Your Take on the ‘Tude? WildSnow Encore

Post by blogger | November 9, 2012      


(Editor’s note from Lou: I was feeling like an encore post today, as I’m working on some time consuming gear review projects. This one looked to be a good candidate for starting the backcountry skiing season. Attitude, it can make or break a day…)

Mountain skiing and climbing culture.
(Editor’s note: This past summer we received this and had it on hold because the timing didn’t seem right. With winter coming, how about now? Your comments, oh esteemed WildSnowers?)

During a weekend last summer, on Berthoud Pass, I encountered the rare, yet annoyingly arrogant, attitude that typifies the prick in any given extreme sport. In a state where sustaining access and longevity of backcountry skiing requires a united community, encounters like this one jeopardize the public image and dedication in our sport. I have tried to benefit this individual with the likely situation that he may have had a bad or rough day. It could very well be that this individual is really a nice guy. Upon reflection, however, the conversation plays back in my head with nought but concern (and spite that I’m uncomfortable with but will admit to).

My wife and I were on Berthoud so she could take some photos of mountains and flowers and the like. We met back in the parking lot where I spotted a man returning with skis and a pack. This is how it went:

Me: “Hey, did you manage to get some good laps in?”

Him: (pause, looks at me unpleasantly, looks away), “Excuse me?”

Me: “Um, I saw you had ski gear, I was just wondering how it went?”

Him: (another pause), “Do I know you?”

Could backcountry skiing end up with its own version of Bra Boys? Watch the video and comment.

That was the extent of his side of the conversation. This is where I erred and went off on him while walking away. The overriding message in my rant was that we were on Berthoud Pass, likely the #1 bastion of backcountry skiing.

As I reflected on this situation I began to assign blame to myself for being rude in presuming I had some misplaced right to start a random conversation with a person in a parking lot just because he had some skis. I could also have been more diplomatic, though I stand by my approach: Smiling, bubbly, and excited that someone was getting to ski in mid-July. Could it have been that he thought I was trying to poach some hidden gem? Perhaps his outing was truly disastrous and he just wanted to be left alone. Perhaps I was a bit too friendly? Whatever the case, in my opinion the response was less than becoming of one who skis the backcountry.

Our sport doesn’t need the ‘tude.

For someone who’s trying to ease into backcountry skiing, the threat which arrogant skiers pose deters none of my pursuit. It’s too good, I’ll do it no matter what. Instead, I feel the problem goes deeper than that and threatens the viability of our sport. As a Colorado native I’ve seen access to places close and beautiful areas disappear to private ownership. We need to be united in our love of this sport and ardent protectors, not self-righteous and arrogant. Being friendly to strangers is the first step in presenting a united front that’ll give us the power to influence land use decisions.

Wondering what you guys here on Lou’s website think. Can we avoid the ‘tude? Or will it always be an undercurrent that fouls our nest?

(WildSnow guest blogger “Jo” is not our production assistant Joe Risi, but rather another backcountry WildSnow contributor with a penchant for remaining positive.)


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


98 Responses to “Your Take on the ‘Tude? WildSnow Encore”

  1. Dostie August 23rd, 2011 9:41 am

    Some people are just jerks. The more popular an activity becomes, the more likely you are to meet one. C’est la vie. BC skiing is no different than other activites except it isn’t as popular as others that seem to have more jerks. But they’re still there.

    I met my first jerk in the backcountry in the 80s. It has tempered my ability to say ALL backcountry skiers are great ever since, although I can say after almost 30 years that over 95%, probably 98% are great folks.

  2. Lou August 23rd, 2011 9:47 am

    Pray tell, the story of your jerk encounter?

  3. Toby August 23rd, 2011 9:47 am

    Went to the Pro Cycling Challenge in C Springs yesterday and had some chance enoucnters with pro riders on there warm ups. I literally was on my bike tooling up a hill toward the start and couple guys pass and they said hello to me, not the other way around. I was stunned and thought it was awesome. Access to the riders at the start was wide open, never experienced anything like that in any other pro sporting event I have been to. I bring this up to show that it seems pro cyclists get the basic idea that being cool to a random fan is the key to growing the sport, especially in the US. On the Average Joe level I feel the same way and wonder why so many people are such jackasses? I’ll be riding on a paved bike path (with 2 year old in the kiddie trailer) and wanna be pro rider guy waits until he’s 5 feet behind you doing 35 MPH on his aero bars to scream “ON YOUR LEFT!!” Over the years it doesn’t matter the sport or the location there’s always people who take themselves WAY to seriously. It has nothing to do with the activity, its all about who they are as people so I unfortunately have no remedy, it’ll never go away. All I do is either ignore them or try to be extra nice to break down the barrier but often the enounters go as Jo decribes, they happen to fast for anything meaningful to occur.

  4. Eric August 23rd, 2011 9:47 am

    I know I’ve found myself ready to bite off the head of the next person to comment on me carrying skis in summer. I’m not defending the skiers response, but i will attack the writer’s response. Right or wrong, It was made clear he didn’t want a conversation, so just accept that and carry on with your day. No need to start mouthing off.

    Attitude in general may play a large role in access issues, but it doesn’t sound like the skiers was doing anything to provoke a land manager into closing off access.

  5. dongshow August 23rd, 2011 9:53 am

    Aggressive attitudes among skiers is one of the things that Colorado and Utah are known for, almost to the extent of 14ers and light powder. Sounds like this guy needed to be laughed at.

  6. Daniel Dunn August 23rd, 2011 9:58 am

    Eric, nice attitude. And we wonder what’s wrong. Hmm?
    Hopefully, that kind of ‘tude will stay away from the backcounty. Like Dostie says, some people are just jerks.

  7. Lou August 23rd, 2011 10:05 am

    I don’t know about other places, but on the bike paths here smiles are prevalent, though once in a while someone blows by me with no warning, no facial expression, perhaps they are actually a computer controlled drone cyclist? Thing is, on bike paths cyclists should always notify of passing, otherwise they’re taking their life in their hands as well as that of the person they’re passing. Simply because, what if the person being passed at that moment twitches to the left for some reason? Both go down in a bad accident.

    Another thing, I see the “drone face” a lot more on hikers and yes, 14er climbers, than I do on cyclists and backcountry skiers. Though I did encounter one guy with ‘tude last winter and have to admit it was hard to ignore and brush off. People being mean affects other people. Period.

    As for getting comments when you’re a summer skier, it comes with the territory. You’re making a spectacle of yourself whether you intend to or not. Doing so is going to get you noticed, and speech will ensue.

    And yes, sigh, I do get tired of trying to be nice to inquisitive tourists when we stumble into a trailhead exhausted from a big day, say on Rainier or somewhere with crowds. This especially when it’s a posse of folks from somewhere far to the east, speaking a strange language, and laden with dozens of cameras pointed at you. Though I do find it’s easy to get a chuckle out of that situation and get past it with humor. Especially when one of the guys is holding his laptop computer up above his head taking pictures with it.

  8. SB August 23rd, 2011 10:09 am

    Remember, if you meet three jerks in one day, you are the jerk.

    I sometimes don’t like when tourists in RMNP ask me questions about those pointy things on my pack, especially if I’m tired; other times it is amusing.

    I think you were wrong to expect friendliness out of that exchange. I often talk to others in the parking lot. I usually start with a How are you? type question. Based on the response, I follow up with what I really wanted to ask or not.

  9. Janet Lindsey August 23rd, 2011 10:10 am

    Every resort has there jerks also….. got called a f-ing grandma for asking a guy to put out his cigarette on a ski lift at our small home resort last season. Ridiculous! No one “owns” our wild places and it takes a group effort to keep them and keep them from being trashed!

  10. jeffrey August 23rd, 2011 10:17 am

    You were surpised you got attitude at berthoud pass? It’s a bastion of attitude as much as it is a bastion of backcountry skiing!

  11. Dostie August 23rd, 2011 10:18 am


    Not worth going in to much detail other than to say the guy was rather arrogant. In his defense, however, there’s a good chance he was reacting to MY arrogance at the time when I was feeling like a total bad ass and everyone else was just a bunch of wannabe pukes. 😉

  12. g August 23rd, 2011 10:36 am

    I tend to believe it is a colorado front ranger thing, as I often see that too cool for school attitude every time i visit my sister in boulder. In any event, as summer skiers, we should feel glad that the local masses are inquisitive. I always go out of my way to respond nicely to questions from people, who up here in wyoming in the snowy range in the summer, always tend to be nebraskans wondering what in sam hell is going on.

