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Bit of a naughty one this, possibly not in keeping with the general forum so no worries if the SJ dudes put a stop to it, but was just reading back on a few of the trip reports and there was a great post in one of the nozawa ones (JAs trip report) about the ski patrol confiscating your pass... but not really. So it makes me wonder.


As a rope ducking soap dodger, this is prima real estate info... so just figure a nice thread (not necessarily about the dangers of the slackcountry (though that would be AWESOME - actually, ill add in that as an extra thing)), but more about ski patrol policy in general/experience. I figure to keep this to lift access/minimal hiking stuff because im a cheeky self interested and lazy scamp like that.


I know i LOVE lists like this and they never quite pay off, but that kind of thing doesnt deter me. Im thinking a numerical scale... in two minutes ill pull the categories and numbers out of my ass; potential rope ducking pit falls; and anything else relevant. Oh and if you dont want to openly state info, you can of course PM me and ill anonymise it for you. Basically the chances of having your pass pulled is the real driving force rather than the chance of getting yourself killed.


So lets see.


Resort name/area:

Ski patrol aggro level (1 to 7):

Why the ropes, man? (optional):


Heres what im thinking:


Resort name/area: allows you to vaguealize/specify youre info.

Why the ropes, man?: is really just potential serious dangers to fear like cliff drops, streams, getting seriously lost, no access back to lifts. Can be specific relating to a known line or vague relating to general resort dangers ducking ropes.

Finally,Ski patrol aggro level scale might look like this:


1 Absolutely couldnt give less of a shit. No/very few ropes. Its all yours. (kamui) (no warning and probably info on the best places to slide)

2. Duck under the ropes and you pay for your rescue otherwise, have a laff! Blatant ducking of ropes not a problem. (myoko/kagura) (no warning, some nice advice on spots to avoid in slackcountry)

3. Alright, you made an effort, we might come after you, but so long as your sly and not doing it in front of the lifties with your twenty mates well probably turn a blind eye. Youre still paying for it if we come after you though. (possible warning)

4. Slackcountry system in place (tomamu/happo/niseko). Rope ducking is still naughty... (few ropes, possible confiscation due to abuse)

5. Stop ducking the ropes ffs. (furano). (probable warning and possible confiscation of pass)


7. Duck ropes and we dont care if you have a season pass, youre out. (mean goryu - not a true story).


Basically im obviously thinking about my lovely lines in nozawa and wondering what it might mean for my season pass. But thought itd make a cute topic in general :p

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Ok this is going to be harsh but here goes.   Ippy Tommy Australia is not my responsibility in an Internet forum. I'm more than happy to share lines with people if I meet and ride with them. A rope

I can't claim to know as many patrol/rescue people at Niseko as GN no doubt does, but since a long gondola ride with one patroller several years ago (after which I stopped ducking ropes) I take every

I do not hold any view to protect any line. This Forum is used as an information gateway for many holiday makers which tend to be in the mid range level. I have met many SJ people and I'm not trying t

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I don't suppose I have a problem with this but please keep in mind our position and the fact that we do not wish to unduly annoy any ski resorts out there, and certainly don't want to have anything up here that would get us/anyone into trouble.

Apart from anything else, we have much more important things to be spending our time on that will be to everyones benefit.



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its okay, itll drop off the first page anyways (along with my beginner resorts, season pass, bus timetables, and whatever the hell else collation thread i try and do) within the day never to be seen again. :) Plus thats why i numbered it. No details (other than safety), but also a great way for ski patrol masquerading as users as well to put the willies up us with threats of total expulsion at their resort. Its unscientific. Would love to have the actual De facto policies from the horses mouth so to speak but realise that would always be either the liability line (absolute not at any time ever) or be seen as tacit rope ducking approval and thus get them into trouble liability wise. So really, ski patrollers are best not to get involved except to tell us the official resort line. :wave:

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Posting that hard earned info on the net is probably going to be detrimental to the sport of rope ducking.

I can only recommend that people get some avy knowledge so you can decide if that rope is there to keep you honest or keep you alive, there is a massive difference.

PS I dont duck ropes, I jump them.

