Should we limit the slopes?
January 26, 2005
I'm writing this after having quite an interesting experience at Wisp on Friday. This was the second time I've been to Wisp this year, and the second time on the slopes at all. I decided to go in order to teach a good friend of mine how to snowboard after he had been asking me all summer. Well we went boarding and spent some of the noontime hour at the carpet lift showing him the basics of which he picked up on very quickly. Within an hour we were on Chair #2 to the top to go down the Possum Trail.
It was fun seeing him learn and after the first trip down Possum he feel about a dozen times working on heelsides. But after a few more trips to the top he was holding his own very well and managing to go down without falling but 2-5 times. Once he even made it down without falling at all, long before the sun set on the evening. At his urging and at my own discretion I took him on a few blues like Muskrat, Boulder Run, Randals Run, and ones that weren't bad at all and amazingly he handled them great. That was except where we we both bit the bullet on Boulder Run after hitting a hidden icy patch. We laughed, got up, had sore bums, and kept on riding.
For me Friday was a kick back and relax day. The blacks looked and sounded too icy for me and since I'm not a super expert yet (I prefer more controllable slush or powder on blacks) I remained content to ride the blues and mostly the greens all day. Even the blues were turning into hard pack ice with only Possum Trail having any nice powder left.
This is where it got nasty and really fast and where I have a HUGE complaint and am really ticked off. While I understand many others probably felt the way I did that other slopes were too icy, it seemed that EVERYONE at Wisp decided to head down Possum. At first that scared me because the amount of people on that trail and it's simply not wide enough to handle the capacitity that it did, and to top that, there were idiots all OVER the place on it. Expert idiots and beginner idiots who had no business in my opinion being up there.
It was a warzone of bodies all over that slope all day long, someone crashing, burning, flipping, flying, bouncing, rolling, hitting, and somehow managing to get up afterwards all day. There were just too many beginners up there straightlining it down the slope out of control until they crashed to a stop. Usually crashing into someone else. The other thing that REALLY burns me was the experts on boards and skii's flying off that slope as if it was I-95. Here I am trying to teach my friend how to manage the 'falling leaf' and how to maintain control on a board ... when a dozen or more experts are flying down literally at 30mph!! WTF isn't anyone reading rules or worse ENFORCING rules on the slopes??
Me and my friend both were the unlucky victims of crashes from out of control people. Towards the late part of that evening I was gently coming around that first turn on Possum before out of no where this little 6 or 7 year old kid ran across my board with his ski and poles taking out my back leg. For what I could see fractions of a second before hand he made NO ATTEMPT to turn but simply was doing a straightline down the slopes and took me out full force. The collision was pretty hard from the speed he had causing me to face plant all the while he flipped over me crashed and hit the slope hard and wasn't moving. My first thought was "OMG he's dead or severely injured." Not even considering I was in pain I slid up to him checking him over, his legs looked bent kind of odd, his eyes were closed, and no sooner than did I look up his mother came up to us and picked him up right as he let loose on this screaming cry. I was still thinking he had hurt himself really bad until she asked him "Honey are you hurt anywhere?" and he shook his head no.
Without even appologizing for it she gets up, cracks a joke like "This is his first day." and him and her got up and skied off. I laid there for a moment getting myself turned around to get back up all the while FURIOUS that people like that are being let on the slopes. Maybe I'm over reacting, maybe I was ticked off that slope rules were broken, (What happened to the person infront has right of way???!), but I really wanted to get up and call that mother out saying get her kid paid lessons below or get off the slopes now. For lack of better judgement I didn't because I was too sore and tired to try and fight it out. Just for kickers sake... while I was checking the kid out and seeing how bad the damage was, at least 100 riders/skiers flew past us without consideration of an injured person and without slowing down one bit. As you might have guessed, no more than 100 yards down in the darkness, the kid had wiped out AGAIN and was bawling his head off as I rode on by delicately trying to not get murdered in the process by other out of control people.
That was only one event of the day. The second one came when my friend was sticking to the side of the slope to work on his heel side that I taught him when an out of control straightlining boarder wiped him out... RIGHT INFRONT of a ski patroller. I only got to see the part where they were falling but basically the patrollers reaction was "Hrm, that is borderline..." and then rode off once both got up. That was insane! The other boarder was clearly in violation of not giving my friend the right of way, not using caution by straighlining out of control and the patroller said it was BORDERLINE??
I really am tired of having to try and teach others on the bunny slopes as they are going recklessly and out of control. Don't get me wrong, I love teaching and feel that it's my responsibility as a person on the slopes to see that slope safety is maintained... even if I'm not a patroller. But when time after time I'm having to teach boarders "Why not use your heel edge to control yourself rather than straighline" and hear their response of "How do you edge?" it's starting to infuriate me because it's compromising MY safety and the safety of you all as well.
