Backcountry Skiing News Roundup

Post by blogger | September 24, 2008      

Still on the road from Washington, so a quick news roundup today as I’m blogging from the front passenger seat of the Versa. (Oh, that glare!)

Last summer in Colorado, an Aspen Skiing Co. executive and two partners in Futuristic Films of Denver were busted by the USFS for “unauthorized work activities” while filming last winter in the backcountry around Aspen Highlands. Like virtually all other film shoots on USFS managed public land, they would have gotten away with having no permit if it wasn’t for the death of Wallace Westfeldt during the shoot (he jumped off a cliff and landed on a rock.)

What I found interesting in the article is how Warren Miller films was treated after a similar death in the Wasatch last winter. Turns out they too were operating illegally, but have not had any problems with the USFS to date.

An interesting little piece in the Aspen Daily News digs into a few details of how bogus the USFS film permit system is. Indeed, it’s such a bureaucratic nightmare you basically can’t shoot legally unless you’ve got the time and money to wander through an antiquated system that’s designed for Hollywood style film making that involves things like catering trucks, lighting systems and base camps. In essence, in fashion similar to most poorly constructed or dated laws, it makes criminals of anyone shooting video that can loosely be defined as “commercial.”

Our public lands need stewardship, but we have to temper such with human needs — even commercial needs (since, low and behold, business exists because of our needs). We probably need some sort of commercial film permit system, but something easier to work with. One wonders when or if ever the USFS will update their film policy.

Don’t hold your breath — USFS is still throwing money away managing forest fires based on tradition from 50 years ago, so something like revamping their movie rules is no doubt at the bottom of the list because of limited funds. Besides, sometimes a strict permit policy might be necessary. Ergo, doesn’t TGR use catering trucks? Or was that a Chinook helicopter I saw delivering sushi and PBR to their last film shoot?

Here is a small but potentially explosive item. Up north near Whitefish Montana an outfit is trying to add helicopter skiing to the mix. Worth watching how this progresses.

In Utah and Colorado, we’ve got two important fund raisers coming up for our avalanche info folks. In Utah, be sure to attend the Black Diamond sponsored event. As for Colorado, since our big “Avalanche Jam” fundraiser got canceled, CAIC is having another affair at the Kenosha Steak House in Breckenridge, November 8, 4:00 pm to closing time (or after if you hide under a table.)

In closing: I guess we’re trend watchers here to at least some degree. So I was interested to recently see luxury camping has achieved a radar signature on mainstream media. We’re talking “glamping,” as in having everything but an RV or motel room — but mainly a comfortable bed and a good coffee maker. We’re wondering when those glamping coddled individuals will move their wants and needs to outfits such as 10th Mountain Huts. If that happens we’ll probably see a full Starbucks at every hut, along with private bedrooms and Jacuzzi tubs. And just think of the snowcaves.


4 Responses to “Backcountry Skiing News Roundup”

  1. Erik September 24th, 2008 4:28 pm

    I live in Whitefish, MT and have met and skied with Fred at Valhalla. Great guy. This is an interesting idea of his, but the real goods for a heli operation are located along the border of Glacier National Park in the Great Bear Wilderness. I’ve always thought it would be cool to get dropped off on the summit of a mountain in there…. The State Land he is proposing for heli is great “intermediate skier” open treed slope powder skiing (when it’s not cloudy and snowing…) It’ll be interesting to see what the snowmobilers think that currently have the run of that area…

  2. dave downing September 25th, 2008 8:19 am

    so lou. did you get permits the days you had the truck side BBQ (catering truck) and when louie was filming at marble? hmmmm. Don’t be too hard on TGR 🙂

  3. Lynn September 25th, 2008 8:59 am

    Dave we did not need a permit, Chuck Norris said it was okay, enough said.

    Back to your single speed Dave.

  4. Lynn September 25th, 2008 9:01 am

    I was just at the Estin Hut and I think I saw a new Starbucks sign down in the guides storage. There also were some architectural drawings labeled “Barista Quarters”. I will be there is December with a group, looking forward to seeing if I can get a double mocha expressochino….

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

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