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i have my certificate. This thread is a morality free zone. You duck a rope you take responsibility for the risks. Thats why the emphasis isnt on whats behind the ropes but the people shouting "oi you! get orf moi laaaand!!!" :grandpa:

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My experience on Hokkaido is you don't need to duck ropes to access the goods.


I don't duck ropes, many do.


Most patrollers get angry if they see you do it.


The only times I've heard of people losing their passes is when skiing Mizuno-zawa and Haro-no-taki between Niseko Village and Niseko Hirafu.

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ive only been shouted at once. It was at akakura onsen/akakan. Stupidly i decided to spend a day at akakura onsen just to see if i was missing anything (other than a 7 year old genius on a kicker, i was only missing riding any other resort except bloody akakura onsen). However i noticed that one of the lifts was really really close to my favorite bit of akakan (the fun bumpy steep mogul field on the border of akakura onsen - i forget its name) so decided to poach it. It jsut required a small 5 or so foot drop. Nae bother! Had a great run down there. Enjoyed it thoroughly, and ninjad back to akakura. Did it again, but this time got a bit more adventurous and instead of dropping into the course, stayed above it and followed a disused lift line. It pulled me out at some building (was it a ski jump or something?), i realised it was too proper broken up ice (basically like the stuff you find when the cats have groomed the roads - serious crud shit), so had to take the walk of shame down to the lift. Unfortunately there was a dude in a cat grooming it. He drove right for me and then bollocked me. I said i got lost. He told me to stop being a ****ing idiot (i assume) and get back on the course. It was my first and only bollocking And of all the places for it to happen, it was myoko. I kinda like that :party:

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Happo....they will insist you hand over your pass....if you get nabbed. I saw it twice two seasons ago but curiously not last season where I thought there was much more ducking going on....

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actually lets have at this:


Resorts ive ducked ropes in part 1:


1. Myoko Suginohara:


Plenty of lift runs. Havent really gone up and out of teh boundaries. by hiking beyond the top lift (the actual myoko offpiste by the way) So really only ropes are under lifts and blocking off paths that lead to nowhere. never caught. General open policy on ropes, seen people duck in front of patrol. No bother. Lots of signs on resort saying that if they rescue you, youre paying.


Ski patrol Agro level: 2-3. I assume some lines are more serious than others.


Pitfalls: A few serious cliff drops within the rope boundaries. You can see one of them near the top. There are some treacherous areas on suginohara. This isnt really a safe place to duck the ropes in truth. Also approached quite a serious blind drop running a disused lift line. Definitely be careful. Plenty of pow to hit up in suginohara without necessarily having to do a serious rope ninja. Then again, when people get pow starved, they do stupid shit. :)


2, Kagura:


Loads to hit up. A few ropes here and there, usually under the lifts. Massive area to play in.


Ski Patrol Aggro level: 1.


I know i know. But honestly people duck by their hundreds to ride under lifts and on the little powder area off the top lift between the ridge lines on skier left of the resort. In fact, speaking of the top lift, i ducked the rope, popped to the side facing tashiro (pretty dodge little area). And then two patrol popped under, i thought "oh noes!" they stood there, and chatted to each other about the sketch parts they needed to go and have a look at then off they went leaving me to ride blatant slackcountry. Its massive laissez faire. You aint getting aggro from ski patrol here.


Risks: Aside riding up that second ridge line which does look pretty sketch and is that magic gradient (between 25-38 degrees) for slide activity with a trigger (saw plenty of lines cutting way the hell up that face that scared me by their sheer stupidity), the big danger in kagura is the depth of the pow. If its beyond chest deep be way careful out there.


3. Nozawa:


Three ridge lines, with clearly some scope for off piste between them. Ive only found one real slackcountry line though. Ill find the others :p Not an overabundance of ropes, but certainly a decent amount to block people coming off the designated courses and getting caught out. Trees are pretty dense between uenotaira and ushikubi area so not many options to explore. really the lines are going to come from the top and around the flanks.


Ski Patrol Aggro: No idea. But i have a feeling its naughty and not that allowed so probably between a 3 to a 5.


