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Poaching Trenches

Items that do not fit the categories above.

Is it ok to "poach" a trench?

It's my trench and I put all the hard work into. Stay out of it.
Poaching a trench is good strategy. Less work for me.
Quid pro quo.
Who cares?
It was "there" when I showed up. Give me a break.
This was a problem?
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Re: Poaching Trenches

Postby nebclimber » Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:01 am

I typically choose routes that will lack a trench. One of the draws to climbing in the winter is the feeling of remoteness. Roads, trails, campsites and other signs of man are usually erased by snow. The presence of trenches means there will also be people. It isn't always possible to choose a safe route that will lack a trench. If that is the case I have no problem using a trench, always respect the ski trail though.

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Re: Poaching Trenches

Postby madbuck » Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:01 am

Doesn't bother me either way. Trenches are largely dependent on popularity, so the "issue" can be personally mitigated to a degree by picking less-popular mountains.

Otherwise, some cases of "poaching" are actually improvements. For example:
Packed down snow on common approaches across wind-blown preserves it enough to make the snow more consistent for skiing or snowshoeing, rather than alternating between snow and bare ground.
Some places like Boulder OSMP end up with a nicely runnable trench for a period of time between a big-dump slog and a skating rink. This trench can then be a faster downhill run than summer conditions.
Lastly, multiple trenches (for the sake of not poaching) are aesthetically ugly...with one important exception:
Never, ever, walk on the skin track!

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Re: Poaching Trenches

Postby crossfitter » Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:22 am

When in doubt, there's only one simple rule to follow: don't be an a**hole. (

Using a trench that was already there? Not an a**hole.

Only climbing when there is a convenient trench? Weak, but not an a**hole.

Intentionally starting late to let others lay a trench down so you can cruise? A**hole.

Bragging about how fast/rad you are after letting everyone else break trail? A**hole.

Following someone's trench, catching up and not offering to take over trail breaking? Mega a**hole.
- A mountain is not a checkbox to be ticked
- Alpinism and mountaineering are not restricted to 14,000 foot mountains
- Judgment and experience are the two most important pieces of gear you own
- Being honest to yourself and others about your abilities is a characteristic of experienced climbers
- Courage cannot be bought at REI or carried with you in your rucksack

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Re: Poaching Trenches

Postby MountainHiker » Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:59 am

Fletch wrote:Climbing for ALL the wrong reasons if this is an issue. Why not just plant a flag at the top? :roll:

Red, Rugged, and Rotten: The Elk Range - Borneman & Lampert

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Re: Poaching Trenches

Postby ChrisRoberts » Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:03 pm

I was never aware there was a problem with trench poaching, usually because I'm the only one on the mountain and break my own trail 75% of the time. But if I find a trench, I'm not gonna think twice about using it. If anything I'll build on to it
Some rise, some fall, some climb to get to terrapin
Latest TR: Palisade Mountain

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Re: Poaching Trenches

Postby mrburns » Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:16 pm

altidude wrote:If I can catch up with the person trenching, I'll offer to trade shifts and trench. That or trade with beer :D

"They've got the internet on computers now?" - H. Simpson

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Re: Poaching Trenches

Postby awilbur77 » Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:48 pm

I might just start creating fake trip reports just to watch all the trench poachers show up to a place that has no trench. That'd be funny.

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Re: Poaching Trenches

Postby DaveSwink » Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:53 pm

[quote="awilbur77"]I might just start creating fake trip reports just to watch all the trench poachers show up to a place that has no trench. That'd be funny.[/quote]

Haha! We owe you a beer for Humbolt, BTW.

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Re: Poaching Trenches

Postby Chicago Transplant » Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:49 pm

For me poaching a trench has nothing to do with a lack of ability or desire to put in the effort, its just another tool to increase the chance of success with a limited winter climbing budget. As I said before, I typically only hike once a month in winter because I am a "two sport" athlete and I can only ski when there is snow, so I don't like wasting time on failed summits when I could be skiing. I don't look for trenches to poach, I just climb on sunny days and by the time I get to a peak, someone else has probably already done it since the last snow. Especially on the popular easier peaks I tend to stick to in winter to again, maximize success. I have all the respect in the world for people doing Capitol in winter, but I have no desire to do so myself.

In the times when its a group and there is a trench that needs to be done, I usually put in more work than anyone else out of pure design. The fact is, I freeze my butt off waiting for the trencher to build it, so I would rather spend more of my time trenching and only switching off when I would otherwise stop to rest. For me, in winter going slow is a bit of a liability because I need to move at a certain pace to generate enough heat to stay warm.

I will be the first to admit that I am a fair weather hiker in winter, but it is because when its snowing I am skiing. I don't want to waste a powder day climbing, believe me when its storming I am out in the snow all day and loving every minute of it - the more snow the better. The second the lifts close in April I will be out climbing in whiteouts, breaking trail, often times solo on some 13er no-one has been up since October before winter snows even started. If I decide to "cheat" a little in winter in the name of successful summits, I hope you will all excuse me for it. You are all more than welcome to use my trenches in April and May as payback for the 3 trenches I jack in Jan, Feb and Mar. In a weak snow year like this one people are driving to trailheads that normally would be closed several miles lower, so you're all cheating too, its all good 8)
"We want the unpopular challenge. We want to test our intellect!" - Snapcase
"You are not what you own" - Fugazi
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Re: Poaching Trenches

Postby Oman » Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:59 pm

First World Problem.

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Re: Poaching Trenches

Postby MountainHiker » Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:01 pm

Fletch wrote:
MountainHiker wrote:
Fletch wrote:Climbing for ALL the wrong reasons if this is an issue. Why not just plant a flag at the top? :roll:


I love that little guy! -but you removed your flag. I'm referring to the unattractive sense of entitlement some folks have. This is my mountain! This is my trench! Unreal. Truly unreal.

And to all the purists - leave the GPS, gore-tex, weather reports, and nice little pdf printouts that Bill makes for you at home. That's cheating too.

Not on purpose. That just happened to be the photo I could quickly grab from the summitpost trip report. I picked that photo for trip report because Snowball came out better in it. Plus he does seem to be showing a bit of attitude! I’m holding the NS flag in my summit shot photo.
Red, Rugged, and Rotten: The Elk Range - Borneman & Lampert


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