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Quick Tips: Managing Groups in Trees

ACMG ski guide Neil Warren here with Splitboard HQ, with a few essential tips to ensure your group stays together and navigates the trees smoothly. When skiing or snowboarding in tree-laden terrain, effective group management is crucial for both safety and enjoyment.

Choose a Specific Fall Line

When you're navigating a tree cone, where multiple fall lines exist, it's important to get on a specific fall line. If you start in the middle of the road, it’s easy for people to diverge onto different fall lines and get completely lost. For instance, we’ve chosen to stick to one definitive side of the cone. By sticking to one fall line, we all remain on the same path, reducing the risk of anyone getting lost.

Agree on Landmarks and Regroup Spots

Before heading into the trees, agree on a landmark across the valley that everyone can aim for. This gives the group a common target and helps keep everyone aligned. Additionally, decide on a specific regroup spot. This is crucial because it ensures that everyone knows where to meet if they get separated, providing a clear plan and reducing confusion.

Ride with a Buddy

When skiing or riding in trees, always pair up with a buddy. The reason is simple: if you or your buddy end up in a tree well, immediate assistance is essential. If the group rolls down independently and someone goes missing, tracking them down can be extremely slow and difficult, especially with multiple tracks from different groups crisscrossing the area. However, if you're riding with a buddy, they’ll notice your absence quickly and can find you faster.

Methods of Riding with a Partner

Simultaneous Riding

Simultaneous riding involves both riders descending together while maintaining verbal contact. Yip or shout back and forth with calls like “Yahoo”. If your partner doesn’t answer, stop immediately and find them. This method keeps communication constant and ensures both riders stay close.


In steeper or more technical terrain, leapfrogging can be more effective. One person descends to a point where they can stop and see or hear their partner. Once they’re in position, they signal the other person to come down past them. This method continues, with each rider taking turns, ensuring both stay within visual or auditory range.

By following these tips, you can enhance both safety and enjoyment when navigating through the trees. Remember, clear communication and sticking together are key to a successful and fun day in the mountains.