Fear while skiing

jamesdeluxe

Administrator
Marc_C":up23jsu1 said:
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?!?!?!
 

Admin

Administrator
Staff member
jamesdeluxe":22gwpkcn said:
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":22gwpkcn said:
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):

alta_baldy.jpg


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:

01_alta_baldy_ballroom_060304.jpg


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.
 

Admin

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Staff member
And while I'm at it...

Marc_C":3hdn94ve said:
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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Tony Crocker

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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.
 

jasoncapecod

Active member
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..
 

Harvey

Administrator
Staff member
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.
 

Admin

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Staff member
jasoncapecod":m259sbol said:
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":m259sbol said:
Admins pics - Holy Chute!

:lol: :lol: :lol:
 

jamesdeluxe

Administrator
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.
 

Marc_C

Active member
Admin":18n7yfo6 said:
jasoncapecod":18n7yfo6 said:
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.
 

Admin

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Staff member
Marc_C":tprqfz6c said:

Yes, we do agree.

jamesdeluxe":tprqfz6c said:
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.
 

rfarren

New member
I went down the little chute with admin this winter. It was pretty steep and scary and I wouldn't have wanted to fall there. However, I think when you ski terrain like that it heightens your focus, and gives you a little adrenaline which I think increases your "game." I think it would be more likely for me to get hurt (torn acl, broken leg) skiing on easier terrain when I wasn't paying much attention than on the real steeps like that where everything seems to move slowly. However, if I did fall on the steeps well... :shock: I would want to know how to self arrest.
 

jasoncapecod

Active member
I would want to know how to self arrest

i know I'm taking the threat in a different direction...
I know how to self arrest while climb/hiking with a ice axe. With skis and polls flailing around during a fall. How do you arrest..
 

Marc_C

Active member
jasoncapecod":vo4ysaa0 said:
I know how to self arrest while climb/hiking with a ice axe. With skis and polls flailing around during a fall. How do you arrest..
In a similar fashion. See:
http://www.sarinfo.bc.ca/Polearst.htm

http://www.wildsnow.com/articles/self-arrest/ice_ax_crampons.htm

But just like with an axe, just reading about it and committing it to memory aren't enough. It must be an automatic response, done immediately when necessary, without having to analyze. Practice, and quite a bit of it, is the only method that works.
 

Harvey

Administrator
Staff member
Admin":3g0x5qym said:
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.

I don't know if this is true, but my experience backs this up. My only broken bone ever, was a broken thumb, sustained on Quicksilver at Gore, an easy blue. I'm embarrassed to say I just wasn't paying attention (to skiing anyway...something had my attention)! I also think that I've taken much bigger chances on blue trails than on more difficult stuff.
 

Admin

Administrator
Staff member
Harvey44":1xpgbb38 said:
I'm embarrassed to say I just wasn't paying attention (to skiing anyway...something had my attention)!

What was she wearing?
 

Patrick

New member
Admin":38vqpvzr said:
Harvey44":38vqpvzr said:
I'm embarrassed to say I just wasn't paying attention (to skiing anyway...something had my attention)!

What was she wearing?

topless.gif


Okay, I've surf way too much today. I promise I'll do better next week.
nonono2.gif
 

jamesdeluxe

Administrator
Admin":1s2yjzsc said:
Why, therefore, does terrain challenge have anything to do with it? I have a hard time accepting that injury frequency increases with terrain difficulty.

Everyone's got his/her own personal comfort zone. I'm sure if I skied 50+ days a season, mine would get bigger. I can deal with steep, but due to physical equilibrium issues that I've never been able to solve, serious exposure makes me really uncomfortable. On two different occasions where I tried to ignore this fear -- once on the "Portal Trail" mtb ride in Moab and another while traversing on a knife's edge in the Lech sidecountry -- I came within inches of going over cliffs that I wouldn't have survived. Both times, as I was sliding out of control, I thought about that stupid cliche, "at least he died doing something he loved!" At those moments, I wished to hell that I had turned around, as it wasn't worth paying that kind of price.

Reminds me of eight years ago, when I was on a long-term freelance job for Marsh & McLennan in lower Manhattan. At one point, they told us that the entire office was being relocated to the 93rd through 100th floors of the World Trade Center. After going up to see if I could deal with being that high in the air eight or more hours a day, I told them no thanks. Everyone was like "what's the big deal? You'll get used to it!" I wasn't even concerned about terrorists; I just couldn't stand feeling the building sway during strong wind gusts. Thank god I listened to my inner coward, as we all know how that turned out.
 

aarenlainey

New member
I wouldn't get down on yourself. For the most part, unless you started skiing when you were young and fearless, we all started that way, to a degree.

Anxiety over falling and speed is normal when you start out -- even when you advance and move on to more challenging terrain. It would be hard to find a skier who could not find any terrain where they felt fear. You slowly get more comfortable and confident as you get more time on the snow. I would take it slowly and don't feel like you have to advance at any pace. Don't compare yourself to others and don't listen to the yahoos who would tell you that they never felt fear. Take lessons, get yourself a pair of good-fitting boots, and have fun. With time and experience, everything else will take care of itself.
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
Tony Crocker":2g637pg5 said:
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.
I stumbled upon this thread and I'm pleased to update it. I skied Main Chute a third time at age 60. The following are significantly steeper, longer or more exposed:
Balls to the Wall at Mammoth, age 46. This was on the best lift served powder day of my life. I've looked at it during a couple of the huge recent seasons and taken a pass.
Big Couloir at Big Sky, age 48. This was the scariest because snow in upper steeper half was partially refrozen.
La Voute at La Grave, age 55. Lower 2,500 out of 3,500 vertical was only 30 degrees but it was frozen granular so still a no-fall zone.
Little Chute at Alta, age 61. This was the first day it opened for the season. The choke 3/4 of the way down was narrow but the snow was nearly all powder. Like Balls-to-the-Wall, this is a run I consider skiing only in ideal conditions.
Human Error at Las Lenas, age 62. 2,500 vertical, upper half quite narrow but sheltered with good snow.
Eduardo's at Las Lenas, age 62. Also 2,500 vertical, wider and easier in good conditions. But it has some sun exposure, so the line with good snow was narrower and harder to maintain the day I skied it.

I retired just before turning 58, so my annual ski day count jumped from 45 to 65 plus I had more time for off season exercise. It is likely that my peak ski years were the 21 month/143 day streak at age 58-59. I reset my max vertical day record at age 59. My aerobic peak has taken a significant dip over the last few years. I'm conservative about skiing sketchy stuff only in excellent snow conditions now. But YMMV. Tseeb is just a couple of years younger than I am and still skiing like the Energizer Bunny.

jamesdeluxe":2g637pg5 said:
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.
I can relate to this, but Liz and I share many addictions and understand that sometimes $#!& happens. I'm guessing Liz' shoulder injury was at least comparable in discomfort to a broken leg and required comparable spouse assistance for awhile. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

For the first two weeks Liz needed assistance with dressing and bathing and I was home full time and did no skiing. For 4 weeks I was doing all cooking. I was quite unskilled; Liz stood a safe distance away and gave me step by step instructions. I took two local ski days during the third week. Week 4 was when Liz needed to go to Florida to look after her mother. I didn't think she should be doing that alone and so went with her for a week.

At the five week mark Liz was set up with a great rehab program in Florida so I returned home and resumed a normal (until March 15) ski season with her blessing.
 
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