Backcountry Skiing News Roundup — Stephen Koch & Colorado

Post by blogger | March 9, 2009      

In our department of Which Side is your Bread Buttered On?, it is interesting to watch the brouhaha surrounding Exum Guide Stephen Koch’s little illegal snowmobile foray to Mount Moran in the Tetons.

Skiing the classic Skillet Glacier route on Moran during winter requires a possibly brutal slog across about five miles of flat frozen lake, including challenges such as slush (or water) under powder, wind and more. Adding insult, ice fisherman can range around on their sleds all they want, but as a skier you’re denied, since using a snowmobile on the lake for anything other than fishing is a crime. (Note, my understanding is that in past years snowmobiles were used legally for this, but the rules were changed some time ago.)

For some reason (Koch wrote in the Jackson Hole News that it was a “a lapse of my good judgment”), the senior Exum Guide and three companions decided to not only do the crime this past February 7, but also make a YouTube video out of it. Busted. News article here, vid from YouTube embedded below.
See Jackson Hole News.

Looks like fun to me — and a good example of the convoluted and sometimes strange mechanized access rules we constantly rail against here on If skiers can’t use snowmobiles on the lake, how come fisherman can? Should we ban ’em both? Your thoughts, esteemed WildSnow commenters?

More from the Tetons, a snow freak from up that way named Chris Larson has put together what may prove to be the model for the ultimate snow information website. He’s tried to integrate a ton of information under one roof. Great potential and perhaps a model for other future sites? See

I’d better swing my news compass back to Colorado before I get in trouble with the Jacksonians. For that, let’s turn our radar to an interesting avy incident up on Front Range fourteener Torreys Peak. On February 15, a man attempted to solo ski a major line on the peak’s easterly face. Before the skier got into the thick of battle, he triggered a slide and lost both (or possibly only one) skis, ending up standing on the fracture shouting “help.” Okaaaay. If it wasn’t enough to read the official report of this Darwin Award attempt, said Award nominee logged on to trusty and attempted to rally a crew to help retrieve his skis. Result is worth a read. Get out your corn popper and check it out.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


225 Responses to “Backcountry Skiing News Roundup — Stephen Koch & Colorado”

  1. Andrew_L March 6th, 2009 10:30 am

    Would it have killed these guys to have gone the extra mile to respect the law…and carry a fishing pole?


  2. El Jefe March 6th, 2009 10:30 am

    Out of three TR’s on that site……Mountain Rescue has been called twice???….. That kid needs to be relocated.

  3. Andrew McLean March 6th, 2009 10:30 am

    I’m more interested in what the esteemed blogmaster’s thoughts are on the Moran sled poach.

    Personally I thought it was pretty stupid, and this is coming from a guy who took a motor boat across the lake (as shown in WildSnow the book). The difference was that at the time motor boats were legal, whereas sledding to go skiing is not. If people don’t like the laws (which were probably put there for some reason) they should work on changing them, not breaking them. If people keep breaking the laws, I’m all for banning sled outright. People can and have skied the Skillet for years without having to resort to Bad Boyz tactics.

  4. ThomasB March 6th, 2009 11:00 am

    time to build a road through the wilderness and level the playing field……..( put cynical smiley here)

  5. Clyde March 6th, 2009 11:04 am

    Well it wasn’t quite a Dean Potter bozo act…but close.

  6. Tom G March 6th, 2009 11:30 am

    I kind of agree with Andrew on this. The law is the law, if you don’t like it, work on getting it changed. It does seem that these guys could have worked with in the law by doing a little fishing along the way – maybe ride the sleds to within a half mile of shore, set up your little fish tent, and then go for a ski?

  7. Ken March 6th, 2009 11:32 am

    Context is king here. I’m voting that its not really that big of a deal. So what if they skied instead of fishing? Its not like they took the sled cross country at all. It was used for access just like its used for fishermen. Its not like those laws are posted all over the place in the park anyway. -Ken

  8. Lou March 6th, 2009 11:33 am

    I’m not sure why they allow fishermen and don’t allow, say, an equal number of sled assisted skiers/climbers. That seems really whacked, but then, ask anyone who’s objective about Park Service management and the word “whacked,” might get used several times in the conversation.

    On the other hand, I respect the local ethos, and if slogging across the lake under human power for ski descents is the way it’s done, then I respect that, ( though I doubt I’ll do it anytime soon.)

    I’ll repeat, even though I’m a fan of driving and sometimes snowmobiling to trailheads, I’m most certainly NOT advocating changing our human powered sport into a mechanized endeavor. My main point here in covering snowmobile use instead of treating it like dirty laundry, is that the snowmobile, just like the automobile, is sometimes a useful and logical tool for ski mountaineering and backcountry skiing in the western U.S. and Canada. Instead of dancing around snowmobile use, I intend to embrace it and explore it both from ethical and technical standpoints.

    Perhaps one misconception I should clear up is that myself and probably most of my snowmobiling backcountry skier friends rarely if ever use their sleds for “sled skiing,” meaning doing laps and dropping off skiers or boarders so they gain vertical using the sled. We’re simply using these things for access, most often on automobile roads that are covered with snow. I know a few sled skiers, and they’re not that interested in core human-powered backcountry skiing but rather they’re just chasing powder. In my eyes legit if it’s legal, but not what I’m covering here when I write about snowmobiles.

    As for my opinion of Koch’s stunt, I pray he did that to bring this strange policy up for debate. Knowing him, I have a hard time believing he just made a judgment error, especially in view of a video being published. That said, I can only assume that poaching the lake ride on a sled might not exactly be rare for locals getting Moran. Especially if you caught a ride one-way with a fisherman. I mean, what are you going to do, outlaw carrying skis on a snowmobile? Like AndrewL says, RESPECT THE LAW — CARRY A FISHING POLE!

    One other thing, last time I looked civil disobedience was worthy of high honor. Let’s not be hypocrites about that value. Of course, Koch’s transgression lacks the exposition necessary for true civil disobedience (you don’t apologize after, you rant), so perhaps I’m barking up the wrong tree on that. But worth considering.

  9. Tim M. March 6th, 2009 12:54 pm

    Another victim of free speech in the Land of 10,000 Blogs (JH).

  10. Jack March 6th, 2009 1:06 pm

    Civil disobedience is a high honor? To exercise your inalienable right to ride a snow machine like those immoral, species-ist fishermen? Yea! Next, demonstrate your right to skin up in lift-served areas on public lands. It’s a god-given right to skin where you want! Then, exercise your right to fly your helicopter into traditional skinning areas! And fish with bait where single hook artificial only lures are permitted! And kill all fish you catch and shoot moose out of season – it’s your right! How dare some bureaucrat regulate ME!

  11. Curt March 6th, 2009 1:36 pm

    Lou, having lived up in Jackson for 2 decades, I am going to venture a guess as to why ice fisherman have been given the right to fish on Jackson Lake using “biles while ‘bling for the sake of ‘biling or mtn. access is prohibited.

    1. Ice fish’n has been going on there since before snowmobiles were popular- old timers used large propeller driven snowplanes back in the ’50’s if not before. So it is a long-time established use.

    2. After a decade of battles, snowmobiles became restricted elsewhere in Yellowstone & Grand Teton Parks , partly because of their supposed impact on elk, moose, bison, etc. (The critters would follow the packed trails instead of wallowing in deep snow). There is no winter browse, hiding cover on Jackson Lake.

    3. There might be some Wy G & F fisheries management reasons why removing fish (non-native mackinaw trout?) in winter is good for the native cut-throats.

    4. The NPS probably wanted to avoid a huge battle with the long-established fishing interest while wanting to prevent joy-riding and mtn. access issues from arising. The NPS would have wanted to compromise with fisherman while closing down sleds and motorized access elsewhere, especially to the more pristine northern Tetons.

    There are parts of the Tetons that are closed to winter access by humans because of big horn sheep, bison, eagles , peregrines. I’m guessing the NPS was not anxious to facilitate alot of new human intrusion on the west lake side…. We wonder why seemingly “stupid” and contradictory rules are made — but I’ve rarely seen simple answers work well in complex situations. Most likely the Park Service is trying to make some common sense compromises that allow continuation of fishing in a non-critical wildlife area while effectively minimizing joy riding, rescues, and motorized access. There is plenty of Bridger-Teton National Forest to legally sled on, and personally I’m glad the Tetons are not like the scene on nearby Towgotee Pass.

  12. AJ March 6th, 2009 1:46 pm

    sometimes you have to catch little fish to prevent the big fish from getting caught 🙂

  13. Greg March 6th, 2009 1:50 pm

    This is another example of how snowmobilers have created a reputation for themselves for knowlingly disregarding travel management rules on our public lands. Not sure why any ‘biler would applaud this act as it will surely be long-remembered by the public land managers next time they review the travel rules for that area.

  14. gringo March 6th, 2009 1:54 pm

    Lou, you missed it again. Koch, while certainly a top notch alpinist, is a loud mouth jackass. his played out ‘check me out’ style finally caught up with him, he can now concentrate on exploiting whats left of J-hole with his dirt pimp cronies….

  15. Lou March 6th, 2009 1:56 pm

    I guess civil disobedience is cool except when it isn’t…

    Curt, thanks for the good analysis.

  16. Tyler March 6th, 2009 2:05 pm

    In my opinion, I dont think there is a lot of debate needed here. Consider the following rhetorical questions:

    1) Was the activity illegal or legal?
    2) Did the persons involved understand that the activity was legal or illegal?
    3) Were the participants representatives/ambassadors for their employers?
    4) Was the blog post & video a descriptive and helpful discourse on Park Rules & Regulations or a an act of bravado?
    5) Did the activity and resulting controversy bring the community towards one another or did it move the community away from each other?
    6) Are “small” rules less important than “big” rules?

    I agree fully with Andrew M. Instead of breaking the rule, why not work on improving it.

  17. Lou March 6th, 2009 2:13 pm

    Tyler, in the history of our country some of the most onerous rules were fixed by breaking them… just a thought…my point being that change is not as cut and dried as you imply.

  18. Tyler March 6th, 2009 2:34 pm

    I hear you Lou. Yes food for thought. We are all commenting on this particular incident, but we all understand that we’ve all broken rules before. Historically, perhaps the change desired could have been pursued via a legal rather than illegal route? I agree these things can be complicated and I think we could have a great discussion on the cut and dry part vs grey area etc … but this is a fabulous ski blog so I wont even try to go into that!

  19. Jeff Prillwitz March 6th, 2009 2:41 pm

    A few random thoughts. First it isn’t just the motorized people who violate the wilderness laws. Several years ago a group was caught in Grand Canyon riding their mountain bikes in a protest to open the park to bikes. And any summer weekend I can show you mountain bike (but not m/c) tracks in the Lost Creek Wilderness near my cabin.

    I have also had mountain bikers and skiers tresspass at my cabin and even have caught them having lunch on the porch. One group of skiers tried to tell me it was the Boreas Pass hut! Yep, sitting next to a county road 2 miles from Jefferson & US 285.

    Never a problem with the motorized people though.

    Now to the park service, making sense of their rules is an exercise in futility. Several years ago while hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park I heard the thump thump of a 4-stroke dirt bike coming up behind me. Two park rangers on Yamaha BW-200s. I guess they lacked the skill to ride a real dirt bike. Couldn’t they walk or ride a horse? Of course horses are legal in parks and wilderness even though they cause more trail damage than mountain bikes.

    The comments about the fishermen catching mackinaw trout gave me a chuckle. Who planted the macks? The park service did in Yellowstone Lake so I have to assume that they did in Jackson too. When lampreys decimated the mackinaw population in the Great Lakes Yellowstone Lake mackinaws were judged the purest genetic form to repopulate the Great Lakes. But now the park service claims that it was “bucket brigade” fisherman who illegally stocked the mackinaw at Yellowstone. Don’t want to admit that they screwed up and the macks are eating the native cutthroat.

    The park service also stocked perch and bass in Yellowstone! As Alston Chase once noted, if the defense department acted like the NPS there would be a national outcry.

    Now I’m not advocating breaking the law, I’m just suggesting that the admonition about glass houses may apply here too.

  20. Andrew McLean March 6th, 2009 2:45 pm

    The difference between poaching and civil disobedience is semantics.

  21. Lou March 6th, 2009 2:47 pm

    Yeah Tyler, the problem is that no one knows what rule breaking is appropriate and what is not ’till years later. I’m just bringing that up as a point of discussion, not trying to set this particular incident up as civil disobedience unless the perps say it is.

    Jacksonians, wasn’t there something like this with Coombs and Granite Canyon years ago? I remember he skied it when it was illegal and lost his job or got banned or something like that, and a lot of skiers made him out to be a hero? Did that have any effect on the Canyon becoming legal?

  22. Lou March 6th, 2009 3:00 pm

    Regarding civil disobedience: First Ghandi, then Rosa Parks, and now a guy with the initials A.T.A.? (grin). See with A.T.A.’s ideas regarding using helicopters on Mount Superior in the Wasatch:

    “But, just to push the issue, I wonder what would happen if there were a bunch of tents and people set up on the very limited LZ’s on Superior? Could they (FS, WPG, Snowbird) kick the public off of what is perceived as public land? It would set a massive precedent.”

    It might be semantics, but it just might work, and Gandhi would be proud!

    (Edit: The Naz was first, then the other guys built on that… or was it the Jews getting out of Egypt who were the first civil disobedience, with a little help from above? Help me out here, my memory is fuzzy (grin).

  23. Tyler March 6th, 2009 3:14 pm

    ATA’s party sounds fun (and potentially interesting). Man though, if Bass owns it, what could happen … ? No trespassing signs?

  24. Njord March 6th, 2009 3:26 pm

    I would have gone with the helicopter option…

  25. Hans March 6th, 2009 4:05 pm

    The difference between poaching and civil disobedience is that when you poach, it’s secret and you’re not trying to influence anything by your actions. These guys tried to have it both ways, poaching and telling everyone about it.

    I don’t about seven miles–I skinned across that lake to get to moran (on alpine trekkers), and were able to skate back in about 30 minutes. It’s not that big a deal to bivvy out one night.

  26. Lou March 6th, 2009 4:21 pm

    I might be wrong about the mileage, anyone have the number? I looked at the map and it’s about 5 miles from Colter Bay to the shore on Moran…

  27. Matt March 6th, 2009 5:46 pm

    Way to stick it to the man!!!

  28. Lou March 6th, 2009 6:13 pm

    Yeah, whatever happened to the revolution!?

  29. Andrew McLean March 6th, 2009 7:59 pm

    I’ll do my civil duty by reporting such civil disobedience, and then exercise my civil right to vote when it comes to expanding wilderness. When access is shut down, feel free to blame it on me. 🙂

  30. Chris March 6th, 2009 8:57 pm

    Some of you really need to get out of your box. Better yet, please move to the right lane so I can practice civil disobedience on the way to trailhead.

  31. Sean March 7th, 2009 8:56 am

    I appreciate Lou’s sometimes provocative sense of humor, but to cast this as “civil disobedience” when it’s nothing more than sledneck fury angry at another area where sleds ought to be allowed but arent’… no, no, no.

    A lot of us don’t want sled traffic where they’re currently banned. If you need a sled to get somewhere, that’s a comment on how much “civilization” has encroached on you — you want to get further and further away.

    Think about that one, slednecks.

    Oh and Lou, that complaining about the sled being tippy — man, it is like a newbie skier complaining how he can’t make the damned things carve the ski shovel while sitting on the ski tail. Quit blaming the gear for the operator’s error!

  32. Randonnee March 7th, 2009 9:17 am

    We have such advantages of wealth and leisure- just look at the “issues” that we debate.

    Civil disobedience is a tricky question. As a tail-end Boomer I look at civil disobedience with the same disdain as the other Boomer-promoted societal cancers such as protest, smoking (harmless)? illegal drugs, free love, divorce, overconsumption as a birthright, etc.

    Civil disobedience becomes effective for change at times when it enlists the passionate support of the mob. Otherwise it is just some punks breaking the law.

    This whole debate of which use is allowed becomes quite elitist. The elitist with money pays for the helicopter to get to the powder, middle class folks like me buy cheap snowmobiles to eliminate the walking time on roads. Elitists with the luxuries of time and fitness wag their fingers at others and seem to assume superiority that their activity is better.

