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Fear while skiing

Seek and dispense advice regarding snowsports technique at The Ski School.

re: Your 2007-08 Ski Day Count

Postby jamesdeluxe » Thu Jun 19, 2008 5:05 pm

Because I started downhill skiing at the age of 36, I was forced to terms with my lack of 'coreness. I'll probably never ski Little Chute.

That's what I'm telling you.
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re: The Drift Thread

Postby Harvey44 » Thu Jun 19, 2008 5:38 pm

And since I started lift serviced skiing at 40, I don't even know what little chute is.

And while we are drifting away....I wish I had something relevant to post in the Apocalypse thread, to bring it back to life. I miss it.
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Re: re: The Drift Thread

Postby jamesdeluxe » Thu Jun 19, 2008 5:49 pm

Harvey44 wrote:I don't even know what little chute is.


It's the line at Alta that Skidog says is 58 degrees or thereabouts.

Harvey44 wrote:I wish I had something relevant to post in the Apocalypse thread, to bring it back to life. I miss it.


Does your wife tell you that you have responsibilities other than skiing? If not, you have no business posting in that thread.
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Re: re: Your 2007-08 Ski Day Count

Postby Marc_C » Thu Jun 19, 2008 7:14 pm

jamesdeluxe wrote:Because I started downhill skiing at the age of 36, I was forced to terms with my lack of 'coreness. I'll probably never ski Little Chute.

Don't bet on it. I started downhill skiing at around age 30 (I'll be 54 in December) in 1984, but to be realistic about it, the first 10 or so years of that wasn't all that serious. In that time, a typical year might be 15 - 20 days. I was a reasonably strong intermediate, but couldn't handle ungroomed black diamonds or very steep even if groomed diamonds. I didn't start getting (more) serious about it till the early 90's. Some western trips opened my eyes to what what possible, and I realized I probably wasn't going to ever be a 5.12 rock climber (ability? maybe. the drive to train and be a body nazi about it? no.) In any case, I was drawn more and more to the more difficult skiing starting about the mid-90's. By then a typical season was around 30 days. The big change happened when I took a sabbatical from jobs (long story, but I had 18 months of severance to play with) and had my first 80+ day ski season. The huge change happened when I moved to Utah. Now a typical season is around 60 - 70 days, first run on a powder day might be High Rustler at Alta, and the only reason I didn't do Little Chute last Sunday - despite it being within my technical ability - was I just wasn't feeling up for it (especially falling - hip check actually - not once, but twice on Jaws at Snowbird earlier in the day - I consider any of the Baldy chutes absolute no-fall zones. Main is the most forgiving, but falling in some, at certain points, will very likely result in injury and possibly death; Little is definitely a notch above Main), so opted for Main instead.

The point is, just 'cause you started skiing at 36 is ABSOLUTELY NO REASON to think you'll never do Little Chute. Or Main. Or Perla's. Or Pipeline (on AF Twin Peaks). Or a host of others.
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Re: re: The Drift Thread

Postby Marc_C » Thu Jun 19, 2008 7:21 pm

jamesdeluxe wrote:
Harvey44 wrote:I don't even know what little chute is.


It's the line at Alta that Skidog says is 58 degrees or thereabouts.

Unless he has an inclinometer and measured it, don't believe him. Little is a bit hairball; it is steep; it's no where near 58 degrees. It's similar to main - around 50 up top, then about 45 - 48 degrees, depending on coverage. However, it is significantly more narrow. There's also a cliff band in it that is mandatory air in early to mid season. The entrance is also much more intimidating, and can be much steeper, depending on how you go about it.
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Re: re: The Drift Thread

Postby jamesdeluxe » Thu Jun 19, 2008 7:47 pm

Marc_C wrote: Unless he has an inclinometer and measured it, don't believe him.


Sorry, that was a reference to some good-natured ribbing :wink: that Skidog took on the TGR board.

Regardless, Little Chute is still out of my comfort zone. Maybe someday I'll have the cojones for it.

18 months of severance?!?!?!
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Re: re: The Drift Thread

Postby Admin » Thu Jun 19, 2008 9:38 pm

jamesdeluxe wrote:Regardless, Little Chute is still out of my comfort zone.


But you have to leave that comfort zone every now and then both to improve and simply to keep things interesting. Getting just outside of the envelope on occasion is crucial, IMO. Otherwise you're just coasting, which personally for me gets boring rather quickly.

A good introduction to Baldy Chutes is Perla's. It's wide, often has a gentler entrance, and of a lesser pitch. It's also a slightly shorter hike if you start from Sugarloaf Pass. Give it a try next time you're out if it's open and conditions are right. Should worse come to worst and you need to back out you can always drop the other way into Mineral Basin via Livin' The Dream.

Harvey44 wrote:And since I started lift serviced skiing at 40, I don't even know what little chute is.