Then to top it all off on Friday night, the very last time I went down Possum with my friend we encountered a group of about 7 teenage skiiers. They were at the top goofing off so we decided to head on down and get to the bottom before they started off. Until they started behiind us and were joking around, horseplaying, and being wreckless. At one point they all extended their arms and held onto each others ski poles making this interlocked human chain that was over half the width of the slope itself. I was behind this, my friend infront of this and they were flying up to him really fast and I was almost sure they were going to clothesline him until at the very last second they broke the chain where he was at and went around him.
No sooner than they went around him they wiped out all lauhing and laying there in the middle of the slope as we both went by. Less than 2 minutes later they did the same thing to me breaking their chain and zipping past me. I sorely wanted to ride up to them, grab a ski pole and beat them senseless.. ok maybe not, but rip their lift ticket off and demand they get off the slopes.
By the end of the day me and my friend both had a good time, but were severely aggitated at the aggressiveness of the expert skiers on there NOT taking into consideration this isn't a cruiser slope, but one beginners are learning and practicing on. And then worse off those very beginners who are strapping on and hitting the slopes without so much as a THOUGHT for a lesson who are endangering the lives of themselves and others. I seriously wish there would be tougher policing of those slopes. Signs or something up warning experts not to fly down off of them for fear of loosing a lift ticket, or something that would constrain them to be more considerate of lower level ability people.
Ok I think I'm at the end of my rant... but what else is there to do besides rant, warn people, and in my case I'm writing to Wisp to tell them how my experience was and that I'd like tos ee more patrollers on those greens watching out for the reckless and out of control people, experts and beginners alike.
*sigh* why can't all greens be a huge as Salamander where at least you aren't squeezing the volume of traffic of I-66 into Rt 55. heh
I'm with ya. It seems like whatever slope you go to (mainly here in the Mid-Atlantic) there is an increasing amount of idiotic stuff going on
I went to Whitetail on 1/16 when only Upper Angel-Drop to Lower Angel-Drop and Homerun was the only blue top-to-bottom run. People were doing the same stuff you described. In fact, at one point, two kids decided to start off right after my daughter and I started our run. The started to straight-line down behind us. I heard a commotion and thought they had hit my daughter.
Fortunately, they ran into each other. I saw little to no patrol observation/enforcement going on that day. If this keeps up on the East-Coast, I'll just have to go out West more where things are a lot more laid back.
WHEW, Brother i've felt your pain. That boulder trail was also a zoo over MLK. Is ski patrol an accident prevention organization or a triage unit. I keep going back to Camelback. Skied there a couple of times in the spring. Their patrollers will stop you if they find you being unsafe, explain what you did wrong, give you a complimentary copy of the Skiers Responsibility Code, ask for ID and punch a hole in your lift ticket. Get stopped again and you're gone. I don't think, when the crowds are big and the ambulances are running laps to the hospital, it's too much to ask that patrol patrol.
Unfortunately that seems to be pretty much the MidA skiing experience; uncontrolled and dangerous mayhem. I know some patrollers try to do their best but they can't be everywhere at once. I just do not understand why the local resorts don't control things better.
That to me, is the main reason we enjoy skiing out west; there 'seems' to be more skier responsibility. The runs are better managed; whether by limiting the number of skiers/boarders on the slopes or by regulating access to more advanced runs or by being more aggressive in pulling the tickets of those that don't play by the rules. It's getting to the point sometimes that it is just plain -not fun- skiing in MidA.
I think you are right, Brad, in writing Wisp. Whether your letter will result in anyone waking up is moot. Nevertheless, if we all did what Brad is doing whenever we run afoul of these idiots, maybe the resorts would take notice, especially if a number of people specified that they would no longer ski or bring their children to said resort because it was too dangerous. Maybe by threatening the resorts bottom line would force them to do something. I am just a frustrated as Brad, believe me.
Thanks to jimmy for the comment about Camelback patrollers. We've never been there but it sounds like they are doing the right thing. Perhaps its time to travel further north to give Camelback a try.
I visited Camelback for two days over MLK weekend and I could not believe the traffic there. They had some long green runs, which are not particularly wide and were crowded and full of wrecks. The ski patrol was working their proverbial a$$ off taking care of injuries and reckless skiers. Tough job, they do the best they can. My friends and I got a kick out of watching so many beginners and idiots bite it, but would've preferred a smaller crowd. If you stick to the blacks though the crowds are non existent. I believe the moral of the story is ski midweek or learn to ski the blacks.
It is frustrating to say the least and I think part of the problem lies in the fact that the Mid. Atlantic winters are much much shorter than those of the Rockies or even up in Vermont. So here we have a very finicky start around mid-late Nov on good winters lasting through mid-april at best, but more than like late dec - mid March for normal winters. With that alone I think resorts are trying to pump as much revenue into their businesses as possible and that means getting as many people on the slopes as humanly possible with the side affect being idiots who can't even drive in snow never the less try to ride on it.
The result isn't just long lines at the lifts, but I think 80% of the skiers/riders going right straight to the top green runs and crowding down it. Then the after affect is what I wrote above, dangerous conditions that risks our own safety at the expense of people who have never been on the slopes before trying to feel like some Aspen elite or something.
