Top Ten Bad BC Ski Habits that Must Go for 2015

| January 3, 2015

1) Half Lapping
It is one thing to break trail up the side of a big beautiful bowl and look back to see multiple groups coming up behind you.  It is a totally different story however to see people making it halfway up the climb, ripping their skins and snagging first half-tracks.  Totally lame.

Remedy:  Public shaming.  Bad karma.  Social media call-out.  Ass camp the mofo’s if they take another (half)lap.

Peace, love, harmony and no half-lapping. This is how you do it.

2) Ass Camping
Backcountry skiing is not a peloton in the Tour du France and 2mm does not count as “spacing out.” Trailbreaking is hard work and one of the only things that makes it even harder is to have someone climbing up the back of your skis from behind, tailgating and insisting that “you are doing a great job!”

Remedy:  One touch and you are out, as in out front breaking trail.  This is a very effective, almost wordless way to get people to spread out.

3) The Hidden Agenda
Words you dread to hear as you are heading out on a clear, sunny, deep, beautiful day: “I don’t care where we go, but I have to be back at the car by 1:00.” This either greatly curtails the day’s plans, adds new human factors to the tour, or means the Agenda Person has to ski out on his/her own.

Remedy: Communicate before committing to the tour.

4) The Mystery Guest
A variation on the classic ski theme “Just because I slept with you, doesn’t mean I’ll ski with you.”  Uninvited mystery guests of dubious abilities are the responsibility of the invitee.

Remedy: “Okay, just in case we get separated today, are you two all set?”

5) Clueless Avalanche Expert
Or, “All I Ever Needed to Know About Avalanches I learned on Internet Forums.”  Getting a Q2 ECT 8 on the MLK TG layer at 8k N/NE sounds very impressive, but really doesn’t mean shit in the grand scheme of things and is NOT a good reason to ski a slope.

Remedy:  Beware of blowhards who insist a slope is safe.  Call your own shots.

6) Skin Track Bitchin’
Yeah, well…  too steep, too flat, in the wrong place, dangerous, etc..  Whaaaaaa.

Remedy:  Break your own.

7) Phone Phreaks
Twitter, Strava, InstaGram, FaceBook, Jimmy is in Silver Fork, the LCC road is closed, the LCC road is now open, do you have reception?, check out this video, dogs eating at a table, New Hampshire is getting 3″, there’s an app for that, SELFIE!

Remedy:  Being born before 1995.

8) Aborted Passers
You know the dude (and it is always a dude…) – they come charging up from behind with headphones blaring and instead of offering to help break trail, they swing wide, grunt  “Hey… nice day.” and then proceed to get ground to a crawl and eat shit on the trail breaking.

Remedy: Hang back 50 feet, let him flame out and then poach his line. Have a nice day!

9) Crowding at Transitions
The mountains are big places and there is no reason to stack up on top of each other at transitions. Kindergarten kids refer to it as “being in my bubble” and for backcountry skiing, the bubble is about a 5′ radius of skin ripping, pack opening and general maneuvering. If you get your eye taken out by a skin clip, it is really your own fault.

Remedy:  The obvious – spread out.

Spread out.  It is not that hard.

10) Postholing the Skin Track
No list would be complete without this as booting a skin track completely ruins it for everyone (except booters…) who follows.  This is actually not as common as it used to be and nowadays is mainly a frontcountry phenomena.

Remedy:  Nothing.  Postholers are their own worst enemies. Pity the poor fools.

Help support and keep track of your friends with a Pieps Pieps DSP Pro Avalanche Beacon from Click on the photo below.


Category: Commentary

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber and Mountain Unicycle rider. He and Polly Samuels McLean are the parents of two very loud little girls.

Comments (31)

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  1. Josh says:

    11. Setting shitty skinners

    Look more than 3 feet in front of you so I don’t pull a 6 ;)

  2. Dyno says:

    12. wiggle turns

  3. Chris Cawley says:

    Telemarking? Give’em another year?

  4. Harry Balse says:

    This is why I only ski the resort

  5. 12. Not sticking to agreements. If we agreed that we are going to avoid the tempting slope under the cornice but still ski one at a time from here to that stand of trees down there on the ridge and you wait until everyone else has gone to decide to huck the cornice instead and you kick off a cornice fall that tears out a slab that steps down to a deeper weak layer and creates a class 3 avalanche that misses us by ten feet, you never get invited to tour with me again.

