So…I was having a conversation with the Kitty the other day about skiing over and crossing other peoples ski tracks when in the backcountry. I got on her case a little on our Sierra trip this spring about it (yeah…she crossed my tracks) and she was getting a kick out of a story I was telling her about me apologizing to my partner for crossing his tracks in the Winds this spring. My excuse/explanation was that, A) it was spring and there was a specific swath of snow that was much better/smoother than the rest of the apron we were skiing, and B) I was able to nail the figure-8, and about the only reason crossing ski tracks are allowed in my book when skiing good snow.
I don’t know about you, but on a widish slope of fresh, untracked powder or a fresh crop of corn snow, it drives me nuts when people deface my pristine signature in the snow and cross over my ski tracks. It amazes me that some people seem to be oblivious to this backcountry code and will choose to ski right over my ski tracks when there is perfectly good powder 10 feet to the left. And mind you, I’m taking about experienced backcountry skiers doing this. The nerve!!!!
So…what say YOU?
Crossing someone’s tracks in fresh powder…and I’m not taking at the ski area.
A. Meh…I’ve got bigger things in life to worry about.
B. Not a big deal…but the photos aren’t as nice either.
C. Honey…we need to have a talk.
D. Well…I’ll never go skiing with that guy again!
A for sure. I thought everyone’s signature was supposed to look different. skier tracks tend to look to (ahhh….yawn) the same. i know i know you worked so hard to get up so maximize turns down……
“A”…I think the only people that care are thoes that run blogs.
A. Lets just go skiing.
A for sure, But if there is untracked and you choose to ski over tracked you are the idiot. Don’t do it on purpose but if it happens oh well.
A. I think you need to enter a figure 8 contest weekly as one of your 12 steps.
Is it a faux pas to use the term fopa to mean faux pas?
I guess the lingering spring storms mean we are still just winding down from winter (Kirkwood was open for the 4th!), but powder turns are a long way off: either several months or several thousand miles. Still, it’s always snowing somewhere and I always have snow on the brain. I’m going to pick out a new pair of AT boots today and this post helps put me in the right frame of mind: I can put them on and imagine myself shredding fields of open pow -then see how the boots suck up the jolt of crossing someone’s traverse track! We’ll see what performs best in the visualization chamber. In the meantime, stay thirsty my friends.
For the record:
A. Make turns, not rules.
If you want to keep your turns untrammeled, make your wishes known beforehand to your partner and then ski a line that leaves them room to lay down their own separate squiggle. Criticizing someone’s turns after the fact is almost as big a fopa as misspelling faux pas 😉
honesty…i’m having a hard time believing this. not the spelling faux paus part, but the fact that all of you don’t roll your eyes when someone crosses your one and only track in a pristine powder field.
A. I’m just excited to be out when I get out. I’m a desk jockey by trade, so I guess I’m not out enough to really care about crossing tracks. For what it’s worth, I skied 50 or so days last winter.
It looks like you’re on your own on this one randosteve.
I’m with you Steve, I have put in alot of man hours trying to perfect my turns. I take pride in my work. My regular partners and I know the “rules”, although sometimes their memory’s have to be refreshed. When I ski with the ocassional newbie I make it known that crossing tracks is frowned upon by not only me, but most of the backcountry comminity. I ride the C/D fence for the most part.
I take more offense to wiggle butt turns down fall line pow, open that shit up.
I’m a definite “D”! Don’t tread on me! Maybe I’m a spoiled bc skier who searches out the most vacant slopes, but I’m uber territorial when it comes to my descents. Maybe the “A’s” are not bothered because they don’t ski too far off the lemming track?
I go as far as changing my line so me and my partner can both have untracked lines,
I know this does not always apply but untracked freshies is what where lookin for, right?
truth! i sure don;t hike up there to ski tracked up powder. if it didn’t care about fresh tracks…i might as well ski at the resort.
My favorite places to ski are FAR off the lemming track. Nevertheless, I am in the “A” camp for sure. Skiing, for me, is just about having fun – and yes, I do believe there are more important things to be concerned about. Hmmm, makes me think…maybe I should just go ski with the dudes without the rules? 😉
“A”, and if I know it bothers you, I’ll purposely cross them just to be an ass. I guess I’m an offensive skier….
