Vail Daily letter: East Vail egos
Minturn, CO Colorado
Over the past several years I have noticed a reoccurring theme in the Vail sidecountry, specifically in the East Vail area.
You might expect an area that sees mostly local, advanced riders to be a great place to share the love of backcountry riding and possibly even meet a new ski partner or crew. Unfortunately, from my perspective, there is a sense of holier than thou, bro-brah elitism that creates an almost unwelcome vibe in a truly wilderness setting.
In my experience, many of the people I meet out there are more worried about “their” line getting skied before them than they are trying to meet someone new or even have an intellectual discussion about the area or avalanche danger. The simple question of “How’s it going, man?” will get a reply of “Pretty good. Where are you guys going?”
I understand the need to avoid dropping in on people in avalanche-prone terrain. However, most people are not using this mindset. There are days when hundreds of people ski East Vail, many who are not prepared or experienced enough.
It seems that this has caused nearly everyone to assume that they are the local authority and no one else is to be trusted. As the popularity of backcountry riding increases, it is only logical that there will be more and more people in East Vail and areas like it. If you cannot grasp or embrace this concept, there are millions of acres of incredible skiing terrain right across the interstate. However, you would have to work a little harder than the 15-minute bootpack that it takes to get to the sidecountry of one of the busiest ski areas on the planet.
I love East Vail and have been skiing powder there for years, and, if I am lucky and responsible, hope to be doing the same for many more. I also love sharing the experience with others and meeting new people who share the same passion.
Unless your last name is Eaton or Seibert, you had to go with someone who had been there before you. Next time you see someone out there who looks like they don’t belong, how about starting up a friendly conversation instead of ignoring them or even calling them out. Who knows … they might learn something, or you might find they know more about backcountry skiing than you.
East Vail is a huge area that has countless options of terrain that should be shared by all who have the knowledge and skills. If you feel that there are too many people skiing “your” line, slap those skins on and start hiking elsewhere. There’s no room in the backcountry for your ego, and no one cares you have been doing it for 15 years.
Get out there, be safe and have fun – it’s pretty easy to do. I look forward to skiing every day and hopefully I see you out there. I’ll be the one smiling and asking how your day is.
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