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Question Off piste vs back country vs out of bounds - getting started

Discussion in 'Snow Talk' started by Shoey, Jul 21, 2019.

  1. nezumi

    nezumi One of Us

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    I feel like both aspects need to be presented in equal measure. You need to encourage people to get out there and give it a go, but at the same time ensure that they aren't going to bite off more than they can chew and become a statistic.
     
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  2. climberman

    climberman CloudRide1000 Legend Ski Pass: Gold

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    One of the joys of age is getting better at knowing you don’t know shit, even about the stuff you know a lot about!
     
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  3. Ziggy

    Ziggy A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    This guy wants to learn the right way from the off and is willing to pay for it.
    Different league.
     
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  4. climberman

    climberman CloudRide1000 Legend Ski Pass: Gold

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    We ‘certify’ ‘ski guides’ in Oz who can do a basic Stem Christie and a three week course.

    Im sure they are nice folks but knowing what an actual experienced person in Aust BC might be, and what these kids are being ‘certified’ and what an actual UIAGM guide is.... I’d hire some gear and go out on a nice sunny spring day from DHG and pack a nice lunch.
     
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  5. skifree

    skifree grey Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    This does not sound fun at all, stay inbounds.
     
  6. Ziggy

    Ziggy A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    95% of the shufflers out there wouldn't even know what a stem christie was.
    Anyway, he isn't you. Get over it.
     
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  7. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Reckon Ziggy is just trying to scare the OP away so the BC remains uncrowded ........
     
  8. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Nah
    I reckon this thread has been very much like the kind of advice you’d get from a varied group sitting around at the pub answering this question over a beer.
    Quality mix
     
  9. Rick Ross Da Boss

    Rick Ross Da Boss One of Us

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    I’ll have a pint of stem Christie thx :cheers:
     
  10. Kletterer

    Kletterer Thredbo Doughnut Tragic Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    I
    That Scottish instructor again.
     
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  11. Shoey

    Shoey Hard Yards

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    Thanks again all - a lot of different but informed perspectives out there. But collectively it paints a picture.

    We are off to NZ Mt Hutt in 2 wks time for 2 wks, based in Methven. Will look at an opportunity of some advanced lessons with a crossover emphasis on off-piste. We also heard the club fields like Craigieburn offers an off-piste-like taster experience and plan to visit a day or 2 there. We are certaintly not looking to go outside of the map into true BC just yet, but want to consider starting with exploring by venturing a bit outside the markers & cutting through trees etc (not that theres any in Mt Hutt). Heli is also an option but the money for 1 day of heli can buy a lot of adv lessons. I really like the suggestions for Aust courses i.e. the Hotham one, at the moment we have no further plans for this yr (except for a quick spring ski wknd in Sept). But definitely keeping them in mind.

    Insurance is definitely an area I am researching actively into right now. (I'm reading the related thread in Snow Talk). I wanted to go with my current (car) insurer due to a multi policy discount, but their snow pack specificially adds a T&C for off-piste (which they interpret BC to mean the same thing ), requiring an accompanying instructor whose a "Holder of Level 2 Backcountry security award and relevant equivalent". If we were to go into true BC there is no doubt I am going to hire a guide/instructor, but I am concerned this T&C is also so restrictive that a meter off the marker can be considered as a T&C violation.

    And how do the resorts view in-bounds off piste? Is it something they frown upon (I have read Shiga Kogen where we are going in Jan, bans it) or they say it is your own risk etc?

    Thanks - I am ordering this.

    Not much. I only recently returned to Australia from Britain where the outdoors is really one notch down in intensity.

    Thanks for this - it helps clear up this confusion. so the gates are still in-bounds? Would there be patrols for instance?
     
  12. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Also once you go heli...
    Yes it is addictive.



    There are quite a few of us who keep coming back to AAMI. Do the research each year, and every year end up with AAMI.

    No.
    No patrols.
    The signs up at the gates say this usually.

    They vary from place to place.

    Niseko United has the Niseko Rules which are more or less enforced.
    https://www.niseko.ne.jp/en/niseko/niseko-rules/

    Kiroro gates you need to lodge a formal intention for your hike and ski path beyond the gates, they are manned and you need to present your permission to go outside the boundary and be geared up.