Maybe the question is not about crossing tracks but respecting personal space? When you have a myriad of lines to choose from, and only a few small groups vying for space, why not just go wide and assume the others are fine without your company? And that coming from one who skis one of the most over-used ranges in the US (Wasatch). Basically, there is tons of unused terrain if one is willing to go wide. My Uni-bomber traits are revealed, but living in a cubicle all week means I search out lonely spaces on my time off. Ironically, fewer people mean fewer rules. And to me that is FUN!
I agree with you Steve. Isn’t this basic powder editcate? A couple I know discusses this a lot….my girlfriend built the husband a guitar with ski tracks on the headstock, with one set crossing the other…immortalizing the argument…
“A” I know another person that freaks if someone skis over the skin track. Sure, it’s nice to keep the skin track away from where you want to make turns, but it’s not always possible. I say who cares, fun is number one, not photos.
I think not practicing powder conservation is a far greater crime than crossing someone else’s tracks. Ideally though..spooned tracks look much nicer.
I’m a B I guess. I’d rather not have someone ski in my tracks but wont say anything if they do. It bothers me more when someone zig-zags their bootpack up the face I plan on skiing. This drives me nuts! Who zig-zags a bootpack? This has happened to me at least twice on popular descent routes, but I guess it’s another reason to ski the lines that few will travel too.
A. Meh…I’ve got bigger things in life to worry about.
I couldn’t care less if someone crosses my tracks, as long as I’m not forced to cross any, others can do whatever the hell they want.
moulton…that is awesome!!! i’m gald i don’t play guitar…but they do tend to get the chicks.
C – but have been chewed for not conserving the pow
The Bum Wiggle looks really good with abut 8 guys in unison, in a narrow couloir. Plus it helps with Skiier Compaction!
I’m in the A camp. If I’m crossing your track, you ain’t going deep enough. Get a life.
A – Come on Steve. You have a great site, but this is a bit too much…
As a photographer, I can appreciate the look of an un-tracked line, but If you don’t want your track crossed, make it known. Don’t, however, enforce your ultra-conservative assumptions onto the rest of the ski community.
People want to ski over my tracks, instead of the virgin powder 10 feet away? Go for it I reckon – all the more fresh snow left for me!
Gotta say, I’m surprised there are so many of you that don’t seem to care about what I think is a basic backcountry ethic and most of the people I ski with understand this code to be law. Oh…and ML…
I, Steve Romeo, do hear-by state, that I prefer you do not cross over my ski-tracks when skiing a pristine powder slope.
What can I say…I’m a purist.
I bet this is the first time you’ve been called “ultra-conservative”? You know what they say– ‘the older you get, the more conservative you become’.
ha…i was kind of thinking the same thing. am i becoming my father???
A. I think it has more to do with your fragile ego than with what skiing is all about, being outside with friends skiing the pow. I know some people just love to tell people “theres my awesome line, how cool am I”
gt my brother…thanks for that. BUT, it would be impossible to have a fragile ego when i have to put up with bs comments like yours on this website.
maybe i just value powder skiing more?
Please refer back to the cartoon “Skiing the backcountry”, “This is the stupidest thing I have ever heard”. Love the site, but “this is the stupidest thing that I have ever heard”
i think you mean this one…
If you ask your partner to not do and he/she does its lame, but if you don’t tell him and he/she does it and you get mad you’re LAMER. It is obviously not backcountry code by the looks of your own poll, wouldn’t you say Steve? It may be your crews code but not for the community as a whole. Polls don’t lie just people who make polls. Live to Poll. JK of course I think this was a great post that need to be discussed, and I see both sides of the coin.
I think Derek hit it on the head. If I was about to drop in with someone and they said, ” Hey, don’t cross my tracks on this one”, I would respect it, but most likely think their super lame and probably try to avoid skiing with them in the future. Maybe it’s just a core Jackson thing…but not need to get into that sterotype here.
I cross tracks just to shine off the dorks who think it matters.
A. For sure. Although I do avoid crossing tracks purely for my own untouched pleasure. I don’t really care if someone crosses my tracks. If they don’t ride untouched that’s just more for me.
It’s about the experience and sensation of surfing snow. Not some temporary line in the surface of it.
sorry Steve 🙂
Gotta say, I have to be in the “A” camp as well. Let’s just go skiing.
I’ll have to go with a B, but not really caring about the photos. It would be cooler if you didn’t cross my track on a nice untouched pow field, but as long as I’m not crossing any tracks I don’t really care.
“Maybe it’s just a core Jackson thing…but not need to get into that sterotype here”
Caring deeply about your tracks has got to be hands down one of the most un-core things I’ve ever heard of, so please don’t confuse the rest of Jackson with one rando skier (not that I’m trying to uphold any dumb stereotype of Jackson being more core than anywhere else).
