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The orange pole of death - piste marking weirdnesses

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Just a small note from Nax.

Lovely weather. Top viz.

Come out at the top station - markers to left and right. Wide piste. And then a turn to the right, 90 deg from flat to fast red. A marker on the left (which you can tell since the top is short orange paint, not long orange paint which indicates RH pole). Thing is, there's a HUGE 200m drop 3 meters to the left of the LH pole, with no barrier at all. Just a convex top of flat pisted ground to a giant drop off.

If you don't know the resort like the back of your hand, and in low viz misread the pole as RH rather than LH this would indeed be the Orange Pole of Death.....


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Wed 15-03-17 14:04; edited 1 time in total
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valais2 wrote:
Just a small note from Nax.

Lovely weather. Top viz.

Come out at the top station - markers to left and right. Wide piste. And then a turn to the right, 90 deg from flat to fast red. A marker on the left (which you can tell since the top is long orange paint, not short orange paint which indicates RH pole). Thing is, there's a HUGE 200m drop 3 meters to the left of the LH pole, with no barrier at all. Just a convex top of flat pisted ground to a giant drop off.

If you don't know the resort like the back of your hand, and in low viz misread the pole as RH rather than LH this would indeed be the Orange Pole of Death.....


Sounds scary and dangerous.
Quote:

A marker on the left (which you can tell since the top is long orange paint, not short orange paint which indicates RH pole)


I've never heard of this - is it a standard system of marking piste edges?
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Red Leon wrote:
I've never heard of this - is it a standard system of marking piste edges?

Different systems in different countries - but it should be broadly consistent within country.

Switzerland has long/short orange tips, as above.
France has orange tips on skiers right, no orange tip (so fully black/red/blue/green) on skiers left.

I think Austria/Italy may be different again.
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@ecureuil, based on my limited experience skiing in Italy there could be poles and if you're lucky the colour will represent the grade of piste...but don't bet on it
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ecureuil wrote:
Different systems in different countries - but it should be broadly consistent within country.
I found they weren't even consistent in the Dolomites, but at least if you know there might be a local convention, you can deduce what it might be.

Regarding the 200m drop, I have heard that some countries safeguard more than others.
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@motyl, indeed ... when asked one Swiss said - no of course there's no barrier, it would be stupid to ski over the cliff ...

...an attitude to risk and personal responsibility with which I identify...
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Quote:

France has orange tips on skiers right, no orange tip (so fully black/red/blue/green) on skiers left.


This is one of those things that I've known for a long time... but have to check every time I go skiing as to which the orange is: left or right: due to a shortish of memory space on the old grey disc. At least I do know to look on first run of each visit, and re-establish it firmly in my mind for the trip.

It's a godsend in fog/cloud/whiteout conditions to know you are on the piste, not following just outside.
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In my opinion the Italian piste marking is in fact very consistent. They even tell you on the piste map which pole is left and which is on the right...All the pistes are very well marked, much better then Austria.
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Just thinking about this and recalling a time when I was skiing with my partner in low vis, she was in her 'flat out why bother to turn' phase and since there was no one on the hill she was hurtling everywhere. The cloud was pretty dense at piste level and to my horror whilst following I saw her fail to recognise that the two posts immediately in front of her were not left and right, but two right hand poles, piste-width apart, on a ninety-degree left hand turn of the piste. The deep snow in the 10 metre stream gully into which she fell meant she was unhurt, but every Anglo-Saxon word in the Book of Profanity was uttered in the 20 minutes it took to for her to claw her way back up to the piste.
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@valais2, I did the same (well, apart from the hurtling everywhere bit) in Gressoney on the GnaBug. I could just about see two poles which I thought were left and right and went between them. As I somersaulted into the gully and landed on my back I realised they were actually both on the left. Fortunately, unlike Mr Kite's solid ground, I landed in deep snow. Could have been nasty though, lots of rocks down below. The poles were marked with long orange on the right but I didn't see the right hand poles at all rolling eyes
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Red Leon wrote:
I've never heard of this - is it a standard system of marking piste edges?


+1.
I'm bad enough just at seeing where the actual run goes half the time, never mind being able to tell L from R just by a tiny difference in the top of the pole (assuming that it's not covered in snow, ice, spindrift, hoar etc...).
Worrying: epecially with the non-fenced example given, never mind in poor viz or other bad conditions.
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@valais2, @Yoda, Shocked Shocked
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@valais2, @Yoda, Blush been there done that - a run back into Motteret. Off to the side of the blue piste by 3, 4 m, was convinced I was going correctly. Suddenly upside down in a drift. Took ages to dig self out, and plenty of energy too. I was seriously worried at the time. Of course, no-one around to see the fall or help (even if there was, they wouldn't have seen me, as I wasn't on the piste anyway...).