    I think I will just go get on my snowmobile and ride up 8 miles and a few thousand vert and go to work tracking out the deep pow on that sweet peak.

  33. Lou March 7th, 2009 9:21 am

    Sean, okay okay! Uncle! (grin)

  34. Mike Marolt March 7th, 2009 10:36 am

    Gringo, who is more of a jackass; he who puts his name on what he does regardless, or he who hides behind a blog name and calls someone a jackass?

  35. J. Warren March 7th, 2009 10:45 am

    Having never lived south of the 49th parallel I have always admired your passion for civil disobedience. I have always wished Canadians would adopt it to a larger degree. Mine is a romantic notion of civil disobedience that it is used to boldly point out injustice. Used in that manner it should be a proud tradition that should be held onto, or you will be assimilated by Canada.

    Was this such a case. Looking at it from the outside I would have said yes. In the romantic notion of civil disobedience no apologies are needed. In the romantic sense the righteous press on regardless of the pressures from the powers that be. Maybe I watch too many American movies.

    All things being equal a sled is a sled and a lake is still a lake.

  36. John Gloor March 7th, 2009 7:22 pm

    I would like to point out that those breaking the law while doing something are not representative of the group as a whole. Game poachers are not to be confused with hunters. Anyone trespassing should be considered a trespasser, not a hiker/biker etc. The same holds true of ethnicities and people in general. Any stereotyping based on criminal or “undesirable” characteristics is obviously an ugly prejudice. These guys sledding across the lake are not representative of law abiding snowmobilers, and to view all sledders as jackasses is a disservice to them. Please do not take the actions of a few criminal users as justification to punish the majority of snowmobilers. Perhaps enforcement of current laws with larger fines could be implemented before more sled bans are considered. At $500 a pop for a wilderness violation, it would not be hard to pay for a ranger in areas where violations occur.

  37. Amos March 7th, 2009 9:52 pm

    Ha,Ha. The end of the flick is great, skinning the lake at night with wet gear after a little snowmobile hell looked like a great way to finish off the day! It’s not even clear to me if they got the snowmobile off the lake, or if they had to ditch it overnight. I’d like to know if they think skinning would have been faster and less hassle in the end? I’ve spent enough time dealing with snowmobile hell to know; sometimes it’s faster, wiser, and less dangerous to go by means of human power. Looks like good old momma nature inflicted repercussions of her own that day. I tell every back country skier that inquires, unless you know what you doing with a machine and the details of taking it where you’re going, by using a snowmobile you risk ruining a perfectly good ski trip and subjecting yourself to snowmobile hell. It would have been hilarious if the machine had gone through the ice. You get what’s coming to you, and you deserve what you get; right.

    Gringo, I agree with Mike if you’re going to call anybody out like that, own it with you name. Accountability and creditability are part of respect, if you have any.

    Amos Mace

  38. Keith March 7th, 2009 11:46 pm

    I am neither familiar with the area nor the governmental unit that governs sled use on/near the lake. However, the ban (and I am only going off of what I have read in the blog) seems to be challengeable on the basis of illegal discrimination against a class (skiers, snowboarders, maybe even mountaineers). If what is being dealt with is a law then both the courts would be an advisable option for an organization representing actually injured parties for a discriminatory challenge. If what is being dealt with is an agency regulation or rule, then I would think a challenge based on both discrimination and arbitrary and capriciousness action by the agency might be advisable. While I freely admit that I am not a huge fan of sleds, there are times and places where they are almost a necessity, and the unequal application and creation of the laws/rules involved here is just frustrating.

  39. Lou March 8th, 2009 7:19 am

    Indeed, the end of the vid perhaps points out problems with sledding OR skinning across the lake? As Amos points out for those of you unfamiliar with snowmobiles, they frequently do NOT work that well for skiing access and are somewhat self limiting in that regard. This especially true in funky situation such as lake crossings or midwinter continental snowpack, stuff like that.

  40. Dan Powers March 8th, 2009 7:52 am

    Two points. First, skinning across Jackson Lake can be just as dangerous because of the slush issues as snowmobiling is. I know several people who have had scary slush encounters while skinning.

    Second, to me the difference between civil disobedience and just being a punk is intent. Civil disobedience requires that the intent of your action is to create change. Clearly here the intent was easier access to skiing. They got what they deserved.

  41. Dave N. March 8th, 2009 9:13 am

    Good discussion all. As a bc skier who uses a sled to access terrain for “human powered” skiing, not “sled lapping”, I have had to defend my mechanized access to multiple “quiet use” user groups. My use gets lumped with the sled crowd and my access threatened all around me. When I lived in the JH area, I had slogged across Jackson Lake more than once, carefully avoiding the warm springs open water areas, and, while enduring the drudgery, I had envied the past rules that allowed sleds on the lake. That said I am glad for the current rules which help maintain the present solitude of the area and feel that the ticket was appropriate. My hope is that the incident won’t be used as more ammo to further shutdown access to other areas used by “human powered” sled skiers.

  42. blase reardon March 8th, 2009 9:43 am

    It is utterly grandiose to claim that the NPS regulations are “discrimination” and that there’s some sort of “injustice” here. The rules may seem – and be – inconsistent and unfair, but the problems are petty and do not rise to the level of discrimination. It is likewise grandiose – and dishonest – to claim that violating a regulation or law that inconveniences you is civil disobedience. As someone above pointed out, speeding is not an act of civil disobedience, and though I may choose to speed regularly, it’s laughable to cloak that choice as some sort of fight against The Man. The injustice here is that an affluent society gets their undies all twisted about this while people in poorer societies suffer all kinds of violence and poverty. Moreover, inflating such a petty issue with such grandiose rhetoric makes it harder to focus our attention on the issues that truly rise to the level of injustice and discrimination.

    Lou, you blew it with this one. Koch hooked you like an ice fisherman hooks a mackinaw. Will you call it “civil disobedience” next time ‘bilers violate a closure into your favorite powder stash? I don’t think so. Koch’s actions deserve to be slammed by leaders in the backcountry community. You want to ski The Skillet? Use your legs. You don’t want to walk that far? Go somewhere closer. You don’t like the regulation? Do something to change it. And Andrew’s suggestion of carrying a fishing pole is clever, but still irresponsible.

  43. brian March 8th, 2009 4:14 pm

    Nicely said, Mike. Don’t waste too much of your time but you can surf through TetonAT’s some 150 comments on the topic and find a lot of this SK-hating, anonymous name calling bullshit throughout. Pretty weak game. Gotta love the internet!

  44. brian March 8th, 2009 4:17 pm

    Oh and by the way, I had dinner with an NPS official last night and we spoke about their take on the whole deal. Most of the law enforcement crowd did not think of it a major deal…just another infraction worth a citation similar to a failure to yield at a stop sign. Funny.

  45. Bjørnar Bjørhusdal March 8th, 2009 4:27 pm

    Here in Norway engines are banned outside roads in the winter, it’s funkin’ fantastic. I can recommend it.

    If I myself had been skinning across the lake the same day and seeing those guys whizz past, it would no doubt have ruined my day, “my” snow. I’d be pissed.

    This spesific mountain should be reserved to the ones that takes the effort to wait for the conditions and do the long slog in and out, keep it the big and grand skitour it seems to be, if you wanna kill powder the easy way, do it in a resort. Bah.

    The mountains are for everyone, but not all of the mountain is for everyone.

  46. Njord March 8th, 2009 5:31 pm

    Bjornar: Why is it “your snow” and “your day”?

  47. John Gloor March 8th, 2009 5:43 pm

    I just got back from a day touring up on Independence mountain, outside of Aspen. Had a great time, nice powder and views. I used my sled to access the peak, which is legal, and parked it on the snow covered paved road. On our way back, I looked down to the valley floor and saw tracks everywhere off the road. I then looked up the Lost Man drainage, and saw tracks and three sleds coming down. In this area off road usage is illegal, and the lost man area is in wilderness. I could not get down in time to get any registration numbers, so there was no chance of self policing snowmobilers. If the fines were greater and enforced more often, along with vehicle confiscation for wilderness violations, then you could bet this behavior would dwindle. I would hate to loose road access to this area and others based on the illegal activities of others. C,mon Forest service, get more personnel up there on occasion and give it a rest on Richmond Ridge!

  48. Bjørnar Bjørhusdal March 8th, 2009 5:53 pm

    You go ahead and take the first track down, since I got the first track going up, Njord.

  49. Lou March 8th, 2009 6:14 pm

    Blase, go back and read what I wrote, no way I’m claiming for certain that this was civil disobedience, I only conjectured such for the sake of discussion. For all I know it could have been CD, but as discussed above that seems less and less likely, especially in light of the fact that Koch apologized. But I’m glad I hooked you with that concept (grin), as the discussion is terrific and I value everyone’s input.

  50. Lou March 8th, 2009 6:21 pm

    Brian and Mike, regarding personal attacks here, we discourage it but in the case of a celeb such as Koch I let that one stand, which might have been a mistake but I always get a chuckle out of people trying to use being a Realtor as an insult, especially while hiding behind anonymity as “gringo” did.

  51. Lou March 8th, 2009 6:23 pm

    Gloor, bummer. Tim Lamb (see his comment above) said they’ve been busting people who poach off Indy road, but apparently they need to step it up. It’s super important that all this trespassing stop, as it’ll just lead to closure of legal access routes, as happened on Mount Sopris Thomas Lakes. Next thing you know they’ll be calling for closure of Independence Pass road to snowmobiles because of Wilderness trespassing. Could very easily happen.

  52. Geof March 8th, 2009 9:45 pm

    Wow 50 some odd posts and not ONE about the solo knob on Torreys. Dude just cashed in one of his lives. The deal on 14’s is classic. Couldn’t read it all, but read enough for some good chuckles.

    Koch is stupid… simple. Fine, ski the Skillet, BUT DON’T POST THE FRIGGIN APPROACH. What isn’t clear is if they got busted after the posting or on the day they did the deed. I believe it is silly to allow access to one and not the other when basically the use is the same. Where Koch and the boys REALLY blew it was the ski tow. Looks fun, but it’s pure show-boating… If access were the simple issue, then anyone should be allowed.

  53. Sam March 9th, 2009 7:56 am

    Fishermen have to buy a license, maybe the govmint figures that they should get more because they pay for it.

  54. Pierce March 9th, 2009 8:02 am

    I’m with Geof on this one. Someone did something stupid on a sled (might as well have been dad’s new hummer H2 or a three-wheeler) and posted it on youtube? Yawn. Koch could have at least handed his buddy his PBR tall-boy and said “watch this!” first.

    The real story here is the solo attempt at one of Torrey’s gnarlier lines mid Feb. OMG, I’ve spent the last week or two reading and re-reading Mr. Waffles attempt at Torrey’s and his other TR On where he and his buddy light his dog on fire and have to get rescued by SAR again. If it weren’t for the confirmation by SAR and CAIC, I wouldn’t have believed this guy was real. Thank god he lived through both trips, or I wouldn’t be able to laugh this hard. The best part is that this all came to light when he posted on there for people to risk their lives to help him get his 10 year old Salomon X-screams back off of Torrey’s. And his rented crampon. Sorry about your deposit, dude. The people on 14ers are so nice and sincere, too! Got to admire the kid’s gumption, but man!

  55. Lou March 9th, 2009 9:09 am

    Pierce, LOL at the PBR dig! I’m still looking for the canister storage on my Nytro, when I find it I’ll be sure to load up with some Pabst (grin)!

    As someone said above, the Moran slush fest was nothing more than a mosquito bite to the Park Service. They write a ticket and that’s that. Really doesn’t seem like a big deal to me either, though I’ll state again that I’m in no way advocating the violation of mechanized closure, though I don’t agree with all of them.

    What I find strange is the publication of the vid and thus subsequent unfortunate outcome for Stephen. One has to wonder how it all came about. Perhaps Koch just wasn’t paying attention and the YouTube vid got published without him knowing about it? If so, that must have been a bit of a surprise! Or perhaps he actually was trying to make a statement only it got out of hand and he had to back off? Only other scenario is that he just didn’t care. Doesn’t it have to be one of these three options? Any of you guys have ideas for another scenario?

  56. Derek March 9th, 2009 9:48 am

    Wow when are all the human powered AT’ers going to give it up. While there are some that are great it seems some become more egotistical by the minute? The mtns are just as much yours as they are a snowmobilers. It’s the same as them being mad that you can ski Moran and they can’t climb it. Just because you think your way is the pure way to enjoy the mountains doesn’t make you right. Public land is just that and it includes all of the public. Keep bitching some day they will keep you out as well. For people who have jobs five days a week snowmobiles are sometime required to access lines on our hit list. We have the same passion you do we just have different lives requiring different ways of travel but shame on you for thinking you are better, you are just closed minded and on a slippery slope leading to no use by all. If you take offense to what I have said you are that guy or gal I am talking about. If you don’t your not, every recreational class of people is diverse but the selfish ones seem to get the most attention. Public Land is for multiple use by all period. Its to bad we are losing sight of that.

  57. Scott March 9th, 2009 9:51 am

    I wonder if Stephen was already a little on the outs with Exum by stressing their relationship with JHMR. Didn’t he publish pics of their recent Avvy problems just like RandoSteve?

  58. Lou March 9th, 2009 9:58 am

    Derek, yep, he who divides the pie gets the smallest share, isn’t that the rule? We’ll see how that plays out in the next couple of decades…

  59. Ken March 9th, 2009 10:24 am

    Are you guys really still debating the ethics of this as if you’re so much better? Please spare us. Do you ever think that those that violate speed limits are endangering the opportunity for all of us to drive cars or approach the speed limit? What about the fact that the faster you drive, the more carbon emissions you create? What losers speeders are! How could they, with a good conscience, risk our rights to drive cars AND create a greater environmental impact?

    Stupid huh? But this is what you guys sound like sitting back in your armchairs and patting yourselves on the back for not riding a snowmobile in a national park when you would just as easily drive 8hrs to get to the park or even tag along if actually invited.

    This is a non issue and not that big of a deal. Perhaps we should talk about Lou posting this on his website that has sponsors when this was filmed on our public land? Isn’t Lou essentially making money from our public lands without a permit? Gasp!!!

    Get over this thing people. This is a skiing blog not a crybaby blog.

  60. OMR March 9th, 2009 12:16 pm

    Waah, waah, waahh! I live in the heart of the Wasatch, arguably the most over-used range in North America, and I can still find pristine, incut powder whenever I want it. BC skiers are just as much “lemming” as the Britney Spears crowd; very few are indiviualist. Because ya’ll continually herd to the same local, this is an exploding issue. I applaud Koch for taking a daring stand on a stupid, inconsistant law. That said, I’m just waiitng to see moguls and high-marks in the throat of Skillet.

  61. Cory March 9th, 2009 12:53 pm

    “Are you guys really still debating the ethics of this as if you’re so much better? Please spare us. Do you ever think that those that violate speed limits are endangering the opportunity for all of us to drive cars or approach the speed limit? ”

    Yes… this what is happening with several states increasing the driving age and other regulations on young drivers. I drove like a madman at 16. Finally, states started to wake up and realize that this wasn’t the best idea. Fatality and accident statistics show that their regulations are having a positive effect.

    So, using your metaphor, it seems like you favor regulations (if it achieves the goal).

    It also seems like you are a crybaby if you cry about where snowmobiles are allowed and not a crybaby if you cry about where snowmoblies are not allowed.

    Skis don’t have “arms” or “chairs”. Snowmobiles do.

    Finally Ken, if you don’t talk about snowmobile/backcountry skiing issues on a backcountry skiing blog, where do you talk about it?

  62. Andrew McLean March 9th, 2009 1:15 pm

    I think it is/was a big deal, although my opinion on this has nothing to do with pollution, noise or anything other than it was illegal. Lou mentioned that he thought sleds were something like “an elegant backcountry tool,” which may be, but then isn’t a helicopter even more elegant? If you don’t actually land on top of the Grand Teton, but just hover enough to let a group of skiers hop out, what’s the big deal?

    I think it is a huge deal. You can take sleds and motors to far more places than not in America, so why is it that hard to respect the few places where they are illegal? Koch might have just been a single mosquito, but when you have a swarming hoard of them, it is completely different.

    ps – I own a sled, I’ve flown in helicopters, I drive a car to the trailhead. It all about appropriate places to use these things.

