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Sunday
Jan202013

Where's the Love??

After recently getting flamed by a couple of trolls on a popular internet skiing forum, I started thinking about various encounters I’ve had out in the back country over the last few years. I started wondering,…”where’s the love?”

First of all, I’ll admit I have no experience with forums beyond reading one from time to time on doping in professional cycling. I noticed some vitriol but not too much in the way of personal attacks. But being a target on one is a whole different deal. From my recent encounter on TGR’s site, I’d say nothing is off limits when it comes to insults and defamation. I suppose this is due to the anonymous nature of the postings and the mind set of the individuals involved. As far as what it brings to our sport, I see nothing positive here.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I am the perfect victim for chuckleheads like the one’s who gang raped me on TGR. I didn’t really stand a chance. For better or worse, I care what people think and I tend to take stuff personally. So, when someone brought the post you see below to my attention, it touched a nerve, clearly. Here’s a little background.

As you know, I made it to Jackson for the holidays, super psyched to get out of the miserable winter we’ve had thus far in Alaska. I found perfect conditions in the Tetons, for the most part. On my final day, I was tasked with introducing a new partner to the joys of ski touring in GTNP. I picked the classic East and West Hourglass Couloirs on Nez Pierce.

Matt’s a fit guy and I like to move fast. We cruised up the Garnet Canyon skin track in short order and over took everyone in front of us. Low on the apron below both couloirs we came up on the two guys headed up. Our pace slowed considerably as the trail breaking was variable. I asked if they wanted me to take a pull and they said, “sure” and stepped aside. I said nothing else and simply assumed we’d be sharing the run with fellow skiers. They said nothing either.

After several minutes I was finally under the start of the West. When I looked back, the two others left the boot pack and headed for the beginning of the East. My only thought was that we would now have a booter up the East to follow after dispatching with the West. It would be a great introduction to skiing in the Park.

We made short work of the run skiing marginal wind hammered boiler plate most of the way. At the junction, the booter up the East was in but the guys had not descended. Another party at the base who were not going up mentioned that they were trying to get over the chock stone. I decided to take advantage of the moment and quickly head up.

At about two thirds height, we were out of the way as the two started their descent. No words were exchanged as we watched them ski by. We finished and descended, enjoying better snow in the East. At the final skin rip, we skied by the party on the way out. Again, no words were exchanged.

A couple of weeks later back in AK I was talking to a former Jacksonite who, after hearing about my trip home, referenced the above post and assumed it was me. The rest is history.Enlarge the screen so you can read this. "Command +" on Macs.

So, this raises lots of potential topics of discussion. I’ve queried many people about the etiquette questions. Sub topics include fashion choices in the BC, Dana Carvey’s treatment of George Michael’s butt obsession (see below) which, of course, is directly related to the shape of my ass. Of course, I'm not sure why these youngsters made the butt reference but my response went completely over their heads. Just to be clear...

In terms of etiquette, most experienced mountaineers and skiers agree that it’s the fastest that get’s the line. There’s no ownership and any suggestion to that effect is met with a smirk and quick dismissal.  In a later post on the forum, one these idiots called me “butt hurt” (lot’s of butt references on TGR. Not sure what that's about) but it seems it was they who were so.

And that brings me to the issue of speed in the mountains. Because of my fitness orientation I’ve been fascinated with going fast for as long as I’ve been climbing, and that’s been better than three decades. I’ve had the pleasure of growing up watching contemporaries like Ritchey, Bouchard, Twight, House, Pretzl, Anderson, Garibotti and Koch, just to name a few, push the light and fast game to where it is today. I haven't the talent nor the inclination to take it to the extremes they have but I still emulate the philosophy.

In climbing, I’ve experienced nothing but respect from those I’ve encountered along routes who were doing them in a different style, usually slower. Mostly enthusiasm and stoke was exchanged. But in skiing, I’ve sensed a different attitude on skin tracks in various mountain ranges in the west. I wonder why the difference.

The concept is the same. Go fast, push yourself, ski more, see more. But I’d say half the time I get a snotty attitude from people I pass. It’s not like I’m walking on their tails or even being an asshole. I say hi when I go by but I’m usually breathing hard and don’t engage in any conversation beyond the passing pleasantry. And yet, there is occasionally the wonderful passive-aggressive maneuver of these skiers not stepping aside for several minutes. “What’s the hurry?” is common. And, as indicated in the post, I’m apparently not having as rich of a mountain experience as these slower travelers are. That implication pisses me off.