The reason for this pulled out of my kiester number is this: yamabiko has a clear sign saying youre leaving the resort boundaries but has no ropes, which makes me think theyve made a decision to allow some off piste based entirely on safety decisions. Theyve opened up parts they think is personal risk already, so the parts they rope off clearly dont qualify to those standards. And ill come to this in a second.


Risks: the one line i took is sketch as hell. Brilliant line, terrifyingly dangerous. Dont ride this without friends and without knowing what youre doing. Its a terrain trap . I wouldnt let you ride it either and i would bollock the shit out of you if you didnt have a backpack with your safety gear. If you did have your safety gear i might be more laissez faire, but then again, it leads to some horrendous looking crash barriers that if youre carried into them, youre pretty much dead. So there you go. :) I imagine other offpiste lines are much of an ilk.

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at Kagura last Saturday, they had the Challenge course (??) at Tashiro roped off.....for no apparent reason.....but that was the best run of the day. Loads of people were doing it and the lifty was sitting in his cabin watching us/everyone and didn't give 2 hoots.


At Inawashiro the patrol are pretty strict......I didn't even duck a rope, but headed into the unroped trees and they blew their whistle chased after me and told me that the forest was a no-no......but then they said I could ride under the lift.....I was a tad confused

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I think the thing to remember is that if you screw up other people may have to risk their lives trying to save your sorry ass.

``It's my responsibility'' unfortunately ain't how it works.

Ski patrol isn't going to say, ``Well, he ducked so screw him.''

They're going to go out to rescue you, maybe in severe avalanche conditions.

(Yes, and I've ducked ropes in the past. Guilty as charged, and lucky enough never had to pay a price.)

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yeah, we know the risks. We understand the situation. We still duck ropes. I know we need to throw out the disclaimers. I definitely feel the need every time i chat about an off piste line to really ram home the dangers, but i really want to keep the morality out of it. Think of the post for instance i made above there. It states the ski patrol aggro factor and explains why the ropes are there by talking about some of the risks ive encountered or noted whilst popping behind the ropes in the spirit of exploration.


Often times in the desire not to encourage other people to take the risks we are comfortable to take we go with the "i dont want to encourage it by talking about it" policy which maybe once upon a time was a sensible policy, but times really have changed. Snowboarding in particular over the last few years has seen a real push to slackcountry. I think if you ask some old timers out there right now theyll tell you that the traffic in slackcountry has massively increased over the past few years.


I would then posit that silence is actually becoming more dangerous than the prospect that you might encourage people into slackcountry by talking about it. People are going into slackcountry. Theyre doing it in complete ignorance and through a complete disrespect or misunderstanding of why ropes are where they are and the possible unseen risks that they simply havent accounted for. Its incredibly dangerous. Silence is actually harmful in this situation and leads to people like me turning up at some random resort and basing decisions about safety based on the number of lines i see heading in a certain direction. The problem here is that much more often than not the choice is rewarded by fresh lines and face shots along with the thrill of not fully knowing where this is all going and having a spot of danger. It beats the hell out of the groomers. You also get to join in on a super mega secret, and become part of the pirtae club. Which in itself is pretty fun. All this in turn encourages more rope ducking in the future and a complete disregard for safety and of course the ropes themselves and a more careless level of exploration. Its an extremely complex situation.


The best policy as far as ive always believed (im a good Foucaldian) is open discussion and allowing people to make the decision on their own risk level based on accurate and clear information and not on staying silent about the risks just in case they might be tempted by the positives. Its clear rope ducking is very dangerous. Any good rope ducker knows theyre rolling the dice every time they follow a line theyve sort of worked out from sitting in the lift or gondola. It just seems like more often than not the desire to not encourage it (for good reasons) can actually have much more dangerous knock on consequences. I hope you get me and i hope you realise i always have a good reason for the stuff i do :) I think its just a lot more complicated than if we dont talk about we keep it taboo and thus discourage people from doing it. I genuinely think we're past that point.