  63. Lou March 9th, 2009 1:35 pm

    And I’ve never heli skied. So there (grin).

  64. Ken March 9th, 2009 1:39 pm

    Cory – You’re right, this is as good a place to talk about it as anywhere. But why talk about it? The guy did something illegal, got caught, and paid the price. If you speed in your car and someone puts in on youtube, should you get a ticket and have a bunch of people yap about it on a forum as if they have never broken the law in any form?

    Andrew – If this is really about “appropriateness”, why is it then ok to ice fish with a snowmobile? Why should they have had a fishing pole and an auger with them to make it ok? Also, there is a big difference between riding across Jackson lake and then skiing into the trees

    Regulation, especially stupid, inconsistent regulation, has inevitable unintended consequences. Either the park service needs to enforce regulation consistently or more people need to ski a sick line with a little less human power (bring an auger and a snowmobile). If more people ski it with sled access, maybe the park service will realize the problem of inappropriate regulation. I’ll see you guys up there.

    Also, there is a big difference between riding across Jackson lake and then skiing into the trees and highmarking the skillet or heli-skiing Moran.

    If its wrong to ride a ‘bile for skiers across the lake, it should be wrong for fishermen. If its alright for fishermen, it should be alright for skiers. Perhaps we will eventually need a Vail pass model to reduce skier/fisherman interactions and have odd and even days for riding & skiing and riding and fishing?

  65. Andrew McLean March 9th, 2009 2:10 pm

    I think that using sleds for ice fishing is marginally appropriate for the reasons one of the other readers listed above – it is part of the parks history, and, it is currently legal. Sure, carrying an auger and pole when you go skiing would circumvent the rules, but only for so long and eventually if 100 people a year start sledding the lake to go skiing, it will get shut down for everyone. The fishermen will blame the sledskiers and then the sledskiers can blame the greenies.

  66. Mac March 9th, 2009 2:11 pm

    Rather than pay for a fishing license, I would have just carried the smallest anchor I could find and “boated” across the lake!

  67. Andrew McLean March 9th, 2009 2:17 pm

    I also don’t buy the argument about people needing snowmachines as they don’t have enough time to get the goods any other way. Koch & Co. didn’t even start sledding until it was broad daylight and they could have easily skinned across the lake by headlamp.

  68. Lou March 9th, 2009 2:18 pm

    Andrew, have you ever kited across the lake? Obvious question for you…

  69. Lou March 9th, 2009 2:25 pm

    Perhaps those of us who own and use sleds might want to go easy on trying to judge who needs them and who does not — especially in judging who does not. One guy’s time limit for a Moran descent is no different then my need to get to a cabin here in Colorado without skiing a snowcovered dirt road for an extra three hours. BUT, what’s legal and what is not, now that’s a HUGE qualfier. If “need” means breaking the law, that’s a whole other ball of wax.

  70. Sky March 9th, 2009 2:46 pm

    “Need” must be one of the most abused words in the language. I “need” to ski something death-defying ASAP.

  71. Lou March 9th, 2009 3:00 pm

    I don’t Need any more skis, and the check is in the mail.

  72. Ken March 9th, 2009 3:09 pm

    I wonder just exactly what the magic distance is that meets the criteria for “acceptable use of a snowmachine”?

    2 miles?

    7 miles?

    10+ miles?

    Perhaps you can “buy” your way into using a machine for shorter distances by mitigating with a 4 stroke or with big enough mufflers?

    How long of road trips should I be able to take in a full size truck? Is it more acceptable to take the same road trip in a smaller vehicle even though I pay more for gas?

    What exactly is the problem with snowmachine access anyway? Is it that they’re loud? Obnoxious? Easy? Are we just perturbed because “I had to ski it back in the day, so everyone else should too”? I mean, what exactly are we minimizing by regulating snowmobile use? What is the law for?

  73. Andrew McLean March 9th, 2009 3:21 pm

    I haven’t kited across the lake, although that would be a very cool way to do it, assuming it is legal (I think paragliding is not, or at least landing in the park).

  74. Lou March 9th, 2009 3:32 pm

    Good rhetorical questions there Ken. I’ll take a stab at the burning question, that of what’s the problem? I actually think most backcountry skiers have little to no problem with legal snowmobile ACCESS — the things are in use all over the world for such. The problem is more one of limited resources when people start to sled for pleasure, or use the sled to gain vertical for skiing/boarding. In that case, human power trumps machine power in terms of taking the moral highground. That’s just a cultural thing,but right or wrong, we have to admit it’s the case.

    Thus, as soon as normally human powered backcountry skiers use a snowmobile, they open themselves up to all sorts of ethical questions. Much more so than flying a jet to Europe to go ski mountaineering, or taking a helicopter to a Canadian hut. Simply because the sled tends to be used much more as a substitute to what is or could be done with human power.

    In 2044, when everything is so highly regulated we even have to watch how many times we brush our teeth each day (by hand and not with a carbon producing electric toothbrush), we’ll probably all laugh at these debates though we may wax nostalgic.

    As it is, I’m proud and glad we live in a country with the vast open spaces, freedom, and recreation opportunities that all combine to result in such debates. Quite a blessing, when you think about it.

  75. Lou March 9th, 2009 3:37 pm

    Andrew, indeed YES that would be cool! Probably worth a feature story in a magazine, so long as you bought an editor a plane ticket (grin).

  76. Andrew McLean March 9th, 2009 6:29 pm

    I think sledders all too often default to the gas, carbon, pollution argument, which is not the issue. Imagine going to a public park and some dude/dudette shows up and starts performing chainsaw art right next to you, maybe sculpting out a nice American Eagle. Of course you are going to move, because he/she with the biggest motor always wins. So you go to another quiet park, and guess who shows up again, except this time he’s carving a bear. When you ask why he has to do this right here, he says that it’s because he’s inspired by all of the natural beauty. So you leave again, and this time go to a place where chainsaws aren’t allowed. Guess who shows up to do a little civil disobedience (this time a magnificent hawk eating a trout).

    The problem with poaching is that people (like me) go out of their way to go to areas where chainsaws and sleds aren’t allowed, they get really, really f’ing pissed when even a single one shows up.

  77. randosteve March 9th, 2009 7:09 pm

    It is my understanding that kites aren’t allowed on Jackson Lake. But like using a snowmobile to access skiing, I know some people that have used them for skiing up there.

    Six miles is the accepted distance from from Colter Bay to Moran…which could take anywhere from 2-4 hours to ski. 2 hours in the early morning darkness via headlamp…and potentially 4 hours under the hot sun sinking to your knees in slush in the heat of the afternoon. Timing is everything!

  78. MJ Hall March 9th, 2009 8:30 pm

    So Andrew, you’re telling us that you want to go to a quiet place. Salt Lake City? “Your” mountains are within minutes of a major population center. People want to get out and do their own thing every week. Public land is public land.

    The last thing we need are more laws and regulations when, most of what you people are whining about are already in the books. We don’t need more wilderness, I want to continue to ride my mountain bike in the summer and sled in the winter on public land. Many people use public forest roads to access remote areas in the summer with jeeps and trucks. If you encourage more wilderness to protect your snow it will screw it for any travelers except foot and horse travel, Lou you might have to trade your jeep in on a donkey if Andrew gets his way.

    I’m just a knuckle draggin snowboarder, snowshoer, rookie sledneck and mountain biker. I don’t even know how to ski. I’ll bet that’ll piss off a few people. I just like to have out-door adventures. That’s why I follow your blog, Lou, Sometimes I learn something… do I get points because my wife has a Subaru Outback and she cross-country skis (she snowboards too).

  79. Andrew McLean March 10th, 2009 8:39 am

    The laws and regulations which created the Lone Peak and Mount Olympus Wilderness areas virtually right outside of Salt Lake City are a major part of what makes living here so great. There’s also proposal on the table to create yet another chunk of wilderness in the central Wasatch mountains, which I’m 100% in favor of. These are 100% public lands – you just can’t use motorized transportation in them.

  80. Lou March 10th, 2009 8:48 am

    Andrew, Indeed, in the case of a crowded urban mountain range with concentrated industrial tourism and a big heli ski operation, more legal Wilderness is perhaps a good management tool. Over here in the vast mountain and backcountry reaches of Western Slope Colorado, in my opinion we’ve got all the legal Wilderness we need, but I’d be in favor of a “backcountry” designation that included some motorized and mechanized recreation but limited development.

    To clarify, you can’t use most forms of “mechanized” transportation in Wilderness, that includes bicycles, but fortunately doesn’t include ski bindings, though it could as the Wilderness Act is open to interpretation by any District Ranger who cares to buck trends. Perhaps the NTN binding, as it’s so complex, would be a good candidate to be banned for being too mechanized?

    I should add that I’ve been schooled for years on this by some of the most committed and well educated environmentalists you can find anywhere. One thing they’ve drilled into me is that the Wilderness Act is NOT a recreation management tool, but rather a preservation tool. Thus, beware. It’s not necessarily a way for us to create our own little non-motorized amusement parks — though it’s nice when it works out that way.

  81. Andrew McLean March 10th, 2009 9:25 am

    I think a lot of the anti wilderness sediment is just fear mongering by the motor sports industry and enthusiasts. “Eeeek! It will be closed to everything except barefoot children!” Look at the European Alps – there’s tons of access, you can ski all over, there is a mix of resorts, it is still considered one of the best places on earth to ski and it isn’t over-run by slednecks. They have had, and resolved these issues way before we did.

  82. Cory March 10th, 2009 9:35 am

    What if we went to the other extreme? Deregulation! Then I could break out my D4 and make some really sweet trails. wink.

    p.s. In terms of miles covered, does anyone know the increase in usage of snomoblies and b/c skiers/boarders over the last decade? 2 decades?

  83. Lou March 10th, 2009 9:47 am

    Yeah, I do agree that legal Wilderness is not always the solution… in a lot of cases the Euros got it right with a mix of mechanized and non mechanized access options — frequently with the two side-by-side. Though talk to the locals and you’ll get the inside story on the evil encroachment of mechanized resorts on former beautiful ski touring areas.

    In point of fact, the issues are far from “resolved.” Not only do the EU Alps have major problems with encroaching development, but in many areas air pollution is terrible as well due in part to a trucking industry that is so powerful they’re difficult if not impossible to regulate effectively.

    I sure got my eyes opened over the past few years, as I was overly worshipful of their system, and it’s far from perfect in reality. As I’ve said, instead of snowmobiles they’ve to government collusion with resort developers, and this continues to take ski touring terrain. And it’s a lot harder to tear down a resort than it is to ban snowmobiles, if you want to back up and change things.

    I’lll bet if I showed some of my ski touring friends in Europe how we use snowmobiles on Mount Sopris in combination to a non-motorized area, and compared that to some of their cable car spider webs and associated buildings everywhere, they’d choose the snowmobiles and otherwise pristine backcountry we’re blessed with here.

  84. Andrew McLean March 10th, 2009 11:00 am

    Do you guys ever ponder how much your time saving devices are actually costing you per mile/hour of skinning saved?

  85. Matt March 10th, 2009 11:12 am

    Lou, don’t mind if I momentarily change the subject here, but I was surprised that I haven’t seen any info on your site about the new Trab AT bindings (another Dynafit knockoff). Did I just miss it or are you holding off until you get your hands on a pair?

    For reference see this thread on TGR:

  86. Lou March 10th, 2009 2:34 pm

    After a few years of using my 4 stroke, I don’t think the cost will be that high, and totally worth it. Blogging from my PDA, interesting…

  87. Lou March 10th, 2009 3:55 pm

    Matt, Adriano, the co-owner of Trab, told me those were prototypes and he’d appreciate it if we didn’t publish about them. In my opinion it’s best to leave that sort of thing up to TGR forums, as was done.. If I’d been there at ISPO I’d have blogged about it just as something interesting, but I wasn’t…

    It’s been known for some time that Trab was working on a binding. Aside from some photos of a prototype, that’s still really all we know.

    I asked Adriano directly if he could give us some photos for WildSnow and he said no.

    FYI, including Trab there are now at least 5 companies that are making tech compatible bindings. Interesting.

  88. MJ Hall March 10th, 2009 5:13 pm

    quote “You see, I don’t care if I access a trailhead via my truck, or my sled, or a lift, or a train, or a plane, or a boat, or a heli, because I just love to ski (insert snowboard) rather than complain about how other people chose to reach their trailheads.”

    My feelings.

  89. Frank Konsella March 10th, 2009 4:19 pm

    WOW. That’s all I can say.

    Andrew, your chief complaint with sleds is that they’re loud!? I ended up guiding a bunch of high school kids up Colorado’s highest peak on Sept 12, 2011. I’ll admit, the complete lack of even a single airplane was kind of nice- but that doesn’t mean I think that planes should be banned just so I don’t have to hear them when I’m climbing a mountain. Have you ever seen a modern 4 stroke- they’re not much louder than a Toyota Tacoma. Will your next chief complaint switch from an auditory one to a visual one (as in, “I just don’t like the way they look”) At least that would be trending closer to the truth, which is that you just don’t like snowmobiles, no matter what.

    As to the total cost of my snowmobile ownership, I would find that my cost/benefit analysis would be highly skewed to the benefit category, as there are too many days to count which simply wouldn’t have happened without the sled.

    It’s interesting that you’ll never hear someone from, say, Pemberton, BC complain about snowmobiles or helis. Of course, there are only about 25 valleys within an hour of that town that could swallow the tiny Wasatch range up without even noticing, and about 1% as many people trying to access that terrain.

    My tour yesterday covered about 15 miles and about 6,000′ vert, all of it without my snowmobile. You see, I don’t care if I access a trailhead via my truck, or my sled, or a lift, or a train, or a plane, or a boat, or a heli, because I just love to ski rather than complain about how other people chose to reach their trailheads.

  90. notascoolasyou March 10th, 2009 5:01 pm


  91. Andrew McLean March 10th, 2009 5:02 pm

    Frank – my chief complaint with sleds is that they currently roam over 90% of snow covered America, yet they still poach the remaining 10% that is off-limits to them.

  92. MJ Hall March 10th, 2009 6:07 pm

    I am not against wilderness, I’m saying that I don’t believe that we have a need for more wilderness in traditional areas. They are trying to push a wilderness act through now to include 24,000,000 acres in several western states. It is being again introduced by Carolyn Maloney, D-New York.

    Is that how it should be, creating regulations from 2000 miles away. I don’t want it.

    Europe is great to visit, but I don’t want their idea of land usage. If the developers have their way, then none of us win.

  93. notascoolasyou March 10th, 2009 5:09 pm

    90? really? huh! respect he law? ya! well good luck with that one!

  94. Andrew McLean March 10th, 2009 5:15 pm

    Just for arguments sake, let’s talk about how the sacred Colorado 14’er and the Trooper Traverse would be affected if sleds and helicopters were allowed. Forget ten years, or even one calendar year – you could ski all of those peak in a matter of days with a helicopter. The Trooper Traverse? Ha! A matter of hours with a high-powered sled.

    Somebody, somewhere along the way had the foresight to limit these areas to human powered transportation, which is why they are still special today. I’d love to do the Trooper Traverse, but if it was open to sleds, I could barely be bothered to stop at the the trailhead, take a leak and throw my McDonald’s wrappers on the ground for it. Once these areas are over-run by machines, they are gone. When was the last time you took a hike on a freeway?

  95. Andrew McLean March 10th, 2009 5:22 pm

    And Frank, by the way, I own a sled – a gutless 340 Yamaha Enticer to be exact (similar to what Lou use to own). I use it for legal access up a road. I’m not anti sled, just anti poaching and pro wilderness.

  96. Frank Konsella March 10th, 2009 5:51 pm

    Well, if you truly believe that 90% of snow covered America is getting snowmobiled legally and the other 10% gets poached, I can’t blame you for being anti-snowmobile. I would be, too. I would also point out once more that the Wasatch is small and has well over a million people living right next to it. Crowds and tracks of every type will always be a part of that equation. Do an E-W traverse of the San Juans and tell us that the range has snowmobile tracks over 90% of it. Just make sure to put some photos up on straightchuter, because that would be a cool traverse 🙂

    I guess I’ll just have to realize that I’m lucky enough to be in a place that doesn’t fit those numbers at all- I doubt that much more than 20% of the Elk mountains that Lou and I are in have snowmobile tracks in them (with most of those tracks being down in the valleys, not on the faces skiers are interested in anyway), partially because of wilderness areas but also because even with the new sleds there are many places where even the dedicated sledheads don’t have the skills to get to. As for poaching, I’ve never seen a sled go more than 100yards into a wilderness area here. Ever.