Lesson learned. "Learn the ways of the poles, young Skywalker".
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I read a novel recently, possibly by Peter James, where the villain took her rich and unsuspecting new husband to the top of the Saulire in Courchevel in bad visibility and somehow enticed him to ski the steep drop into Meribel whereby he fell to his death and she claimed the insurance money. I cannot recall if the lady in question is still at large?


@valais2, you haven’t by chance just got married to a young attractive woman you know very little about?
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Like @Arctic Roll, it's something I know but can't remember which way around... But I only remember to check when it's too late and the vis' is already bad.

@Yoda, you were't the only one. Fortunetely I was following a 'boarder when he did it... so I knew to turn wink
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Sweden has black-and-yellow striped poles to mark "avoid this" areas (e.g. large patches of ice, rocks, etc). Very funny when a little kid decided to ski straight at one at the side of the piste in Are at half-term. Dropped into a two-foot deep hole, stayed upright with skis still on. She was perfectly OK, apart from a telling off from dad.
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adithorp wrote:
@Yoda, you were't the only one. Fortunetely I was following a 'boarder when he did it... so I knew to turn wink


'boarders. The skiing version of a canary down a mine.
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Interesting. I never knew there were left and right poles. What do people do in a whiteout??

(though a 200m drop off a flat bit of piste not roped off is a bit extreme for this half-hearted Darwinist libertarian).
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@horizon, what do people do in a whiteout? ...Answer... often get it wrong. We use the orange markings a lot (to differentiate RH and LH) since we are 'bad weather' skiers - no one on the hill, snow usually great, high quality goggles with the right tint a huge help, done it a lot. Technique in vis where the clouds are passing between outstretched hand and face: ski carefully, find a pole. Determine whether it is LH or RH. Stay the correct side of it and find the next one. Slow but good.
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@dobby, we were at Nax earlier; CH; they did exactly this on patches of boiler plate. Really helpful.
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@johnE, ...sheeeeit.....that explains A LOT ....
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Two weeks ago in Austria I fell from a badly marked piste on to another. It was quite a big crash (very sore head even with helmet, sprained thumb and pinkie), even though I only feel maybe three or four feet. Looking at some of the unmarked and unfenced drops elsewhere in the resort, I could easily have fallen 100m vertically, stopping only when I reached my first tree.
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@magriggs, ...gosh you got away lightly I think. I know something whose cr+p goggles caused them to miss a 1m drop to a piste basher track - broken ribs, collapsed lung, hip broken in five places.
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valais2 wrote:
@magriggs, ...gosh you got away lightly I think. I know something whose cr+p goggles caused them to miss a 1m drop to a piste basher track - broken ribs, collapsed lung, hip broken in five places.


Wow, poor thing! Presumably, falling in to fresh snow, and my forward roll with pike, saved me from a worse outcome.
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Cam someone kindly identify the R and L colour poles please for italy.
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Just look which markings are which side at the top of the first run you do.
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...and to lighten this up a bit, I remember being in a horrible whiteout in Samoens, and thinking to myself "Blimey, I'm bombing along a fair bit for these conditions, I should probably slow down a bit" only for one of those pole markers to loom up out of the gloom... at about half-walking pace.
rolling eyes Stoopid inner ear playing tricks...
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... for me it's the reverse in a white out. Think I am going slowly but find I am really tanking along. Happy days.
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@Richard_Sideways, I'll see that and raise you... then the pole come back past you because you've gone onto a rise without realising and started sliding back down Confused
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Ah yes, those times when you know you've stopped... and then a tree slides past Laughing
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 Poster: A snowHead
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In answer to poppyb I'm not sure if it is standardised - but when ski-ing in a whiteout in Gressoney last year and inching slowly from pole to pole I eventually managed to work out that poles to right had a different length bright orange tip to those on the left. It was a lifesaver at the time (so much so, that I promptly forgot which side has the longer orange strip!) I'd second Adithorp and say remember to check on your first day ski-ing. Just dug out a Serre Chevalier piste map which has a little section about slope signposting and this says there is an orange tip to poles on the right side of the piste and no orange tip to the left.
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@snowlapin, thanks for this. I didnt notice this on Etna or at Limone Piemonte. Both small sites . I wonder if this is just followed at the bigger resorts.
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