That tangent aside, moral free zone, unless of course you want to argue the point, which is fine. The more discussion on safety the better at the end of the day :)

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I think half the reason the have to be strict about it is that if one person ducks, everyone else sees their tracks and follows suit and assumes that it is safe - next thing you know, youve gotten someone else killed


in addition to the areas mike mentioned,


Niseko Hirafu - Super Ridge

level 5 - 7 (often instant pass pulled)

Ive seen many ski patrollers hanging around on the other side of the ridge, and even hiding in the trees, waiting and pulling passes as people come back in bounds. Seen one or two season passes pulled too. Such a risk for only 4 extra turns, lol. the reason is because there is a cliff there, and it avalanches regularly i assume (no trees is a dead giveaway, pun intended)


Niseko - the Rope between gate 4 and 5 (above hanazono 3 quad) and between 2 and 1.

Level 5 or 6 (they call ahead to other ski patrol waiting at the bottom)

Is funny seeing people duck the rope 5 mins before the gates open. then all they do is ski 1m next to the rope, where everyone can see them. may as well wave it in patrollers face. idiots deserve losing pass.


generally otherwise ive not had troubles in Niseko, because most other ropes can be skied around above or below, so I dont have to "duck" (but still ducking in the spirit of the rope). they just seem to be there to keep the noobs out from getting stuck.

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Precisely the point i made here:


Silence is actually harmful in this situation and leads to people like me turning up at some random resort and basing decisions about safety based on the number of lines i see heading in a certain direction.

The problem for me is thinking back to my own self (id like to say two years ago, but i might as well say next week), the more lines leading off somewhere, the more "safe" it appears in your head. Its a vicious circle. People duck ropes. People see the lines and think, this is alright looking, they duck ropes. More lines means more people assuming its safe and ducking the ropes. Suddenly the rope is seen as arbitrary and having no genuine function other than keeping you out of prima powder and on the groomers like a good little sheep. This in turn leads to a complete disrespect for the ropes as a whole and some serious future risk taking when it bites you on your ass.

This actually brings up another point kinda ancillary to this thread but none the less part of the whole discussion - The niseko rules. If theres one place i dont really duck ropes its at niseko. The reason is two fold - one: there are barely any ropes anyways. And 2: you rationalise that since there are so few ropes, and so much open terrain, and some of it is the kinda stuff that might be locked up at your favorite resort, that there must be a bloody good reason why theyve chosen to rope off the parts they have. The lack of ropes makes you much more respectful toward them. I dont think thats a coincidence.

But tangent 2 aside:


4. Kamui:

Overall policy is phenomenal. Not only are there almost no ropes (theres a couple under lifts - i er, ducked them - sorry kamui for completely invalidating my previous point on niseko - but you can see the gondola run top to bottom is absolutely fine to ride :p). No one seemed to mind. But on top of this the resort publishes clear avalanche reports for the off piste area (basically off the back). Brilliant stuff.


Patrol aggro rating: can i give it a zero? No? Okay, 1 then.


Risks: isolation primarily. The resort isnt huge, but i assume they carry a similarly proportionate ski patrol size. You can get pretty lost in places particularly around those tree runs (a b and c courses was it?). Hard to even recognise them as courses. One tree run blends into another. Next thing you know yours is the only line left and youre suddenly heading off into a bunch of evergreens. Which is danger number 2. Dont know how serious this danger is, but evergreens scare me. I always worry about tree wells. If you ride this place alone be sure to carry a phone with you for emergencies (and possibly have the ski patrol phone number). I took a heavy spill after hiking up out of the evergreens the day i went there. Bust my hand. Could have been my leg. Then id have been screwed. So yeah, thats probably the biggest danger (well, that and hitting a tree obviously).

Dont know about going off the back though since i never did it. :)

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The more discussion on safety the better at the end of the day :)


I don't really think this is a thread about safety Ippy. It's more like a cheat sheet for ducking.

I think if youre actually referring to genuine encountered dangers in those areas, its alright. I know we should all respect ropes and that, but people are showing they clearly dont. I understand the mindset really well given that im one of the big offenders. So long as youre tempering your rope ducking with a bit of info about dangers youve encountered its all good. I really tried to not force that on people because i felt it would lead to the massive moral discussion about whether even talking about it makes it less taboo. But as i say, times have changed, its part of the experience now. Its almost like step four on the progression tree. Link a turn, learn to carve, tear up the resort, pop under a rope and ride a lift line then head into the trees.