  97. Lou March 10th, 2009 5:53 pm

    Seems like Andrew was taking a somewhat devil’s advocate anti-sled position in some of his comments, when he’s actually a pretty nice guy and drives a snowmobile himself. I got his point and appreciate it, which is mainly that he likes legal Wilderness and is really bummed with snowmobile poaching/trespassing. The comments I assumed were directed at fools like me who spend way too much money on machinery were rhetorical, not personal attacks. It’s true snowmobiles are expensive. So is jet travel. So are good 4×4 SUVs and Subarus. Even foot travel is expensive, once you start talking knee surgery and artificial joints, not to mention a lifetime supply of gloucosamine (grin).

    But Frank’s got a point too. I think what folks in area’s such as Andrew’s Wasatch need to realize is that we’re in a much different situation here in this part of Colorado, where we don’t have paved and plowed roads punching access routes through many of our alpine canyons. Instead, those roads are frequently closed and are legal snowmobile routes. What’s more, we’ve got more acres of legal protected Wilderness than just about anywhere else on the planet that contains many people. Frank, myself and many others are perfectly happy to use those routes with our snowmobiles, while still enjoying the non-motorized areas they access. And we do plenty of trips without snowmobiles as well. Actually the majority.

    I’ve always been envious of the Wasatch access. Incredible. If I lived there I’d probably not own a snowmobile. Other places are different. Then there are those places that require a cruise ship and Zodiac to access a shoreline, or a helicopter to access a hut, or, a 100 mile slog on foot. It’s a big mix out there and WildSnow HQ happens to be in an area where snowmobile access is quite useful and in my opinion frequently appropriate. So we tend to cover them here and perhaps appear too much like an advocate if a person is overly sensitive to the issue.

    To bring this back full circle, if sledding for skiing is illegal on the lake, and sledding for fishing is not, anyone with a brain has to admit there is something weird about that. But what Koch did was illegal, period. That said, would it be wrong or even detrimental to the sport of ski mountaineering to allow skiers to snowmobile across the lake and park at Mount Moran? In my opinion it would change the nature of the climb and descent by making it more popular, but it would not be wrong if it was legal, and would actually probably become quite well liked, just as taking a boat across is useful once the ice is gone. I really don’t see the difference as that big a deal, if any deal at all.

  98. Lou March 10th, 2009 5:54 pm

    P.S., in all honesty, I’ve spent way way more money out of pocket (not to mention the insurance company share) on my knees and ankles than I could ever spend on snowmobiles. If you include the insurance company outlays, we’re talking a last a million dollars!

  99. Frank Konsella March 10th, 2009 6:16 pm

    ^^^ Some of those posts were made while I was typing. My sled is older and underpowered as well.

    Andrew, I consider myself pro-wilderness and anti-poaching as well. I guess I feel like we have a good mix of that here, for which I am grateful.

  100. Bob March 10th, 2009 6:19 pm

    We never thought of you as weak-kneed! Or even weak ankled.
    But your anti-wilderness rhetoric is close to shifting from being provocative to a rant.
    I agree with Andrew regarding Wilderness protection. In the Northen Rockies there is a lot of public land that is still open for grabs — and the motorized users are grabbing it. A lot of lines we used to ski out of Cooke City are now regularly tracked with snowmobiles.
    The Park Service drew the line on snowmobiles on Jackson Lake to limit snowmobiles to fisherman because the line had to be drawn somewhere. You talk about how easy it is to remove snowmobile access from someplace, but the Park Service and Forest Service rarely close an area. They couldn’t buck the fisherman on Jackson Lake and the options were to draw the line there or open it up to be a snowmobile play area.
    Last March I had breakfast with someone who had skinned across Jackson Lake, skied Moran and skinned back. The skin across the lake was the price of admission and he was proud.
    Let’s keep some places hard to get to so the next generation can have their firsts, the way Bill Briggs had his descent of the Grand and you, Lou, were the first to bag the 14er’s. Some places are hard to get to, and should remain that way. That big, wild country is what makes us different from Europe, so let’s not compare ourselves to them. It is different.
    Snowmobiles to trailheads are fine. I’ve used them for search and rescue and they can be a good tool. But let’s not open everything up for ourselves today.
    Let’s leave some places far away, so my son has his own chance at a first.

  101. Lou March 10th, 2009 6:23 pm

    Point taken, I’m not intending to rant, but I do think being provocative is important for a blogger. You guys just please keep me in line, I appreciate it.

  102. Andrew McLean March 10th, 2009 6:37 pm

    I’m an avid ski mountaineer and I don’t see any wrong at all with limiting access to motorized transportation. There is a magnificent line in Alaska that I’d love to ski, but the approach is a week in each direction. With a plane and $750 per person, it would be a day if it was legal. It is a great line and perhaps the world would be a better place if 100 people had skied it, but I actually like it just the way it is – it is there for anyone who really wants it, you just have to really, really want it. It still has some validity to it, which I think is awesome.

  103. Fred March 10th, 2009 7:40 pm

    Interesting discussion. I’m late to the party as usual. Andrew and Bob – Amen. And I’m gonna have to call BS on some of the comments here that in Colorado there are “no sleds in most of the back country”. That is just not reality. Luckily, Frank and others – the reason that there is not a bunch of sleds in our beloved Elks is that most of it wilderness… Even though I still come across them in the wilderness on a regular basis.

    The few times I have skied in the CB area, it has been crawling with sled skiers. Like heading up the slate (where sledding is “discouraged”), and with a 45 to 60 min skin to great skiing, and getting there before the folks whom started unloading the sleds when we started skinning… Or the measly 30 min skin to Snodgrass… Do you really need to fire up the sled for that? Or head into the Vail pass recreation area, near Fowler Hilliard Hut…(or anywhere else) – all ruled by sled skiers, noise, smoke, and 2-stroke stench. Which is fine, and how it is. I can see the point that it is convenient in our instant satisfaction society to use a sled for access. And for a 15 mile snow covered road… But that is not how, in my experience, >95% of snowmachiners use their toy. If folks drove up snow-covered roads, park the sled and went about their business, I would have zero problems with sleds. But running rampant at very high speeds all over public lands is another thing, poaching wilderness and no motorized areas. Driving up to the wilderness boundary then parking. Right. Unless we get better/more aggressive management of motorized toys on our public lands, the human powered experience is going to disappear. It already is. Rapidly. I’m all for more wilderness and more regulations on sled use on public lands, a more balanced approach. Earn it.

  104. MJ Hall March 10th, 2009 9:10 pm

    Lou, thanks for the blog. I want to learn as much as possible about winter backcountry travel, this is a good place to visit.

    The kicker is, that I’m retiring from my job of 30 years on the 25th of March, 2009 ( in 2 weeks). With my pension, I’m feeling like I’ve won the lottery. I plan on spending many more days and nights in the mountains.

    Andrew, I hope you get to ski that line in Alaska, sounds great… I know what it is like to really want something, a person has to set their mind to it.

  105. Randonnee March 10th, 2009 9:13 pm

    Hi Andrew- nice to see you here, and thank you sincerely for tolerating my voluminous hot air sometimes over at StraightChuter!

    Andrew lives in a place where as I recall he may take the Metro bus to a lot of ski touring, correct? Why don’t you just walk, anyway? But, Andrew, I think you drive, because of,,,convenience, time limits, personal schedule….sort of the same reasons that some of us use snowmobiles to access ski touring terrain. Also, the Wasatch is a relatively small area, so protection sentiment and efforts are understandable. Compared to Washington state, it seems to me that there is a lot more from- the-car high-elevation access for good skiing in the Wasatch and other intermountain areas – that perhaps is why Andrew left soggy Seattle (?). Having been a logger in my youth to support my skiing habit, I now less enjoy skiing or walking through logging units. As a result, I use the roads provided by loggers (by the way) to ride my snowmobile legally to get to the goods and get away from other ski tourers. Sort of like hunting, that is a gift to us regular folks living in the USA. So, perhaps Andrew, your arguments apply more to your local area

    You said, “I also don’t buy the argument about people needing snowmachines as they don’t have enough time to get the goods any other way.”

    Need? Why do we need randonnee skis? Why do we need to ski? These activities are by choice and are available to people like middle class Americans who have great wealth and leisure. It is all politics- competing interests, government and law to control human activities. There is no moral superiority of one over the other. Even some enviro-based comparison of walking compared to using a snowmobile would be specious and disingenuous. The skier drives in a car, uses ski equipment manufactured using petrochemicals and all sort of other materials, resulting in emissions, waste, etc. that is significant if one is focused on that. Sort of like a Prius owner driving alone assumes some sort of superiority over someone in a car using more gas. Bogus- there is all sort of energy expended making that new Pruis, batteries and their effects/ residue, probably nothing more that just a statement, hardly an improvement “environmentally speaking” to any other car. Such would be an argument of superiority of skinning and slogging where a snowmobile is allowed is similarly specious.

  106. Randonnee March 10th, 2009 9:24 pm

    Andrew said-“I’m an avid ski mountaineer and I don’t see any wrong at all with limiting access to motorized transportation. There is a magnificent line in Alaska that I’d love to ski, but the approach is a week in each direction. With a plane and $750 per person, it would be a day if it was legal.”

    Andrew, you are in a very privileged position with your job and sponsorship. The regular folks and even the upper-middle class and above folks do not have the time, fitness, sponsorship or money to do that stuff. Aside from that, you seem to want to limit me, or at least appear against, a regular middle-class-guy, from riding my $500 snowmobile 12 miles up a road so that I may day tour a line and get back to my family the same day. This and other examples of modern ski gear marketing baffles me. The message of this marketing is look what these sponsored guys did, that you the guy who buys our gear will never do. And again, then Andrew, you come out railing against lawful snowmobile use to access ski touring so that us regular guys can get away to some special local spots.

    The prospect of reading about sponsored guys or watching a movie does not motivate me to buy randonnee gear. My opportunity to access ski touring, even with a snowmobile, is the reason that I have for myself five randonnee ski/ binding setups, four boots, and setups for my wife and daughter.

  107. Shane Jones March 10th, 2009 10:45 pm

    I think the problem here is that if we give people an inch they take a mile. The same issue comes up with dirt biking, mountain biking and hiking. Dirt bikes are noisy and hazardous to mountain bikers and hikers. Mountain bikes are not noisy, but can be a pain in the butt for hikers as they intentionally or unintentionally get run off the trail constantly. I grew up in Lake Tahoe riding dirt bikes, mountain bikes and hiking. I would not want to dirt bike around mountain bikers, mountain bike around dirt bikers etc. There are sections of the Tahoe Rim Trail that are hiking only. There are sections where they allow biking and hiking, and there are sections where they allow dirt bikes. Based on the type of recreation you are looking for that particular day you go to appropriate sections.

    It only makes sense to do the same for sleds. The sledders in Tahoe go hammer on sections of Mt. Rose, Blackwood Canyon, Castle Peak etc. The backcountry skiers stay away from these spots, or if they decide to go there they deal with the sleds. I don’t use a snowmobile myself, but I am not against people using them in appropriate places.

    A chief complaint is not that they are just loud, they can be dangerous at times when there is not enough room on a slope for sleds and skiers. Down in the Eastern Sierra around mammoth mountain there is a lot more sled access available which makes sense in certain areas due to long approaches. There are also certain areas that are easy access for backcountry skiing that is littered with sleds.

    As I was putting in a safe skin track in the trees above a local shot called the Sherwins near mammoth ski area a sledder was high marking and ripped off a huge slab that came rumbling down near us. I chose to ski tour in a area where sleds are allowed, so I can’t blame it on the sledder. I did however decide not to ski tour there anymore and choose areas where sleds are not allowed.

    I think we all have different ideas of fun winter recreation, but we are out there for the same reasons. Some like ripping on sleds through fresh powder and others enjoy the beauty and solitude of the mountains through human power like John Muir and Norman Clyde did years ago.

    I am thankful that we have people like Andrew McLean who understand the need to preserve certain places that should limit access to motorized transportation and maintain the integrity these beautiful places were founded on. I also don’t think this is about sponsorship. It is about having designated areas where sleds are allowed and not allowed, simple. It has nothing to do with driving to a trail head, carbon footprint etc. Also if you don’t have the fitness you will gain it by putting down the sled and climbing. That place 12 miles back will be much more special if there isn’t a bunch of people back there buzzing around on sleds. Why not go buzz around and ski the areas where sleds are allowed and ski those? It isn’t about subaru’s prius, hummers etc!

  108. Andrew McLean March 11th, 2009 7:49 am

    For the 37,000th time… I OWN A SNOWMOBILE AND USE IT FOR LEGAL ACCESS UP A SNOW-COVERED ROAD. You guys/girls are just being a bunch of sled martyrs when you continually drag drive to the trailhead argument into the discussion. I’m not anti sled, just anti poaching, which is what this posting was originally all about. I think it is disturbing when the pro sledding community gives poaching the old “Wink, wink – tsk, tsk, don’t do that again (or at least don’t get caught… hahahaha)” courtesy hand slap.

    As far as wilderness or no motorized transport areas go, the best argument for this is going to areas like Cooke City, Vail Pass, Lamoille Canyon, Thompson Pass or Iceland which are all open to sledding and howling cesspools of machines. As a backcountry skier, you go there once and say “Hmmm, that was unpleasant, but they are welcome to it..” and probably don’t go back. Either that or buy yourself Yamaha Slayer ZX-1100r and join the party.

  109. Andrew McLean March 11th, 2009 8:10 am

    Randonee – you are making some very flattering but naive assumptions about the amount of free time I have and what kind of “privilege” comes with sponsorship from outdoor companies.

  110. Randonnee March 11th, 2009 8:33 am

    Shane we agree on many things, such as areas designated for snowmobiles, and that such needs to be enforced.

    It sounds like a bit of elitism at times somewhat like,”I’ve got mine, everyone else needs to do as I do, my way is superior, therefore I have the right to dictate etc..”

    I have been personally involved with my effort and volunteer labor in my area to place signs for non-Wilderness snowmobile closures, and report/ meet with Officials when I have observed snowmobile trespass. Interestingly, I have worked to preserve multiple uses in a corridor where an organized ski event, and certain exclusive attitudes of skiers threaten other uses that are in effect all other times outside the organized event. It is about a balance of multiple-uses.

    The “place 12 miles back” is actually special because it is out of reach of the city folks who read TRs and follow them. A greater detriment to my ski touring than snowmobiles is that effect of TRs online causing interest and crowding by folks who do not find their own special places, don’t study a map or look around- but follow the TRs to certain areas that become overrun bu skiers!

    The only time that I felt endangered was when a skier came in above me on a slope of concern, as my partner waited above and held my avy dog at the ready. nothing happened, that is just an example of a place being overrun by skiers.

    The more crowded, the more the need for clear management and enforcement, as well as civil and respectful behavior among various users.

  111. Cory March 11th, 2009 11:26 am

    Internation Snowmobile Manufacturer Association Stats:

    In 2008, there were 79,552 new snowmobiles sold in the U.S., and 50,556 new snowmobiles sold in Canada. The average suggested retail price of a new snowmobile sold in North America in 2008 was $9,324.00.

    There are approximately 2.8 million registered snowmobiles in the world.
    United States – 1.62 million
    Canada – 708,490
    Scandinavia – 430,000

    The average age of a snowmobile owner is 44 years old.

    The average annual household income for snowmobilers is $72,000.

    The average snowmobiler rides their snowmobile 1040 miles per year.

    Approximately 80% of snowmobilers use their snowmobile for recreational riding. 20% of snowmobilers use their snowmobile for work or general transportation.

    Snowmobilers are active, year around outdoor enthusiasts. 40% go camping (usually in an RV), 56% have a boat and 22% are active golfers.

    There are over 225,000 miles of groomed and marked snowmobile trails in North America that have been developed by volunteer clubs working with local government and private land owners.

