Tuesday, September 1, 2015

How to be a Good BC Ski Partner

Last year there were times when I struggled to get out with other backcountry skiers. As part of the small community fast/lite skimo race crowd it can sometime be a challenge to get an even match for equipment, speed and ski ability. I began to wonder, “is it me, or am I just imagining that people are avoiding me?” I don’t know. One thing I do know is that this year I’m going to strive to be the best bc skimo ski partner possible. Here’s my personal rules to get me on this path (friends, since you’re reading this, you can keep me accountable).

1) Always be on time. Always be ready for pick up. Shoot for an early, stress free ready time.

2) Get more avalanche education. I don’t want to have to rely on the snow safety experience of others that have taken the time to take the advanced courses and are well read and consistently check bulletins, etc.  At least get educated enough to be able to wisely contribute to the evaluation discussion.

3) Shore up mountaineering skills and practice in the summer. Whether it’s an impromptu rap down a couloir cliff band, roping up for glacier travel, or conducting a cravasse rescue (hopefully never!), be the one that has the gear on board and knows how to skillfully use it.

4) Be willing to take my fair share, or more of the trail breaking.

5) In addition to #4, lead at a pace that is appropriate for the rest of the group’s fitness. I’ve been in situations where I’m not breaking a sweat, but still gapping those behind me as I break their trail. Why not dial it down a notch and keep them from fearing an outing with me.

         -the converse is true as well...make sure my fitness level is up to the standards of the group

6) Be the one toting the first aid kit, rope, etc. Some of these items we know we should bring, but often we don’t want to add extra weight. Just bring it without being asked to.

7) Don’t whine if you’re not comfortable with the objective, route etc. Simply state your concerns and be willing to let them go ahead, bless them and stay a safe distance away, observing in case they need help. As a family guy I tend to be a little more conservative than some of the 20 somethings I ski with. Sometimes it has been the other way around too though.

8) Be willing to drive and don’t expect gas money. I’ve got a nice enough 4 wheel drive truck to get us there. Not expecting pay back is simply putting some good karma into the bank.

That’s it for now. I’m sure the list can and will grow.

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