Here's a photo with the primary Baldy Chutes marked (disregard the placement of Dogleg - that's wrong):

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Perla's is partially visible along the very left edge of that photo. It's the V-shaped funnel descending from the low spot on the ridge about 1/3 of the way from the left side of this photo:

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The two primary chutes descending from the highest "flat" part of the ridge are, left to right, Little Chute and Main Chute. About 25% of the way down Little Chute, Dogleg splits off to looker's left across the rock rib and then descends parallel to Little Chute. In that photo there are two fresh avalanche debris fans spilling out of the chutes onto the apron of Ballroom -- the one on the left is coming from Dogleg, and the one on the right with tracks in it is coming from Little Chute.
Last edited by Admin on Thu Jun 19, 2008 10:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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re: Your 2007-08 Ski Day Count

Postby Admin » Thu Jun 19, 2008 10:14 pm

And while I'm at it...

Marc_C wrote:The point is, just 'cause you started skiing at 36 is ABSOLUTELY NO REASON to think you'll never do Little Chute. Or Main. Or Perla's. Or Pipeline (on AF Twin Peaks). Or a host of others.


As long as Marc_C mentioned Pipeline, here's a shot of it taken this past Saturday -- Pipeline is the obvious chute in the very center of this photo:
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American Fork Twin Peaks - Pipeline is the obvious chute in the very center
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re: Your 2007-08 Ski Day Count

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Jun 19, 2008 11:52 pm

Lots of pics from ski streaker Ron Cram's hike of Twin Peaks and ski of Pipeline in March 2005: http://www.skistreak.com/2005/mar/

I'm in agreement with MarcC. My first meaningful ski season was at age 26. But most of the highlights have been in the past decade, age 44+. Powder was a total crapshoot before then, when I first acquired fat skis.
Toughest runs skied?
Big Couloir at Big Sky, age 48.
La Voute at La Grave, age 55.
I first skied Main Chute at age 37, then again at age 54. After La Grave, I wanted Little Chute this March, but did not think it prudent without my own ski boots, thanks to Air France :x .
Also record vertical day was at age 52 and record powder day at age 54.

But you have to leave that comfort zone every now and then both to improve and simply to keep things interesting. Getting just outside of the envelope on occasion is crucial, IMO. Otherwise you're just coasting, which personally for me gets boring rather quickly.
100% agreement, and one of the key attractions of skiing IMHO. But you have to know when it's right. And take a pass when appropriate, like with the boot situation this year, or an encore in Big Couloir when my legs were cooked from overdoing the previous 2 days.
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re: Your 2007-08 Ski Day Count

Postby jasoncapecod » Fri Jun 20, 2008 4:03 am

I consider any of the Baldy chutes absolute no-fall zones. Main is the most forgiving, but falling in some, at certain points, will very likely result in injury and possibly death; Little is definitely a notch above Main), so opted for Main instead.


i don't mind skiing outside of my comfort zone..but, the fall you die thing is a bit much..
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re: Pushing the Limit

Postby Harvey44 » Fri Jun 20, 2008 4:18 am

This is an interesting bit of thread development since I hit the sack last night.

I've been consistently out of my comfort zone since I start riding lifts 10 years ago. I starting skiing diamonds maybe 5 years ago. Gore diamonds, not Utah chutes. (Admins pics - Holy Chute!)

Double blacks 3 years ago.

Trees 2 years ago.

Last year the slides at WF seemed like the next step, but I they closed the day I got there. If you read back through my posts, you can see the fear. (And Sharon cheering me on.)

I thought if I could handle the slides, I'd try big George this upcoming year. And Utah the year after that.

I think if I ever have a year where I realize I didn't improve over the previous year, I'll probably go back to winter camping and true nordic.
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Re: re: Your 2007-08 Ski Day Count

Postby Admin » Fri Jun 20, 2008 5:42 am

jasoncapecod wrote:i don't mind skiing outside of my comfort zone..but, the fall you die thing is a bit much..


I don't agree with Marc_C on this one. In Main Chute, if you fall in the wrong place at the wrong time in the wrong conditions, I'll concede that it can have some pretty nasty consequences. That's why I have no desire to ski it in hard conditions, and anyone skiing it should possess solid self-arrest skills. "Fall=die" is over the top for Main Chute IMO. As for Little Chute, a patroller bought it near the top this winter and cartwheeled the length of the chute, ending up on the apron in Ballroom where the evac occurred. The potential to pinball off the rock walls for more than 800 vertical feet or slide over the edge of a 40-footer where Little Chute zigs left and Dogleg zags right is real.

Harvey44 wrote:Admins pics - Holy Chute!