I've spent time wondering how could this problem be solved besides the obvious of cracking down on reckless people by having more patrollers out there? I've thought about resorts managing their terrain better. For example Wisp has Chairs 2-3 which seem to bear the brunt of any lift load at any given time. On new years day there was a 15 min wait at lifts #2-3, yet there was ZERO people in line at lift #1. Would it take having a better logistical setup to having another green run on the other side of the mountain with a visible lift #5 to attract the newbies over there splitting half the load? Would it take having multiple green runs setup seperated on different parts of the mountain to keep the newbies spread out and from all congregating on one trail and killing everyone else?
The obvious answer is patching it by having more patrollers crack down on skiiers and start yanking tickets. Maybe another solution would be to have a new ticketing system that the salesperson at the window asks the skiiers/riders level ability and that level is printed on the ticket. So that if someone says they are a beginner and are found on blacks, their ticket is yanked. Who knows, but something needs to be done.
I wonder if Bill Bright would hire me to be operations and IT manager at Almost Heaven? heh.
Sadly, having out of control beginner skiiers going down blues and blacks actually relieves some of the crowds on Possum and Wisp Trail.
I've always thought they had too few greens there. There's basically possum and wisp trail, and belly flop. Half the time either Wisp or Possum are closed for snowmaking anyway and then every beginner is thrown on 2 trails, Belly flop only being a little hill anway that I bet few beginners use unless in ski school. Another problem is that many of the blues on that side of the mountain filter into Wisp Trail so that causes traffic issues with it.
Maybe their new terrain for next year will have more green slopes. Maybe we can require IQ tests before getting a lift ticket but then you have the whole issue of standardized testing being useless and sadly most of the morons on the slopes are probably the "smarter" of our society.
Does Wisp have a Courtesy Patrol? Most resorts have ditched them because of a lack of funds... but if they do you should apply. Courtesy Patrol basically enforces the seven-point Responsibility Code, responds to accidents, aids in other ways similar to Ski Patrol, but does not require as much work or all the other processes. Usually you are given a comp ticket for however many hours you work for payment (and of course, discounts).
It's a really good program and just a shame most areas have dropped it. Snowshoe actively endorses it... and that's really about it. Inquire the next time you're at Wisp.
I think Bawalker hit it pretty close in that most mid-atlantic resorts have to squeeze as much profit as possible into a very short season they have to pretty much allow any person onto whichever slope they want. i had numerous conversations with Roundotp mgmt over the years and they all say the same thing "while we'd like to limit people base on ability, we can't risk having them not come back'. In my view, the only fix is to expand available terrain, or make terrain that is so scary, the beginner/average user wouldnt even think of using it.
as far as patrol, i get really nervous when patrollers go from being EMTs to police. some take that police power way to far.
I like the idea of printing skier level on the ticket but that sure wouldn't last long. All ya need is a couple of twits saying double blacks for bragging rights and there goes the system. I like what Liberty does by not allowing rental skis on black runs .. its not much but it's a start. I also think it should be made clear that straightlining is not allowed on green runs. You get these beeenie babies bombing down the runs in a 'tucked' snowplow with smiling dad following. I think both kid -and- parent should be ticketed. Maybe that's the system .. kid misbehaves, dad/moms ticket gets yanked too. Harsh? Of course!
How about a licensing system? You take lessons, you pass tests, you get certificate for green, blue, black level. No certificate, no lift ticket!
You have to straightline possum on a rental board or you'll be unstrapped and pushing half the way.
Trust me, I've been there.
People should get their lift ticket with their rentals. When you rent you have to list your ability in order to get the right equipment. They could use that info to give you a ticket that at least keeps you off of the black runs. They could lie and say they were experts but then they'd be on boards/skiis that were too long for them and they'd pay for it by falling all over the place no matter what terrain they were on.
as far as patrol, i get really nervous when patrollers go from being EMTs to police. some take that police power way to far.
I'm not an advocate for that either, but when conditions are bad or the crowds are large, someone's got to be in charge. I know about Camelback because I got a warning. To make a long story short, I got a ticket for failing to obey a closed sign (right in front of the patroller, as i said, my reasoning constitutes a long story). Anyway the patroller had two others stopped and asked me to wait. He very politely asked me a couple questions, gave me a verbal warning and sent me on my way. How you learn the rules is directly related to how they're enforced/explained. Do you think a resort takes the time, when a busload of cub scouts or 300# Korean methodist women pull into the parking lot, to explain the Code?
Nope, all they see is dollar signs!!! I dont think any one approach will work. RT tried certifications a long time ago and it was a liablity nightmare. IMO the best approach would be to have patroller POLITELY explain the issue, but the more experienced people should know better. Most of us know not to hit weekend after noon and deal with all those issues. there is also the idea of progression to account for. how is someone going to get better if they cant try more challenging terrain. RT is experimenting with learning areas for the parks where they are providing parks of graduating size to allow people to learn. we'll see how this works.
as far as patrol, i get really nervous when patrollers go from being EMTs to police. some take that police power way to far.
yeah, Hear yah on that one.