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Ippy, you seem to have missed my point. It's not about you. Go fall off a cliff, smash into a tree, trigger and die in an avalanche, smother in a tree well and my reaction will be, too bad about Ippy, used to post some good stuff on SnowJapan, wish I'd had a chance to buy him a beer. But if some poorly paid patrol guy with a wife and two young kids gets killed retrieving your body it will be true cause for grief, and if there's such a thing as karma you'd be in for a lot cockroach lives.

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honestly i dont think i did. I took the point. But the response was really to the implied claim that discussions on rope ducking leads to people rope ducking, (You can still buy me a beer though before i shuffle off this mortal coil by the way). My point on the other hand was to suggest that its already happening ad it is very much a part of resort culture. Its not a taboo anymore. A refusal to discuss the areas behind the ropes without the "thou shalt not!" qualifier is just as dodgy in my mind and can lead to just as many ski patrol incidents (more ski patrol incidents i would suggest since theyve been happening long before this thread) with just as many rescuers risking their lives in the aforementioned dangerous terrain. Talking about the potential hazards that ive encountered ducking ropes actually adds to the risk calculations people make when they duck a rope. It helps them realise its not just super secret stashes of awesome pow, but actually some seriously complicated dangers regardless of the number of lines heading off in that direction. The truth is that almost every instance of rope ducking is uneventful. Nothing bad happens, we all carry on and have a great time. So it creates a false idea that its generally safe and that the ropes are theer for no real reason. This is reflected very clearly by the fact that mroe people are venturing under ropes and also explains (symptom/cause?) why so many brands seem to be pushing slackcountry gear. Its booming. Its an extremely complicated issue and i genuinely think theres a place for a kind of meta discussion on it (whether you might think its clear cut or not).


I really wish this thread could have stayed out of this particular morality discussion though. These kind of things always end up somewhere much uglier. :)

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How do you keep morality out of something that has intrinsic moral implications?

There's no moral neutrality to publicizing the means (in this case information/advice) by which someone puts others at risk.

So, go right ahead with this if you want, but don't pretend pouring fuel on the fire is an extinguishing tactic.

Ski patrol and mountain rescue work is tough enough without you telling newbies where they can ``get away with it.''


Beer offer still stands :wave:

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yeah, we know the risks. We understand the situation. We still duck ropes. I know we need to throw out the disclaimers. I definitely feel the need every time i chat about an off piste line to really ram home the dangers, but i really want to keep the morality out of it.


You're just some guy on some internet site. You don't have to care less about disclaimers and pointing out dangers. We're all adults here and can make our own decisions on what we perceive as acceptable risk or not.

As with Mike I generally don't duck ropes at Niseko. On the whole there's no need. The only time I have in recent years is on the nighta. There are certain nights when the cloud layer is just at the right height where the lighting reflects off and really lights up a large area even well away from the lights themselves. On those nights I have been known to duck a rope or two to access some off-piste. It's not blocked off because of avi danger or anything but obviously because there's no lights and normally visibility would be very limited.

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I see way more gaij ducking than native Japanese and I imagine a fairly large percentage of those foreigners ducking aren't residents in Japan. I guess its my old man mentality surfacing here but when you duck those ropes don't you have any concerns regarding insurance and not being covered in the event of getting charged for a search and recovery situation?


There's also a part of me that feels...unless you live here and have been paying into the system as a citizen you shouldn't be screwing around taking risks that will ultimately tax our society. Because I know the Japanese....being the gracious hosts they are.......will send you on your way back to your own country with a slap on the wrist while I get your lovely contribution to raising my taxes.

But hey....I spend half my day yelling at people to stop going to the hospital.....for a F'ing cold.

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I guess its my old man mentality surfacing here but when you duck those ropes don't you have any concerns regarding insurance and not being covered in the event of getting charged for a search and recovery situation?


Of course they don't.

The only concern that have is their own enjoyment and what they want to do.

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