A new and unsavory element in the mountains. Gimme a break!

Although it's not rife yet, there seems to be an element coming into skiing that's reminiscent of the localism and "my beach, my waves" attitude that's endemic in surfing. This isn't a good thing. In another post by one of these characters, he threatened to let the air out my tires if I came back in the summer and "high-holed" him at his favorite fishing spot. I mean, really. What do you say to something like that? These guys need to go back to L.A. or wherever they came from.

Going fast and covering more ground in a day in the mountains is simply another way of doing it.  It’s not for everyone but why do some hate on those of us who choose that path? I think for men, it’s simply that alpha male, competitive ego thing. Just doesn’t sit well with everyone.

And finally this...

Word!

I’m the first to admit that I’m competitive. No shit, right? I have inner demons to slay and passing others on skin tracks is like a soothing salve to whatever these wounds are. Fear of aging? Feeling inadequate? Shit, who knows? I’m not pushing people over or being a dick so why should they care? But they do and that speaks to their own issues, not mine.

photo: Mark GockeAnd what’s with the hating on the Spandex? We get shit from everyone. When you spend a good chunk of your ski day near threshold and never sit down or stop for longer than a skin change, wearing fast clothes simply makes sense. But boy do people get heartburn about it. In Europe, of course, no one would give it a second thought. But in the fat and baggy world of American ski style, the Lycra clad crew are frequent punching bags. All I can say is that attitude only increases our satisfaction when we snag “their” line for the day. We’ll always have the best laugh.

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Reader Comments (18)

At least they didnt call you a Lance.

January 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRod

Don't worry about it. I know that's easier said than done, but I think your accomplishments in the mountains speak louder than the rants of random people on a TGR forum. I haven't yet gotten into the backcountry to ski, still spending my time in the resort, but when I do I want to be like you, Andy, Jason, Jared, Bart, and all of the other fast, spandex clad guys who rip on skis, travel safely, and welcome newbies into the sport of moving quickly in the mountains. Keep doing what you do and let karma deal with those who just don't get it.

January 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterUtRider

Brian,

I am usually a troller of many a website and rarely a poster, but I loved this last one. Thanks for telling it like it is.

January 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterZed

Wow, that's sad. On so many levels. Take heart and keep on truckin, man, spandex and all. If you happen to pass me on a skin track anywhere I'll give you a nod and a grin and say "Cheers" to you and "Dammit, train harder!" to myself...

January 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndy

Sorry to see some blowhards start a pissing match on TGR(especially when it would have been so easy to say something in person). But, glad you got two runs in ;)

January 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTim Z

Thanks all. Nice to have some support. Like one of those clowns said, I wasn't going to find any of that on the forum. Strange place which I must avoid. It was painful enough getting sucked into it like I did, albeit briefly.

Rod.... them calling me a "Lance". LOL. Me on 'roids would not be good thing. I'd end up hurting someone. I'm trying to be more mellow. Not working so well.

January 22, 2013 | Registered CommenterBrian

Forget about them. Always going to be haters out there. I consisted myself fairly fast, I'm 22 and average around 100 days in the backcountry every year. Yet I still get passed by fasted older people, and I have nothing but respect for them. Reminds me that I can always get faster and fitter, gives me something to strive for. If you end up skiing in Rogers Pass here in B.C I hope you don't experience any attitude from less fit people with big egos.

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

Hey Andrew,

Thanks for that. Mmmmm, Rogers Pass. Mythical in stature. Regretfully, I've never skied there but want to badly. Someday. Perhaps I can get your crew to show me around. One thing is for sure, I can't imagine any Canuck flipping me attitude like these hosers, eh? I'm always fond of saying, I've never met a Canadian I didn't like. Don't change.

January 22, 2013 | Registered CommenterBrian

Hey Brian,
I seems to be the combo of fitness and lycra. The shit never ends. TGR can be rude. I certainly got no welcome there just asking a simple question or two.

Fun to mess with 'um as well. The smart ones will eventually figure it out.

http://www.mountainproject.com/v/lycra-still-rocks/107972186

http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1095353/If_you_haven_t_used_lycra_you_#Post1095353

Cheers for pointing it out.

