to hit the fan, particularly if a bread winner was taken out.

    Sure we participate in a inherently dangerous environment, but we don’t volunteer to be divebombed (and I’m not saying I know that was the case in your terrain) in runout zones even when, given the day at hand, it is a reasonable way up a slope. Take it farther, can you saw off a big old cornice on a day with a lot of windloading knowing there is a party below, would you expect another party to do so above you because you are in the backcountry and anything goes? Can a snowmobiler high mark right above you?

    In short is doesn’t matter what you do, but if all hell randomly breaks out like it very occasionally does, you have to live with it and possibly face having to defend yourself from a suit from some really upset family members.

    #637914
    wilkez
    176 Posts

    @scooby2 wrote:

    Actually it is Canada that has the hallmark avalanche liability case. My point is of course you can do anything you want in the backcountry, and it isn’t going to matter one whit until someone gets hurt or killed and then if its between different parties, I would expect the granola to hit the fan, particularly if a bread winner was taken out.

    Sure we participate in a inherently dangerous environment, but we don’t volunteer to be divebombed (and I’m not saying I know that was the case in your terrain) in runout zones even when, given the day at hand, it is a reasonable way up a slope. Take it farther, can you saw off a big old cornice on a day with a lot of windloading knowing there is a party below, would you expect another party to do so above you because you are in the backcountry and anything goes? Can a snowmobiler high mark right above you?

    In short is doesn’t matter what you do, but if all hell randomly breaks out like it very occasionally does, you have to live with it and possibly face having to defend yourself from a suit from some really upset family members.

    Interesting…good to know.

    Overall, this really was just a case of bad timing. Both parties could have done something differently, and hopefully I don’t end up in a situation like that again. Also, if you ever do have a problem like this, try to have a decent conversation about it, and don’t just yell, swear, and walk away.

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