I have a bigger issue with people that cross my uptrack.
OK… I’m in the C-D range. Just don’t black list me Steve.
slope conservation should be considered with every turn. Spoon those tracks and work the slope all weekend. Unless of course its Blower and the snow is falling precipitously for days on end… then its all about making turns.
I am for sure in the A camp – just looking to ski and always looking forward to the next line. However, just so i know, next time i come across one of your tracks can I cross it one time. If is start out on the left of your tracks can i cross over to the right or do i have to stay on the left the whole way 🙂
that is legal rz…but call me first. 😎
Why would you if you don’t have to? This comes down to todays I I I, ME ME ME society. People who don’t like having their tracks crossed better get over it because it’s going to happen weather you like it or not. If you ski it they will come.
One more thing to add. If you don’t want your tracks crossed go last.
Yeah this tracks things seems petty and a lot like the frontcountry–side–back– bullshit. Quit trying to make all the rules and classify every little thing. It’s skiing so just have a great time. I prefer to ski with people who are in the A category as well as a few B’s…..Good Job Steve….just take it easy.
Oh and the ultimate FAUX PAS is snowshoeing in the commonly used uptracks!!!!!! Die Snowshoers DIE!!!!
In Montucky, if someone crosses our tracks there’s only one thing to do: Hang em high!
looking back at a set of unblemished tracks is akin to savoring the subtle after tastes of a fine chianti (PBR); a treat for the true connoisseur.
Sorry Steve, but unless you’re on private property, it’s public land, so hard to have “rules” or “ethics” that everyone will follow. Having been using the BC for over 30 years, it’s lot’s more crowded out there than it used to be and it can ruin the day if you get to wrapped around the axle about some tracks. But, everyone usually gets excited about something that others can’t quite fathom – so it looks like you found your something!
climbupskidown…you get it my brother.
If you don’t want me to cross you tracks, I guess you could let me get first tracks so there are no tracks for me to cross! Probably hard to find a partner like that…
Generally C for sure, but in real situation it depends on actual conditions. If there is fresh snow, sunny weather and enough space, I push all others in my group to ski down their own tracks without crossing any other ones – like this in High Tatras, Slovakia: http://www.photopost.cz/pp5free/foto.php?id=54732&ord=1&kat=0&aut=5869
In such cases, there is not any single reason for crossing tracks.
On the other side, in case of very narrow couloirs, foggy weather and strong wind I am not so strict and there is usually some crossing that can not be omitted.
In my area of Montucky, apparently crossing someone’s tracks really does result in “hang em high”. See story below.
Census Worker Killed in Kentucky
Wednesday, 23 September 2009 21:15
A U.S. Census worker has been found, hanged to death, in Clay Couny.
The FBI is investigating whether the death was caused by anti-government sentiment. The word “FED” was found scrawled across the man’s chest.
palic…agreed. in terrain like a couloir or tight gully, it’s nearly impossible not to cross tracks…so whatever, not a big deal. open terrain is a different story.
for all you A’ers out there, if crossing your pristine tracks wasn’t a big deal, why aren’t ski magazines full of images with ski tracks criss-crossing each other every which way?
Because it looks better but that wasn’t the question. I respect not crossing your track I just don’t care if you cross mine, unless of course I make it clear to you before we take off. My point being its not as set in stone as you previously believed.
Nobody is arguing that an un-tracked line is a thing of beauty. They are just saying that it is not worth imposing a draconian standard among the ski community saying “thou shalt not cross another track (unless of course you can figure eight it perfectly, or it is in a tight couloir, or if the conditions are cloudy, or if…)”
Ski magazines show photos of single, un-tracked lines because they are the most aesthetic thing going. In the background, the photogs and other skiers leave a mess of snowmobile tracks, traverses and other ugly marks in the snow to get that beautiful shot.
On another note, I am surprised you posted the “out of the shadows” trailer. From minute 1:54 to 1:56 in the video you can clearly see several tracks that (horror) cross one another. (insert little yellow smiley face here)
if you could have the most aesthetic thing going every day…or everyday you ski the backcountry….why wouldn’t you.
most of the times, when i leave where i’m skiing for the day…my partner and my tracks are the only ones there.
This is an awesome summer experiment for a small-time website:
1. Post something annoying on the internet
2. Ask people for their opinion on your thoughts
3. Disregard their responses and continue to act like your thoughts are correct
4. Rack up a few dozen more page hits than normal
You are so right fcb…I didn’t think I’d get this many comments on this post. Experiment…successful.