    The use of snowmobiles in U.S. National Parks is controlled, organized and regulated by Federal Law Enforcement. The snowmobiling occurs on roads groomed and marked for snowmobiling, the same roadways used by recreational vehicles, cars, trucks and busses. Snowmobiles are NOT used as off-road vehicles in National Parks such as Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain and Grand Teton.

    On US National Forest Land, most of the trails used by snowmobiles are on groomed roads used by summer recreationists. There are also secondary and seasonal roads within the forests used by snowmobilers. These roads are groomed and marked by volunteers who work closely with the local US Forest Service staff in maintaining and managing those areas.

  112. Tom Winkler March 11th, 2009 11:56 am

    Quite a discussion! Can you imagine it if they had taken a dog along as well?

  113. Steve March 11th, 2009 1:07 pm

    Keep on riding mr. tippy.

  114. Lou March 11th, 2009 1:10 pm

    Sorry about the delay on the comments guys, I was actually out backcountry skiing (without use of snowmobile), and had my comment approval delay turned on to prevent spam. Thanks and keep ’em coming.

    The system I use is supposed to allow your comments without moderation once one has been approved, but sometimes that gets broke and it kicks in anyway. When I’m traveling I get guest blogger Dave to keep an eye on things, will be more careful in the future as accidentally blocking comments is a pretty shoddy way to treat blog guests.

  115. Randonnee March 11th, 2009 4:28 pm

    Ok, sorry Andrew. Actually I only work 3 days per week and have lots of vacation time to boot, so maybe I should get some sponsorships? : )} Probably not, what I do is pretty safe and boring…and my training breakfast before touring was potatoes, egg, bacon, 6 shots of espresso and a Mountain Dew- I wonder if I could get sponsored by Mountain Dew and Hormel?

    I just got back from 2000 vert of powder on a bluebird day, with the 8 mile and 2700 vert snowmobile approach… : )} : )} Back in time to fix dinner for my girls…

    As far as snowmobile trespass, that gets me riled as well. In my opinion, Wilderness Boundaries should be well signed, and the Penalty for Wilderness snowmobile trespass should be a $10,000 fine (not just $500) and confiscation of the snowmobile. That would fund real enforcement.

    It would be fine as well if snowmobiles on Public Land were restricted to motor vehicle roads. Off road riding should be designated in identified play areas. Perhaps it is time for some letter writing…

  116. Dave N. March 12th, 2009 11:00 am

    Are you guys really still debating the ethics of this as if you’re so much better? Please spare us. Do you ever think that those that violate speed limits are endangering the opportunity for all of us to drive cars or approach the speed limit? What about the fact that the faster you drive, the more carbon emissions you create? What losers speeders are! How could they, with a good conscience, risk our rights to drive cars AND create a greater environmental impact?

    Stupid huh? But this is what you guys sound like sitting back in your armchairs and patting yourselves on the back for not riding a snowmobile in a national park when you would just as easily drive 8hrs to get to the park or even tag along if actually invited.

    This is a non issue and not that big of a deal. Perhaps we should talk about Lou posting this on his website that has sponsors when this was filmed on our public land? Isn’t Lou essentially making money from our public lands without a permit? Gasp!!!

    Get over this thing people. This is a skiing blog not a crybaby blog.”

    Ken: I do think this is a very appropriate place to discuss this. The issue is not going away and all the better to disseminate info in discussions before inappropriate legislation is invoked.

    All: it is true that too much complaining by all could result in complete closures to all-stranger things have happened. That said, rational discussions/ideas here lead to more fruitful, rather than contentious, debate on future forest use plans. The Koch debate has been settled, but it has brought to the forefront (again) of future use of motors for “human powered” recreation. Keep up the discussion!

  117. Njord March 12th, 2009 2:29 pm

    All this huffing and puffing makes me want to go out and buy a snowmobile… seems like the classifieds are full of good deals these days!

    My biggest concern is: Do I go with the 2-stroke and the extra power or try to find the 4 stroke and deal with the extra weight?


  118. Lou March 12th, 2009 2:40 pm

    4-stroke, no question, just unbelievable having no gas/oil/twostroke pollution, and it’s really quiet. Electric start and reverse, in my view essentials for a ski access sled.

  119. Randonnee March 12th, 2009 6:26 pm


    There is the cheapo plan for snowmobile transportation. Two years ago I found a used Ski Doo Tundra II for $1000 with “80 hours”- it looked like it also. Most recently to replace my older Tundra I found a 1984 2-passenger Yamaha Enticer kept at a weekend cabin, looks good, runs strong- for $500. All I have done is put gas, oil and spark plugs and used it to get to the goods for ski touring, hauling buddies many days- not bad for $500. We go with 3 guys on my 2 sleds, and I tow two skiers easily on a road with the Tundra if needed. The cheapo rigs require some maintenance costs, but so could that $8000 snowmobile after the warranty expires.

    I spend my $$ on Dynafit rigs and buy cheapo snowmobiles… : )}.

  120. John Gloor March 12th, 2009 7:26 pm

    Njord, four strokes are definitely the ideal, especially from a pollution standpoint, but there are negatives to offset the electric start and reverse. Four strokes are way heavier, and and electric start is a necessity to turn them over. Reverse gearing adds more weight. Both Skidoo and Polaris 2 stroke sleds from 2002 era on start easily with a pullcord and offer PERC electronic reverse (2 strokes have no cams and can run either direction with no added gearing weight). The biggest 2stroke plus is that they are way cheaper for the non-sledneck. For $2500-3000 you can get an excellent used two stroke where as a new 2009 Nytro runs around $11,300. Four stroke prices will come down as more come on the used market, so that is apples vs oranges but the four stroke engine is an extremely complex motor and is expensive to work on.

    There is no doubt that the other users on the trail/road appreciate a quiet four stroke over my smoky 2stroke, but I do not see too many people at 7:00 in the morning going in. You’ll need to balance the prius smug factor vs your pocketbook to make your choice.

  121. Lou March 12th, 2009 7:36 pm

    Jeez, never thought I’d be accused of driving a Prius! Next thing you know I’ll be moving to Boulder? (grin)

  122. John Gloor March 12th, 2009 7:48 pm

    Yeah Lou, I thought I throw that one out there. Have you seen the South Park episode about the smug prius owners? Hilarious. The new ideal will be an electric and silent sled that no one will object to, except for startling people as it creeps up behind them. It is in the works but is currently unfeasable. New battery technologies might change that.

  123. MJ Hall March 12th, 2009 10:09 pm

    Elmer Fudd says, “be veery veery quiiet…” as he creeps through the mountains.

  124. Lou March 13th, 2009 6:27 am

    I’d like to add something serious to this comment thread, based on my experience. Some of you have alluded that my bringing up the vagueness of the Wilderness Act and how many more users could be restricted from Wilderness based on interpretation of the Act is some kind of scare tactic most common to the motorized lobby.

    I beg to differ. When mountain biking first became popular it was legal in Wilderness. Me and a group of friends took advantage of that and did many classic rides in Colorado that are now illegal, some of which would still make perfectly good and viable bicycle routes. Good or bad? I don’t know.

    But getting beyond value judgements and just to support my point: First bicycles were legal in Wilderness, then they were not, simply based on the interpretation of the Wilderness Act by district rangers and other bureaucrats.

    In my view this is a firm example of what I’m talking about, and has nothing to do with motorized travel or the motorized advocates. Me saying that various restrictions of human activity in Wilderness could continue to grow is no fantasy, in view of the past it is in my opinion a likely reality. Where in the Wilderness Act does it differentiate between a ski binding and a bicycle crankset as one being more Wilderness friendly than the other? It simply does not. (And yes Virginia, I’ve read it.)

    Again, getting beyond motorized recreation issues, in my view we need to realize that legal Wilderness might garner warm and fuzzy feelings when looked at or enjoyed on the surface — provided your chosen recreation is the legal version of the day. But in terms of recreation management it is a problematic land designation. As always, I’m in favor of a new designation that is more recreation friendly but still protects the land from excessive development or excessive road building. There, another two cents…

  125. Randonnee March 13th, 2009 8:13 am

    Paragliding was labeled “incompatible with Wilderness” not long after it got started here in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Go figure what the logic is there…

  126. Andrew McLean March 13th, 2009 8:59 am

    This seems confusing Lou considering that the protected status of the Colorado 14’ers is 99% of what makes skiing them a challenge. If you could heli or sled to the summits, tagging them all would be trivial. Same thing with the Trooper Traverse – there wouldn’t be a lot of quite reflection going on if it was a highway.

  127. Steve March 13th, 2009 9:12 am

    Check out the new, well sort of, they’ve been out a couple of years, E-Tec 2 stroke Skidoo XP mountain sled. 600 cc, 120 hp. Emissons of a 4 stroke, add oil once a season. Come standard with reverse. There are now 2 strokes with clean emissons. I had the displeasure of putting my face near the exhaust of a 4 stroke exhaust and I can tell you it isn’t pleasant. After many miles they all start to stink, as do our cars. But then we picked up a used Polaris for cheap, well maintained, and is a sometime used/backup sled/wife’s sled, and it works fine. New top end helps on the smoking prob after several K of miles.
    But anyway, I think sleds are here to stay so I hope we can all get along, b/c neither side is going away.
    I like the idea of putting the dollar amount on the fine large enough to really be a deterrent, and seizing a sled would hurt, even for just 30 days. That’d slow down riding in wilderness areas.

    One more wild thought. I’ve been in Yellowstone (many times) all different seasons. I’ll take the winter with sleds, I was there during their busiest time of winter, any day over a week in July with all the large tour buses and thousands of cars jamming up the roads. Holy cow if they want to fix that problem, then limit the number of visitors in the summer. That’ll excite some people.

  128. hunter March 13th, 2009 9:24 am

    I think that many here are missing the big picture. Wilderness designations are not set up to provide for recreational opportunities alone. In fact, this is the least important purpose of wilderness areas. Instead, they are designed to protect wildlife habitat, to keep intact (and to provide) wildlife movement corridors, to (in some cases) protect watersheds and water quality and provide refuge from the impacts and trappings of “civilization,” especially motorized and industrial impacts. In short, to protect some of the last “natural” geography left in the United States. The reason that most wilderness exists in the high alpine or the deep desert is because these are the only places that were not heavily impacted or settled, not because politicians thought that’s where everyone would want to go play.

    I think that it is telling that almost all us that read Wild Snow have come to the conclusion (conscious or not) that wilderness areas exist solely for our pleasure. I would like to ride my mt. bike in some areas that are designated wilderness, but I also appreciate knowing that there are places that one can go where there exists a near-natural environment (minus the predators we’ve killed), free of engine noise, exhaust fumes, screaming packs of adrenaline junkies (of which, admittedly, I am one), rutted trails and stressed wildlife. Thus the question I pose then is: are we as a culture (the outdoor ski/bike/sled/paraglide/etc crew) so selfish as to deny the idea of wilderness simply so that we can chalk up more descents/routes/rides, etc. I hope that we are better than that.

  129. Andrew McLean March 13th, 2009 10:28 am

    I think the argument that if one form of mechanized use is prohibited in the Wilderness that we risk losing all of them is pure Limbaugh Logic. “First they make helicopters and sleds illegal, next they are throwing you in jail for carrying a retractable ball-point pen in your pocket while you are hiking barefoot!” I have more faith in people and the legal system than that, and if it does come to that, I’m okay with it as natural wilderness is a dying entity.

    In the Wasatch (that’s the over-crowded, highly polluted, tiny little mountain range in Utah you guys keep mentioning), we have two Wilderness areas. Although they faced fierce opposition when they went in, I’d say there’s close to a 100% approval rating for them now, with the only grumpy people being the heli skiing company and local sledders. You can still take a horse up to Lone Peak, and, I know you guys will love this – you can still kill animals there, although you have to pack the carcass out without a motor. It is hardly as draconian as you are making it out to be.

    And, while you can still drive to the trailhead, they have prohibited motorized vehicles in the wilderness areas, which has vastly improved the area. Actually, motorized vehicles have always been prohibited, but Civilly Disobedient poaching morons completely trashed the foothills until they were nothing but barren dust fields littered with cans, bottles and all sorts of garbage. Now they are regrowing and the only downside is that the wilderness boundary is marked excessively with tons of signage, which I guess is needed as poachers usually ignore the first ten signs they see.

    I was up there last summer and came across two poachers on a dirt bike and an ATV. I talked to them, took a bunch of clear photos and sent them into the Sheriff’s office, who did nothing about it as I didn’t get the VIN number. Next time I see a illegal vehicle in the wilderness it is getting the Bic lighter treatment.

  130. Randonnee March 13th, 2009 10:36 am


    I am not arguing against preservation and stewardship of Wilderness, just that recreation within Wilderness is an original tenet of the 1964 Wilderness Act.

    Here are excerpts from the 1964 Wilderness Act:

    …designated by Congress as “wilderness areas”, and these shall be administered for the use and enjoyment of the American people…”

    “…has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation;…”

    As far as philosophy, I believe that Wilderness and other resources are for the use of man, man is not apart from nature. That does not exclude good stewardship in some cases in pristine natural condition.

  131. Frank Konsella March 13th, 2009 10:51 am

    Jeez, Lou, might have to bump this one back to the top of wildsnow since it’s the most popular (grin)

    Hunter, that ideal of wilderness is great, but unfortunately wilderness doesn’t always conform to the perfect unspoiled ideal. Last fall I visited Capitol Peak from Capitol Creek for the first time outside of snow season in a long time. After walking miles and miles of wilderness, deftly avoiding cow patties the whole way, we reached the designated campsites, each one marked with a wooden sign that in no way resembled a “permanent installation” 😉 the way that summit registers or climbing bolts do (gasp!) (those are no-no’s). We eventually found a campsite that wasn’t 100% cow poo and went to sleep to the all-natural sounds of MOO!

    This is hardly the only example I could come up with- there are plenty of wilderness trails so overrun by cows, horses, and sheep that Lou’s jeep would have no trouble on them, as they are a few feet wide. Of course, carrying a paraglider backpack on that trail, or riding a MTB on a trail like that would really wreck things, wouldn’t it?

    Which goes right back to the start of this thread- how can a snowmobile used by a fisherman be OK, and one used by a skier by bad? Why is a boat motor OK, but a snowmobile motor bad? Ban ’em both, or make both legal– you know, something seemingly logical.

  132. Jeff Stephens March 13th, 2009 11:42 am

    I will keep it brief.

    1: Frank Konsella’s comments are really stupid. His argument implies that because wilderness areas are not 100% pristine, they should be opened to motorized use. I consider this to be an insane, borderline-criminal viewpoint. Should I encounter his sled beyond a wilderness boundary, I will gleefully disable it.

    2: There is so much fuel in this thread to feed a surging criticism of motor access advocates. Are you all completely oblivious to the state of the world? Are you unable to exercise even the slightest moderation in your American “liberty?” How can you, as a collective, claim to lack adequate access to anything? It is impossible to get more than a few miles from a road in the USA. Should it really be an American policy to make it illegal for a place to be more than 7 miles from motorized parking?

    3: Lou. You disrespect skiing, and discredit yourself when you repeatedly advocate for better motorized access at the expense of wildness, ecology, and beauty. You have fallen from the path of adventure that you once traveled. Every time someone calls you out, you try to back up two steps and spend your “two cents” on expedience. Why don’t you, for once, spend your two cents expounding about a place’s remoteness and solitude, rather than trumpet your awesome gear and sled setup? Maybe because you don’t care.

    4: As ski culture is a meritocracy, I should point out that few individuals have ever compiled ski resumes like Andrew McLean. He has basically outskied all of us, and managed to retain some sense of ethic. Some explain his status by calling him “privileged.” So, snowmobiles are for the underprivileged. How much do they cost? How about those trailers? What about the trucks to tow them? Are they part of the new ‘Merican redneck welfare program? Will I get one in the mail?

    Jeff Stephens

  133. Jeff Stephens March 13th, 2009 11:48 am

    As for Koch, he admitted he F’d up, faced the consequences. He seems fine with it. Do people feel bad for him or something? I thought he was some kind of world-class badass, for whom a long-flat approach was attainable. He’s also a snowboarder and a realtor, so he clearly gives in to temptation. I think he’ll be OK.