  13. Skyler Mavor August 23rd, 2011 10:42 am

    Sounds like an example of the 2% rule. 2% of people are just plain jerks, and there’s nothing you can really do to change that.

    I’ve had similar experiences with aggressively territorial people in the backcountry, and it manages to put a damper on everyone’s day. Fortunately, few people actually act like that.

  14. Daniel August 23rd, 2011 10:46 am

    @Dostie, dude, you’re killin me, lol, wannabe pukes!
    @Lou, and speaking of attitude, Thank You so much over the years of being an awesome moderator, and role model. Just when I try to give a bit of attitude myself to Eric, you make all sides feel welcome and comfortable posting here. And thanks for being a great inspiration and leader in our backcountry community. I’m getting ready to launch/rebrand my business and blog, and I definitely have learned in huge ways from you. So keep it up and best of luck on the next ten years! Thanks again!

  15. Steve August 23rd, 2011 10:49 am

    I wouldn’t sweat it. The only folks who seem to have “attitude” at Berthoud are a few guys from Frasier and you probably encountered one of them. There are no hidden gem/secret spots up there, you didn’t break any social rules, and 99% of the time you’re going to be met with a positive response from other backcountry skiers, especially in Colorado. The only negative encounter I’ve ever had was in Utah and we ended up chuckling at the guys since we knew who they were from common friends and none of them were originally from the Wasatch which made it even funnier.

  16. Hendo August 23rd, 2011 10:51 am

    Over the years, I’ve had the dumb luck to meet some top pros from a variety of sports. My impression has been that the top performers almost always have great attitudes while the second rate performers have second rate attitudes. If someone has to bluff you with ‘tude then you know their skills are lacking. Whatever you do, emotional control and maturity are key to being great.

    So, as far as preserving access to backcountry areas goes, what we need are the voices of the many positive users who have little attitude and much heart (the vast majority of us) as well as the attention that high profile, top level athletes can draw. The small minority of second rate, attitude hobbled types presents neither a division nor a hindrance to the rest of us.

    That said, I’ve had my bad days, too, and people were right to blow me off then.

  17. Matt Kinney August 23rd, 2011 11:04 am

    9 out of 10 times is comes down to lack of food/fatique on both side of a bad encounter in the BC.

    Seems I am nearly always famished when I meet a heli-cheater 😆 (Ooops I need my breakfast.). I try to eat more on the trail and that helps along with earplugs.

  18. Lou August 23rd, 2011 11:04 am

    Dan, thanks for the kind words. I’m still working my tail off on this. Backend improvement all summer, plus editing guest blogs and trying to get some of my own writing done. Have some help, but though the sponsors help it’s not like I can go out and hire a staff. So we continue to continue. Can say I’m still enjoying it, feel compelled to work hard, and the sponsors keep renewing. So were looking at a great winter!

  19. Joe August 23rd, 2011 11:06 am

    Only if the drivers of lifted jeeps and mercedes in Aspen could get their act together and learn how to perform a FULL stop at stop signs and yield toward cyclists I would have avoided being clipped 3 times this month. Thankfully no cars will be allowed downtown starting at 9pm tonight! God forbid people(drones) have to walk/ride their bikes instead of being “driven around town by the help” Leave the tude at home its not welcome anywhere in my opinion…

    The what if comes down to…What if the tuded skiier was headed out on a trip instead of coming back and you were his last contact before heading out?

  20. Chase Harrison August 23rd, 2011 11:06 am

    One thing I have to say is I have never had so much fun than
    when you had your BBQ on the pass this past spring. No TUDE there.
    In my mind that was the true spirit of backcountry skiing. The mongo
    tours went there way and us mortal folks went and did our thing and we all had fun and shared some great stories aorund the grill and beers. So there.

  21. Brittany August 23rd, 2011 11:33 am

    Great guest blog. Of course there will always be jerks- in ANY sport. But, it’s a good reminder for us backcountry skiers to put on our smiling faces and show a good attitude. A smile is the best way to disarm a poor attitude, and it’s amazing how a smile can spread from one person to another, transforming the vibe entirely. Admittedly, I forget that sometimes too!

  22. Ryan August 23rd, 2011 11:35 am

    I was in the Baker BC last season with a friend who accidentally brought the wrong skins for his skis. They were too narrow but we drove all that way and figured we’d give it a go. Fortunately there was great fresh snow and soimeone else had broke trail already. Unfortunately they were on splitboards with huge skin surface and were super fit locals. It was the steepest skin track I’d ever seen. I was doing ok on Megawatts but more poor buddy was suffering. He was draggin tail and as the local dudes were on their second lap up they gave him shit for being slow. He was super careful to not trash the track and only did so in a couple places. He was friendly and got out of their way long before they needed to pass (he needed the rest). I was pissed and said so to these guys to which I got all sorts of attitude for. They conveniently waited until they were a couple switchbacks ahead of me before shouting down threats of violence in the parking lot later. Classy guys clearly.

    Other than those guys though I’ve had nothing but great experiences with most people away from the city. I would hope doing what we love brings out great attitudes in people.

    On a related note, we have a website up here called Turns-All-Year and there was a thread titled something like ” The douchiest sport?” Triathalons ended up winning in a landslide. Any activity thats uber-competitive, requires tons of training, success is often determined by who has the most free time to train and who can afford the fanciest gear is poised to be the douchiest sport. With that in mind you may want to be careful with rando racing.

  23. Lou August 23rd, 2011 11:38 am

    We did a vibe enhancement test on a crowded summer 14er once. I was with a bunch of kids, there were hundreds of climbers. On our way up, we noticed a lot of people we encountered on the trail were being sour, actually, most people.

    I met with the kids and said, “let’s do an experiment, I want you guys to be extra nice and smiling at every person who passes us, or we pass.”

    On the way back down, after our ‘tude had spread, we saw an amazing transformation on the whole mountain. People were incredibly friendly when encountered on the trail, the change was totally obvious and some of the kids were quite impressed, I know I was.

  24. Toby August 23rd, 2011 11:40 am

    To clarify I notify of my passing a good 50 feet away, I give a shout and god forbid I might even slow down. Its the pass at warp speed and the last moment “on your left” which I guess is indicative of the “drone mode”.

  25. Hojo August 23rd, 2011 11:43 am

    I, the one who sent this post to Lou, appreciate the feedback. I try to keep in mind the 80/20 or 2% (or thereabouts) rule. I think I was surprised, not so much at the ‘tude, but at the age of the individual. Were it some young-ish 30-40 something, freshly imported from yuppy-ville, I would have been far less surprised. This individual was older and my query was far from “were you really skiing in July?”

    In retrospect, starting with a “hello” would likely have gone a long way rather than my abrupt inquisition. While not a road cyclist I do mtn bike and I’ve come to know the arrogant biker (though I’m far less chatty and more gaspy on a bike). Just never thought I’d hit it in July from a skier. Naivety at it’s supreme.

  26. Matt August 23rd, 2011 12:05 pm


    First, I have really enjoyed reading up on all the information and views shared on this great blog!

    The original post made a good point about needing to stick together as a community to preserve access and advocate for the sport. I am new to BC skiing, but I can draw some parallels to my experiences with kiteboarding. That sport is also one where a relatively small group of people faces limited access, threats of closure, competition for the available space to play, and fickle weather that can sometimes make it difficult to get our fix when and where we want it. And we can all get crabby once in a while as a result.

    My experience has been that I have had some encounters with jerks over the years, but since we are a small community, I tend to run into them more than once. And some of them do turn out to be decent human beings once we get beyond the initial parking lot encounters. I think the lesson learned is that whether we are using skinny skis or fat skis, hiking for turns or getting mechanical assistance, climbing up steep tracks or gentle tracks, there is a shared appreciation for the outdoors and we should try to embrace the big picture shared interests we have and not dwell on the little differences, whether it’s attitude or gear, or whatever.

    In peace, harmony, and good will : ) ,


  27. Jamie Schectman August 23rd, 2011 12:06 pm

    I’m glad you posted about this. We used to call it “Tele-tude” back in the day. I think it boils down to a small percentage of the population is socially inept.