My guess is you are a strong “D”.
Steve, I like your website and looking at the things you ski, but this is stupid. I would try not to cross someones track if it was so important to them but I could care less if they crossed mine. I have had to deal with this bs after I found out it was some big deal to a friend of mine and it stressed me out all day. We worked it out though. I think the advise that if you care so much go last would be good to follow.
lee. let’s say you ski buck mtn on a bluebird day in about a foot of fresh pow. needless to say…it was an epic descent. you get back to the trailhead and look back up at the peak and you and your partners tracks. wouldn’t your rather see two separate, visually aesthetic and perfect ski tracks…instead of a mishmash of tracks that criss-cross over each other every which way?
i think if there was someone on a neighboring peak, watching the second skier ski over, back and forth across the first skiers tracks, when the entire slope is pristine powder…they would roll their eyes and say to themselves…”wtf is that guy doing?” this is the scenario that i think this backcountry ethic applies to.
See it is all about ego, “look at my cool tracks” who gives a rats ass what some guy on another peak thinks about what your doing as you ski down. Are we still talking about skiing? Part of the reason I go into the backcountry is so I dont have to follow rules, especially rules, or supposed ethics that I had no part in determining. If I or someone else is not endangering my life than who cares what they are doing. Ski lines are temporary marks. Stop this madness please there are bigger issues out there.
Steve, there is no doubt that those lines comeing down Buck would be very nice to see and put down. However there are two things I would say. The first is that by what you wrote up to top it seems that you get realy pissed when this happens. Blogs are a hard place to make a point and I don’t know you so I can’t tell exactly where you are comeing form, but if it actually causes you to feel true anger, you are only hurting yourself over something that goes away with each snow fall or mountain breeze. The second thing is that it sucks when the person that goes first dicatates how everyone else has to ski the line. I love the fall line but I also like poke around on different terrain features. This situation came up when a friend center punched a wide shot and put down a beutifull line. I dropped in and half way down I was inspired to go check out a steep shoulder on the other side of his line. I knew he would be pissed but I crossed his track and went to the shoulder anyway because it rolled over and looked fun. I hardly noticed his track as I went over it and it wasn’t like I didn’t get a fresh line.
I agree about how nice tracks can look but when Im getting down I just need to get down if you know what I mean, and I cant ski with someone who demands I ski a certain way.
On a more posotive note. This morning at work I ran into three fellows who are rideing horeses from New Mexico to Candada. They are doing it with no support. Now thats bad ass. They were heading out of sinks canyon this morning and if all went well will be camped in Lizard Head Medows tonight. They will be heading up the Winds, through YellowStone, up the Paradise Valley, over Windy Pass into the Galatains through the Spanish Peaks wilderness up the CDL into the Bob, through GNP. All of this and they have already come 800 miles. If anyone sees them along the way they would like some food and beer.
lee…that is a very cool story about the horse riders. very inspiring…and i would love to hear their tales when they are finished.
and you are free to ski however you want.
Powder to the people!
Nice discussion here 🙂 I would like to recommend you page 112 of Allen & Mike’s Really Cool Backcountry Ski Book: Traveling & Camping Skills for a Winter Environment – to be seen on http://books.google.com if not available in printed form. There is nice drawings of slopes covered by tracks in a way of "fabulous" and "lame". I vote for "fabulous" version 😉
GT…yes, ski tracks are temporary…just like everything else. In the realm of “live to ski” its not so much about ego as it is connecting in as many ways as possible to the skiing experience, which includes the visual reinforcement of the whole run as one continuous motion. If one does not have this kind of relationship with skiing, then its no surprise that crossing tracks is irrelevent, and that’s fine. regardless, send healing vibes to my torn meniscus!
My comment on your first comment to Lee about Buck Mtn goes a little something like this. “Sweet bud”, bud being my partner, “looks like they left plenty of room and a skin trail let’s go up there 2morrow and show them how to do it right”. If someone crossing your tracks gets your panties in a bunch then you are not getting out enough, or far enough, or for the right reasons. This of course is just one man’s opinion. Just get over it because it’s gonna happen anyway. You should ask Greg Hill what he thinks about track crossing. My buddy in Revelstoke, who knows Greg, simply said “you’re not over that yet.” By the way I love your website, always something cool to look at, read, or comment on. Thank You!!!
yo bnk…feel free to use my skin track. but i find it hard to believe you would go up there and just ski back and forth over our tracks…right? my guess is you you rather ski the untracked powder on either side…like most people. considering this website, i am also often trying to get good images of descents and such…another reason for keeping things clean.
steve, this site never fails to amaze me. gt can saw it off. i ski solo on real mellow terain most of the time i ski. i love seeing my tracks. if no ever saw them that would be fine with me. some teton old timer wrote about how the ski track is the best symbol of a persons relationship with nature. so everyone relationship is different and the best view is on its own. i really hope you get some extra $$$ from your advertisers for the more post you get. even if your a skier living in the mountains there is no room for playa hatin!!!