    Backcountry in the Japanese Alps is generally much more high consequence than lower elevation Hokkaido. But each region and area within the region has their own peculiarities and dangers. From slide history to known terrain traps - the local experts are the ones to go to for the specific knowledge of an area.
     
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  13. Untele-whippet

    Untele-whippet beard stroker Ski Pass: Gold

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    Cover-More Snow Sports + Cover insurance is good too.
     
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  14. Dave6

    Dave6 One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Check these guys out if you are looking for some guiding/instruction in the NZ Clubbies.

    http://blackdiamondsafaris.co.nz/packages/single-day-packages/

    Craigieburn is a serious mountain. You might want to look into that before you go.
     
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  15. Ziggy

    Ziggy A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Avoid QBE insurance, in everything. They're cheap for a reason.
     
  16. Ziggy

    Ziggy A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Avoid unpatrolled slopes of 30-45 degrees, on or below them, until you're able to assess and deal with avy risk.
     
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  17. Shoey

    Shoey Hard Yards

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    Thanks for the heads up. Based on my reading into Craigieburn so far, it seemed to fit the bill as exactly the entry-point into next-level we are looking for. We are comfortable with varied ungroomed terrain - steep/moguls/narrowing chutes/sheet ice etc. (Powder, not so much). The idea about going to Craigieburn is that it would be fairly wild country, try some powder if lucky, but still stay in-bounds - a way to push the envelope just that little bit without going all out.

    We were going to look at guides once we get to Methven but will give the blackdiamond guys a ping.

    EDIT: Just looked at the Max Package in detail - it is a really good deal! $295 for guiding, skipass, pickup (one of my fears was driving to Craigieburn unsealed roads) and lunch. Can't find that value in Australia?!
     
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  18. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver One of Us

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    Craihieburn is an easy drive,provided they’ve graded the road after a heavy dump. The skiing there is awesome. Best is to stay there for a few days. They used to do sandwiches in the lift shed for lunch. A great experience.
     
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  19. johnski

    johnski Hard Yards Ski Pass: Gold

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    x2 for staying a couple of nights up at craigieburn, ski to the door no stuffing around driving down the hill, casual start in the morning, the road is fine if no fresh snow and even with snow it’s usually fine with chains (they clear it regularly with tractor) however black diamond do a go job with introducing first timers to the clubbies and making it easy.

    The alternative is that craigieburn has level 3/4 CDN qualified instructors up there that you can book cheap lessons with who can also show you around, get you going on the tows and into the terrain.
     
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  20. Shoey

    Shoey Hard Yards

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    Post trip update

    Spent 2 weeks in Mt Hutt + a day in Mt Olympus with BDS. During the 2 wks it dumped on both Saturdays followed by mixed sunshine/clouds for the week. I started off 'venturing out' by just skiing the softer stuff in between groomers and was surprised how manoverable wider skis were - even if the head dipped into snow it just re-rises like a boat. And then moved to doing some of the faces in Mt Hutt. The eye opener moment was at the bottom of the South Face there was a patch of untracked powder and the sensation of silent gliding was nothing short of revolutionary:



    On the final Friday we booked a day with Brett from BDS & he took us to Mt Olympus. A good part of the morning was spent learning to use the nutcracker - The hardest part was the strength needed to pull yourself up to the same speed as the rope and it can be frustrating when the cracker wont latch on and you find yourself racing against time to the first pulley or slipping. But what greeted at the top was well worth it!




    In another run, skiied the Main Face with Brett:



    So I definitely got the introduction I wanted. There were two other ppl in our group who were a fair bit more advanced and they hikked a further 15-20mins up the ridge to the Sphinx. But for me this single day beat doing laps for 2 wks on groomers hands down.
     
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  21. Ziggy

    Ziggy A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Good times.

    Broken River's got a rope tow called Rugby :D
     
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  22. climberman

    climberman CloudRide1000 Legend Ski Pass: Gold

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    Noice!

    I’m sittin in Mt Olympus lodge right now!
     
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  23. climberman

    climberman CloudRide1000 Legend Ski Pass: Gold

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    After the engine!
     