I recently got into a 15 minute discussion with a WT courtesy dude because of a sticker on my helmet. The sticker read as an uncensored 'F*ck War' in ~1" white letters. It's a message that I feel very strongly about.
I asked if I was going to be allowed to ski.
"Sure, no problem, but let me tell you about a young kid we pulled from the park for screaming profanity...45minute video in the office...family resort...children...role model...influence...blahblahblah."
I listened politely & wondered if this noob was gonna let me ski (hadn't even made run yet) or sit me down to watch a resort video and hear more lectures.
He just wanted to chat, claimed it wasn't the message, just the wording. I then went over to ski off the expert quad and ran bumps on Exhibition the rest of the night. Pretty much skied the rest of the night by myself, no lines to stand in, no groups of children to corrupt.
Then on a ride up the chair, I hear the tempting melody of Fifty Cent being pumped out of the loudspeakers over at the park.
Nothing like being told that I'm offending the family resort clientel while listening to loudspeaker lyrics about 'tapping that ass', 'drinking the Dom' and 'puffing some green'. None of which I have a problem with, but if you're gonna police me, damn well better clean up your own house first....
And in light of our conversation, I have altered the sticker. Over the U, I have placed a piece of red tape, which probably draws even more attention than the original plain white text. Notably, this was the first and only negative response I've received. Every other response has a been a very positive "right on" from other skiers and area employees of all ages.
So, yeah, careful what you wish for.
The issue with Wisp is their trail layout. Basicly possom, and Wisp trail are the only beginer options on the hill. Other trails like Boulder also get a ton of traffic (and ice) becuase it is about the only blue way down the the front of the mountain. IMO, you are best off going down wisp trail rather than possom. It generally has much less traffic , better snow, and it is not flat like possom. That mens you can actually practice linking turns.
There is an easy way to ell if possom will be particualrly crowded. Look at the lift line at chars 2 and 3. Chair 2 is the furthest lift over toward the possom / wisp trail side. Most poeple don't bother to ski arround the lift to acces the other side. So if the line on the chair 2 side is really long you knwo that possom / wisp trials will be a mad house.
The coming expansion at wisp should help things out there as they will have a number of additional green runs from the top that will thin out the crowds.
1. Yes, it is wrong for a resort to play music with inappropriate language or statements in a family environment like that. The problem is that the guys working the park probably just snuck it in the rotation and none of the ski patrol payed enough attention to the words to notice.
2. Is it really our purpose in life to go skiing and make political statements? I agree with your position on war but is it really necessary for you to throw your opinion out there unprovoked with profanity no less? I mean I'm pro-life but you don't see me running around with an "Abortion is Murder" sticker. Nobody wants to think about politics, war, or abortion out on the ski hill anymore than they want to think about starving people in ethiopia. What about someone who lost their son/daughter/brother/sister whatever in the war. Maybe they're out on the ski hill to get their mind off of things and just enjoy themselves as much as possible in this time, and then you swoosh by basically giving them the middle finger. We can all have our opinions just try to be a little more sensative about it and not force people to think about such things at a place of recreation/enjoyment.
Regulation of the slopes is a delicate balancing act at best, and a nightmare most of the time. Too much regulation detracts from the enjoyment of the sport, and correspondingly profits when people stop coming, whereas too little results in more accidents, greater liability and higher costs to ski areas. The middle line between the two is more like a football field rather than a line. By way of example, Liberty used to enforce an absolute "no jumping" policy many years ago. Jump and you would get your ticket yanked - even if it was a hop from one mogul to another. Now you can jump provided you are either in the terrain park or on more advanced runs and are doing so safely. The big question is what is consider "safe?" Ski patrollers go through a lot of training to help figure that out - but even then, its a subjective call a lot of times. Situations described by Brad are easy - the out of control boarders and skiers horsing around should have been warned.
As for what local areas are trying to do, I know that the Liberty is trying to have both Mountain Safety and the Ski Patrol more proactively police the slopes (of course, response to accidents takes priority for patrol). The policy of the area is that if you are caught skiing or riding out of control, you will get a warning (single slash across your lift ticket). If you're caught again, your ticket will be pulled. If you're reckless and cause an accident with injury, your ticket will be pulled (i.e., no warning). If you ski a closed trail, your ticket will also be pulled. This past weekend, the patrol was VERY busy pulling tickets from people skiing and riding closed trails (there were quite a number). In addition, a lot of warnings (marked tickets) were also issued. Hopefully, people saw patrollers standing at the Heavenly intersection and at the base of the backside lifts.
Don't be shy about letting either the patrol or area management at any ski area know when conditions are out of control or, conversely, when you think they are doing a good job. Feedback helps!
This is not meant to denigrate your crappy experience at Wisp Brad but it all gets back to the "too many skiers too few ski trails problem." I was at Winterplace on Friday and can only imagine what a train wreck that area has to be on the weekends (for the record: Winterplace not as flat as people make it out to be. Back side is as steep as Whitetail but only, unfortunately, about 1/3 the length. I think Bill Bright did a pretty good job with the layout for what he had which has encouraged me about what he could do with an Almost Heaven- assuming that he doesn't turn it into a vast real estate complex).
