Viewing 20 posts - 1 through 20 (of 41 total)
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  • #579458
    225 Posts

    I know some do it, some wouldnt dream of it. Given the rampant instabilities throughout the Rockies, I thought now was as good a time as ever to discuss traveling alone in backcountry terrain. I do it myself, I want to hear other riders’ thoughts.

    679 Posts

    Sure. Just understand that no one has your back but you. I’ve sea kayaked and hiked thousands of miles solo here in Alaska and spent plenty of days BC riding alone too. I think group dynamics can be as dangerous as a weak layer. Just tour the bunny slopes for exercise when you are alone, and don’t expect safety in numbers when you are with your buds.

    10 Posts

    Having spent two weeks being guided/instructed in Chamonix I wouldn’t know where to start if I was on my own! Spent a day on the side of the slopes trying out new gear happily enough, but I don’t think that what you mean…

    Perhaps I fell into the trap of over-relying on the instructor and didn’t learn enough backcountry skills?

    721 Posts

    I ride solo a fair bit but I’m in OZ and the avi danger is almost zero.
    You need time with your touring buddy to understand their speed and abilities as well.
    No good having expectations beyond their scope when it counts.

    Adam West

    43 Posts

    I do about 70% of my trips solo because I enjoy
    – the silence
    – trying out new tracks and possibilities
    – the freedom to skin as fast/slow as I want
    – concentrating just on me and what I`m doing
    – I don`t get in danger because other people make mistakes
    – it`s easier just to discuss with oneself about the risks
    – not to feel responsible for others (what I always feel)
    – it`s hard to find friends you are nearly the same as oneself

    but I know that
    – a material defect can be dangerous
    – the risk to die in an avalanche is much higher
    – the risk of not to get help when being injured is high
    – there`s no chance to share, laugh and talk about experiences with friends, what would be great
    – I can`t ride as fast and awesome and always 100% safe and controlled

    Anyway, everyone has to decide for himself!

    367 Posts

    Yes maybe 60% of my riding is solo usually on mellow terrain or in-resort, when it comes to the higher risk/big avi-terrain i try hard to find a partner.

    1448 Posts

    Most of my touring is solo. I’m not particularly drawn to lines with high avy potential, or consequence whether I choose to ride solo, or with a group, but the risk of injury is always at the forefront of my decision making. Partners typically don’t cause me to change how I approach avalanche terrain, but my caution with regard to injury drops off considerably.

    For example; On NYD I went exploring with a partner in an extremely remote location with really bad conditions (poor snow). Our plan was to skin a road on a sled track, look at conditions and if necessary return the same way. This was also my plan when I conceived the trip as a solo outing.

    At the intended turn around we decided to transition and ride a burned area, despite it being non-supporting facets to ground; over tons of deadfall. As it was, we only descended this route after a lot of deliberation; agreeing to link turns, go super slow and stay close.
    At one point my board nose became wedged under deadfall and I went over backwards, downslope with the tail hung up on a tree. Due to the angles on my legs, no amount of core strength was going to allow me to free myself. My partner had to ride down and unbuckle both my bindings. If he’d been below me I “may” have been able to wiggle free of my pack, retrieve my poles and unclip, but it would have been shitty…

    Point is, had I been traveling solo I’d never have left the snowmobile trail in the first place. In fact, because the snow level was so low, we were able to drive quite a ways on the summer road. I’d never have risked getting my truck stuck if I were solo.

    Shark Snowsurf Chuna
    Voile V-Tail 170 BC
    Voile One Ninety Five
    Spark R&D Arc

    194 Posts

    The main thing I took home from my avy L1 course last year was terrain management. Before that I was hesitant to go out at all if there was anything more than low avy danger. At this point over half my riding is BC and often I either can’t find partners on short notice or I just want to get out by myself for a few hours. My decision making isn’t really different but riding solo I’m never on anything steep. Also, I’m never too far from the vehicle which means there are usually at least a few other people around. Finally, I always let someone know where I am going and when I’m heading home.

    At the risk of drifting this thread, what do you all think about when finding riding partners? I’m not talking group dynamics and decision making in avy terrain. What I’m talking about is more general, as in similar fitness, riding skills, terrain choice, general risk tolerance, etc.

    I’ve been actively seeking out partners lately. I want to have lots of folks available to hook up with. So far so good, all my companions have been great (most of us BC types are I think generally like-minded, mellow people). I’m thinking more of fitness and riding skill. It’s tough when the group is so diverse that some folks are waiting up all the time on the skintrack while those of us who are older, less skilled, less fit, whatever, are struggling to keep up. Same thing on the the down, some simply shred top to bottom while others have to stop and rest every 200 vertical feet.

    I got out recently with a diverse group like this and it was a bit uncomfortable, both holding the shredders back as well as pushing the oldsters too hard. I want to improve my riding by touring with people who can get me into bigger terrain; at the same time I don’t want to feel like I’m wasting anyone’s time or holding them back. I’m starting to think about an overnight trip or two for the spring and so this topic has been much more on my mind lately.

    167 furberg
    163/26 Venture Helix

    83 Posts

    @chrishami wrote:

    I got out recently with a diverse group like this and it was a bit uncomfortable, both holding the shredders back as well as pushing the oldsters too hard. I want to improve my riding by touring with people who can get me into bigger terrain; at the same time I don’t want to feel like I’m wasting anyone’s time or holding them back.