  24. climberman

    climberman CloudRide1000 Legend Ski Pass: Gold

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  25. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    Wrong thread?
     
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  26. buckwheat

    buckwheat One of Us

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    I reckon another critical bit of advice is ski crampons. It was 20 years before i even knew they existed, don't wait as long as i did! The most hard core accident ive been involved with in the bc was my sister sliding about 200mm down a bullet proof slope (james mcarthur creek, back of carruthers) when her skins slipped. She was wearing only therms. Got 2nd degree burns. You could literally see her elbow tendon due to amount of skin removal. Ski crampons would have avoided that and now they come on every trip. We go for the pow, but we don't always get it!
     
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  27. Red_switch

    Red_switch Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: 30 Day

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    And/or boot crampons. Imo in NZ boot crampons are a bit more versatile. If conditions are such that ski crampons are crucial then cromponing on foot is often substantially faster on anything more than moderately steep terrain.
     
  28. sly_karma

    sly_karma Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Dropped by MEC today, so much to look at for a gear wh0re. Those of you who've visited Vancouver know what I'm talking about.
     
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  29. buckwheat

    buckwheat One of Us

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    I know exactly!
    /wipes drool off chin
     
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  30. Team Weasel

    Team Weasel One of Us

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    I caught the bus over to Arc'teryx factory outlet, then walked to the MEC. Came back via the ferry...let's just say all my wealth is in assets at the moment.
     
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  31. telecrag

    telecrag Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    I have a couple of good friends with skin in the game, and we have chatted a lot about it. My thoughts.

    I learnt to ski with leather boots, 3 pin bindings, and soft sided step skis. I learnt to ski, IN the backcountry. So my snowcraft, and skiing, were happening at the same time. This limited my exposure in some ways, allowing me to learn, and observe things that happen, without much danger. Well I did suffer hyperthermia once, and many discomforts, but you know what I mean. I learnt to ski so many different types of snow and ice (or at least survive).

    Most people learn to ski on groomers, then progress to off piste. If you have a look, the majority never go off the groomers. Now think about a shit day, you are going up the chair, and see ski patrol; survival skiing a run to check signs etc, and everyone says, man Id hate that job today. Backcountry skiing is often going to involve at least sections, that are worse than that. How has a resort skier acquired the skills to cope? Do they practice kick turns and side sliding in exposed and icy conditions?

    So, now lets take an advanced skier, totally happy on off piste, and go out the back. They have seen snow inbounds over many years, does that give them the snowcraft to understand the BC?

    Even one tour with a guide, and a course or two, demonstrably does not.

    So how do we progress people in this area? You can ski great, and want to hit some red bull shit now! But snowcraft takes many many years for a punter (45 so far for me), or many many days out there for the pros. But it is totally understandable, that after a trip or two, people won't want to pay a guide. Hence all the "I've done my AST1, looking for people to take me out" posts on groups.

    Cory Townsend headed out with a group to ski the western faces, but they made the call not to. I thought if they went a day or two later it may have been alright, but I guess they were on a schedule. Good call. The weekend before that, I have never seen so much bloody carnage, on the roads, rescues, lost people all over the place (close to resorts hey @Snow Blowey), one avy, a tent buried, bloody hell.

    Its all well and good for us old hands to say,, thats the way we did it, times change.

    I blame ALDI.
     
  32. telecrag

    telecrag Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Haha, Cody, I have been talking Corey so much (Cell Block 69)
     
  33. sly_karma

    sly_karma Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    You're just promoting what you did 'cos it's all you got. Can't very well go back and do it all over (learning to ski on groomed) and then compare, now can you? Conversely, just because the majority of people start out in resort before expanding to back country doesn't make it the best way. It might be the most common way, but not the only way.
     
  34. telecrag

    telecrag Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Ha, I would love to have taken a different path, in terms of skiing, nearly 35 years before I really hooked in on that, worlds apart. No reason the skiing skills cant be taught inbounds. But lets face it, who skis off piste if it isn't any good? Yet that would be one good way to get those skills up?

    Not sure about snowcraft and general knowledge of the areas. It can really only come with experience. How does anyone know when they are ready for that next line?

    I guess I just want to make that distinction between knowledge/skills. There would be people who cant ski for shit, who would have better snowcraft than me. I ski with plenty who can out ski me, and several who have better snowcraft, gained by time in every case.

