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Responsible route finding?

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Responsible route finding?

Postby vdavidoff » Thu Jan 31, 2013 10:38 pm

This question may be primarily due to the fact that I am a novice route finder, but I'll ask it anyway, because I'm curious...

When route finding in the snow, do you only consider what you're comfortable with, or do you consider that someone may come behind you and follow your trail?

I don't want to speak for anyone else, but for me the goal on trail in snow is to follow an existing route to the best of my ability, with any deviation being safe and generally in the right direction. However there are times when exactly the best decision might not be clear. If you find yourself in a spot where you're just not sure which way is best, and will be laying fresh tracks, do you ever consider turning back to avoid the possibility of leading someone else astray if you make an incorrect decision?

One of the things I always keep in mind is that just because there are tracks, that doesn't mean they go where I'm supposed to be headed, but I don't know if everyone thinks that way, or if I should assume that they do. Just curious if there's any standard etiquette or standards for this.

Andy

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Re: Responsible route finding?

Postby Scott P » Thu Jan 31, 2013 10:45 pm

In the end you have to be responsible for your own self and shouldn't rely on someone else's trail to make all your decisions.

On the other hand, I remember when someone fell into a snow cavern next to a waterfall on Mount Timpanogos, Utah. When rescuers went to go pull out the body where it was known that the climber fell, it was the wrong body. The correct body was under the other one and it was thought that the second person met his death by following the footprints of the first victim.

When it comes down to it though, we're all responsible for our own safety.
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Re: Responsible route finding?

Postby thebeave7 » Thu Jan 31, 2013 10:59 pm

Andy,
That is a very good and valid question and for the most part I agree with Scott. Too many people now a days simply go out assuming since there is a track or trail it'll be safe and easy to follow. In the winter especially (though happens in summer too) this isn't a good assumption. Always know your intended route and destination and carry a map. But more importantly know how to use and read said map, so that if any confusion or uncertainty arises you can correctly navigate yourself where you need to go.

I've harped on many in the trail running community who simply think that since there are trails they can't get lost in the mountains, thus never carry a map, and have no clue how to navigate if something went amiss. As Scott said, would you trust someone else's ability (without knowing them) to keep you safe? Personally I'd rather control my own path/fate, but I'm a bit of a control freak in that way :roll:

Eric
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Re: Responsible route finding?

Postby BobbyFinn » Fri Feb 01, 2013 12:31 pm

The only thing a cairn really means is that someone else was once there and put some rocks in a pile. More than once I've followed a cairn that lead me away from where I was going because "Oh look! A cairn! Let's go that way!"

Same with tracks in snow. My tracks show where I went, but that might not be where you're going. I don't worry about those who follow my tracks because 1) they are my tracks, 2) people walking around in the mountains in winter are hopefully a bit more aware than the average gaper(a) in the summer, 3) people must be responsible for themselves and getting a little off track every now and then fosters a healthy sense of self-reliance & map reading, and 4) trench poachers are evil(b).


(a) I only used this because of the recent thread on gapers.
(b) Except when I do it.
"Mind what you have learned. Save you it can." - Yoda
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Re: Responsible route finding?

Postby 12ersRule » Fri Feb 01, 2013 12:53 pm

BobbyFinn wrote:The only thing a cairn really means is that someone else was once there and put some rocks in a pile. More than once I've followed a cairn that lead me away from where I was going because "Oh look! A cairn! Let's go that way!"


Well said, but it also indicates to me that danger isn't imminent because the person who built the cairn felt safe enough to build it.

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Re: Responsible route finding?

Postby cougar » Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:07 pm

49ersRule wrote: BobbyFinn wrote:The only thing a cairn really means is that someone else was once there and put some rocks in a pile. More than once I've followed a cairn that lead me away from where I was going because "Oh look! A cairn! Let's go that way!"


Well said, but it also indicates to me that danger isn't imminent because the person who built the cairn felt safe enough to build it.


I followed cairns for over a mile (and a lot of climbing and elevation gain) to the base of some ~5.10 climbing routes instead of the class 3 route I was expecting/intending to take. The route I actually wanted was about a half mile away on another ridge and was totally uncairned.

As for snow, I've had problems following tracks before that didn't go where expected, so I don't rely solely on them for navigating. They can go anywhere or nowhere. And I've put down tracks that I've backtracked from or gone the wrong way.

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Re: Responsible route finding?

Postby ChrisRoberts » Sat Feb 02, 2013 2:57 pm

cougar wrote:
I followed cairns for over a mile (and a lot of climbing and elevation gain) to the base of some ~5.10 climbing routes instead of the class 3 route I was expecting/intending to take. The route I actually wanted was about a half mile away on another ridge and was totally uncairned.


Which brings us to the ultimate rule of cairns, which is follow them at your own risk.
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Re: Responsible route finding?

Postby BobbyFinn » Sat Feb 02, 2013 3:54 pm

ChrisRoberts wrote:
cougar wrote:
I followed cairns for over a mile (and a lot of climbing and elevation gain) to the base of some ~5.10 climbing routes instead of the class 3 route I was expecting/intending to take. The route I actually wanted was about a half mile away on another ridge and was totally uncairned.


Which brings us to the ultimate rule of cairns, which is follow them at your own risk.


And tracks in snow!
"Mind what you have learned. Save you it can." - Yoda
"Rudeness is a weak person's imitation of strength." - Paul Arel

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