  6. Don Triplat says:

    Call out on number 6. Skin Track etiquette is vital and the dangerous and not in the right spot are vital endeavors to keeping everyone safe. If it does not work, make a new one.

  7. crusty old man says:

    What the hell’s wrong with wiggle turns? Even if yer a big-mountain-rager-rickeyradguy you’d think you’d like to see other people make small squiggles cuz it leaves more unmarked slopes for the cool kids.

  8. Prohoe says:

    Someone has personal space issues

  9. Sylvain & Ann Vanier says:

    Congrats on the kids Andrew!!! We have 2 girls as well. 11 & 9. Great read by the way! Cheers. The Vaniers from Canmore, Alberta.

  10. Eric says:

    (edit for #3, hidden agenda) Be up-front with time constraints. It’s okay if you have to be in town by 3p, as long as you let your party know well in advance of leaving the trailhead.

    (alternative ‘hidden agenda’) Tell your party what you actually intend to ski. I’ve experienced multiple times when someone drops a line near the discussed objective, yet a totally different ski. Maybe they do it to claim first tracks, I don’t know. It’s super annoying and can be very dangerous.

    I agree with #6 only to a certain extent. Setting skin tracks in dangerous places, avy prone zones, is not cool. Neither is having a jigsaw maze of skin tracks in the same vicinity all going to the same place. Do it right the first time and there won’t be an issue.

    As for #10, yeah but I contend that skiing down the skin track is worse than booting up it. I’m not talking about the flats near the trailhead. I mean where there is side-hilling. Double fall line slick tracks are the worst (as most often experienced on the south side of teton pass).

    A few more that deserve recognition:

    Know when to leave the dog at home. If it’s an epic, either tits deep or an uber long journey, leave the pup at home.

    Don’t skin up where most people ski if at all avoidable (certain couloirs being an obvious exception). We are out here to get away from tracks, not to dodge your lycra wearing rando racing speed training track that goes up through a nice fresh zone.

    Bring your own water and food. I’m happy to share a bit, but no I didn’t pack my goodies for you to mooch.

    Don’t spill the beans. If you stumble across an epic zone that people are sensitive to being overpopulated… and you must tag something when you post your ski-acting on instagram, use this: #everybodygotoVail

  11. Stefani (Dippe) Heaphey says:

    Hi Andrew!
    Enjoyed the article. You always had a way with words.
    In CO now. Hope we can ski together again someday!

  12. Jesse James says:

    Yet another lame article by Mr. Elitist himself. Andrew, one would think you would finally get your head out of your asshole and quit being such a douchebag, but alas, not so much. All of your complaints are just you being a whiny bitch. Get outta mormon land and I guarantee you won’t encounter half of these issues.

  13. maarten says:

    Your article is a worthless read. You sound like a know it all blowhard. Don’t come up to BC we don’t need negative BS from the likes of you.

  14. kevin Radford says:

    Postholing, i agree, is rather stupid considering the gear we have available to us. But does it really “destroy” a skintrack?

  15. Hi Kevin – I’d actually say yes, it does destroy a skin track as the boot holes eliminate 50% of a skin’s traction, which makes it necessary to create a new skinner.

  16. I live in mormon land jesse james. Sorry about that.

  17. Toddeo says:

    Photo 1: How can it not be half lapping if none of the tracks start at the top!

    You need to add:
    no no sideways skiing,
    no big mtn free riding taking up too many lines,
    No whippets in Beartrap, the bears have moved on, and
    All snowboarders gotta hold a line like skiers……..

  18. Jailhouse Hopkins says:

    Ideally, Maaarty and JJ are partners.

  19. pcarborist says:

    BC skiing ethics is walking a slippery slope.

  20. ty says:

    not sure how any of this is “Elitist” or being a “Blowhard”. to me all of this just makes sense. also, some of you are taking this blog to seriously. have you ever read the other posts? a lot of the stuff on here is for fun and lighthearted. also, Andre is an elite skier, so he has a right to be “elitist”

  21. Chris says:

    We have a saying in the Tetons: “Boot pack in the skin track is whack.”