  134. Andrew McLean March 13th, 2009 11:50 am

    Or, an interesting counter-post to this one might be how to destroy or disable a sled you find parked deep within the wilderness with a set of ski or snowshoe tracks leading away from it. You know, a little civil disobedience Edward Abbey style.

  135. John Gloor March 13th, 2009 1:03 pm

    After reading Hunter’s column which was not posted when I was last typing, I no longer condone sabotage, at least in the winter. It is the equivalent of sinking someone’s boat while they are taking a swim at sea. Maintain the high moral ground and turn them in to the authorities.

  136. Randonnee March 13th, 2009 12:19 pm

    We had established that all here are against Wilderness intrusion by snowmobiles. That seems confused at times. I own and use snowmobiles but as stated am fine with their use for transportation where cars or motorcycles are legal in summer. Fine with me if so many bc skiers do not use snowmachines. I have many great days in pristine country , in solitude, since I do not spend hours getting to and from the good stuff walking on a road.

    Jeff Stephens uses a lot of name calling, derogatory comments, and threats for some reason. Try to make some points with ideas perhaps. Not impressed. And it was not brief…

    Whatever “ski culture” Jeff refers to I could care less. I enjoy randonnee skiing, solitude, nature, challenge. I could give a rip or less about some artificial “meritocracy.”

    Andrew, I understand the emotion, but if you were really going to damage someone’s snowmachine should you be advertising your plans? I have sat on a Wilderness summit and watched snowmobiles in Wilderness, called Sheriff and USFS, met with USFS, “nothing” could be done. I get it…


  137. a guy March 13th, 2009 12:27 pm

    Just watched the youtube vid of the skillet. Koch shoulda been busted for doing it in such easy conditions.

  138. hunter March 13th, 2009 12:33 pm

    Andrew, funny to think about, but bad in practice; one is that you’d leave a big piece of garbage in said wilderness, and two; you may be putting the operator in mortal danger, after all, many of the slednecks (not the skiing kind, of course:)) would have no idea how to get back out without their sled and lack even the most basic survival skills and gear.

    Randonnee, I don’t think that you are advocating motorization of wilderness, but if you take your quote from the Wilderness Act ” …designated by Congress as “wilderness areas”, and these shall be administered for the use and enjoyment of the American people…” and read this as allowing any and all recreation that now exists, or will exist in the future, it comes close. If my favored type of recreation was driving a Hummer in mud and I felt that the best mud only exists in high alpine tarns and streams, should I have the right to drive up there and go mudding? I’m curious how sleds, paragliders, mt. bikes, bolted climbing routes, etc, matches with your second quote from the Act “…has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation;…” Furthermore, while I agree with you that humans are part of nature, our activities, tools, toys and actions are not. We alone among all animals can and do make conscious choices that impact the environment and everything in it. Because we can build and operate machines, and since we have plenty of free time and the freewill to use them, doesn’t mean that we are part of a healthy and natural ecosystem. Nothing personal here BTW…

    Frank, I have to agree, although not so forcefully, with Jeff’s comments. Cattle and sheep are serious problems in wilderness, and on most public lands, but they have a historical “rights” to use these lands. Since grazing in wilderness is slowly being phased out, there is hope that these lands can be revitalized and recovered to close to their natural state. Using your logic, they instead would be filled with roads, moto trails and via-ferratas for all.

  139. John Gloor March 13th, 2009 12:35 pm

    Andrew, I’m all for disabling a sled/atv found in wilderness. I’d refrain from the bic treatment since arson is a jail worthy offense and creates a mess. Best option is to yank out the ignition box or pour bleach in the tank, but you won’t have that with you. The old sugar in the tank trick was pretty well disproved on Mythbusters. Then tell the forest service where they can find the offending vehicle, while maintaining the high moral ground.

    There has been a lot of sled bashing in this column, but even the most ardent sled supporters here only seem to advocate access on covered roads, where legal. Instead of punishing the law abiding folks, why not try more enforcement of existing laws. For example, I just had two rangers ask for my sled registration near Aspen. This is the first and only time that I have seen that in my 42 years here and 10 years owning any type of off road vehicle. Enforcement is virtually non-existent and the penalties are a relative slap on the wrist. They should make it like big game poaching. Huge fine, you loose the offending vehicle, and possibly the tow vehicle at the trailhead. Anything related to the offense should be forfeited, not unlike drug trafficking. This might change peoples ideas of where they should poach wilderness or closed areas.

    Lou, what is the all time record for responses. This one has to be up there

  140. MJ Hall March 13th, 2009 1:44 pm

    Vandalism and threats. Not good…I don’t think that comes under the heading of common sense.

  141. Lou March 13th, 2009 2:44 pm

    I just got back from skiing a pristine powder slope without use of snowmobile, but it wasn’t in legal Wilderness so I’ll let that one slide (grin). Good comments from all of you, though I don’t appreciate the ad hominem arguments that seem to be creeping in here. let’s all refrain from the name calling, please.

    As for faith in our legal system and government to do the right thing with legal Wilderness, I’m startled to see that kind of faith but perhaps that’s a positive trend. I thought the general consensus was that our government generally screwed up just about anything they did… and the way Wilderness is being managed seems to prove that point rather than belie it.

    But then, I’ve most certainly enjoyed many days of beautiful, even life changing recreation in legal Wilderness. And as I’ve always stated, having some is a great thing — I only question how much is enough. That seems like a valid question that anyone who’s into the stuff should have an answer to. My answer is that in most places we have enough though another preservation oriented land designation would be good to add to the mix. To you advocates of legal Wilderness, how much should we have?

  142. Tim M. March 13th, 2009 2:47 pm

    Who knew that, in addition to beacon, probe and shovel, being well-equipped in the backcountry today also means possessing a certain gleeful, albeit whiny, willingness to throw your partner under the bus? So, cheers; black eyes all around.

  143. Lou March 13th, 2009 2:50 pm

    I bumped this up to the top just for fun. But in all seriousness, you guys are making some very interesting and well thought out comments that are nice to have on the record. Perhaps the Sierra Club will add this thread to their research library?

  144. Jeff Stephens March 13th, 2009 4:44 pm

    I used no name calling. I said some stupid comments were “stupid.” Sorry if I stank up your area, Randonee Rob. I do get pretty pissed about all this. So, are you defending Koch? After all, you stated that “wilderness [is a] resource for the use of man.” Maybe WalMart should buy it and sell it back to us. Will you be my steward?

    Anyway, to modify Lou’s quote:

    “But then, I’ve most certainly enjoyed many days of beautiful, even life changing recreation [on] legal [roads]. And as I’ve always stated, having some is a great thing — I only question how much is enough. That seems like a valid question that anyone who’s into the stuff should have an answer to. My answer is that in most places we have enough though another [access] oriented land designation would be good to add to the mix. To you advocates of legal [motorized access], how much should we have?”

    Must I point out that the Wilderness is NOT encroaching on our towns and roads. We LOSE wilderness and GAIN roads every year. When will there be enough access?

  145. Lou March 13th, 2009 4:51 pm

    Talk about putting words in someone’s mouth! This has to take the cake on that one… LOL

  146. Jeff Stephens March 13th, 2009 4:52 pm


    Is that your response? Not LOL…

  147. Lou March 13th, 2009 5:12 pm
  148. Jeff Stephens March 13th, 2009 5:18 pm

    Don’t know if it was relevant, but that link to your old Wind River post was very nice. It really seemed to celebrate the place, and you observed how the place was special and affected your experience. It was sweet, unpolitical, and sincere. Thanks.

    Why don’t you do those kind of posts anymore?

  149. Lou March 13th, 2009 5:34 pm

    Jeff, I do plenty of trip reports, many in Wilderness, but we’ve not done any backpacking for the last few years so have not had fodder for those types of TRs. Many Wilderness advocates say that knowing the Wilderness is there is good enough for them — that they don’t have to see it or feel it or touch it. I can see their point of view, but imaginary Wilderness doesn’t exactly make for good trip report blog posts (grin), though I guess I could write something philosophical.

    But more coming as we do more trips (provided we can afford the horses). In all honesty, the other thing that’s going on is that with success of I have a lot less time in the summer for adventures, as that’s the season for doing blog redesigns and catching up with a huge list of work that gets put off in the winter.

    But here is another one for you, that involved both legal Wilderness as well as using a hut in non-Wilderness backcountry that I believe is a good example of land that could use that “backcountry” designation I suggest, which allows things such as building huts, limited road use, and other things that legal Wilderness doesn’t allow.

  150. Randonnee March 13th, 2009 6:29 pm

    Jeff, you seem to be on the attack here. That is not necessary to make cogent arguments.

    No I do not defend whats-his-name, and have nothing kind to say about him so I will not add that. I agree that the Reg that allows fisherman to ride a snowmobile and not others would be fair and logical only to the bureaucrat who wrote it.

    My whole thing is to manage for multiple-use on public land. Just because a rule is broken or Wilderness violated by motorized use does not condemn all motorized use. Highways here traverse the Forest in many places- should we prohibit that use? Naive do-gooder initiatives have resulted in out of control animal populations, such as cougar in towns here attacking pets, deer problems in other places. Some initiatives for furry critters interfere with reasonable human-use of their public land.

    Here in WA, there are some fantastic and large Wilderness Areas. In addition, with all of the enviro/ save-a-critter agendas most non-Wilderness USFS Land (eg formerly logged/ roaded now an unmanaged mess) is being increasingly burdened with increasing regulations, less opportunity for recreation. And I do love the critters, but logical and sober management goes away with the political pressure. It seems that a lot of political pressure and $$ is from uninformed urban/ suburbanites who support the anti-human-use agendas. Some of them rant similarly (to you).

  151. B C BOB March 13th, 2009 7:52 pm

    Q: If you have two snowboarders are in a car, who is driving?
    A:The police
    The bottom line is that Koch is a snowboarder. He didn’t see any skiers (to piss off) on his illegal snowmobile ride in so he decided to post it on youtube (to piss skiers off.)
    P.S. Lou, was that you highmarking the cleaver today?

  152. Mark Worley March 13th, 2009 9:04 pm

    Quite the philosophical brouhaha going on here. I’ll simply state that Koch, who has done many things in the backcountry that are among the first line of envelope pushing, looked a bit soft by taking that sled across the lake. C’mon, Steve, you’ve skinned at altitudes most of us only attain by flying in a plane!

  153. Mark Worley March 13th, 2009 9:14 pm

    A question for those who advocate disabling a sled/ATV found within wilderness: What exactly do you mean by disabling? A sled/ATV that can’t be run or driven back out of the wilderness area could be as much of a annoyance as a functional one. I hate litter, and a dead sled would qualify as litter.

  154. Frank Konsella March 13th, 2009 9:58 pm

    It’s kind of fun to point out logical inconsistencies and then have those observations repeatedly called out as stupid 🙂

    For the record, I have never ridden my bike, hangglided, set a bolt, or ridden a snowmobile in a wilderness area, nor do I have plans to. I mostly just drive my snowmobile up a road, park it, and skin up from there. I like wilderness, I disagree wholeheartedly with the bumpersticker that says “Wilderness: Land of No Uses”. I would like to see wilderness areas actually look like wilderness, with trails that aren’t 5 feet wide due to huge groups of pack horses or cows everywhere. A bolt 1,000′ up that no one can see- that is something I could care less about.

    As for balance, I’ve got 2 wilderness areas to my west, another to the north, and yet another to the SE. Add to that some roads which are closed to snowmobiles and open in the summer to everything else. Add to that some roads which are technically legal to snowmobile, but are too steep and sidehilled for anyone to use as access anyway. Balance is just fine here, and I can see that because for every face I wish didn’t have aggro sled tracks all over it, I can see another 10 spots that would take a full day to get to, but doesn’t have any tracks of any kind on it.

  155. Lou March 14th, 2009 5:09 am

    Frank, Andrew and all, this region of Colorado has indeed turned into one of the best mixes of access and legal Wilderness I can think of. Combine that with our lower population than more urban areas such as Wasatch and Colorado Front Range and we’ve got incredible quality. Even the snowmobile trespass that does occur around here is usually not that big a deal (though I’d like it to stop.) The snowpack has even been better over the last few years, probably because of global warming. It’s just been amazing — I keep pinching myself.

    My point? A lot of backcountry management needs are based on fairly regional issues. Ours are perhaps different than those of Andrew in the Wasatch. But if that’s the case, is it wise to depend on the Federal government to handle those issues, if they’re regional? Some of this seems to come back to Fed vs State vs County vs Village tension in how land management issues are handled. Yeah, most public land we recreate on is Federal, but at least around here a ton of the access is on state or county roads, and the management of those roads has a lot to do with how the surrounding lands are used/abused.

    Just thinking out loud. Thanks all for your input.

  156. Lou March 14th, 2009 5:18 am

    Oh, one other thing, how many Dynafit skiers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? I don’t know the answer, but I’ll bet some of you guys do. Andrew?

    To get the creative juices flowing:

  157. Jeff Stephens March 15th, 2009 1:05 pm

    Hey Rob,

    I didn’t realize there were out-of-control cougar attacks threatening Washington’s population. That sounds scarier than driving on a highway for God’s sake. Do you usually ski with a gun? That would be way commando.

    Yes, I’m on the attack. Against anti-ecological BS. I don’t care so much about designated Wilderness. That’s just a line on a map. I do care a lot about wild places. And wild places have been under attack for a long time. Unlike Washington, where the wildness is attacking people as they jog at dusk, I have for my whole life witnessed non-stop suburban growth, subdivisions built on forest boundaries, overcrowded diseased forests, gas wells in meadows, etc. I am very defensive.

    If you want to place a human-centered definition on what is wild, then we fundamentally disagree. So be it. Your “whole thing is managing for multiple use.” What do you do, Rob, when uses interfere with each other? How do you prioritize the uses? Why can’t there be some places (just a few percent, you******) where non-motorized uses trump motorized uses? Or where ecological integrity trumps recreation? You imply that recreational access for humans is the Number One preferred use for public land in all cases. Correct me if I misunderstand you. So, at any time, I should be able to drive right through your camp, or land my helicopter on your dog, as long as its on public land?

    To Frank Konsella. Sorry I called our comments stupid. You were just making a hypothetically absurd argument. I often do that myself. I apologize for becoming upset. You seem like a thoughtful fellow.

    By disabling a snowmobile, I simply mean flipping it upside down and flooding its engine. It will be fine in a few hours, but greatly inconveniences its operator. No damage done, just making up for the time they gained by sledding in. It’s easy and it’s fun!

  158. Jeff Stephens March 15th, 2009 1:15 pm


    Rob stated that it is Washington’s PETS, not its people, that live under the pall of imminent cougar attack. I am sorry for the mistake. We should probably manage public lands to maximize the integrity of pets, as opposed to native wildlife. Rob does “love the critters,” (I assume he means the wildlife) but these are people’s pets we’re talking about. Not some anonymous porcupine or an ill-tempered marten, but somebody’s pet.

  159. D Sproul March 15th, 2009 3:25 pm

    P.S. Whippets in deep pow?

  160. Andrew McLean March 15th, 2009 10:10 pm

    Lou said: “Even the snowmobile trespass that does occur around here is usually not that big a deal (though I’d like it to stop.)”

    It’s usually not that big a deal to sledheads, but a big deal to everyone else. Perhaps Colorado should be made into a dedicated motor-sports state and then they could be outlawed everywhere else. 🙂

    As far as disabling sleds in the wilderness, they would still have their VIN numbers on them, so they would be traceable back to their owners, who would be liable for their garbage. Well, unless the VIN numbers were stripped and the machines shoved down a drainage, but that would be pretty unethical.

  161. Bill Hunt March 15th, 2009 11:58 pm

    How many extreme skiers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

    A dozen.
    One to screw in the bulb, and the others to all stand around and watch him, and say: “I could do that”.

    How many telemark skiers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

  162. Lou March 16th, 2009 6:25 am

    All, I just want to go on record and say that in my opinion destroying, damaging or just pranking private property owned by people out recreating is not the solution to snowmobile trespass. If you feel strongly the other way, and have actually put your words into action (rather than just bluster on an internet chat), go ahead and advocate for it if you want, otherwise please leave off the theorizing about how to wreck people’s hard earned possessions. Instead, how about some more ideas on how to actually deal with this in real life?