A. I’m way more into the mountain than the tracks. If a line I like takes me across somebody’s tracks, sho cares?
joe…thanks for reassuring me that i ski the backcountry for the right reasons.
I think you’re reading me right Rando. I do not cross tracks unless I absolutely have to. I stopped caring if people cross my tracks a long time ago because it’s going to happen no matter what weather it’s someone in the group or someone in the next group or the group after that. It’s just not worth getting upset over and ruining your day or your photo. It would appear, from reading the comments here, that some people cross tracks just to piss people off which I consider totally lame. The best way to avoid this is to avoid leading the group to the top of the line you want to ski. Find out what everyone else wants to ski go there and then you ski last, hopefully the line you wanted will remain untouched and you get the picture of your pristine tracks.
Or you could come here to Colorado and ski in the range across the road where we rarely, if ever, see anyone.
I used to think like Steve about the tracks back long ago when the mountain was used differently with skinny boards (and I now officially apologize to everyone I said something to about destroying my tracks as justified as it might have been at the time). Now that people are freed from the drudgery of linked uniform turns in the fall-line (if they choose) and skiers can ride the terrain in a creative manner with giant radius turns, crossing tracks is inevitable and thus not a concern anymore partly because there is no need to see that every turn was uniform without interruption. For myself, crossing a sweeping arc is not a concern, nor is that my track was crossed. Everybody has a right to make a turn or go where they want to and use the terrain how they want and shouldn’t be limited by what the previous skier did. Theoretically, the second, third etc. skier could be forced into a more hazardous zone and endanger themselves and others with a decision based solely on aesthetics. The situation (be it a guided or just buddies), terrain choice and stability should dictate how people use the slope. I think there are situations where it is totally logical to find your own virgin patch as in most tree skiing situations. I agree that a set of tracks is beautiful but the feeling is more important. Besides, multiple tracks of big sweeping turns intertwined randomly is beautiful as well.
If the vision of ones tracks is a priority, they can always tell the next skier to wait until they’ve taken a picture.
What I do personally consider as important etiquette is sticking to the general fall-line and not traversing the shit out of something.
When I ride my Zealots (184cm, 110mm underfoot) super stiff, aggresive ski for speed/big turns I feel no different about crossing tracks in the backcountry than when i’m using my ultralight soft skinny setup.
Does it count as crossing tracks if you AIR over them? I so no…so long as you clear them sufficiently and stick the landing.
hmmm…good question. i need some time to mull it over in my egotistical mindset a little bit before i answer though. i’ll get back to you with my answer after tea and crumpets tomorrow.
i liked the zealot when i demoed it, but for some reason i don’t have a pair. ideal all-mountain charger!
What I do personally consider as important etiquette is sticking to the general fall-line and not traversing the shit out of something….
Ptor stricked again! gooooooood job!
A. Can’t recall caring too much. However, its nice to look back at your tracks when they haven’t been mangled by someone skiing all over them.
In my opinion there should be E) No problem, just don’t mash the skin track.
I’m late to discussion but A. Conserving the pow and spooning things to keep it tight make sense but this is silly.
How long are they sacred: an hour, the next lap, an afternoon, the next day or until nature removes them? How do I know when the precious was left, do you leave a note?
Sooooo it doesn’t apply in couliors or tight gullys but does apply on open slopes, what about a forested slope that no one can see? If it’s snowing and all the tracks will be gone that night is it OK? Does this apply on Edelweiss as well as Buck? If not then where’s the line: Glory, Wimpy’s? Is there a map you can put up so I can know what rules apply where?
don’t be confused…confused. if you can’t figure it out…then it’s just not for you. the idea is to be able to relish and preserve the experience of skiing untracked powder lines for as long as possible. most people who believe in this ethic understand the rules and they don’t need them spelled out. but yes…relative to glory, buck, wimpys, edelweiss, the weather, the line…expectations may be different.