  28. Tom August 23rd, 2011 12:22 pm

    Several years ago, I had an incident similar to what the author described here (only far worse). Ironically, this attitude came from someone who has contributed to this very website. I think that the ‘tude comes from a variety of forms of selfishness, with the pinnacle of backcountry ego taking the form of elitism. Elitism can blind people to the fact that less experienced/skilled people share their love for the sport. Lou, thanks for balancing your exhaustive experience and stoke for the sport with a proper dose of humility and openness to the wider community of backcountry enthusiasts. Please pass this attitude along.

    My take on cycling: I’m one of those guys that blows by people going 30+ mph on the bike path. Sorry. I genuinely care about the safety of both myself and the other riders. What I’ve found is that the more I shout to make other riders aware of my eventual passing, the more often they swerve left, directly into my path. It’s almost a knee-jerk reaction for some riders. It almost seems safer to say nothing at all. If you are going to let people know of your intent to pass, you have to do it way ahead of time so that you can adjust your line for the swerve. If there are kids, bike trailers, dogs on leashes (aka clotheslines), I slow way down and pass cautiously after making others aware of my intent.

  29. Mike August 23rd, 2011 12:51 pm

    I actually find road bikers to have the worst attitude

  30. Scott Newman August 23rd, 2011 1:02 pm

    My all time favorite trailhead confrontation was the one we had up at Ashcroft when that guys’ dog peed on your leg!

  31. martin August 23rd, 2011 1:15 pm


    “Remember, if you meet three jerks in one day, you are the jerk.”

    That’s actually a good piece of advice for me. If I see someone with helmet and goggles and they’re not smiling, I assume they hate me. To help wean myself off this assumption I’ve done some of the experiments previously mentioned in these comments. I go out of my way a little to be friendly and respectful, and I’ve actually gotten mega results. As for the 2 percenters, I have something in my arsenal that never fails me: a rueful smile that says “so sad to have met you today.”

  32. Wade Bigall August 23rd, 2011 1:29 pm

    How about the exact opposite of ‘tude?My friend Kevin and I pulled up to the base of Marble on a rare low avy danger day, a vehicle pulls in behind us and out pops an extremely seasoned BC skier and his son. I mean, this guy “wrote the book” on Colorado BC, and might have a bigger excuse than anyone to cop an attitude, especially towards a couple of flatland BC guys straight out of the car from Minnesota and Illinois. Instead, he invites us to do laps with him, and we enjoy several super high quality runs right down the gut together ( I think he may have even commented favorably on the ability of our low altitude asses to hang on the skin track 🙂 )

    Thanks Lou and Louie, though it was several years ago, I still remember that day very fondly….

    Forget the occasional self absorbed a-hole and save all the available BC skiing memory for spectacular days like the one above!!

  33. Lou August 23rd, 2011 1:37 pm

    Scott, good to bring that up! And yes, I might have been a jerk along with the other guy for loosing my temper, but it’s hard to roll over and smile when a dog pisses on your new ski pants! Everyone has their limit…

  34. brian h August 23rd, 2011 2:23 pm

    Hey Steve- Real Fraser’ites have always been a surly bunch. They’re kinda like grizzlies; rarely seen, hairy, and often grumpy.

  35. thomas August 23rd, 2011 2:59 pm

    @Ryan, you trashed someone else’s hard earned skin track and you were pissed at them ? Your attitude was the problem not their skin track.
    a few thoughts:
    -Make your own track if you don’t like the one you’re on.
    -Always thank whomever broke trail for their hard work.
    -Remember why you are out there. If the sense of appreciation for the moment, the surroundings, the friendship and the experience doesn’t register switch your mindset until it does or go do something that makes your day better.

  36. hunter August 23rd, 2011 3:15 pm

    I’d be willing to bet that almost everyone is guilty of throwing some “tude around at some point and not even know it. Whether it be when confronted for the 10th time in a day by tourists that can’t believe that you are actually hiking to ski in the summer and wanting to take pictures of you to “show the folks back home how crazy people here are,” to not saying “hello” on the trail because you are tired at the end of a long day and your mind is elsewhere. I know that when I mountain bike, some of the hikers I pass surely think that I am out to kill them and have no concern for their safety or my own, even though I pass them with the utmost safety and courtesy. In many cases, it’s a matter of perspective and circumstance. The case of Jo’s story though is something altogether different!

  37. Steve August 23rd, 2011 4:12 pm

    I fail to see the attitude in this story. It sounds like the guy didn’t want to socialize. It doesn’t sound like the skier was excessively rude… just unfriendly and unsocial. One reason why people BC ski (especially solo) is to find piece and quiet and do their own thing. Sometimes you just don’t want to chit chat. And some people are just private like that. If BC skiing is so in need of friendly faces that a skier not wanting to chit chat in parking lot is going to cause long term access issues, then the activity is in it deep and in dire need of other fixes to other problems if that is going to be the straw that breaks the camels back.

    There might be good examples of bad attitude endangering access and pissing off the wrong people. This does not seem like that type of example.

  38. Pierce Oz August 23rd, 2011 4:33 pm

    That is, indeed, quite a strange response to a pretty benign exchange even if the guy did have a chip on his shoulder that day for some reason. I would agree, hearing this coming from one of our more seasoned (read: old), would be even more a shock, as you pointed out.

    There are times and places to pull out the hot knives, but I’m missing something if this was it. Did someone put you in a grave amount of danger or was on the verge of possibly hurting themselves? If you drop in on top of me before it’s safe, or throw rocks down a climbing route, or wander up to the top of Marvin’s at Vail without avi gear, carrying demo skis, and with your 5-of-7 day pass flapping in the wind, I might pipe up. My advancing age allows me to be civil, if not helpful about it most of time. Usually copping an attitude just gives you the same in return. If anything, people should be spreading the proverbial love if casting a glance or opening their mouths in places where everyone is trying to have a good time and enjoy life for a bit.

    Crowded places seem to attract a larger proportion of THOSE types of people, in my opinion. Berthoud, Loveland, Vail Pass, Teton Pass, and choice Cottonwood Canyon trailheads are always going to be a crapshoot. Cripes, even sleepy (by comparison) Wolf Creek Pass has had its share of unpleasantness toward the seemingly uninitiated in the not too distant past. As backcountry sports of any kind move out of the fringe, these popular places become regular slices of life complete with backcountry dog attacks, road-lap rage, aggressive bike-jersey posturing, and equipment snobbery.

    The worst offenders are the people who have been to that particular place enough times to know it well, have a favorite spot, and therefore feel some kind of ownership over the place or even the experience. Instead of helping the new guy, the out-of-towner in awe, or the guy new to the area, they spray a bunch of attitude or worse. Funny enough, these are likely people who were the NEWB-JONG-GAPER a season or two ago. Maybe they were hazed then, too, and feel the need to pass it along like the old fraternity or medical residency mind-set.

    At any rate, if you frequent the popular places, be prepared to deal with the masses and don’t expect the peaceful solitude you might find somewhere less traveled. On the same token, don’t expect this awful type of interaction, either. I’ve been too lots of these places a lot, and way more often than not, people are friendly, happy to be there, and willing to help if called upon. It helps all parties to try and live that each outing, along with being prepared, and having good etiquette. Were/Are you that person who bombs out the skintrack in your boots, or the guy with no avi gear peering down a loaded slope, or the person who won’t step off-trail for people hiking uphill with monster packs, or the person with the aggressive dog off-leash in a wilderness area? Expect some unpleasant encounters and chalk it up to a learning experience, or prepare for the tough road ahead you’ve chosen. At the same time, I’m sure we can all remember a time when we could have ended up on the wrong end of this story (maybe not THIS story ?), and perhaps keeping that in the back of your mind in the future can help. The people who are reading this website can consider themselves stewards of the sport, since I believe it’s been a well-executed aim of Lou’s all along. As mentioned, if you’ve run into him and not peed on him, you know that to be true. Let’s all do our part as educated and thoughtful backcountry users and be good examples and mentors for those less informed. It’s the only way it gets better. [Wipes away small tear; steps off soap box]

  39. Hojo August 23rd, 2011 4:37 pm

    @Steve: I perceived an underlying “individual self importance” when he responded (word for word) “Do I know you?” I consider that a direct attempt at being rude and thus, excessive. I would be astonished if a kayaker, after pulling off the river, responded in kind. The same for a mountain biker at the trail head. It seems absurd. I was treated, not as if I was in a public parking lot, but as if I had walked up his driveway and asked how his breakfast was. I link the access issue in with the ability of individuals to come together in a unified manner and recognize the public aspect of our sport. That is why I felt threatened. Though, in his defense, he could have had a horrible day and I surely could have presented a formal preamble to the conversation.

