Trail edge philosophy: Dish? Curb? other?

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Trail edge philosophy: Dish? Curb? other?

Postby Tom400CFI on 27 Oct 2009, 15:21

I don't know why I don't clarity on this issue...but I don't. So I'm looking for input;

At our resort, we want our trails flat. I'm sure most people agree w/that. Many of our runs are narrowish and have high traffic, so daily they get dished out pretty badly. Every night, we need to pull in the sides, pad the middle and make it flat again. If we have enough time, we might even make it "crowned" a tad to anticipate the skier impact the next day.

The side effect of that is snow "Curbing" on the edge of the trail, along the tree line. Curbing is no good b/c it looks shitty, and it's a bit of a liability if someone goes off the trail (though the curb is often soft, not always). The only way I know how to mitigate this issue is to NOT pull in the sides as aggresively and leave the run somewhat dished. But that looks crappy too, and makes it hard to not leave track marks.

On a very WIDE open run, you can blade it all flat, and leave a radius at the edges for mitigate a curb. The run still looks and skis...flat. But on a narrow run, if you radius both edges, you end up w/a distinctive "dish".
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Re: Trail edge philosophy: Dish? Curb? other?

Postby admin on 27 Oct 2009, 16:08

We have the same problem. On high traffic days, some of the trails become very dished out. Even the wider runs end up with substantially more snow on the side than in the middle. We tend to go with the concept of making a small edge cut every night, and a bigger cut after a busy, high traffic day.

In terms of liability, the question really becomes one of industry standard. Since there is none (officially), litigation regarding a skier injury related to an edge cut would likely lead to an investigation of what "other" ski areas do, to rule-out negligence and to determine if the practice is widespread enough to fall under assumption of risk. Technically, in states like Colorado who have clearly defined ski safety legislation, changing snow conditions and features, natural or manmade, are considered "inherent risks." Granted, an ambulance-chasing attorney would probably get a fair settlement out of a ski area for such a situation, regardless of its definition as an inherent risk.

Common sense comes into play when I'm out cutting an edge. A reasonable cut is fine, but if you're cutting and leaving a 6 foot vertical wall, that may be a bit much! :shock:

I think the reality is, if your edge cut is truly on the edge very near to the tree line, you're not in too much danger from a liability standpoint. If someone collides with the wall, he was skiing too close to the edge anyway. If, however, you are cutting your edge 10 feet out from the actual edge... that might be an issue.

Also, if you have to make a big cut and you have the time to make an extra edge pass or two, you could probably step or slant the resultant wall down pretty nicely.
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Re: Trail edge philosophy: Dish? Curb? other?

Postby troutriver on 27 Oct 2009, 23:49

Good subject guys. I struggle with the same thing as I mainly winch and overhaul runs. I have actually had complaints after making runs flat again. "took the character out of it" . As I skier, I would agree sometimes, but thats getting off track. I have to say, I will leave a big cut when I have to do a rebuild that has waited too long. Sure it might look bad along the sides for a few days, but the main portion of the run sure is better. Yes, I do make the cut as close to the tree line as makes sense and feather them out at crossing points, intersections and such. Just use some common sense. Sometimes I will make the "cut" a bit inside and then make final passes along the outsides to feather from the tree line to my cut, on a downhill pass as you are less likely to leave track marks or get in trouble. Yeah, you might spill out some cookies to chase uphill yet again. It's all in how particular you are I guess. Mainly, I get pissed that so many flat track boys are too lazy or don't know how to work the trails a little bit every night, so I am very glad to see this subject brought up. The flex tiller has sure made for an awesome product, but it has made for a generation of alot of lazy and ignorant operators who never got to learn how to properly blade in order to get a satisfactory product from behind a roller, powder maker or straight tiller!! Its sounds like you both take the initiative to try different things and thats why we are talking..

