The Ten Nots
By Andrew McLean

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Originally published in Couloir Magazine

FOUR SCORE AND A FEW YEARS AGO, our Forefathers and Foremothers foreskinned upon thy powder and declared it good. With few people and many wide-open spaces, peace and happiness reigned supreme in the Kingdom of Powder. Meeting others along the trail was a joyous occasion, often leading to social intercourse or a ritual smoking of the Peace Pipe. Turns were made, smiles were wide and a great happiness settled upon the land like snowflakes from the sky.

After much frolicking, intercoursing, and Peace Piping, our Forefathers and Foremothers produced many Foregrommets. These playful tykes procreated like mad until the wide-open spaces werenít quite so wide-open anymore and meetings along the trail were causes for distress instead of joy. A great unease spread across the mountains like a layer of zipper crust. People frowned, cursed and hated thy neighbor. Life was not good.

Watching this from his temple upon Mt. Superior, Mo-Schuss looked down upon his Kingdom of Powder and knew something had to be done. With his trusty Leatherman at hand, he quickly chiseled 10 Suggestions into the back of a shovel blade, donned his soft boots and laid sweeping arcs down the mountain flank with his white robe snapping in the wind behind him. Summoning all disciples to the trailhead with a clap of thunder, he stood on the snowbank and issued the following proclamations: 

1) Thou Shall Not Posthole the Skin Track. 
Booting up a skin track ruins the grip for subsequent skinners and a new track must be broken. If you are going to boot, break a new trail and keep peace in the Powder Kingdom. Punishment for such trespass shall be public lambasting.

2) Thou Shall Not Defecate and/or Urinate in the Skin Track or Upon Public Summits.
Itís just nasty. Men, that means you too. Marking your turf should be left to dogs. The evidence stays around for ages and doesnít get prettier with time. Punishment shall be wearing diapers to a Babes in the Backcountry clinic.

3) Thou Shall Not Steal Thy Partners Line
Also known as poaching, this is a serious breech of etiquette. Whoever breaks the most trail or gets to the top first has reasonable rights of first refusal on what line they are going to take. Following someoneís ski track 2/3rds of the way up and then jumping their line is the most egregious offense possible. Punishment will be to spend a ski season in Georgia. 

4) Thou Shall Not Tailgate The Trailbreaker
Having someone walk up the back of your skis while you are breaking trail is annoying beyond words. Donít do it. Back off, or offer to break trail yourself if the pace is too slow. Plus, itís bad avalanche safety protocol.

5) Thou Shall Not Willingly Cross Thy Neighbors Tracks
Unless by previous agreement, like 8íing tracks, skiing over the top of someoneís fleeting artwork is bad manners, doubly so if you biff. Find fresh lines if you have to, or spoon if you must. Punishment? Cross a track, break your Motherís back. Itís that simple.

6) Thou Shall Not Knowingly Ski Down Upon Thy Neighbor
Risking your own life is one thing, but endangering others with avalanches from above is totally irresponsible. The only exception to this is if they have broken Suggestion #3 and poached your line. 

7) Thou Shall Not Be Late on a Powder Day
Powder waits for no one, and no one likes waiting for snoozers on a powder day. You are your own punishment for this offense Ė you snooze, you lose.

8) Thou Shall Not Ski Without Thy Proper Equipment
Showing up without a beacon or shovel endangers not only you, but your partners as well. Remember the Six Pís Ė Proper Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.

9) Thou Shall Not Guilt Trip Thy Neighbor
Also known as Bad Group Dynamics, this is often a factor in backcountry accidents. A group of skiers is only as strong or fast as the weakest person in the group. If this is a problem, it should be discussed and resolved at the trailhead.

10) Thou Shall Not Disparage Thy Fellow Slider.
Fixed or Free Heeled, one board or two Ė if youíre in the backcountry you are among kindred spirits. This however does not apply to those that bear false witness to the summits by riding helicopters to the top. In that case disparagement is acceptable.

And with that, Mo-Schuss put down his shovel blade and snowflakes began floating down from the heavens. A communal group hug spread through the disciples as a renewed sense of love and harmony settled upon the land once again. Peace pipes were lit in friendship and social intercourse was pursued with vigor. Mo-Schuss looked down up this and smiled. The Kingdom of Powder was whole again and life was good.

Copyright - Andrew McLean Back to Writings Index