  40. Benno August 23rd, 2011 4:53 pm

    Hey Y’all. Jerks are everywhere. It is not exclusive to BC skiers or even more prevalent than other sectors of the sporting/business/personal world. Our community, call it “Backcountry users,” stands apart becasue we share a united, unique, and understood passion. Laugh at jerks. Ski powder. Smile. Repeat.

  41. Lou August 23rd, 2011 5:02 pm

    And, we share public land…

  42. Scott August 23rd, 2011 5:35 pm

    Great topic.

    It seems like what we perceive may not always be the case.

    I’ve been ridiculed by others because I didn’t say hi or go out of my way to be friendly when I was near my aerobic limit on a run/hike up the local ski hill last summer. I actually waved as I was approaching, but apparently non-verbal communication isn’t sufficient. These people (locals, of course, ) had some snide remarks for me as I moved on up past them.

    Maybe they perceived me as being ‘elitist’ like I was too good to stop and talk to them and let their unleashed dogs jump all over me (which happens all too frequently, but that’s a different rant…). But really I was just out getting a hard workout for me, and an average one at that compared to others I’ve tried to chase uphill. So no elitism there at all.

    Point being, sometimes I think we project our expectations too far out onto others. If they don’t respond the way we want them to, then there is something wrong with them, not us. I mean, who knows what is going on with the other person? Maybe its the worst day of their lives when you encounter them. I’m not trying to justify people being jerks, but there may be more to the story than what you see or perceive. So maybe cut someone some slack if you don’t know them, or really have no idea what’s up with them. Don’t be so sensitive.

    Bike paths are funny. So are trails. I get yelled at if I announce “on your left” or if I say nothing. So I rarely say anything anymore, unless its a real safety situation. Plus half the time, people are plugged into their ipods and can’t hear anything anyways, which I think is really dangerous. Unplug the friggin’ things when you’re outside. Nature sounds pretty good.

    I’ve definitely become a lot better at trying to be friendly and congenial on the trails or wherever. But I’m not an extrovert, I don’t thrive on needing to be social. I enjoy solitude once in a while. Its nothing personal at all, its more just my personality. But I don’t use that as an excuse to be a jerk, unless you perceive me not saying “hi” as we run past each other on the trail as being unfriendly. Then I’d say, relax, get some thicker skin, and don’t be so dependent on another’s response to make you feel good.

    Bottom line, a wise person once said that we should strive to treat other people like we would want to be treated. Totally easier said than done, but something to strive for anyhow. I’m getting a little better at it, but inevitably I always seem to piss someone off. Maybe I need botox to get that permanent smile look.

  43. Lou August 23rd, 2011 6:15 pm

    “let their unleashed dogs jump all over me,” now there is a subject (grin)!

  44. Sb August 23rd, 2011 7:39 pm

    Passing on the trail is another good topic, too. I’ve been skiing in a place that has some trails which are very busy with snowshoers when near the parking. When I get near them, they get this terrified look, and sometimes the even bolt. I think they don’t realize I can turn and stop or even both.

    I haven’t noticed any difference whether I announce myself or not. Luckily, these encounters only occur on the last bit of trail when I am leaving in the afternoon.

  45. Paul August 24th, 2011 12:48 am

    Don’t give jerks the power to mess with your state of mind. Move on and forget. If you notice there are lots of jerks in some places (like TGR) don’t go there. Leave them be in their own little world.

  46. Dave P. August 24th, 2011 12:59 am

    One of the things I really like about BC skiing is the camaraderie, the sharing of this special experience with a few like-minded folks. So this story makes me kind of sad. Like others have said, I suppose there is that fraction of folks who are just jerks (or as a German friend of mine used to say, “their underwear is too tight”). After a good day of skiing I tend to feel euphoric, so I can only assume that guy had a crappy day and wasn’t dealing with it very well. Let it go and keep being your friendly self. Hopefully next time it’ll be me you run into. I’ll be the guy with the big grin after another great day spent enjoying the greatest sport on earth!

  47. dmr August 24th, 2011 2:26 am

    Bad attitudes and the elitism often associated are extremely annoying. However, I do my best 99.99% of the time not to get caught up in it, why ruin my day with someone else’s bad mood?

    As with Lou’s experiment, I find it much more enjoyable, even if just for myself, to say hello and smile. Usually works, too.

    I often listen to an MP3 player while trail running, and on a few occasions have not heard mtn bikers warning me of their approach. Perceived as having a bad attitude I have been yelled at on more than one occasion, and a simple smile, a “Sorry, I did not hear you” and seeing my ear-buds taped to my ears diffuses the situation quickly.

    As to the guest blogger’s reaction, I’m no psychologist, nor do I play one on TV, but doesn’t going off on someone say more about pent up frustration regarding one’s perception of elitism in the sport than about a given individual’s bad attitude (often only perceived but not real)?

    On a side note, I was told that being peed on by someone else’s dog was the Colorado backountry skiing community’s way of saying “welcome to our tribe”. Did I sacrifice multiple pairs of Gore-Tex pants for nothing?

  48. Forest August 24th, 2011 4:26 am

    The other 99 friendly, happy people that you greet are WELL worth dismissing the 1 a-hole! He probably doesn’t even like his dog.

  49. Caleb Wray August 24th, 2011 6:26 am

    Being mean in the backcountry is a bad safety practice. The person you piss off may not feel compelled to dig as fast later in the day. For me the friendships and positive feelings that I take home after a day in the mountains are most valued. I don’t know any serious backcountry travelers with even marginal ‘tude. One reason is that it would become difficult to find partners.

  50. Francisco August 24th, 2011 6:39 am

    I grew up surfing and dealt with nasty localism and bad attitudes on a regular basis.

    I cant complain about the cycling and bc skiing community in CO.

    The bc ski folks I see (mostly in RMNP) have almost always been nice, but I suppose I will meet an a$$hole evenually, just a matter of odds like some of you have stated.

    I understand Scott’s argument about wanting to be left alone, but I really appreciate when people are willing to share a nod and a smile, or even some small talk.

  51. Lou August 24th, 2011 7:46 am

    All, while this is indeed an old subject, in my view it’s always worth dialoging about so thanks to everyone for chiming in!

    I think it’s really important that we promulgate a friendly spirit in the backcountry, whatever the sport. When folks are smiling and positive, it enhances the experience so so much.

    In terms of taking the pulse of our sport, during my travels I’ve noticed that overall our community is simply terrific when it comes to the smile factor, and getting along with strangers. That’s all the way from Austria to Mount Rainier.

    That said, this is really a case of how just one person can make a difference. One person smiling and being nice on a crowded summit can lift the whole mood. Same at a trailhead, or while passing on the trail.


  52. Jamie August 24th, 2011 8:48 am

    A great discussion, and some truly insightful comments, I have run into the odd unpleasant person out and about, and as much as it pains me to say so, have probably been one a time or two, but far and away, the people I meet are great, and I would like to go play with them. The main thing I try and do these days when I have one of those encounters is not to take it too personal, and above all not let it ruin the rest of the day.

  53. Tyrone August 24th, 2011 8:49 am

    I work hard at being a jerk towards all of the tool baggin’ heli skiers in the Wasatch and they damn well better be upset with me. The educational window of opportunity often only lasts for a second or two, so clear, simple communication is important.

  54. Scott August 24th, 2011 9:31 am

    You’re right Lou. A little bit of kindness can go a long, long way.

    I would add that I probably wouldn’t be skiing the backcountry as much if it wasn’t for a few kind people who were willing to hang with a relative newb to the sport, namely me. I definitely try and keep that in mind when I’m out. So thanks for the reminder. 🙂

  55. lc August 24th, 2011 3:44 pm

    Whew! Just finished reading all the comments.

    I just wanted to venture that perhaps Mr. Attitude that Jo speaks of was from Boulder? 🙂 Which, according to Turns All Year must be one of the douchiest cities in the U.S. because of the preponderance of triathletes.

    Jo, he can’t help it. He’s from Boulder.

  56. Lou August 24th, 2011 3:52 pm

    Hey, Boulder bashing, only Lou is allowed to do that (grin).