    Observation, how do you teach people that? Google and youtube can only take you so far.
     
  35. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    It’s a really good question and I don’t think it’s one size fits all. I copped a hammering in here for “going backcountry, and taking my grown kids without an AST accreditation as an older learner.

    I’m really glad I’ve done the AST1 now and I’m booked to do the AST2. I have a backcountry bible on my bedside table at home. BUT I don’t think I learned much extra on the course than what I’d already learned in the field from good guides and learned experienced mates. Doing is a very different thing to reading about.

    Each big step up I’ve taken I’ve gone with trusted guides. Ones who are also qualified instructors and know just from looking at you ride what you can and can’t manage.

    Aussie BC is totally new to me. Haven’t really ventured out yet, and while I’m confident in my riding ability in bc terrain I won’t be going out without someone who knows the area, terrain traps and best paths to take. Knowing your limitations is also a great skill to practice. A bit of humility goes a long long way.
     
    #85 LMB, Aug 28, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2019
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  36. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Who from? Would not think it would be any of the usual contributors who actually frequent the BC (as opposed to those who do it from the armchairs). I ain't got shyte as far as pieces of paper are concerned..... and don't intend getting any. If you are sensible, then avy risk in Oz is pretty low. Would take common sense over someone with a piece of paper.
     
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  37. Red_switch

    Red_switch Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: 30 Day

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    I've seen a lot of people who "learnt to ski in the backcountry" end up in shitty situations because their skiing really isn't that tidy. The most impressive skiers I've seen in the bc are ex racers.
     
  38. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Nah no one commenting in this thread.
    One person from the armchair in particular but that triggered a knee jerk stacks on.

    It did make me reconsider posting about our learning curve for a while, however I think given my journey from never having seen snow 14 years ago to where I’m at now I actually have an insight that people who grew up on snow may not, and a different perspective to offer, so I just toughened up and continued to share.
     
  39. telecrag

    telecrag Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Id agree that people who learnt to ski in the backcountry, did not learn to ski all that well, myself included. My point is that as I couldn't ski all that well. I wasn't doing the "lines" that people who ski would go for. Being able to ski, is a seperate skill. Im saying that learning to ski out there, meant that I got the other side. When I started skiing resort, I was not limited in the terrain I could go into, which allowed me to ski with much better skiers than myself, and fast track (with lessons as well) my skiing ability, which is now OK. My snow knowledge has also continued to grow.

    When I started, people NEVER (very rarely) got into avalanche trouble, like they do every year now. Hence the perception that it is a low risk here. But now someone cops it almost every season, with a few deaths too. I think it is partly that people are hitting terrain they never used to, or that its people who can ski a big line, but don't have the snow experience to make the right call on the day.

    I mean who didn't know Etheridge goes?

    How do people who see things differently than a beginner skier, realise that in a way they are a beginner again when they go out there? People who hire guides obviously do IMO.
     
  40. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver One of Us

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    Ha Ha in Auckland airport and must have hit something wrong as I wasn't even viewing this thread.
     
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  41. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver One of Us

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    Totally agree. Certainly a solid technique helps considerably in the BC.

    But in the end it doesn't really matter. It's the attitude / objective / orientation that is the issue.

    20 years ago the term big line didn't even exist. So we were going out to ski, get away from the crowd, have an adventure etc etc. We weren't claiming it on facebook. The whole psychy has changed.

    Modern gear has made it easier to get out there. So people are. It's the same as seeing really inexperienced people paddle out into big surf who have no idea. What you don't know you don't know.
     
  42. nfip

    nfip Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Reminds me …
    I know/met a guy .
    ****safety something something.
    Lotsa colour.....
    Can do internet.
    Talk the talk.
    Can't ski/board for shit.
     
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  43. Red_switch

    Red_switch Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: 30 Day

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    Big lines have always existed. What has changed is the way people hear/talk about it.

    20 years ago I was watching videos of Doug Coombs ski water ice in la grave on belay.

    The world of ski mountaineering is just full of people who keep getting lucky.
     
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  44. skifree

    skifree grey Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Dunno, the kill rate seems pretty steady.