In short, I have no knowledge of leaving "cuts" being a problem in my area, any more than leaving corduroy right to the edge of the tree trunks along the trails. Both ways can be dangerous. I say work the runs on a frequent basis and leave cuts where required to ensure the "middle" of the run is safe and consistent. Along those lines, do the major trail working on swing shift so the work has time to set up and thus hold up better for the traffic. It doesn't always work that way, but I have times when I blade everything out early and have grave come till it out early in the shift after the newly moved snow has time to set up.

I look forward to learning from this discussion and trying some new approaches as the season gets going!
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Re: Trail edge philosophy: Dish? Curb? other?

Postby Canadianbombar on 28 Oct 2009, 15:33

It seems to be a damned if you do...damned if you don't type thing. Last year our mountain manager stipulated he wanted to see 4 feet of space between the trees and the groomed pass so we're not "leading people into the trees". That's great...but...where does all the snow from the trail end up at the end of the day? Dumped on that last 4 feet...that's where....so you have to cut it to the trees to pull it back on to the run. We went the entire month of January without seeing snow....I was literally back blading snow from BETWEEN trees on the side of the run to get enough to cover the rocks etc. We didn't hear much from "The Man" about his 4 foot rule that month. If you leave a cut on the edge it can sometimes stop people that would have otherwise gone airborn into the trees. Leaving dished cord on the trail edge can also lead people closer to the trees....but can also kick them back on to the run if they get into trouble while pointed downhill. Plain and simply...it's a damned if you do...damned if you don't. Personally...I cut next to trees and dish if I'm grooming a run with more open bowl next to it.
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Re: Trail edge philosophy: Dish? Curb? other?

Postby troutriver on 28 Oct 2009, 20:51

Yep, damned either way most of the time is right, all we can do is try to leave a good product, and use our best judgement if we are given the opportunity to do so. The opinions will be as numerous as the changes in the terrain.
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Re: Trail edge philosophy: Dish? Curb? other?

Postby troutriver on 29 Oct 2009, 20:18

Wait a minute, first things first...lets get the tracks on and do some packing this season before we rebuild any trails!! I can't wait!
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Re: Trail edge philosophy: Dish? Curb? other?

Postby Tom400CFI on 30 Oct 2009, 18:04

troutriver wrote:Yep, damned either way most of the time is right, all we can do is try to leave a good product, and use our best judgement if we are given the opportunity to do so. The opinions will be as numerous as the changes in the terrain.

Some excellent posts, and input. Thank you. All of the input pretty much matches all of my thinking;
*Blade to pull in snow
*Then go back and smooth, IF you have time
*But corduroy to tree's edge and lift towers is leading/not safe? Kind of. A buffer is nice.
*But a buffer can turn into something ugly and can be a waste of snow/resource/product, so you...
*blade to fix, and pull in the snow?

You can probably see why I have no clarity on the issue. Common sense and specific location/situation is the answer, but not everyone on the crew has it/gets it/sees it. I guess training is the part of the solution, since there isn't a clear cut answer.
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Re: Trail edge philosophy: Dish? Curb? other?

Postby admin on 30 Oct 2009, 18:45

Training and experience are the only real teachers for grooming. Talking theory can be helpful, but you still need good training and good experience.

I've only got 1 year in the seat, but I had great training (both at the college, and especially at Mt. Ellen from Grampa Larry and Smurf). Naturally, I've still got a ton to learn, but even after one season, things like cutting an edge seem intuitive. To ignore such tasks would generally leave a sub-par product, and I'm not a fan of a sub-par product!
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Re: Trail edge philosophy: Dish? Curb? other?

Postby Tom400CFI on 03 Nov 2009, 13:09

The reason why I struggle w/this isn't b/c it gets ignored. It's because the crew here works hard at it, but there is no clear solution. They can cut the dish out and leave curbs. Then senior Mgmt complains about the curbs. We go mitigate the curbs by "radiusing" the curb...and you have a dish again. No solution, no clarity. It's a shitty product either way. Summer dirt work, and trail widening would solve or reduce the problem dramatically, but we have what we have to deal with here, trail wise. Hence the original question of how do you deal w/this compromise.
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