January 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDane

Wow. I am usually motivated to train more if I get passed. It's not somebody else's fault if you aren't moving fast. We have the Cali-types here that "claim" all sorts of ski terrain, crags, fishing spots, pull-outs, hot springs, swimming holes, and anything enjoyable in a fixed location. Claiming a coolie with a plan is stupid. If I want to ski the line first, then I hurry ahead of you. If you come up fast behind me then it's on!... or we take turns booting and both enjoy the ride down.

January 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRalph S.

You're for sure in the right Brian, but I couldn't help but notice one of your responses, "You have shit for brains. And you're a whiny bitch." ....not a whole lotta love there....;)

January 23, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjd

No, JD, I think that was a friendly reader sharing some TGR style love back to the perps. I enjoyed it, I'll admit.

Dane, good to hear from you, buddy. Glad you're out kicking it, if you know what I mean.

Those two posts are awesome. Bringing skinny back! Interesting point about the weight of the boots compared to ice boots. Just another reason....

One thing that is quite obvious in the chatter on both sites is that there isn't a lick of hate. Refreshing. Might not be everyone's cup of tea but no one flamed you harshly for your clothing choices. That's more like it.

January 24, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrian

Brian, I sat down with MFT last weekend in SLC and picked his brain on skimo racing insights last week and it was very helpful. I've been continually improving over the past few years, but I'm still shitty in the scheme of things. I just read all 25 (actually 26, there's one that isn't tagged correctly) articles you've written about skimo training and I found them all very helpful in shaking out the details in my own efforts. Much appreciated. I particularly agree with your point about the 15 hour 'magic' number for working stiffs and non-training stress. Thanks for sharing your thinking.

January 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJeremy

Hey Jeremy,

Thanks for saying as much. Keeps me motivated to continue to write. Glad the info is helpful. I've been lacking on the science front lately, somehow getting sucked into the typical trip report format. Probably should get something more academic out there again. I actually have one in mind.

Mark and I schemed about training a few years ago and he helped guide some of my development. He's skiing again these days. Looking forward to he and me beating on each other on the skin track soon.

January 28, 2013 | Registered CommenterBrian

This is too amazing! Passive aggressive poopy pants peeps bummed that they couldn't hang with (better prepared, in all ways) folks out for a fun jaunt! Good on ya for callin' em out online. Those involved with the Sierra Crest Slidaz know that its all fun and games in the mountains, train hard, think on a higher level, and make sure to maximize your enjoyment...when someone passes you or shreds a line harder, get inspired to work harder and aspire to be better! Make a joke of (serious) activities and people will either hate on it because of lacking self-confidence (which you laugh about) or embrace it (which you laugh with them and everyone is better off)! Anyways, thanks for the entertainment, just found the blog and obviously wanted to get a feel for the site via "rants"...lots of good information/beta/thoughts on the site, keep it up! Peace.

March 18, 2014 | Unregistered Commentergranjero

Thanks, Granjero.

Always cool to have new readers. Pretty eclectic collection of stuff here. Early efforts were geared toward training and science and lately it's more TR's. Definitely an evolution of style and content, which is some of the idea of doing it in the first place. Glad to have you. - B

March 18, 2014 | Registered CommenterBrian

Just happened upon your site while looking for beta on Chamonix. Thanks for sharing all the info. I couldn't agree with you more on the above "rant". I get out around 100 days here in the Wasatch or "WasAngeles" as some call this crowded little range and have positive encounters 99.9% of the time. Unfortunately, I can't say the same about the Tetons; great folks up there but definitely some angry haters.

August 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRay

Hey Ray. Interesting to hear your take on my favorite range. Sad, really, for those of us who love it, that it's that noticeable to visitors like you. Wonder why. I'm about to enter my third full season in AK. There's another completely different attitude up here that's hard to define. AK is full of the "fuck you. This is Alaska. I'll do what I want" kind of thing. I get it, I guess, although I don't care that much about the issues some of these folds worry about. But in the BC, the attitude reveals itself in simple quiet resolve. No one says much to each other. There's no real hate that I can tell but no warm welcome either. One thing is for sure, I've never skied with any of the "old guard". My few partners are all transplants themselves. We end up being another of the cliques, I guess, and the trend persists. Hmmm.

August 14, 2014 | Registered CommenterBrian

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