  22. Dave K says:

    There’s more than one way to a skin a ….’ Also titled ‘Don’t Skin on My Boot Pack’
    1) Back in the day the booter up Flag was known as the “stairway to heaven” – nice and direct, once it was in you could make sub 45 minute times. Brutal when the never seen 6’8” Wasquatch was the first up –than ya had to use an axe between steps. Damn, skinners would cross over killing the integrity of the steps, fillin’ ‘em back in or obliterating some. Specially on the last stretch skin crossin over back and forth ice bridging the postholes. Some elitist blowhard like Andrew, LMFAO, rolled in from the NW spewin’ on about the merits of skinning. Sick of it I challenged him one AM – the king to skin, the everyman to boot. As usual, he macked down his flatlander city brekkie of 3 cups of joe with French vanilla creamer, full stack doused in Vermont sticky, 6 or so dean links, side of bacon and a cheesy whole milk 3 egg omelet coupled with butter laden hash browns spewin’ all the while. This was unfair from the start – I sat up top for 1 hr 10 min waitin for his 1 step forward 2 back — white knuckle kick turn punk a$%.
    2) Enough of these snooty gear snobs constantly comparing, preachin’, condescending. Goodness, each man chooses his weapon. Heaven forbid one of these noobs approaches having been separated from the herd trembling with insecurities. They come up on ya from behind and instead of a jolly robust – “hello, beautiful day, eh” they open with “Well that’s an old pack innit, it”. —- I was on a ski boot buckle cable (shoe string) budget for a couple 17 seasons and had a pair of soft fairly light Salomon Park boots that actually had more articulation uncuffed, destrapped than the modern day BD Factors. They were similar in color to an old generation BD and this fella greets by asking if it’s the new BD, I say nope and reveal my alpine boot. He quickly recites weight saving and how awful they must be seguewaying into how I must use texagonal beehive skin wax to better my stride and if my cotton bandana gets wet the additional weight will only hamper my time, I should look into a wicking buff . By the time he departed I thought I’d got it all wrong. A couple strides later he leaned back over his shoulder and asked me how long my probe pole was….I had to take the Jeremiah Johnson fork to the left to shake this cat.

    Don’t hate, celebrate! Individuality, diversity rule the day! Grow a weird beard; fly your backcountry freak flag!!

    Andrew fookin’ rips and so do his BC tips!

  23. JC says:

    Thanks for another great read. There are always a few haters that are emboldened under their cloak of anonymity. Number 2 is so annoying; a well-meaning friend seems to never fail in kicking the back of my skis. I’ve learned to just let him go in front.

  24. walking... says:

    Rename… 10 reasons to ski somewhere else. Also, the first picture … I just don’t get it. To me it’s about as aesthetic as… and showing as much self expression as… a traffic jam. Blah

  25. Chris, we have a saying in Boston “Boot Pack…Don’t Smoke Crack” :)

  26. Jay says:

    Half lap? To each their own. Just because you skinned to to the top doesn’t mean you own the run. Maybe they are sneaking one more (half) lap before they have to go. Maybe they don’t have the stamina to make the climb unlike some of you “elite” skiers. Maybe they can’t get out 7 days a week. When in the backcountry, to each their own. Have respect. Have avy knowledge. Use common sense. But by all means, get out and be safe.

  27. Kobernik says:

    Chuckle, chuckle, chuckle. Funny sarcasm as usual Andrew. For 2016, perhaps consider some rambling on “the lost art of the fall line”.

  28. Blizzard12 says:

    Andrew always gives amazing tips so I don’t know what those guys are talking about….

    Isn’t it just a matter of more people in the backcountry? I mean they make everybody pass a test to get their drivers license right?

    By all means let the freak flag fly and leave the gear choices to the individual. The rest is just common sense in the backcountry.

    Half laps might be okay if it’s at the end of the day.

    That’s my blowhard opinion…

  29. Derek says:

    Remedy to all: Drive an hour away and avoid the mess.

  30. How about don’t piss on or right next to the skin track and if you do why not cover it with snow, its not that hard, sorry if this offends anyone who enjoys looking at urine.

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