    Actually, I think you can find plenty of ‘tude in a lot of places. Let’s watch the bashing of specific cities and towns, lots of nice backcountry skiers live and work in those places.

    As for Boulder, even any Boulderite would admit you can find some attitude around there. On the other hand, if you want a good mix of mountain sports and city, it’s really quite a unique place.

    But Bellingham is better (grin).

  57. Greydon Clark August 24th, 2011 4:55 pm

    Musical accompaniment for this post from The Misfits,

  58. Lou August 24th, 2011 5:06 pm

    Greydon, fantastic! Thanks.

  59. Jason August 28th, 2011 5:19 pm

    Even if you are having a bad day, you are outside searching for the goods and not in the office. SO in all reality it’s a good day, SO that means he’s a KOOK.

  60. RDE November 9th, 2012 10:00 am

    Ever tried crewing on a racing sailboat? With the owner driving and half the crew paid sailmakers? Didn’t think so!

    Anyway, there is no excuse for rudeness, but sometimes there is a strong urge to avoid MPA’s. When I was young and foolish I trailered a Formula Ford race car up and down the west coast. After about the 50th “how fast will it go?” at every gas station I started to become rather creative in my responses.

  61. Dan November 9th, 2012 10:52 am

    For what it is worth and because our time in the mountains is way too valuble to waste being angery for any reason….. There are all sorts of risks that we all face every day…in our work, with family, on the highway and in our chosen recreational activities. Encountering an a-hole is just one of those risks. Because having an encounter of the 3rd kind is often a surprise, it helps to have a plan in mind so as not to damage your day and maybe even help to salvage the a-hole’s day. I was taught in HS driving classes (in the early 60s) that allowing yourself to become angry is a choice. It took about 20 years for that little tidbit to sink in to my pea-brain. Our HS football coach, who also taught the driving classes and was a defensive lineman for the NY Giants in his youth, suggested that before leaving your abode every morning, resolve to make every person you meet that day smile…The next time some tuit yanks your chain, try thinking of a reply that is complimentary in some way. I swear that every time I have remembered to try that…it worked.

  62. See November 9th, 2012 11:02 am

    RDE, I’ve noticed the same thing. I figure those guys are doing a job. They’re not there to make friends, as the saying goes. That said, most of the real rock stars I’ve met have been pretty chill, at least when they’re not working.

    Looking back on the last year or so, I can recall 2 occasions when I was mildly surprised by the surliness of strangers. The first was a guy riding the lift at Squaw on rando gear. I was on my fat alpine boards and I think it might have been a case of backcountry chauvinism. His attitude was so comical that I couldn’t resist offering a friendly greeting when we passed him the second time.

    The other person was probably mentally ill, so I just left the poor guy to himself.

  63. Silas Wild November 9th, 2012 11:49 am

    Enjoy happy encounters, have sympathy for meanies, don’t try to be anybody’s shrink? Be sure to bring fun people with you to humor you through the rare unpleasant meeting with strangers. 🙂

  64. Jim November 9th, 2012 12:17 pm

    I think it is as much the guest blogger’s attitude to be so upset over such a minor exchange. Have you guys ever been surfing? At crowded surf spots ‘Tude is the rule. Cursing, yelling, fights are very common at name crowed spots. Its a bunchy of kids crowded into a small line up. Localism is rampant. That’s why I love BC skiing where I see no one all day, or only at a distance, or just tracks.

  65. See November 9th, 2012 12:22 pm

    I’m not suggesting trying to be anybody’s shrink, just that what seems like arrogance or rudeness may be something else.

  66. Jeff November 9th, 2012 12:55 pm

    I was thinking about this post in August this year when I came across someone toting skis above Fall River. Almost exactly like Jo’s experience. Me: “Nice! Still getting some!” Skier: “Grrrrr.” Maybe he was disappointed to see people hiking near his hidden stash. Don’t know.

  67. Mdibah November 9th, 2012 2:58 pm

    Have to say that the “You’re skiing in July?!?” comments pale in comparison to hiking up a trail with crash pads for bouldering, or the onslaught of questions when racking up to go climbing in a parking lot at Devil’s Tower / the Needles / Yosemite….

    I’ve never liked using an mp3 player in the wilderness (I thought the point was to get away from all that?), but have found that a pair of earbuds whose cord mysteriously disappears into a pocket to be a lightweight and effective accessory for avoiding unwanted inquiries.

  68. Trevor November 9th, 2012 3:04 pm

    I say give them the “wave off” and carry on with your business. Worked for me over at Aspen Highlands for 5 years…even after it had snowed and left us with “the angry inch”:)

  69. ty November 9th, 2012 8:30 pm

    ya the questions at D-Tow are always excessive. I try to answer them nicely adnd direct them to the climbing logistics kiosk…. I still like to have a little fun with them: “Did you make it to the top?”
    “Oh ya, easily, but we lost a few partners along the way. Its a dangerous sport.”

    As far as tude in the backcountry is concearned, I would go ahead and get really used to it. Unavoidable in a sport where everyone is stroking their radder-than-thou ego….

  70. ty November 9th, 2012 8:42 pm

    and another thing….when you meet someone that is psyched and humble, it probably means that they are the one who is truly bad ass….case in point: last winter I met a scraggly crew from jackson in the hyalite canyon parking lot. They were psyched and asked us for ice climbing beta, and were super cool about it. I later found out it was the Storm Show Studios crew….some of the baddest skiers around!

  71. Jay November 9th, 2012 9:30 pm

    Sounds like the dork was raised by parents that emphasized “don’t t talk to strangers” and he never grew up.
    I’ve seen this attitude on display too much down South with the 17-25 year old set.

  72. Jay November 9th, 2012 9:38 pm

    How many times have you as a BC skier been asked by a unknowing tourist, “So, how long it take you to hike up that mountain?

    Followed by, “And how long to ski down?” with a supposedly knowing smirk.

    ‘Don’t go, don’t know.’ How could they. But to be rude to them is an asses revenge.

  73. David B November 9th, 2012 9:54 pm

    Jo, I’d have to say your link to the Bra Boys is tenuous at best. I am an Australian surfer and BC skier and have initmate knowledge of both sides of the equation.

    A more accurate summation would be to pop Berthoud Pass on the outskirts of the Bronx and see how much ‘tude you get in the parking lot then.

    It takes a lot of people to make up this wonderful world. I have travelled it extensively for many years chasing snow and surf and can attest to the fact that A’holes exist in all corners of the globe and in all pursuits.

    Look at the up side, at least he didn’t crack your head open with his skis, steal your car and money and have his way with your wife. It unfortunately happens.

    Let A’holes be A’holes and hopefully karma will take care of them in good time. Smile and walk away. That’s what I generally do, unless I’m having a bad day, Ha Ha.

    Every day above ground is a good day!

  74. SB November 9th, 2012 10:47 pm

    You have to ask yourself, what are you bringing to the conversation? Otherwise you are just demanding something from a stranger. Sometimes people don’t want to talk. He was rude, you were rude back. Everyone’s day is ruined.

    A more skilled conversationalist might have evoked a better response.

  75. Sean November 10th, 2012 9:45 am

    I’m afraid I don’t understand Jo’s perspective.

    Jo suggests all skiers need to “stick together” for some reason. I don’t see how that applies. People have varying reasons for skiing in the woods (“backcountry” in the modern lingo) and for many people I know, including myself, a primary motivator is to get away from crowds.

    Maybe Berthoud isn’t a good place to get away from crowds, I don’t know as I’m not in Colorado and haven’t ever been there. But doesn’t someone who skis to avoid crowds deserve deference toward his/her attitude of seeking solitude?

    I don’t find that I’m obliged to help someone else feel welcome. I’m not a Host to the World. It doesn’t sound like the person Jo encountered was going to commit violence against Jo, so why is Jo beefing about the guy? He wanted to be left alone, that’s what it sounds like to me. And what’s wrong with that?

    Extroverts need to understand that introverts don’t relish interpersonal encounters with strangers. Is Jo an extrovert? Was the guy she encountered an introvert?

    I definitely do not get any “elitist” vibe from Jo’s description of the guy. What I get is “introvert” vibe. From where I’m sitting, Jo was the offender here, insisting that the guy she encountered was obliged to make her feel welcome. While many of you might think the guy holds that obligation, I don’t see it at all. I see a person who wanted to put in a day of skinning and making turns, possibly without interaction, and probably without having to deal with a stranger. I can see feeling intruded-upon by Jo’s approach.

