A backcountry ethic espoused in some circles is the notion of “spooning your tracks.” What this means, in a nutshell, is that you ski down essentially in adjacent (think parallel, even though they’re not really parallel since you’re not going straight unless you’re Ben) lines so as to minimize the amount of snow disturbed on the descent and to maximize the amount of “virgin” snow available to subsequent skiers.
To those advocating this position, I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty-headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.
Seriously, you want me to spoon my tracks? I got up at 4:30 in the morning and hiked for these turns in the dark. As often as not my group broke the trail. And you, who apparently don’t have a real job, want to sleep in until nine, use the skin track I put in, and have me leave the snow as pristine as possible for your benefit?
That. Ain’t. Happening. I’m going to ski down where I feel like skiing down. If the tracks get spooned, lucky you. If they don’t, that’s my prerogative.
For one, I don’t see the need. Most of my skiing is done in what locals lovingly refer to as the sheep pen, the tri-canyons of Little Cottonwood, Big Cottonwood, and Millcreek. For what it’s worth, most of my time is in Little Cottonwood, the most crowded of them all. The one where the most popular backcountry runs have actually become bumped out on occasion. I’ve never even skied Millcreek.
And yet I rarely if ever feel crowded. I might cross over someone’s tracks now and again, but that really doesn’t ruin the experience for me. If it does for you, get up earlier, or go somewhere else. We have thousands of acres with approaches that would be considered negligible in Colorado or Idaho that hardly ever get skied because they take five minutes longer to get to.
Besides, most of the time in the Wasatch if it snowed today, there’s a good chance it’ll snow tomorrow. My tracks will be hidden. I may put new tracks down the following day since I’ve been known to get up early for consecutive powder days. But yesterday’s tracks will be a faded memory. You’re more than welcome to get up early and put in your own. With 500 inches annually, we don’t have a shortage of fresh snow.
The place where spooning tracks actually makes sense is in the resorts. Resort skiing concentrates thousands of skiers in one tiny spot where they have the ability to get back up the hill incredibly quickly and with zero effort. Unless you consider eating a PBJ or a handful of M&Ms effort. Yet nobody ever considers spooning their tracks at the resort. It’s every man for himself, get the freshies as fast as you can. And it’s usually gone by noon.
The Wizard, on the other hand, rarely skis anything but powder, no matter how long it’s been since the last snowfall. It’s out there. It’s almost always out there if you know how to find it. But please don’t ask me to save some for you if you’re home in bed while I’m skinning.