Ready for winter? How crazy is too crazy?

As backcountry skiers, we all have most likely been in a situation where we had to “justify” ourselves as backcountry skiers to someone else. We had to explain that what seems crazy to most is very natural to us.

As a society, I believe, we are now a bit too far beyond the safety boundaries, and I mean on the safety side. If you don’t have a mortgage, take course for everything you want to try and don’t take a shower at least twice a day, you are close to be an outlaw by today’s standards.

Then of course many people literally think that you are crazy just because you prefer to ski in a human-uncontrolled enviroment.

We all know that backcountry skiing is potentially dangerous but we understand, through experience, that you have a lot of control over your destiny while gliding down untracked slopes.

Is there then anything that a backcountry skier considers to be crazy? Apart from scientists and politicians what is too crazy for us?

Well, no one can define for anyone else but the below video shows something pretty darn crazy to me. How about you?

These flying guys are over the top for me but at the same time I feel every bit of energy in this video. After all it’s amazing that humans can fly with such a precision, for so long and without engine support.

But I wanted to share this footage with you because it always makes me think about the boundaries of human adventure.

What is safe enough and what is worth some risk? I try to answer these question from time to time and the answer changes from time to time. The more the winter goes on and the more mileage I have under my belt I feel more comfortable with more variety of situations. Then some times I get slapped but fortunately just enough to get me thinking again.

So my “balanced” conclusion usually is that we should live for moments but never forget that there are moments to have tomorrow too. Because of this I some times miss a good run and it used to piss me off. It doesn’t piss me off anymore because I know I ski enough to get my moments too.

What’s too crazy for you?

Do you ski no matter what? Does your perception of risk change as the winter passes and over a course of longer time? What makes you think twice?

Share your opinion with others in the comments below or just think for a second what’s worth what. It’s all good the snow is on its way ;)

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  1. The two points are well put James: “1) how experienced you are, and 2) how selfish you are”.

    I think, more or less, sooner or later, we all thing along the same way lines and by that I mean backcountry skiers, sky divers and general public think almost the same. The only difference is what all of us perceive as “experience” or “risk”. Everyone has different understanding (level of acceptance) of the two.

    But that doesn’t mean that I am willing to accept a higher risk just because I am a backcountry skier in any area of life. I accept it only in areas where I feel I have a fair control over my destiny, and that’s why I don’t invest in a stock market or sky dive :)

  2. I remember snowshoeing and skiing when I was 20-ish and not really knowing jack about avalanches. Formally that is. I had an eye-opener at about 25 so took some courses, read some books, and really started paying attention. Now, at 31 with a family and a mostly solo bc traveler, I take stock of every situation. Sure, there’s always risk, heck, there’s risk in everything. It all comes down to 1) how experienced you are, and 2) how selfish you are. Every once and a while, I’ll be very selfish and go beyond my experience. I feel guilty afterward because I put at risk my daughters life with a father and my wife’s life with a husband. Personally, when I’m out there, I try to think less of what might happen to me (I become spring grizzly feed) and more about what I might take away from those that care for and need me. I guess my point is that my decision making matrix is more complex than just snow stability tests, weather patterns, terrain, etc. It involves a human component that often outweighs all.

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