When I hear people complain about trench poaching
I almost have to assume that they're the type of person who really isn't happy about most things in their lives. Who cares, really? If so, why?
I mostly hear these complaints in regards to snowshoers using a skier's skin tracks, and thereby degrading the skin track for other skiers. This seems like a somewhat valid argument, except for the fact that the skiers who arrive at a later date/time would have never even had a skin track if someone else hadn't laid it down for them in the first place. Why should those "lazy" skiers be anymore entitled to another person's trench than the snowshoer who follows? In other words, you aren't entitled to a skin track, but you might as well use it if you find it!
I have from time to time heard people complain that it is "bad ethics" or "cheating" to use a trench that someone else created, even if you are using it by the same mode of transportation as the trail breaker (snowshoes/skis). Frankly, that's even more absurd to me. Climbing mountains is tough work, and we all do things to try to make it easier (lighter gear, better equipment, snowshoes and skis for flotation, better footwear, etc). If we're going to argue that everyone should have to set their own track to claim a summit, then we may as well also require everyone to do it sans flotation gear, while wallowing up to their nipples in snow.
I guess the trench poaching
argument probably has some relevance for those folks who like to brag about their climb times. A person who's breaking trail in fresh powder is obviously going to move slower than they would if they were following a track. But, I'm not racing, I'm recreating. As such, I could hardly care less about that particular argument.
So, I'll continue to follow a broken trail that leads where I want it to go, and I'll continue to ignore those trails that don't lead where I'm heading. And, if anyone wants to have words with me about it on the trail (I actually do know a couple of people who have been chastised for such "ethics violations" within the past couple of seasons) I'll be happy to let them know where I stand on the issue.
Tory Wells wrote:
If I make a trench, please use it.
If you make a trench, thank you, I'm gonna use it.
If you make a trench and complain about me using it, go f**k yourself.
^ Thank you for summarizing my entire post into three simply lines!
I'd only see that one applying if you're hiking in a group, and displaying an attitude that demonstrates an unwillingness to contribute to the team effort. I often have the luxury and curse of poaching
trenches do to my schedule. I work nights, and my "mornings" often start when many people are reaching their destination. This often kills my chances of getting first tracks, fresh snow, etc. But, it provides me with nice trenches. Pretty much the world of unintended consequences, I guess.
But, does anyone really owe anything to a bunch of strangers who may or may not be hiking up a mountain on any given day? If I got a late start so that my climbing partner had to go early and break trail for me, I could see the a$$hat badge applying as a result of my behavior. But, if I follow the tracks of those strangers who wake earlier than I do, I don't think that makes me a butt-wipe.
In other words, I think the concept of trench poaching
ethics may apply to team-oriented efforts, but as an individual on a mountain I don't really owe anything to the strangers around me, and they don't really owe anything to me (at least in terms of trail breaking efforts -- I'd always give up a summit attempt to help someone in an emergency). But, even with that said, sometimes a team will willfully elect to have certain people break trail, while others do not. In the past I've willingly broken trail for a group of weaker climbers, to improve the odds of everyone getting a chance to summit. At various points in my life I've surely had the opportunity to take advantage of the strength and endurance of someone who was doing better than I was. And, I've certainly traded off trail-breaking duties on a number of trips.