Get out there. Pay attention. Write stuff down. Think like a guide.

WRITE Stuff Down

Early on in my Mt. Baker 'mountain education' I learned to write down the details in a log book like a guide does.  Pertinent information includes temps, snowpack depth, observations, who I skied with on that day, what we skied, and more.  It has become a strong hold for me to look back on and see what the past years gave me in terms of skiing, avalanche danger and cycles.

I found that this has given me a mountain bible of sorts to go back to and see how much I have progressed and how to approach the bigger goals that I may have.  It is hard to remember every detail when skiing over 100 days each year.

Have EXPLORATION Days

Go out and reserve some days to just get a new place figured out.  Expect not to ski much and to just have your mind blown.  It is important mentally to give yourself new challenges.  It can't always be physical in our complicated mountain world.  The mountains are complicated and need your full attention. 

No EXPECTATIONS

If you are set on summiting at all costs or touring all day just to ski a specific line, you could be blowing it.  When you make plans from your living room or apartment you are cheating yourself and the mountains.  I always have a "Let's see when we get there attitude". Conditions change by the minute in the mountains and you are just asking for an accident or a mishap if you aren't being honest with yourself and the mountains.  How to combat this conundrum?  Have goals but make them loose, with 2nd and 3rd options.  Always be prepared for everything, but you can really slow yourself down by bringing too much gear or being over-prepared.  I throw a lot of gear into my truck and make decisions at the trail head on what to bring; ice axe, crampons etc.  It is a group decision.  If one of you has axes and nobody else does what is the point?

Remove The HUMAN FACTOR

If you have an issue or don't like the way someone is acting in the mountains, take care of it.  Confront the issues.  Choose your partners wisely and over communicate if you have to.  There is a big difference between a STOKER and a KOOK.  It will be those relationships that will make you succeed or flounder. It isn't a popularity contest.  Don't travel in large groups.  Nowadays I see massive groups in the backcountry.  9+ people all wanting to be tagged in on the same adventure.  Keep it small, 3-4 max.  I never ski with more than 4 as a group.  With 4, you can break off 2 and 2.  3 is the magic number. 

Have FUN 

I have been in the hospital for way too many injuries as a result of giving'er!  Peer pressure and the human factor can lead to carnage.  In the end the days you will remember is when you get intimate with the mountains along side like minded friends who care about you and your future.

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