The problem isn't whether all of us on the board know what to do, when to ski, or how to address situations like that. The problem is the impact this is having on numerous other people. Either they a) don't mind the manic conditions that appear to be increasing at the mountains which isn't good for anyone or b) get frustrated and never go skiing/riding again. Either alternative isn't good for skiing in the Mid Atlantic.
Here's a question to the instructors on the board: do you teach the ski code in introductory instructions? I've run across (figuratively, not literally
) some folks on the slopes before who simply didn't know the rules and were more than happy to obey them once they were pointed out. Most of them boil down to simple courtesy after all- like being at the top of a great mogul run and, if a few folks are standing around, everyone gives permission for everyone else to go first. That's not an official rule anywhere, but it's just something people usually (USUALLY) do (but in powder conditions anywhere in the country, all bets are off. Powder brings out the Darwinian nature in everyone).
So do they teach the code to first timers? And what about encouraging people to speak out about the code- something of a civilian arrest? I've chewed out some parents before when a kid almost ran me over, it doesn't bother me when my life or health is on the line to raise hell. A nice warning at the base of the mountain would be good- "For the safety of everyone on the mountain, if you see someone skiing or riding recklessly please report that person to the nearest patrol" sitting on a big board at the base of every lift, for instance.
We can all have our opinions just try to be a little more sensative about it and not force people to think about such things at a place of recreation/enjoyment.
Well, I have 'astericked' the sticker, much like we do here in these forums, to show some sensitivity.
As far as the message, I think it's important for folks to always be thinking about 'such things.' I know folks like to 'escape' during recreation, and I know a lot of folks use that time to contemplate the bigger questions while 'escaping' the everyday world.
People can read it and either ignore it, or contemplate it. Like the many bumperstickers and such that you see everyday.
Now that everyone's worked to a fine lather... I'll throw my 2 cents in...
I give you Canaanman's Sticker System:
I came up with this system waiting in Timberline's lift lines after person-after-person fell when loading the lift. What you do is give the lift attendants a sheet of stickers that are very hard to remove, and when somebody causes the lift to stop or holds-up the lift line they slap a sticker on their ticket.
Three stickers and you're OUT! You then have to go back to the bunny lift until you can load and unload the lift safely and properly. You want to learn to ride the chair? You hold up the others willing to wait... not everyone else.
Now, you're probably wondering, "What if I get my stickers and learn to ride better on the bunny lift, how do I get to ride the lift again?" Well it's simple. You use different colors for each lift... You get three on either lift and you have to ride the bunny lift until you are able to confidently ride it. Then you must go to the other lift, where they will allow you to ride.
This would be especially effective on Silver Queen.
Re: Canaanman's Sticker System
I likey. My favorite move is when four people try to get on a triple. That's worthy of a double sticker for all of 'em!
Here Here, But I think I've seen this thread before.
I often have the same feeling on 95. Have a stupid wreck. hold up traffic. You should have to wait 6 months to drive on it again (Hope I never have a wreck!)
BTW, I've been doing some studing on organizational dynamics, such as interplay of personalities. I think we have a lot of judgemental traits in this group (me included). And I'm guessing a bunch of extrovert trill seekers. Which also explains the out of control newbees on the slope as well. And if they survive they too get to be judgemental.
I'm joking around, but if your interested take the personality test at http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp
and see if your a trill seeking judgemental A$$h like me.
I am an INTP by that test though I ahve been rated INTJ before. I guess it depends on my mood.
Nobody wants to think about politics, war, or abortion out on the ski hill anymore than they want to think about starving people in ethiopia.
Didn't the hippy ski bum generation begin because of political issues?
And a reply to another about teaching the responsibility code. As an instructor, I do it religously (sp). For beginners: Ski in control, Downhill skier has the right of way, If you stop, pull to the side of the trail, before taking off look uphill, No loose clothing on lifts. For advanced: Slow down at trail merge, Obey signs, and Ski in Control.
I've often wished for such a system. Not only there at T-line/Canaan but especially at the 'Shoe when things get busy! I've been on Ballhooter when it is stopped more than running. The lines build VERY quickly when the lift (anywhere!) cannot run at capacity!
On a positive note..the industry seems healthy! When you live as far away from the slopes as i do you learn to pick & choose your trips.Broke a rib running into an out of control boarder up at beech a few years back on MLK(looked like rush hour on 270)never again..went to silver creek this last weekend & was able to ski right up to the lift,let a few seats go by while i straightened a few things out & liesurly got on at my own pace.It was like this the whole w-end!Skiing down slopes like bear claw,foxchase,& slaymaker(my favs)in picture postcard perfect scenery & conditions with only 1 or 2 skiers in view was a real treat.they would groom 1 side of the slopes & leave a nice swath of powder along the wind breaking snow laden spruces. there you go... paradise in the Mid atlantic.Cannot wait for "ALMOST HEAVEN" !!!!!