    You guys are all clever. Andrew is a world class technician and designer. There must be some excellent non-violent solutions you guys can come up with. For example, if snowmobiles are trespassing through a known bottleneck (Andrew’s road?), how about a motion activated camera hidden on a tree that shoots photos of their registration stickers? How about renting or borrowing a sat phone when you’re going into an area where you’re pretty sure you’ll see trespassers, then calling the authorities as you sit up on the peak watching the guys, so the Sheriff can meet them at the trailhead?

    Let’s act like forward thinking rational adults, instead of children at playschool stomping on other kids toys. After all, we’re taking the moral highground when it comes to this issue, so why not keep that instead of descending to the level of vandalism? It’s clicheish to say this, but I’d offer that destroying or pranking trespassing snowmobiles would simply take you down to their level. A crime for a crime, if you will…

  163. Alan Angelopulos March 16th, 2009 7:24 am

    162 posts? Holy crap. Looks like the guy paid for his crime by getting fired from his guiding job and being fined. I doubt he would do something like this again.
    There is pros and cons to everything. I personally don’t use snowmobiles, but drive a car to the trailhead. In my opinion, people like me are just as “guilty” as the guy who pull up to the TH and unloads a sled to access his/her favorite stash.
    As far as trespassing or accessing non motorized areas with a sled- the law is the law. Work on changing the law, or shut the hell up.

  164. Andrew McLean March 16th, 2009 8:52 am

    Speaking of destroying property, I was hiking along a ridge in the summer when I can across a series of trees way out in the middle of nowhere which had been chainsawed off and trundled down the side slopes. It seemed like random destruction until winter came along and sled tracks started showing up on the ridge. Nice job guys.

    Another time I called a friend’s cell phone and when he answered he said he could barely hear as his ears were ringing so much from a chainsaw session where they were clearing trees so they could get their sled through.

    So, it seems to be OK for private individuals to destroy public lands, but not for the public to destroy private property when it is being used illegally? Just checking the rules here.

  165. Jeff Stephens March 16th, 2009 9:02 am

    Hey Rando Rob.

    I am sorry to you and to others I may have offended with my cynicism. I am an annoying dragon. Lou personally e-mailed me to ask me to tone it down. I’m assuming you didn’t get one of these messages.

    So, I respectfully apologize for disagreeing with you so forcefully. I publicly defer and admit that my opinions have been fundamentally influenced by ecological doctrines that l learned from leftist professors in Portland, OR.

    (This is the kind of sarcastic paragraph I should not write:) With the guidance and support of the “League to Provide Unlimited Access to Skiers Everywhere,” I hope to someday place my own needs above those of plants, animals, and other inferior lifeforms. Then, I too, will be able to maximize my rightful utility of wild places and claim my place, as a man, in the center of the universe.

    Until then, I can only apologize for being completely ignorant of the beauty that you see in fragmented, exploited landscapes, and hope that I can learn to accept a weak and civilized version of nature. From now on, I will try to appreciate the wisdom in the thread, and I will try to suppress my own desire to assault what I disagree with.

    Someday, in glisse heaven, Rob and I can even work together across party lines to maximize both motorized access and biodiversity, while simultaneously improving our climate! Isn’t that what we all want?

    I look forward to being really nice, with the support of the WildSnow culture.

    And finally (one last sarcasm): You gotta give props to Koch for doing what he wanted and seizing the day. He didn’t let the Green Fist hold him down. Is there any way we can seize tomorrow too? Can we seize the entire future and use it wisely today? That would be totally awesome for a few hours.

  166. Lou March 16th, 2009 9:14 am

    Andrew, I’m just saying that if you want to prevent illegal sledding, destroying people’s property is in my opinion not the best way to go about that. Sorry if I appeared to broaden the discussion to one of ethics and one law vs another law. Again, can’t you guys think of some cool ways to bust trespassing snowmobilers, instead of talking about how to commit crimes of your own that could get you in a lot of trouble?

  167. Jeff Stephens March 16th, 2009 9:16 am

    How is it a crime to flip over a snowmobile that is parked illegally? Not any more inconvenient than having your car booted.

  168. Lou March 16th, 2009 9:40 am

    Jeff, to the best of my non lawyer knowledge two wrongs don’t make a right. It’s that basic. Just because a person is doing something illegally, or a car is parked illegally, that doesn’t make it legal for a citizen to tamper with it or prank it. How severe the tampering is is not the issue. This whole concept is basic to our legal system. I hope you already knew that and were just posing a rhetorical question!

    Again, have you got any ideas for something more effective we could do other than flipping over a snowmobile?

  169. Mit Yellek March 16th, 2009 10:05 am

    Lou, one point lost on this blog continuously is the higher power some of us feel, a religious like link to if you will…and that is non-motorized, or true, Wilderness ….or dare i say, the “real mountains”…where jeeps, trucks, snowmobiles…wahh waaahhh dirt bikes…etc. are not found.

    If a poaching of wilderness on a sled is a $250 fine…..that would seem like a “lift ticket” to these types who have $35K trucks carrying $10K sleds…. But to that person who’s one great wilderness backcountry ski trip is ruined by this illegal action…messing with their sled may seem like a small retaliation for messing with their religios experience. Not that i’d mess with their sled…as i wouldn’t want to associate with such a thing at all….but it sure does cause some rage…

    It’s probably impossible to explain this- since one persons “great outdoor experience” (sitting atop the hood of their jeep, shooting empty beer cans off the new stump they created)…may seem like a way better time than sitting still and listening to that oh so rare sound….of silence.

    I guess that is why there needs to be seperate places for different types of recreation….don’t you think?

  170. Jeff Stephens March 16th, 2009 10:10 am

    One ancient concept of justice is known as “an eye for an eye.” Its premise is justice through reciprocity.

    Frankly, Lou, our legal system is sorely lacking when it comes to applying just penalties to trespassing on public land. For example, the fine for a snowmobile incursion into designated wilderness on our National Forest is about $50. Fifty dollars! Considering that there is about a zero chance of encountering a ranger on public land, there is about zero chance of actually getting fined. And in the extremely rare event that an incursion was busted, so what? It probably cost $50 just to buy the gas to tow the sled to the trailhead. A $50 fine is not a disincentive to trespass.

    Since our legal system does not currently apply just penalties to motorized trespassers, I feel that temporarily disabling a snowmobile by flooding its engine is not only a creative way to bust trespassers, but a just one. You still have not convinced me that that is even illegal to do so. Do you really feel that is an unfair reaction?

  171. Lou March 16th, 2009 10:28 am

    Jeff, one thing we strive for here is accuracy of facts. I don’t pretend to be perfect, but I always try, and I try to keep the comments on the level as well. So…. It is now at least a $500 fine for motorized Wilderness trespass, and the USFS has been doing quite a bit of enforcement in our area and other places as well. As for convincing you that tampering with a snowmobile, or car, or someone’s skis for that matter is illegal, I’ve stated that it is to the best of my knowledge, and suggest you ask an attorney for for an answer. I assure you, the answer will be yes.

    It sounds like you may be confusing ethics with law. In your worldview it might be ethical and thus okay to tamper with and flip someone’s snowmobile upside down without their permission, but it’s illegal to do such a thing.

    By the way, from whom did you get your knowledge of snowmobile mechanics? Depending on the type of engine, and how the oil is supplied, flipping a sled upside down and leaving it that way can do other possibly more damaging things than possibly flooding the engine, not the least of which would be draining oil and gasoline out on the ground. For example, if you flipped my Nytro over and left it, you’d end up draining several quarts of motor oil out on the ground, as well as a quantity of antifreeze and most of the gasoline.

  172. Lou March 16th, 2009 10:41 am

    Mit, good points. Mess with a man’s religion or even be perceived as doing so and you never know what could happen. The Twin Towers certainly had something to do with that part of human nature.

    My take would go something like this: don’t let the violation of your religion inspire hate and rage. If it does, you have a false religion.

    So, to prevent hate and rage, yeah, sometimes segregating recreation types is a good idea. That’s one reason I think having a certain quantity of legal Wilderness is a good thing.

    It’s always good to mention in these discussions that there is not one place left on the planet that’s truly wild, or more specifically, totally uninfluenced by mankind. Indeed, our legal Wilderness around here is quite trammeled, with unhealthy unnatural forests, mining scars, airtravel overhead, other human powered recreators, trespassers and more. But people still seem to like it. I know I do. What logically follows that fact is the question: if wilderness is your god or church or what have you, to what degree does it have to be wild to provide its spiritual nature? I’ve heard many interesting answers to this. Anyone care to bite?

  173. Andrew McLean March 16th, 2009 10:53 am

    I think the best way to bust illegal snowmobiling is for the ‘biling community to come down on hard on those who are doing it. After all, you guys have the most to lose by it. If it is just treated as “not that big a deal” by the sledders, then eventually the Meanie Greenies will push to outlaw it.

    Marking the living snot out of wilderness boundaries is just more pollution. It is like putting “DO NOT CUT” signs on every tree.

    $50 fines do nothing.

    Putting even more sleds out there to catch the other sleds which are illegally out there seems asinine, and leads to more government spending and employees.

    Backcountry skiers have zero chance of catching them (unless the sled breaks down). We also have no idea what trailhead they came from, or where they are going.

    Sat phones are expensive. Why should law abiding backcountry skiers have to carry them and pay for them just to make sure others don’t break the law?

    If backcountry skiers can take the time to look at a map and figure out where the wildness/protected/private property areas are, why can’t the illegal sledders? There’s no excuse, especially with GPS technology.

    I think there should be massive fines, revoked licences and confiscated machines for people who are caught. That and increased anti-sledding legistlation would start get the sledding community to take the poaching issue more seriously.

  174. Lou March 16th, 2009 11:26 am

    Andrew, exactly on the first point. The hard core recreational sledders used to have a huge legal play area up to the Wilderness boundary on Mount Sopris up above Carbondale here. Even so, for years they routinely violated the boundary. Two guys have even been killed by accidentally snowmobiling over the summit and then falling down the north facing cliffs. Thus to prevent the illegal intrusions, the USFS in their travel plan closed almost the whole legal play area. As I’m not a recreational sledder so the closure did not affect me directly, and it did seem appropriate in view of how cavalier all the snowmobilers were about violating the boundary.

    BUT, what’s interesting is that though there is still a tiny bit of poaching up there, the sledders themselves have modified their behavior to the point where any poaching really can be viewed as criminal behavior, not some kind of mass disobedience like speeding, which is how I think they used to view it and what it appeared to be (it was ridiculously massive, a real slap in the face to the Forest Service and the concept of legal Wilderness).

    The clincher is that the USFS left a snowmobile route open that contours along the base of the mountain, and accesses several sled play areas. The road defines the motorized/nonmotorized boundary. To the north of the road, nah nah, to the south, have fun. If the poaching continues at any more than the occasional and obviously criminal level (criminal meaning it’s not ‘ok’ even to most sledders), they will loose the road as it’s not a summer motorized route, only motorized in the winter. So they’re on shaky ground and they know it.

    Hence, the existing snowmobile road provides a packed trail for skiers and snowshoers who choose to access the mountain by human power, and it provides a legal snowmobile trail for those of us who choose mechanized access. And to the north of the road, a HUGE non-motorized area. It’s turned into a pretty cool situation. But , getting back to your point, the snowmobilers are indeed voluntarily obeying the closure. And, it’s now a great backcountry ski area that we again enjoyed this weekend.

    I think this so far excellent situation resulted from a combination of education, growing maturity in at least the sledder population that uses Sopris, and the stiffer fines which are now $500.

    Lastly, I’ve got my eye out for poachers up there like you do on your property and elsewhere in the Wasatch. Believe me, if I see any, I’ll be doing everything in my power to get them busted. Advantage is from many places up there we have cell coverage, so it’s just a phone call. And the trail only has one access point.

  175. Jeff Stephens March 16th, 2009 12:12 pm

    I would never flip over your Nytro because it would never be illegally parked, right? (Why don’t your fluids stay inside??? Couldn’t a snowmobile flip during some good-natured highmarking?) As for snowmobile mechanics, I know nothing except what I was told by a good sledder friend. I am probably wrong about it. (Geez, maybe I really did destroy all those machines. Sorry guys.) And as of 2006, it was still a $50 fine. Maybe they bumped it up very recently. I’ll call Tim Lamb and ask. Even at $500, it is an order of magnitude short.

    As for confusing ethics with law, I don’t think I am. I think ethics trump laws. So, if I encounter a snowmobile above Thomas Lakes, I should just wait until I get home, call a ranger, and assume that it’s been taken care of? Or should I call you and ask what the law is? If I see someone beating his wife, I should not interfere, but just keep eating my burrito and expect the cops to save her? Unlike you, Lou, I have minimal faith in law enforcement. For example, while it may be legal for AIG to give hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses to its employees, I would feel ethically justified in withholding those bonuses from those employees, regardless of what the “Law” says, and even if they are nice people. See how sticking to the law can result in perversion? You’re rushing to the hospital, because your son cracked his head open. You get pulled over for speeding. Your son’s conditioning is worsening rapidly. You can’t argue because of your belief that law trumps ethics. But you WERE speeding, so you must silently accept the law and applaud the cop as your son dies in the backseat. Or should the officer observe the situation and let you go, even assist you? In that case, ethics would be prevailing over law, and you would like it. You broke the law, but could be spared by illegal ethics.

    Most people are upset with Koch because they think he made an ethical violation. But for you, the trouble is that he broke the Law. To many of us, he offended our spirit, which we hold a bit more sacred than the Law.

    Also, acknowledging that the world is not pristine, anywhere, is not a valid argument against conservation. That’s analogous to saying it’s OK to rape people who aren’t virgins anymore. After all, they are no longer pristine, so what is being lost?

    In that sense it is fine to dump snowmobile oil on the ground. That ground was already trammeled, and there is nothing pristine to conserve, and we may as well just go along with it. And the Earth will recover in time, so why worry?

  176. Lou March 16th, 2009 12:23 pm

    Jeff, Where in this thread was I saying that non-pristine land was an argument against conservation, or made it ok to pollute? Or are you just making a statement? All I suggested was if the wild is someone’s church, to what extent does the wild have to be wild to provide spiritual solace? This regarding what Mit wrote about spirituality and religion being a factor in all this.

  177. Andrew McLean March 16th, 2009 12:28 pm

    Well, if the wilderness areas really are that trampled and abused a flipped over or burned out illegal sled will hardly make any difference, right? 🙂

  178. Jeff Stephens March 16th, 2009 12:48 pm


    You deflated Mit’s argument by saying the thing he worships is contaminated. That his ideals are pure fantasy. You said that a trammeled, unhealthy, crowded forest is good enough for you. To me, that statement implies that maximizing ecological health of wild places is unnecessary for insuring man’s enjoyment of those places. You argue against conservation by claiming there is no ideal to conserve.

    Would it be polite for me to point out that Christian whitebeard God is tainted, trammeled, unhealthy, etc? That God has overseen genocides and natural disasters and plagues, that his credibility is compromised. That He is not pristine and I can abuse Him as I see fit. How can you find spiritual solace in a God whose purity has been compromised?

    If I were to come burn bibles in front of your home or vandalize your church, or claim that I had the right to interfere with your worship, would you embrace it? Or would you hate it, because you have a false religion? Maybe you would know how some of us feel.

  179. Jeff Stephens March 16th, 2009 12:50 pm

    It’s amazing how polarizing this blog is. Is that because of skiing, because of Lou, or because of me?

  180. Lou March 16th, 2009 12:53 pm

    Hmmm, Andrew you do make some good points. .

    Oh, and as for the question about sled fluids, different types of snowmobiles do different things in terms of nefarious drainage when they’re in the inverted position. Mine has vents on both the coolant tank and oil reservoir that will drain if the sled is left inverted. In a rollover that’s only momentary this isn’t an issue, but if the sled is left upside down, it is. I actually just made a mod to the Nytro so it wouldn’t dribble oil while on its side, turns out it’s defective that way and people are making a variety of mods to fix the problem. My mod would catch some oil if the sled was left inverted, but it probably wouldn’t catch all of it.

  181. Jeff Stephens March 16th, 2009 12:58 pm


    So what IS the best way to politely and temporarily disable a snowmobile without damaging it? Or should I just pee on the thing and get on with my life?