  76. Lou Dawson November 10th, 2012 11:27 am

    Interesting take Sean, thanks for being civil about it and bringing up the extrovert introvert issue. That totally applies to many of these situations. Main thing with Jo is I thank him for bringing up this issue, or perceived issue, since if it’s thought about and discussed, it defuses things and helps everyone.

    On the other hand, in my opinion there is such as thing as “social contracts,” and one of those is that backcountry recreators are polite and nice to each other, introvert or extrovert. So that’s indeed where we’d disagree.

    As an introvert myself (believe it), I’m totally aware of the feeling at the trailhead when I simply want to be a tree. But to me that’s not the “contract,” so I’ve gotten in the habit over the years of breaking out of my shell and just being nice. Not some kind of glee club, just nice.

  77. AVIATOR November 10th, 2012 4:30 pm

    I’m with Sean 100%.

    Sure Lou, you are right, try to smile and be nice to everyone everywhere all the time, you will benefit yourself, everything in your life will be easier, etc etc…
    We are all trying, we should all be trying.

    But the first principles of the social contract must always be:
    -we have the right to not chit chat with strangers if possible
    -we have the right to be left alone if possible
    -without getting attacked as in this case
    -without being called a douche as in this case

    Jo you wanted to chat, the other person didn’t, I mean just drop it and move on…
    Instead you “went off on him while walking away”?
    That’s the line I find REALLY disturbing in this story.
    That and the fact the majority seems to agree with Jo.

  78. Lou Dawson November 10th, 2012 4:52 pm

    Hmmmm, I love the way two sides are coming out on this. I’m sure Jo understands. Be sure not to attack him personally, I encouraged this post to get some discussion going, and we had to take a stance so as not to be all namby pamby…

    I’d agree that part of the social contract is to be left alone. In that case, ideally, the person being asked about their day would make a polite answer but also make it obvious they were not into carrying on an extended conversation. I have a book called “The Art of Civilized Conversation.” I think the way to do this is in there somewhere….

    BTW, I had an odd experience once that’s sort of the opposite of Jo’s. I was at a trailhead with my snowmobile after dropping off a climber on a rather extreme climb in San Juans he was doing. I didn’t look much like a backcountry skier. This was back in the days of extreme skier prejudice against snowmobiles. Man, was I shunned. It was rather disconcerting. Made me sympathetic to people who undergo this sort of thing daily in some parts of the world…

  79. dmr November 11th, 2012 3:11 am

    For every 1 “rude” person I’ve met in the mountains / at a trailhead (skiing, climbing, mountaineering, trail running…) I’ve had 10 other pleasant encounters ranging from a friendly 2 minute exchange to rounds of beer after the day is done.

    I think the introvert vs extrovert is a good point.

    I also think that people in general need to think about why they are being nice to others. Reminds me of discussions I’ve had with friends who get upset when they hold the door open for someone at a store and don’t receive a thank you. I ask them, “Were you doing it genuinely be polite and render a service to someone else, or were you holding the door open so that you could bask in the glory of someone else’s recognition of your supposed politeness?”

    In other words, “Was it for their glory or for yours?”

    I’m pretty much an extrovert. But I definitely give people the benefit of the doubt about having a bad day. And 9 times out of 10 I hold the door open to help out and don’t care about a thank you. I’m sure that I’ve walked once or twice through a door without saying thank you or that the thank you was not heard.

    I climb/ski in Chamonix a lot, a supposed bastion of elitist attitudes. But because I personally have nothing to prove and am not looking to butt heads with the roving bands of elitists, I’ve pretty much had the 1 to 10 ratio experience I’ve mentioned above. Even with locals, even with local guides, and even with local guides who work for the Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix.

    With regard to the Bra boys, that just shows the inherent tribal element of human nature.

  80. See November 11th, 2012 10:48 am

    Tribalism may be part of human nature, but some forms of tribalism are better than others. I think some of the less desirable forms are often the product of competition for a limited resource. In my opinion, good management of the resource is a better way to deal with potential conflict than by forming tribes and battling it out. If this is what Jo means when he says “sustaining access and longevity of back country skiing requires a united community,” then I guess I agree with him.

    In other words, I think that we need to come together to ban snow machines, helicopters and skizees (just kidding).

    I also want to take a strong stand in favor of being namby pamby here and say that I agree with most of the comments on both “sides.”

  81. Xavier November 11th, 2012 11:00 pm

    In defense of ‘Tude.

    Backcountry skiers are no more gifted with special “niceness” attributes than any other group, There’s a bunch of bowlers on some website typing that they’ve never met a rude bowler and how nice bowlers are. Backcountry skiers from my experience contain about the same proportion of jerks and a-holes as every other group which is about 50% on any given day.

    (personal attack redacted)

    I’ve had the same reaction to a person like you approaching me like he was “entitled” to have me answer his questions. Approach me in a calm and respectful manner and I’ll probably spend some time talking to you. Approach me like a gushing prom queen showing off in front of your wife and kids and I’d have the same reaction. Get over yourself. I think you have a bigger ‘tude problem than the guy you verbally ambushed.

    As to community. Give me a break!I started BC skiing to get away from humanity and all of you. I hate big groups and will only ski with a trusted partner, ONE. I am not there to socialize with you lot. I’m there to ski un-tracked powder and I am not going to following anybody else’s skin track so please don’t follow mine. Sure, I’ll be polite to you if you follow my skin track and we meet up, but I will not be happy about it although I will try and hide my disgust in meeting you out there. Leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone.

    I see more and more of you guys going out in big groups.Some of you barley know each other and follow each other piped-piper style in the skin track . Fine,you like that social skiing but some of us don’t and just because we don’t, we aren’t jerks,we just like being alone and quiet and away from “community” and social conventions.

    Community, I don’t want to be in your community.I want to ski powder and not get killed and have spent a long time learning how to do this and I’m rightly proud of my skills. I earned them over a long apprenticeship and there is a heirachy.
    I’ve worked my way up to “local “status and you’d better show me some quiet respect if you want to learn some of my stuff and stashes just like I showed respect to the guys that showed me. Turn up with an attitude of entitlement because you got some smug idea that you’re part of some “special” community” and we’re going to ignore you.

    Dostie and Lou want more people in the BC because that’s how they make a living and pay for their groceries so they can ski powder with their friends and family.

    A lot us( and there are a LOT of us) wish you’d all discover the next cool sport and leave us “soul” ( kidding) skiers alone in the BC( although we do like the new gear that all you “enthusiasts” have made economically possible)

    Take your kumbaya community and attitude and stay away from my skin track unless invited. Thanks

  82. Mark Worley November 12th, 2012 12:36 am

    Ha, I know of the terrified slowshoers tromping up the trail. Seems little will quell their fears, but I do try. It might help us all a bit to recognize that snowshowing is growing quite quickly, so we might do well to be friendly and polite to such a user group.

    As to bike path encounters, I’ve had a few too. 99.9 % of the time, I’m bike commuting to or from work, so sometimes I move along fairly fast (compared to most people I encounter). On rare occasions others have gotten mad at me, and perhaps I’ve earned it. A good, audible bell seems best, and ringing it with plenty of room before passing helps, but there are people who don’t get enough warning no matter what I do. I gave up on “ON YOUR LEFT” as I just don’t favor yelling, and have had people move to the left just after this seemingly understandable declaration. I think the bell is better because it appears to work even for the many folks with ipod earphones in use, but sometimes nothing seems to prepare these folks for my passing. I’ve nearly collided with individuals who appeared stoned, rode completely on my side on blind corners, and even scared the heck out of a pedestrian after dark who appeared totally surprised at my approaching even though he was coming toward me and I had 350 lumens very well lighting my way. You should have heard his exclamation when he finally figured out that the bright light coming toward him was actually immediately at hand.

    I have become irritated at folks on the path for blocking the whole thing, but even the clueless have a right to be there. Who says I’m better than anyone just because I have to hurry up and get to work? And compared to the Mid-Atlantic city I biked to work in for three years, I’ll take Fort Collins any day. Biking here is a massive piece of cake compared to curvy roads with no shoulders and drivers who are hostile simply for the sake of being hostile. Once I had a car pass by REALLY close because he didn’t feel I belonged on the street.