I believe Alta limits the number of people on the slopes.
Gatkinso- I think you're correct, but then again Whitetail limits skiers too (so they say). From what I understand of Alta's policy is that they don't limit the number of tickets, but they try to keep a ratio of number of skiers per acre (it's either two or four skiers per acre). If the patrol or resort operations thinks that they're exceeding that number on a certain number of runs, they slow the lifts down. The locals don't mind as it preserves powder stashes longer.
Now imagine Whitetail with it's 100 acres of terrain trying to limit the total number of skiers on the slopes themselves to 200 or 400.
More realistically, imagine the average DC lawyer going ballistic as he waits in a 20 minute line only to see the lift speed fall by half. They'd have to have a whole new liability coverage!
On a more serious note, I think that's been one of the traditions in skiing in general, and the Mid-Atlantic in particular: everyone hates liftlines, so they're willing to pile more and higher density lifts onto the same number of slopes. It'd be interesting to see a study of lift capacity versus slope acreage at a lot of the ski resorts around here- my bet is that the ratio has been going up for the last 10 or 15 years. That's the trade-off: if "we" were more tolerant about waiting in lines, the slopes would be less crowded. Sometimes it's better to have a line that is five or ten minutes longer if it helps keep the slopes at a manageable level of crowdedness. A line is a nuisance, a crowded trail is a danger.
Didn't the hippy ski bum generation begin because of political issues?
Potentially, I'm too young to remember. We're mostly yuppies now instead of hippies. We smell better and are mostly just spoiled brats. We don't want to hear about "issues" when we're skiing on our $60 lift ticket or drinking our $5 latte.
Seriously though, do you think those hippies ever talked about the war on the slopes or were they just high fiving each other about the pre global warming pow that day.
I love Alta, and Mad River Glen. I'll take lift lines over crowded slopes packed down into ice by too many skiers any day. Especially when the terrain is as great as at those 2 places. Excessive lift capacity has done much to degrade the quality of skiing and elevate the level of risk, in my opinion.
Edited to say that an Alta or Mad River strategy of slow lifts and limited access is not a good business model for a mid Atlantic ski area with a limited season and big urban crowds. Here it is pretty much buyer beware, and notify the managment if you have experiences like those mentioned.
Finally got a chance to respond to bawalker's initial post on this subject - you did the key thing RIGHT to beat crowds when you took your learning friend on a weekday. That's about the best thing you could do to reduce the chance of experiencing unpleasant interference on the slopes. Unfortunately, stuff still happens. Did your problems occur during the night ski session? I suppose on a Friday night trails could get more crowded, also there is no doubt that "the freaks come out at night" when it seems like everyone cuts loose a little more aggressively with their skiing/boarding. I was at Wisp on Inaugural Thursday during the daylight hours and it was pretty much a ghost town. I took a run down Possum and the upper part of Wisp Trail to Longview and all was quiet. Hope you and friend hang in there. When the learner becomes more comfortable on a wider variety of terrain it becomes much easier to seek out uncrowded sections of ski areas and avoid potentially dangerous novice thoroughfares.
Every time a thread like this comes up, and I read about someone's bad experience because of lack of safety enforcement, it gets me *really* angry. I don't want to wind up in hot water myself, but as some of you may know, I have skied for 30+ years, and I teach skiing PT. I regularly see the type of behaviors described in this thread. I could go on for pages with examples of reckless skiing / boarding behavior that I have seen in just the last week.
IMHO, there is only one way to promote change: Actually write the letters that you have talked about earlier in this thread. Don't "cool down" and eventually decide not to send them. Below are some strong suggestions for what to put in those letters.
Address your letters to the General Manager of each of the areas where you have observed bad behavior. Don't make the "history / rant" section more than a few paragraphs in length (it won't be read in any detail anyway).
Be sure to include statements like the following (where and when appropriate):
1) I have a significant ammt of disposable income. I ski ___ days per year, many of which are at your area. I purchase lodging from your resort and purchase at least $xxx of overpriced food from your resort every day that I am there. (In other words, immediately show that you intend to hit them in their pocket book.)
2) Specifically state that you are dismayed that in the trade-off between enforcement of safety rules and maximizing return business, that SAM (ski area management) has obviously given short shrift to safety. (This shows that you suspect exactly why the safety rules are not being enforced agressively).
3) Because of this, I and my family intend to ski/board much less at your resort and look for safer conditions elsewhere. For example, I have heard that YYY (ie, Camelback, whatever) enforces their slope safety rules much more agressively than your resort. (This statement says that you are the economic decision maker in your group, and also says that you know what other skiing / boarding options you have, and intend to use them.)
4) State: "I don't want comp tickets. If you want me and my family back, you need to empower your patrollers and mountain safety team to agressively enforce safety." (Make it clear exactly what you want them to do.)