:lol: :lol: :lol:
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re: Your 2007-08 Ski Day Count

Postby jamesdeluxe » Fri Jun 20, 2008 6:35 am

I broke my leg twice in Utah within nine months -- both times while doing the skiing equivalent of slipping in the bathtub at home -- and in addition to the incredible discomfort involved for me, it was a huge, life-altering pain-in-the-ass to the person I live with. The second time, when my wife heard me coming up the stairs on my creaky crutches, she almost had a nervous breakdown... and I couldn't blame her.

So when you (the royal "you," not any person in particular) start talking about pushing the envelope of your skillz and trying to avoid boredom... good for you, but after putting the wife through the entire Fx process twice in a row, I can't be so cavalier.

Moreover, now that we have a ridiculously rambunctious three-year-old who physically exhausts his two healthy parents every day, it'd be doubly uncool for me to ski something that may have really unpleasant consequences for all of us.

Told you I was the last word in uncore... I might as well go buy a sundress.
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Re: re: Your 2007-08 Ski Day Count

Postby Marc_C » Fri Jun 20, 2008 7:27 am

Admin wrote:
jasoncapecod wrote:i don't mind skiing outside of my comfort zone..but, the fall you die thing is a bit much..


I don't agree with Marc_C on this one. In Main Chute, if you fall in the wrong place at the wrong time in the wrong conditions, I'll concede that it can have some pretty nasty consequences. That's why I have no desire to ski it in hard conditions, and anyone skiing it should possess solid self-arrest skills. "Fall=die" is over the top for Main Chute IMO. As for Little Chute, a patroller bought it near the top this winter and cartwheeled the length of the chute, ending up on the apron in Ballroom where the evac occurred. The potential to pinball off the rock walls for more than 800 vertical feet or slide over the edge of a 40-footer where Little Chute zigs left and Dogleg zags right is real.

Actually we're in perfect agreement! Conditions are paramount in determining degree of risk, and what could be inconsequential one day might have significant higher risk of injury on another. I agree that Main is no where near IYFYD territory. In fact you could fall relatively safely in there if you don't rag-doll or pinball. It was others who made the conceptual leap to think Main is IYFYD.

When I said "certain sections of some chutes" and implied risk greater than mere injury, I was thinking specifically of Dog Leg, where getting in from Little does expose you to a potential 200' fall over cliffs. Certain sections of Perla's (skiers right, before the choke crux on the left) also puts you over some significant cliffs, as does the more sporting North entrance (skiers left off the ridge). Even Baldy Shoulder, if you follow the ridge to skiers right (north boundary of Main), puts you above a 100' cliff near the bottom (quite obvious in your annotated photo - follow the yellow dashed line), where an uncontrolled fall can be extremely serious, as the body of a snowshoer found at the base several years ago attests.

The main point is that while most of the lines off Baldy are actually well within the ability of many who think otherwise, they are intimidating and are a notch or three up on the serious meter. While a fall in most spots probably won't kill you or even injure, depending on many factors, the best approach is to treat it as both back country and a no-fall zone.
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Re: re: Your 2007-08 Ski Day Count

Postby Admin » Fri Jun 20, 2008 7:41 am

Marc_C wrote:(stuff)


Yes, we do agree.

jamesdeluxe wrote:I broke my leg twice in Utah within nine months -- both times while doing the skiing equivalent of slipping in the bathtub at home -- and in addition to the incredible discomfort involved for me, it was a huge, life-altering pain-in-the-ass to the person I live with. The second time, when my wife heard me coming up the stairs on my creaky crutches, she almost had a nervous breakdown... and I couldn't blame her.

So when you (the royal "you," not any person in particular) start talking about pushing the envelope of your skillz and trying to avoid boredom... good for you, but after putting the wife through the entire Fx process twice in a row, I can't be so cavalier.


You're equating terrain-based challenge with significant injury. This, IMO, is an irrational equation.

Although I'll admit that my own experience is merely anecdotal, I've sustained only 2 injuries of any significance in 37 years of skiing (knock on wood!), and 30-75 days each season for the past 20 years: a cracked rib, and a broken thumb. Neither of those can be considered debilitating. One of those occurred on an intermediate-pitched groomer (albeit a closed one :oops: ) at Cannon. The other occurred on the decidedly green-circle Deer Run at Jay. And FWIW, even though I started skiing at age 5 I was a rather infrequent skier who didn't take it seriously until I started patrolling a year after getting my undergrad degree. It was patrolling, skiing often and being forced to ski outside of my envelope by following fellow patrollers into the woods and other places that I'd never venture into previously that exponentially improved my skiing.

By your own admission, James, both of your leg fractures occurred "while doing the skiing equivalent of slipping in the bathtub at home." Why, therefore, does terrain challenge have anything to do with it? I have a hard time accepting that injury frequency increases with terrain difficulty. We tend to be more attuned to the risks associated with difficult terrain, and more cavalier and non-chalant when skiing easy terrain. I suspect that this balances out the effect of terrain difficulty on injury frequency.
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