    As to rude folks in the backcountry, I’ve really not seen it. I’m sure it exists as described here by others, but more often than not, I’ve encountered people who share similar enthusiasm and have even offered to have me join them. I can’t imagine anything like the Bra Boys phenomenon happening in the backcountry. That seems like a big stretch.

  83. Sean November 12th, 2012 11:08 am


    If you are an introvert, then as a long-time reader of your website, I’d say you do a fine job of behaving on-line as an extrovert. Your website encourages growth of skiing — that’s an extrovert’s perspective, not an introvert’s one. You are posting comments from a moderating perspective (not bossy, but moderating nonetheless) and encouraging a diminution of the “leave me alone, please” mindset. That, again, is very extroverted.

    The introvert vs extrovert division isn’t about how you see yourself or how you imagine yourself. It’s about what actually is a good fit for you, personally, in your interactions with others (the world). Introverts prefer solitude always. Always. It is one of the essential points of introversion. Extroverts prefer the company of others, they prefer group activity, socializing, working in group-oriented dynamics. Extroverts are energized and feel most human when they are interacting with others. They live in society.

    Introverts live in their heads, and only forcibly (by life-necessity) engage with the outside world. Introverts prefer solitude in almost all settings of their lives.

    It would be typical of an extroverted person to do what Jo describes herself as doing in the original post’s described encounter. The extrovert assumes others prefer extroversion (a valid assumption, as introverts are but a small drop of water in the sea of humanity) and expects conformity with extroverted interaction styles.

    My guess is that Jo doesn’t understand introverts. It’s probably not a willful choice. It’s probably because extroversion is all she knows.

    I don’t really think there is any “social contract” that requires me to befriend anyone I don’t wish to befriend. The only social obligation I feel is to not harm another physically, which I would extend to include “not injure another’s livelihood.”

  84. Lou Dawson November 12th, 2012 11:21 am

    Sean two things, take my word for it, I’m in intro, a well trained one, but still an intro. And yes, many introverts love communicating through writing. More, it’s not about absolutes. Read “Quiet” to get the latest take on introverts.

    As for harming other people, what about if you harm them emotionally? Does that count?

    ‘best, Lou

  85. Lou Dawson November 12th, 2012 11:28 am

    P.S., Apologies if I (or we) appeared to be advocating some kind of ga ga circus at the trailheads. All we’re doing here is encouraging (through things like this blog post and discussion) people to be nice to each other, on both sides of the conversation. The introvert can learn to be polite, and the extrovert can learn to dial it back. I think this is sort of along the lines of certain sophomoric bumper stickers, but nonetheless an important part of the survival of civilization (grin).

  86. myska November 12th, 2012 5:08 pm

    i fully agree lou… i think it is called respect for each other and tolerance.
    i have been skiing mostly alone for many years. i never meant to ski alone but i was simply running in to groups in my area which were not open to accepting newbies. so i had to learn myself and i am very grateful for that because i am very very cautious and conservative when BC skiing alone.
    last winter i went to british columbia to ski bum for couple months. i was blown away how many incredible people i met in the backcountry. i showed them respect and they respected me. every time there were people i got invited to join them to ski steeper slopes which i would not have skied by myself. i got invited on wicked multiple day ski trip with people i never met and i had fantastic time. i ended up in a backcountry hut with no space left for sleeping so i slept on the floor in the common area and nobody would subject to that. i had great experiences with people but this one time in the whitewater BC. i climbed up a ridge where i run in to local couple. with smile and happiness i asked them (as i always do) about the area, about good tips, etc. their first question was: are you skiing alone? obviously i was. their answer was (in short): well, we are search and rescue from nelson and we often end up looking for people like you!! that was the end of conversation, my jaw dropped down and i stared at them for a while thinking; ok, they gave me shit for skiing alone, which i can somewhat understand, and now they will give me some more info about the area. nope, they ignored me and quietly skied down without a word.
    i would never ever leave someone standing on top of the mountain if i was concerned about their safety. for me, it is a given.
    there is a fine line between attitudes in the backcountry. so many things can go wrong and it doesn’t matter whether one is an introvert, search and rescue person, newbie or a professional skier. i believe we are all trying to do the same so we should be respectful and tolerant of each other.
    wishing you all another great winter 😉

  87. See November 12th, 2012 8:52 pm

    Maybe they were 1) a couple not interested in skiing with a stranger, 2) of the belief that it’s not a good general practice to ski by yourself in an area you don’t know, and 3) not concerned for your safety because they considered it pretty safe, based on their local knowledge?

    It’s really tough to know what is going on with other people.

  88. dmr November 13th, 2012 2:14 am


    I appreciate you wanting to be left alone, I personally don’t feel any ” ‘tude” in your solitary approach.

    1) They are not “your” skin tracks unless you are out backcountry skiing on your very own private property.
    2) Just remember that you were a newcomer to the activity once, adding to the population of backcountry skiers. That you want to be left alone, okay, that you think you have some greater right to the backcountry than others (in other words you get to enter, but are closing the door behind you) smells a bit too hypocritical, but perhaps I’m not interpreting your post correctly.

    Cheers and have fun in your backcountry adventures this winter.

  89. Lou Dawson November 13th, 2012 7:55 am

    Myska, are you really saying those SAR folks lectured you but didn’t offer to ski with you? Wow, their bad. Many (if not most) SAR outfits have an educational mission in their bylaws or mission statement. I hope they were not acting that way as some sort of misguided effort at education, and I hope they see your comment!

  90. JCoates November 13th, 2012 8:23 am

    I don’t care who you are or what you have done… ski touring and mountaineering is about sliding down snow to have fun.

    I have met a few certifiable, honest-to-God badasses in my life, and the one unifying trait they all shared was being humble and grounded. They didn’t risk death because they had poor self-esteem and needed an ego boost, they did it because it was something that was personally rewarding to them.

    We all have bad days occasionally and sometimes don’t feel like chatting, but I think the point the guest blogger was trying to make was that if you are such a self-righteous a-hole that you can’t spare a few seconds to be civil in the parking lot then you are probably not in this sport (and that’s exactly what this is) for the right reasons.

  91. Xavier November 13th, 2012 11:14 am

    We’re drifting off the topic but whatever.
    Yes the skintrack is mine, I set it and setting a skintrack is an art form and a beautiful skintrack is a thing to behold. However, I will agree that I don’t own the land it is upon and can’t prevent anybody else from using it. I hope you won’t be a sheep and follow my skintrack and end up skiing the same slopes I am skiing. Instead I hope you will decide that you too want some solitude, adventure and fresh tracks and go off in a different direction.

    The huge expansion of the sport is leading to many safety problems IMHO. I see large groups of relative beginners hooking up via some website and launching into the BC, hardly knowing each other, blindly following other people’s skin tracks, assuming there is safety in numbers. The herd effect. It’s reached a critical mass and mark my words, there’s going to be some serious loss of life in the near future.

    And yes, I admit it I am a hypocrite and would like to close the door( a bit, not completely) and wish the sport wasn’t becoming so popular and populated with people that really don’t know what they are doing, show not much dedication to the value of a long apprenticeship and herd together, singling kumbaya at the trailhead and congratulating themselves on their special community as they prepare to gape into the BC.

    I partly blame Websites like this. Wildsnow promotes the sport, promotes the selling of gear but does a pretty poor job IMO of promoting the safety of the sport, the proper etiquette when out there and the bad aspects of the current increase in popularity. A blog about the bad things that are occurring due to our sports rapid increase in popularity wouldn’t be appreciated by Lou’s advertisers I guess.

    Really , a blog about being polite at the trailhead and it’s importance! Give me a break, there are a multitude of more important issues than some fluff piece about ” somebody was rude to me when I asked them a question”.

  92. phil November 13th, 2012 11:48 am

    First I feel that the Bra Boyz trailer is fairly irrelevant as a “could it happen here?” comparable question. Better would be a clip from an old movie showing a cautious native encountering his first white man back in the day.
    We all understand the TUDE for what it is and what it represents. I feel Jo over reacted and basicly lost his cool. Just my take without explanation.
    Lou your ideas are classy in coolness and this thread has a positive goal.
    The best thing to remember for me in all situations, in the mountains or out of them is the old wise saying of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Building character is not always easy, mistakes happen and we learn.

  93. dmr November 13th, 2012 2:44 pm

    Hi Xavier,

    Thanks for your honest and forthright reply.