    A golden rule for me is: “A group is always as fast as the slowest participant” and “Don’t ever split with your partner(s) in hard, difficult or uncertain terrain”

    Hiking with someone else is about compromise of one or another, (or maybe not when they are same level of fitness and skills). But when I choose to go out with a group I have to respect everyone’s capabilities and adapt to them. For me splitboarding is not a randonee race, and if I am faster, I enjoy the “free” time taking pictures of the nature and enjoying the views, or if there is much more time to dig a pit or to practice some BC skills. So in my opinion waiting for a slower buddy is not waste of my time, its time I can enjoy…
    I think it’s all about right planning. I have to choose the route/goal/time consumption according to the weakest person in the group, so the day can be done without any hassle and fear of other faster participants of running out of time. And if it happens to go more slowly as supposed, the 3 golden rule is “You can back off any time, and go safely back, there is always another day when you can make the goal of the trip happen”.
    My :twocents:

    498 Posts

    Going Solo is a numbers game; meaning terrain management is key, in particular paying attention to slope angle. While not the only factor, it’s worth discussing:

    I carry a inclinometer attached to my ski-pole (K2 ski pole);

    as I (and suspect others) cannot accurately measure slope angle. If soloing, I would focus on riding slopes < 25 degrees slope angle.

    For me I prefer the safety and companionship of the group in riding in avalanche terrain.

    643 Posts

    Riding solo is a great way to hone your skills, slow things down and look around. I’ve learned a lot just going out solo and not being in a rush, digging a few holes, making route finding decisions, ect. When you know there’s very little chance of being dug up, you tend to avoid a lot of this stuff more.

    225 Posts

    nice, nice a lot of good discussion here. i especially liked part of philip.ak’s post where he said “group dynmaics are as dangerous as a weak layer.” couldnt have said it better, because the only thing in the backcountry thats worse than a strong over weak layer, is a large group standing on top of said strong over weak layers.

    I find i am personally more observant and cautious riding alone, as consequences are magnified, and each step is dependent on secure route finding and knowledge of terrain/snowpack. ive definitely had wake up calls though, that knocked me down a peg or two in terms of behavior in avy terrain.

    700 Posts

    Shredding solo is just another calculated risk we take, a choice like anything else in splitboarding. We all have our own threshold as to what risk is acceptable. If you need people on a forum to validate your decision to do so, you probably need to look at your own motivations & assessment skills a little more closely.

    Lots of talk here about group dynamics. Here’s an interesting read involving group dynamics and how they played into a recent, fatal avy in the JHMR backcountry:

    Like Tremper says, it’s a good practice to ask yourself on top of a run, partner or not, “would I ski this if I were by myself?”.

    1490 Posts

    I will admit to occasionally riding solo, but I would hesitate to recommend it in an open public forum. Everyone will have a different experiences, here in Colorado, in winter, it really is too dangerous to consider anything but the most benign terrain (well under 30 degrees, and with no exposure to steeper terrain above) when solo. In other areas solo riding may be a more acceptable risk. But one would have to be very, very conservative, as an injury which would be merely an inconvenience when riding with partner(s) could easily result in death if solo.
    I disagree that riding with partners is a compromise… I can accomplish more when riding with two strong, like minded, partners than I ever could solo; safely managing riding significant lines with our tricky snow conditions is much easier to do with a couple of really good partners.

    225 Posts

    nick, you misinterpreted my posting. i created the thread to discuss things like solo v. group behavior. i certainly dont need to validate any of the split/snowboarding i do, as none of it affects anyone on this forum.

    one of the individuals in that group has an account on this board and we were corresponding before the incident, as we both planned to be in the tetons at the same time. in another sequence of events, i could have been a member of that group.

    820 Posts

    I do not ride solo hardly ever, its too much risk in Colorado. I will say a big factor for me is I have a good group of potential partners. Probably 5 solid partners I can go with at any time, and a few others for mellower stuff. I normally like a group of 2-4 people. So I am lucky to have someone almost every day. I’d rather have them then solo if they are available. If they aren’t there, I would feel confident going out, but would tone it back quite a bit. But I can count on 1 hand probably the times I have gone solo.

    This forum has been a great contributor to those partners. My advice is to message as many people early season as possible, get out with those people, and feel it out. Then, depending on your trust levels, you can get out into bigger terrain later in the season (or how it goes in Colorado).

    797 Posts

    The first rule of hazard mitigation is hazard avoidance. I avoid avy terrain touring solo. Injuries are a real risk, and I’ve had to ride out of the BC with bones broken (luckily could), but the bottom line with avys is that you can’t dig yourself out.


    875 Posts

    ^^^ while i agree I must say, that the hazard is inherent and the risk of the hazard is what one attempts to mitigate.

    165 Venture Divide/Spark Frankenburners/La Sportiva Spantiks
    163W Jones Solution/Phantom Alphas/Dynafit TLT5s
    162 Furberg


    797 Posts

    I hear where you’re coming from; that’s why we do hazard assessment, etc. We can inform decisions with assessment. To a large degree these are issues of personal preference and risk taking (though our decisions solo can surely impact others).

    I prefer leave avy hazard mitigation to group situations, where if, despite our best assessment and judgment someone gets buried, the possibility of rescue still exists–which it doesn’t solo.


    234 Posts

    Always interesting topic!

    I go solo very often. Have met and toured with great people here in PNW for sure, and appreciate this a lot. Want to meet and ride with more. Still, I enjoy being out by myself too.


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