5) State something to the effect that, "I have already described my experiences at your resort to my friends, as well as to a wider audience on various internet skiing discussion groups. In these ski discussion groups, many people other than myself have described similar experiences at your resort". Don't say that "you are going to describe your experiences", otherwise your letter can be construed as a threat, ie, give me a couple of comp tickets and I'll be quiet. Also, don't mention specific internet ski forums or you might get Scott or EpicSki in trouble. (This section says that you have economic influence beyond just your immediate family, and that "the word is out and the natives are restless". )
...end of my rant ...
Tom / PM
...I'm joking around, but if your (sic) interested take the personality test at http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp and see if your a trill seeking judgemental A$$h like me...
Thanks for the above link. I took the test. I expected the results to be not much better than the newspaper horoscope or the predections of "fortune" cookies in Chinese restaurants.
Their interpretation of my results (ENTP) absolutely blew me away. One of the two interpretations of ENTP was titled, "Portrait of the Inventor" and the associated text absolutely nailed me and my life. For starters, I have around 17 patents to my name.
The second of the two interpretations of ENTP opens by saying, "The professor who juggles half a dozen ideas for research papers and grant proposals in his mind while giving a highly entertaining lecture on an abstruse subject is a classic example of the type." The "highly entertaining" part is probably subject to discussion among my students, but this is *EXACTLY* what I do for a living. Wow! I'm impressed! If their accuracy is uniformly this good, everyone should give this test a shot. Good fun!
Tom / PM
PS - BTW, yes, I discuss safety extensively with my classes. Everybody gets a dose - beginners through advanced, and I often include people not in my class .
Friends and I have sent similar letters to Roundtop mulitple times and were rebuffed. I suspect for 3 reasons: 1 Roundtop is part of a monopoly in this area so if you take your business away from RT, and go to Liberty, Snowtime loses nothing. 2 We were complaining about lack of order in the halfpipes and Ski Patrol know precisely ZERO about halfpipes, 3, The way the mts look at it, for every one person who complains about unsafe riding/skiing, there are 10 paying customers who ARE those unsafe people.
>...sent similar letters to Roundtop mulitple times and were rebuffed...
I'm curious, was their response something other than a form letter. What exactly did they say in rebuffing you?
>...Roundtop is part of a monopoly in this area so if you take your business away from RT, and go to Liberty, Snowtime loses nothing...
Good point, but each area is a separate cost center and each GM is separately held accountable w.r.t. the profitability of their area, so even by threatening to switch between them, you might have more of an effect than you think. Obviously, the best is to threaten to go elsewhere.
>...We were complaining about lack of order in the halfpipes and Ski Patrol know precisely ZERO about halfpipes... At least at WT, there seems to be an earnest focus on the proper use of man-made terrain features (at least as passed down to us, the front-line instructors - I can't speak for the patrol). OTOH, maybe all I'm seeing is a CYA insurance driven effect.
>...The way the mts look at it, for every one person who complains about unsafe riding/skiing, there are 10 paying customers who ARE those unsafe people...
You have a point, but I would guess that at least 5 out of those ten unsafe "paying customers" are often low-intermediate kids who ride/ski a few times a year, can balance well enough to get up a good head of steam and do serious damage, but don't actually make the economic decisions in their family. Hence, differentiating yourself in your letter as an economic decision maker may have more effect than you think (he says hopefully - grin).
Tom / PM
We actually sent emails and got replies to the effect that Roundtop doesnt like to limit customer's experiences. Since i mostly ride pipe to get away from the madness on the slopes, that works out pretty well, and since pipe is highly specialized and localized we take it upon ourselves to 'educate' the reckless but that doesnt work on slopes. with the new superpipe its not such an issue because its so big that alot of people wont attempt it.
I just got back from four days of skiing at Snowshoe and have the following observations.
1. Most of the straightliners/neebies/out of control skiers/boarders were from the age of 12 to 21 years of age, not the young kids being followed by the smiling daddy's.
2. I overheard an instructor reciting the "Skiers Responsibilty Code" to one of his classes.
3. The only sign at at the top of Cupp/Shay's was "Advanced Skiers Only". SS should not allow rental skis on Cupp/Shay's. Usually Cupp/Shays gets crowded late in the day, but by 10:30am each day Cupp/Shay's were over run with out of control skiers/boarders. I felt like I needed a helmet, forearm pads, shoulder pads, etc.... There was not Ski Patroller insight to crack down on these people.
4. A number of the Ski Instructors, Ski Patrollers, & Courtesy Patrollers at SS can't ski very well.
5. SS has no designated bump runs.
6. I didn't have to watch a video the use the terrain park.
Snowshoe is a slave to the almighty $. The marketing people would never let the patrollers put any restrictions on the use of their slopes. Something needs to be done.
I hope this wasn't too negative. I actually had a blast. Lots of freshies each day. It was just my observation.
Au contrare good sir... Snowshoe enforces their rules stronger than any other Mid-Atlantic resorts. I mean... come on, how many other Mid-Atlantic resorts have their own police force? For the most part, Snowshoe does.