    I put a lot of thought into whether or not to follow someone else’s skin track, and it’s a conscious choice when I do – no sheep following here.

    You most likely live in a different area than I, and I honestly have not seen an exponential increase in dangerous behavior with the expansion of the sport, but I live in an area where there are a lot of experienced people. Also a lot of newcomers to the sport go with experienced backcountry skiers on their first outings (friends or with a club). Don’t have the stats, but the absolute number of deaths due to backcountry hazards (avalanches, cornices, etc.) has remained flat as the popularity of the backcountry skiing has increased, and about half of those deaths (maybe more) are people with years (if not decades) of experience.

    Cheers, have a great winter, and I’ll respect your wish that our [skin] tracks never cross.

  94. Lou Dawson November 13th, 2012 3:51 pm

    Xavier, please leave of the negative cynicism about your theory that my advertisers somehow control what I write. It’s insulting. Believe me, my tinfoil hat does the job (grin).

    Seriously, gad, I’ve written ad infinitum about avalanche safety here. Include some posts that got me raked over the coals as a “monday morning quarterback ” and actually resulted in hate mail and one death threat. We also work our tails off covering safety gear, which I know is not as important as the brain, but is still essential.

    So anyhow, I appreciate your reminder and I’ll see what we can do to keep our safety content going. To start, how about checking out the Three Myths of Avalanche Safety, link below

    As for us helping increase the popularity of the sport. That is indeed a goal and intention, and I’m glad if we’ve accomplished that. Sorry to offend you with that, but it’s our way and has been my goal for more than 30 years, what with guidebook writing, guiding, and the like.

    Lastly, we do work with guest bloggers. If you’d like to do some writing about avalanche safety or how to set a really good skin track, I’d be happy to consider.


  95. See November 13th, 2012 6:53 pm

    Like most have reported, the great majority of my experiences with people in the backcountry have been positive, but I’m not sure the BraBoyz scenario is that far fetched. I’ve noticed a growing lack of civility at resorts (and other places), and people are moving off the piste and into the woods in increasing numbers.

    Greg HIll’s photo of the traffic jam on the fixed ropes on Manaslu gives me pause. I also recently read an excerpt from Michael Kodas’ book about crime at altitude, and a piece about climbing and the so-called “experience economy ( ).” I’m thinking that all may not be entirely well with our “community” either.

    And, like it or not, there is a community of backcountry skiers defined by common interests, if nothing else. We are sharing a resource so we have to deal with each other occasionally.

    It’s worthwhile to take a break from weighing our boot liners to think about these larger issues once in a while. So thanks Lou and everybody. I think I’m less likely to do something annoying out there after having read this post and all the comments.

    Now, let’s all join hands and sing.

  96. Xavier November 13th, 2012 7:35 pm

    Thanks Lou, I was just giving you some feedback and as usual you handled it well and as others have said , you’re a classy dude and I appreciate you and your blog very much.

    However, by your own admission and pride you’ve helped and promoted the growth in the sport( although to many of us it’s more of a lifestyle than a sport) and as a result you have a responsibility to talk about the problems that this is causing .

    There’s lots of good stuff as a result of the growth( mostly gear IMO) but there’s also a lot of problems starting to surface and they are going to get worse. Just smiling at others in the skin track isn’t going to solve many of them .

    I’m glad you feel editorially free from your advertisers; that’s’the way it should be and why many of us take the time to read your blog despite being surrounded by your advertisers banners and your frequent product placements.

    Keep up the good work and you can use my skin track anytime but I still get to drop in first, OK?

  97. Lou Dawson November 14th, 2012 7:15 am

    Ok, peace, and Xavier I totally agree that I’ve got some sort of responsibility or at least a reason to be trying and address all the ramifications of growth. I’d ask you trust that I read and remember your feedback, and I’ll think hard about how to do a good job with the growth issue.

    For example, I’ll not shy away from covering avalanche safety and doing accident analysis when I’m in the mood to wear a thick skin. I’ll also see if we can do more posts like this that allow discussion of the issue.

    I’m fully aware that a lot of backcountry skiers (even myself) seek solitude at least on occasion, and that there is indeed less solitude or at least we have to work for it more. (Or at least be smarter about trip planning and such).

    Regarding publishing economics. Yes, we’re blessed to have advertisers and I do my best to give them a way of displaying their banners that’s obvious, but not obnoxious. I’d hope you noticed we don’t use the annoying types of banner d displays such as pop ups, fly outs, and the worst, the huge banner that covers up your screen when you first land on a main article after reading the homepage post excerpt.

    We also work hard with all our advertisers to keep the flashing and buzzing ads to a minimum, and I’ve even refused a couple of ads because of content we thought was inappropriate. Ditto for a couple of the ads that come directly from Google. For example, in that case I turned off all the political advertising. It paid better than anything, but uglied up the site so bad I couldn’t see leaving them going. Luckily Google lets the publisher turn stuff off!

    You might notice that new Kastle banner. In that case, for example, by the time I negotiated the ad, done the rocket science to install it and will have hastled with the invoicing, we’ll break even or even loose a bit on it compared to the Google sourced ad that was filling that space. But I was excited to get it (too bad it’s only running 6 weeks) because it just plain looks better than all those weird Google contextual ads that were appearing. I mean, it’s a cool company that makes terrific skis, what’s not to love about letting them support a writer and his family?

    One other thing. We absolutely could not do this without advertisers. The web publishing model that’s in force is to give away content for free, and hopefully support that with advertising (or work for free). That’s the way it is. Thing is, we brought this on ourselves. It’s just basic economics. Over the last 20 or so years we (as in society) could have said no to “free” content and voted by making pay-to-read websites successful. But we didn’t So, in the case of sites that take some work and have longevity, we get sites with plenty of advertising.

    As for advertisers having influence, to be more nuanced about that I can say that any good gear writer that has readers, in a small industry like ours, is going to try and not do anything egregious to either his readers or his advertisers (who, in the end, are people trying to make a living). For example, if I find something I think is a defect, rather than just shooting off at the mouth about it, I might go back to the company and do a lot of talking about if what I’m seeing is really a defect, or just something they had to do based on their own design goals, economics, etc. I’d then take that back to my writing. Often it seems that process ends up with us covering problems such as those with the Dynafit Radical last season, but also results in us being able to share good information about solutions, work arounds, or even debate about if the “problem” is really a problem.

    I’ll also agree with you that the whole process of “gear journalism” is not perfect. I’ve made mistakes or oversights, and will most certainly do so again. One way or another I try to right my mistakes, but they happen. Over the years I’ve been corrected in the comments a number of times in very legit ways, either publicly or privately, and done my best to act on that feedback.

    Above all, I really am just a carpenter with a keyboard (grin), and try to not let my brief and startling success as a pro blogger go to my head (grin). People like you, Xavier, are a huge help with that!

    Lastly, as I’ve written before, may look like a “gear review website” sometimes, especially during winter shopping season. But it’s not, and if you read it all year and look back at the thousands of blog posts, that’s obvious. Thus, we feel comfortable just reviewing what we want, usually stuff we like, and not trying to be something we are not.

  98. Sean November 16th, 2012 1:35 pm


    Susan Cain is not an introvert. She is a bookish extrovert. She dis-serves the entire populace of introverts by calling herself an introvert.

    Trial lawyers are showy, extroverted people. The dynamics of trial lawyering would be hell for an introvert. No introvert would remain a trial lawyer for long. Susan Cain has made a career of trial lawyering and now, public speaking. An introvert would do neither!

    Your desire to grow skiing and accommodate everyone is an extroverted desire, Lou. If you were an introvert, your website would be totally different. It would not look like it does.

    I think you may mistake interpersonal shyness for introversion. They are not the same thing. Many people who seek interpersonal exchange but lack the skills to easily have such exchanges can think themselves introverts, but they aren’t.

    Introverts don’t want more people, more participants, more traffic, more friends, more co-workers, more fellow skiers. Those all are extroverted drives and goals.

    Your website is a great resource for many things, but human psychology and social behavior isn’t really its domain! On those topics your site is gregarious, outgoing, extroverted and very much a promoter-mindset enterprise.

    Think again about what I said about Susan Cain. Watch her TED video. Nobody who is that at ease in the role of entertainer is an introvert. She is using the label as a marketing device. She’s a con artist, actually!

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  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

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