Backcountry line selecting is a lot like dating. Credit: SnowBrains
Backcountry skiing is inherently dangerous. A lot goes into learning what slopes are safe to ski which day and which ones aren't. Having the right gear and checking the avalanche forecast before you go out is crucial. But there may also be a train of thought that can assist you when navigating the backcountry and deciding which lines to ski, brought to you by long-time IFMGA guide Mark Smiley and founder of the revolutionary online avalanche safety course Mountain Sense.
"Think of the slope you are about to ski as a dating relationship. How committed are you ready to be?
1. I'd swipe right!
2. Let's meet up for a date
3. Dating exclusively
4. Calling one another boyfriend/girlfriend
5. Changing FB relationship status
7. Marriage with a prenuptial agreement
8. Marriage, no prenup
9. Marriage, no prenup, and a house
10. Marriage, no prenup, a house, and kids
As you decide to commit to higher levels, you need to answer more questions. Before I commit to level one, all I need to know is that it just snowed a bunch and I'm stoked. That would be like a low angle tree run. Level 10 would be like skiing the Caroline Face on Mt Cook (google it). You have to climb up a different way, drop-in, rappel and pull your ropes and ski under a bunch of seracs. So you better have all your personal skills in check and have eyes on the slope prior to going, and have a good rescue plan, and have your Will in order!
Use the LEVELS to start the discussion with your partner. How big is this line in your mind? What signs to we need to look for to increase our confidence? What dangers do we need to be mindful of? Is there an out?"
The main take away is that the more committing a line is the more info you better know in order to not be blindsided with a messy divorce!
The EXTREMELY technical ascent of Caroline Face on Mt. Cook, New Zealand. Credit: planetmountain.com