They enforce trail closures SERIOUSLY... no matter what the conditions or excuses. They iterate over and over again near the lifts and major trail junctions to SLOW DOWN. They're usually at the base of each lift and watch for reckless skiers.
Here's a story... Flying Eagle had waist-deep powder this weekend... some of my friends at the Shoe decided to poach it. They blatantly disregarded the closed sign and were caught by Ski Patrol at the bottom of the run. Most of them with just day tickets denied it... but the three with Passes just talked to the Patrol for a bit. Well, Ski Patrol confiscated their passes for the rest of the day on Saturday, and on Sunday when they went to pick them up there was a professional-looking sticker affirmed to them reading "POACHER - 1/22". I think it's three strikes and you're out.
That's good to hear. Well, the enforcement factor that is. I just haven't seen it at the Shoe. I've been skiing the Shoe for over 20 years and I haven't seen any enforcement of Cupp or Shay's since they took out the midstation.
In regards to skiing closed terrain, about four years ago I was skiing with a buddy on April 12. They had closed a number of trails with a single closed sign (no ropes). We were skiing Choker which was closed and which had numerous bare spots and a number of crevasses. I stopped near the bottom waiting/watching my buddy ski down. When he got to me, I looked up and saw two ski patrollers skiing down towards us. We continued down to the lift thinking they were going to start hassling us, they never did. We ended up skiing most of the day with these patrollers. They never even mentioned the fact most of the trails we were skiing were closed. I think the reason they didn't hassle us was that they knew we could ski in control and avoid the many obstacles that existed.
Some how SS needs to enforce the "Advanced Skier/boarder" rule on Cupp/Shay's. It gets pretty crazy out there at times.
Since the subject of this headline is "Should we limit the slopes," I thought I'd pass on this tidbit. Back in the mid 1980s, there was a resort complex being built west of Snowshoe called Laurel Mountain or something like that (you can still see some of the cut runs from the Highway 150 that runs above the Cranberry Glades). If I remember correctly, skiing was going to be largely limited to the community of real estate owners on the mountain.
In the 1990s, this idea became somewhat popular and a few private resorts are now in existence out west. There's even a couple of old "ghost" hills that have been reopened in the northeast exclusively for real estate owners.
So how about it? I mean- ski resorts make all of their profits off real estate anyway. Why not just let Bill Bright build the largest ski resort in the south on Mount Porte Crayon... and restrict it entirely to people who own real estate at the resort? Maybe out of the kindness of his heart he'll give an honorary house to Andy, "and all his DC Ski messageboard buddies."
Actually, living in Ohio now I've been checking out places like Holiday Valley in SW New York. There's a resort a mile or so away that is a private resort where anyone can go during the week but only "members" can go during the weekend. Oh the spoiled teenagers that must be there during the weekend.
From my experiences I think your right about the age group. At these ages people also tend to ski in 'packs'. often they are part of groups, such as school trips or other groups out for a day of skiing. This contributes to the volume issue, since they tend to move as a group. On a crowded day, I've gotten to where I will wait at the top of a slope until there's a break in the flow. I also find myself periodically looking up the slope, particularly when I'm making large turns. Ya I shouldn't have to worry about being blindsided, but I would rather be safe than sorry.
Hey Physicsman, 17 patents is impressive. I worked with a gentleman who had 11 and I thought that was impressive. I have one and one in the works. However, both of mine have co-inventors. As far as the personality test, I came out as an ENTJ and My wife was an ISTJ. Both were fairly accurate.
[quote=SCWVA]I just got back from four days of skiing at Snowshoe and have the following observations.
1. Most of the straightliners/neebies/out of control skiers/boarders were from the age of 12 to 21 years of age, not the young kids being followed by the smiling daddy's...
Yup. I agree. I even see quite a few 8 to 12 y.o. kids without either parent, straightlining runs like Snowpark at WT on either skis or boards.
Most of the skiers in this group don't have a clue how to turn or stop once they reach their rather high terminal velocity. Most of the straightlining boarders are in a moderately fast, endless heelside sideslip, but a few of them actually have their board pointed in the direction they are moving. ooh: ...what a thought.
Tom / PM
PS - As I recall, the boy that was killed at WT a couple of seasons back was exactly in this age group. He was 12 or 13, on skis, apparently showing off, and could neither hold his power wedge nor turn once he got up at speed.
I feel your pain. As for the Possum green run at Wisp, I think there should be some kind of mesh fences with "SLOW" sign on it with few openings. That will force the human projectiles to slow down and go through the openings. Few fences set up down the Possum to make them slow down and go through the openings, some in the middle and some on the sides. Not sure if you have seen the fences set up for entrance to the Jib Juction terrain park at Whitetail.
If they can't control the turns or be able to stop, they should be told by the patroler to go back to the bunny slope.
I just got back from Lake Tahoe yesterday. I've seen Squaw Valley patrolers standing by the "slow" signs spread all the way down the 'Mambo Meadows'-'Bellevue'-'Times Square'-'Home Run' slopes even on Monday.