By: randosteve|Posted on: September 24, 2008|Posted in: Broken Link to Photo/Video, GTNP, The Tetons | 51 comments

Randosteve facial from the early days on Wimpys
Randosteve gets a facial during the early days on Wimpys.

Maybe it’s the gear, the skill level, the media, or the now easily accessible backcountry terrain out of ski resort gates, but it seems like today, many skiers are forgoing the natural progression of steeping it up from easier to gnarlier lines.  Instead, going right to the gnarly stuff…without paying their dues.

Now, I have no scientific data to back up these comments and I’m not sure there is any to be had.  But when I was getting started, I spent many days at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort fine tuning my skills and strengthening my endurance levels before heading out towards the bigger peaks of Grand Teton National Park.  And then, once you learned your way around, you would slowly move up the ladder.  First skiing Peak 10,696 or Albright, then moving on to Buck Mountain or Disappointment Peak, and then stepping it up even further to mountains like the Middle Teton, and South Teton.  Finally, capping off your hit-list with a descent of Mount Moran or Teewinot.  Skiing the Grand Teton was one of those things that you dreamed about for years, eventually building up enough skills to give it a try and maybe or maybe not ending up successful.  Today, sometimes it seems like after only one or two tours in the park, skiers are heading right for the bigger peaks, skipping the apprenticeships that should be allowed to progress.

Randosteve scoring some great corn at the bottom of th Ford COuloir
Randosteve scores some great corn at the bottom
of the Ford Couloir on the Grand Teton.

I guess I could blame myself for some of this stuff happening locally, because I post pictures on the internet of skiing some of these peaks, maybe reducing the fear factor a little bit.  But I feel like posturing and spraying (instead of pure challenge and sense of adventure) are the main reasons skiers these days are jumping head first into higher consequence, steeper terrain…possibly before they are ready.   The big thing that bugs me is that there is often very little room for error when pushing the limits in ski mountaineering and falling is sometimes not an option.  Far too many times I have seen skiers with poor form skiing couloirs and faces that they have no right being in or on.  Unfortunately, conditions are not always perfect in the high mountains and a skier must be able to handle anything that is thrown at him/her…something many resort skiers fail to realize, thinking it’s always soft snow that will be under their skis.

I know I’m leaving myself open for critique, since one could easily state that I am the one spraying and posturing with this TetonAT website, but I have paid my dues and think very seriously about what, when and how I am skiing in the backcountry.  What’s your take???