  182. Lou March 16th, 2009 1:02 pm

    Jeff, you can burn a bible in front of my house any time. I’d think it was pretty strange, but I wouldn’t hate.

  183. Lou March 16th, 2009 1:04 pm

    How about just writing down the registration number and reporting it, and leaving a note that tells the snowmobiler that they’re in legal Wilderness and you’ve reported them?

  184. Jeff Stephens March 16th, 2009 1:23 pm


    Thanks for the tip. But that’s not good enough. The offending trespasser should suffer some kind of immediate inconvenience in my opinion. A note just doesn’t hurt enough.

    Maybe defecating on the seat of the machine is the most offensive and least damaging way to inconvenience the sledder. Nothing that can’t be wiped off with a Gore-Tex sleeve. In the event that you don’t have to go Number Two, you can make yourself vomit on the machine. I know it’s childish, but so is being unable to read a map. Today’s snow machines are designed to handle even these rugged conditions.

  185. Jeff Stephens March 16th, 2009 1:28 pm

    Lark at the City told me that burning bibles would violate an ordnance. Dang it, Lou, how can I get you to feel the hate???

  186. Lou March 16th, 2009 1:35 pm

    Ummm, tip over my snowmobile ? (grin)

  187. Jeff Stephens March 16th, 2009 1:50 pm

    Cheers. Let’s go skiing.

    there’s this face way up above Avalanche Ranch…

  188. Scott March 16th, 2009 1:53 pm


    Allowing your ethics to trump the law might seem fine to you, but you will quickly find that not a single other person has the same ethics that you do. If everyone followed their own code, we would have anarchy, which is exactly what governments have been formed to prevent, since even though the idea might appeal to some, most people do not want it.

    Like it or not, you are a slave to society. Not quite the life of a colony insect, but not far off either. You recourse with the highest chance of being successful is to convince people to change the laws to more closely align with your ethics.

  189. Lou March 16th, 2009 2:06 pm, home of anarchists, Limbaugh logic, snowmobile mechanics, recap tire blogs and backcountry skiers. Perhaps our diversity is the key to our success? Yeah, diversity, what a concept!

  190. Lou March 16th, 2009 2:13 pm

    I moved this post back to its chronological spot, but feel free to keep making comments. Fun to see it go to 200, and some excellent points you all have made.

  191. Andrew McLean March 16th, 2009 2:50 pm

    From Chuck Parker on a Weenie Greenie wilderness blog:

    “Back in the late 1960s, Glacier Park ranger Art Sedlak pulled out his .357 magnum and shot a snowmobile that illegally entered the park. Shot it in the heart/engine block. Snowmobilers wanted to hang him. NPS brass sided with the bubbleheads on snowmobiles. But a ranger in a national park shooting a snowmobile made national news, and the public was happy Sedlak blasted the illegal snowmobile.”

    Absolutely awesome! Hip, hip hooray for Art Sedlak, and that was forty years ago before the new generation of sleds came along. This problem has obviously been going on for a long, long time.

  192. Lou March 16th, 2009 3:04 pm

    Classic! Though I’m not sure a government employee acting as a gun slinger classifies as awesome. Of course, back then it was more of a cowboy scene.

  193. ScottN March 16th, 2009 3:23 pm

    After reading most of this, is it really worth spending 10k or more on a new sled? You could get 10 pairs of Trabs, or maybe 5 or 6 really nice BC rigs. Life would just seem easier using the two legs God gave you. But then that would probably make for really boring reading.

  194. Lou March 16th, 2009 3:35 pm

    Scott, I went for years without owning a snowmobile and did fine, now I enjoy owning one and using it for some access. While going without, I still used quite a bit of mechanized transport (other people’s machines, ski lifts, snowcats, etc, so I wasn’t any purer), but I was able to exist without spending the money. I think that at least in this area of Colorado you just make your choices and enjoy what you’ve got and what’s attainable for your fitness level and gear. But in some places using sled access is a bit more key, from what I’ve heard.

    And yeah, for many of us machinery and associated issues are not boring (grin).

  195. ScottN March 16th, 2009 4:01 pm

    Well, believe me, if I had a sled, I’d use it. I’m definetly not against it. Just jealous (grin). I’m not as “pure” as some might think. I guess there’s just gonna be controversey in whatever direction you choose to go, you just gotta deal with it.
    And please keep the gearhead stuff coming, I really enjoy that stuff. BTW, I’m getting ready to paint up that rear bumper for the Taco, just gotta figure out the hole/dimpling thing for the 1/4 panels.

  196. Mark Worley March 16th, 2009 7:45 pm

    Shooting a snowmobile might be a bit extreme, but because it was done in my most hallowed of places, Glacier Park, I’ll consider such action as necessary. Don’t mess with Glacier!!!!!!

  197. Dave N. March 17th, 2009 8:31 am

    Lou quote: “, home of anarchists, Limbaugh logic, snowmobile mechanics, recap tire blogs and backcountry skiers. Perhaps our diversity is the key to our success? Yeah, diversity, what a concept!”

    My feelings exactly: if a bc skiing blog can have as many diversified opions on wilderness use/definition/violations than it shows just how multi-faceted/difficult it is to quantify/regulate. Keep up discussion folks!

    Lou: anyway to give re-editing control to posters; sometimes it doesn’t look like it should (punctuation) once submitted…

  198. Lou March 17th, 2009 8:39 am

    Dave, I can’t give re-edit control to posters, but can correct things upon request if you catch us with a few moments of extra time. And no major re-writes please as we try to keep historical integrity of comment threads.

  199. Andrew McLean March 17th, 2009 9:23 am

    My take-away points from the entire discussion:

    a) Most sledders don’t see poaching as that big a deal
    b) The problem is with the stupid government and rules, not the poachers
    c) Sledders really, really don’t like their sleds vandalized

  200. Dave N. March 17th, 2009 9:37 am


    To that I would add:

    d) Every human being thinks differently no matter what user group affiliation

  201. Lou March 17th, 2009 9:41 am

    And, Dave N gets comment number 200!

  202. Lou March 17th, 2009 9:43 am

    To Andrew’s first point, I’d say from experience that quite a few sledders indeed feel or at least act that way, but I think using the word “most” is a bit of a reach.

  203. Dave N. March 17th, 2009 9:48 am

    Thaks for the edit/kudos Lou. I have run across sledders (who are decent people) who do indeed feel that minor poaching is ok (worth the penalty.)

  204. Andrew McLean March 17th, 2009 10:18 am

    The one and only time I’ve actually caught poachers red-handed it was a father and his teenage son.

  205. Randonnee March 18th, 2009 12:08 pm

    Shall we shoot for #300? Andrew said-

    “My take-away points from the entire discussion:

    a) Most sledders don’t see poaching as that big a deal
    b) The problem is with the stupid government and rules, not the poachers
    c) Sledders really, really don’t like their sleds vandalized”

    The “sledders” here express appreciation for Wilderness and for lawful behavior. Vandalizing property is a crime. It is also fascinating that certain folks assume that they will commit violence and damage others’ property without consequence? That is a hoot. Do you assume that a snowmobiler is helpless as to allow someone to damage their property? Now this is no defense of snowmobile trespass, but a crime against person or property is not justified, likewise a person is entitled to legitimate self-defense. Green daydream?

  206. Lou March 18th, 2009 1:30 pm

    I have to say I’ve been wondering how many folks commenting here have actually vandalized or pranked a snowmobile. For what it’s worth, you guys might be amused to know that my snowmobile (older one we had years ago) was vandalized once — by other snowmobilers trying to steal it! Some kids trying to hot wire it for a joy ride, they really trashed it. Cost about $500 to get it fixed. Had it parked (legally) while I was up skiing Sopris by myself one day back in the 1980s. Never found the exact people who did it, but their inclinations were pretty obvious.

  207. Lou March 18th, 2009 1:31 pm

    Andrew, pray tell, what happened when/after you caught those poachers?

  208. Andrew McLean March 23rd, 2009 2:57 pm

    I had a 5-star shouting match with some poachers yesterday. I was standing on my front porch when Beavis & Butthead blasted by within feet. I jumped up, went outside and started yelling at them. These morons are my neighbors. None of the conversation is fit for The gist of their rationale was that they didn’t think that anyone was home as they hadn’t seen any other sled tracks and couldn’t believe that we (my pregnant wife and 1.5 year old baby) had actually walked in from the trailhead. GASP! It must almost be THREE MILES!

    They had all sorts of moronic excuses (no apologies forthcoming, of course), including they had been doing it for years (not so – they just got the machines a week ago), their grandfather had owned their cabin since they were kids (so what?), they didn’t know it was private property (hard to believe, especially since they had been coming there since they were kids), that they were staying on the road (when they finally left, they went off-piste through the woods), it wasn’t marked “No Trespassing” (it soon will be, which is a bummer as hate seeing those signs myself) and, the grand excuse of them all:

    “Hey Buddy, it’s not that big a deal.”

    Sound familiar?

    Earlier in the week they had highmarked the entire neighborhood, including the areas which were signed “No Trespassing” and went on to pond skim across the lake which is a designated Watershed reservoir.

    The complicating factor here is that they are my neighbors. Is it worth starting an endless pissing match with them?

    All that said, I would be jumping up and down with joy to see their sled and/or Trailhead Assault Vehicles get vandalized. Fortunately (or unfortunately) I’m a peaceful, law abiding citizen, so I just told them no never ride their machines on my property again.

    It started snowing right after the incident, and about five hours later I was out skiing with my daughter when I heard the machines start up again. I skied down towards the noise where Beavis & Butthead were stymied by a tree which had fallen across the road. After turning their machines around, they started back towards our road AND STARTED UP IT AGAIN, but stopped once they saw me. Since they both had helmets on and their machines going, they had to yell to each other.

    “GO FOR IT.”

    I was about 100’ away from them off to the side near some trees. I skied down to the road and waved at them for about 30 seconds while their pea-sized brains tried to figure out what to do. They finally rode away, coming with ten feet of me on the way out.

    I have no doubt that they will be back, this time with a chainsaw to cut up the tree that is blocking the road.

    Poaching sledheads are the lowest form of human life to ever crawl out of the sewer.

  209. Lou March 23rd, 2009 4:19 pm

    Really sorry to hear that Andrew, fights with neighbors are never good. What jerks. Since you’re already in the yelling stage, why not file charges? Or do you need the signs first? The pond thing sounds really bad.

    This sounds more like a jerk neighbor issue than anything else, sleds or no sleds… they probably rage around the place on their quads in the summer?

    P.S., you’re in the west, not New York City — buy a shotgun and keep it on hand.

  210. Andrew McLean March 23rd, 2009 5:10 pm

    The only thing that leads to bad decision making faster than having a sled between your legs is having a gun in your hand.

    Filing charges is an obvious, but not very creative solution to the problem.

  211. Lou March 23rd, 2009 5:45 pm

    Andrew, I didn’t say in hand, I said on hand. In other words, if you’re going to fight with redneck neighbors in the middle of nowhere it would seem wise to have something more than your vocal chords in case things got weird. Gandhi did ok, but have you seen the movie? It wasn’t all roses.

    In all seriousness, I agree that having a gun can be extreme, because you have to be willing to use it or it’s worthless. So, a really good thing for self defense is a can of bear spray. I always keep one in the door pouch on the driver’s door of my truck. It’s great stuff because it’s non lethal. Way better than guns in most situations. But it wouldn’t work on a sledder with goggles, that’s the only problem. Or perhaps it would, as bear spray also gets the skin and mouth as it’s really powerful. Way better than the human self defense versions, which are watered down.

  212. Morgan March 24th, 2009 4:18 pm

    I think many snowmobile users are so used to being yelled at and given dirty looks no matter where they go that they have come to dismiss people who give them a hard time. Many nordic skiers happily ski in the track made by sleds and then frown disapprovingly at snow mobiles when they pass by. I believe that everyone should be polite to each other, follow rules, and respect each others property rights. Andrew, if your neighbors had come and asked you nicely if they could pass through your property would you have allowed them? I hope that you could have come to some neighborly compromise. Just remember that everyone is just out trying to have good time and that you should treat people as you would like to be treated.
    Note: I do not own a snowmobile and do not enjoy motor sports of any kind.

  213. Andrew McLean March 24th, 2009 4:24 pm

    I’m sensing a hot new product here – Sled-B-Gone in a squirt bottle. It would contain ingredients which are known to cause allergic reactions in poaching sledheads, like natural scents, unpolluted water and silence. When used in conjunction with a John Muir quote, like “Climb the mountains (legally) and get their good tidings.” a single blast would cause involuntary retching, dehydration and vomiting to the point that the *&^!!#!’ing poachers would never come back.

  214. Lou March 24th, 2009 5:14 pm


  215. Randonnee March 24th, 2009 6:33 pm

    Gosh, all the complaining and no willingness to defend your property?

  216. Andrew McLean March 24th, 2009 7:55 pm

    I know Randonnee – here I had a perfect chance to pull out a weapon and do some serious moral high-ground blasting and I squandered it! Sheesh, if I’m not going to exercise my God given, all American 2nd Amendment privilege to shoot people I might as well move to Sweden or something, eh? What a wasted opportunity to get to know the neighbors a little better.

  217. Randonnee March 24th, 2009 8:26 pm

    Get their numbers, call 911, follow them, facilitate enforcement of the law.

  218. adam olson March 24th, 2009 8:38 pm


    You catch more flies w/ honey!!

    It might be time to go and meet the neighbors. Bring beer!


  219. Lou March 24th, 2009 8:55 pm

    Andrew, I simply and humbly suggest that one does not get into confrontational shouting matches with rednecks, in the middle of nowhere, without some means of protection. Better still, don’t get mad, get even, and do what Randonnee suggests. I studied the martial art of Aikido for a few years way back when, and one thing that got drilled into us was that the ultimate in self defense was the ability to not escalate a situation. Way better than guns, or pepper spray, or martial arts, or whatever. Sorry I brought up the gun issue, apologies for being flip about something that pushes so many buttons.

  220. Randonnee March 24th, 2009 9:15 pm

    No need to apologize for talking about legitimate self-defense using a firearm. Stand up for yourself, speak calmly when confronted, follow the law, and pack a lawfully licensed and concealed semi-auto handgun…

    Perhaps some do not know for example that the RCW (WA) states I cannot display or speak of my licensed firearm unless justified for self-defense by using deadly force. Guns are not for waving around or talking hot air about and such is unlawful behavior.

  221. Andrew McLean March 25th, 2009 8:16 am

    AO – that is much more my style. I’m envisioning a time in the future where we are all sitting around a nice smokey garbage fire consisting mainly of Bud Lite boxes and Dorito bags while I listen to the sad tales of all of the trouble they’ve had with their machines over the years. Caught on fire… again! Those Yamahas really are overheating pieces of crap. Rodent infestation in your cabin? Oh man! That sounds horrible. (sure, I’ll have another Bud). And that time you almost died when you not so hidden illegal deer perch collapsed. Wow. Close call, eh?

  222. Curtis March 25th, 2009 10:38 am

    Koch shoulda get hisself a gun to proteck hisself from offishuls and from green guvernment! That guys a true rider!

  223. Paul Perkins March 25th, 2009 10:50 am

    I personally don’t understand all the fuss. The loud sound of snowmobiles goes away really fast. The smell goes away shortly after that. The tracks disappear in the next snowstorm.

    What doesn’t go away fast are slowpokes on skins! lol.

    Besides, most snowmobilers (not the readers of this blog though) are fat, uneducated, drunks who probably lack the physical capacity to steal your dream ski line. If the pollution and noise bothers you, you can have a reciprocal negative impact on the slednecks by…hmmmm…well, maybe you can’t.

  224. Aaron March 30th, 2009 4:26 pm

    Why is it that the wilderness argument always revolves around humans? The fact that you can hear a sled coming from a mile away is one of the reasons for reduced wildlife and the decline in one of the original intents and tenets of wilderness and open space– peaceful human and wildlife interaction. Having a skier quietly glide by v.s. a sled motoring by is, in the end, a difference of degrees in disruption. However, the degree in which backcountry solitude is disrupted by snowmobiles/helicopters, etc. is large and consequential. The critters that try to survive during cold winter months are having to compensate for our increasingly large presence in previously ureachable areas. From a human standpoint, the distant whine of snowmobiles will always detract from the “open space” experience, whether one realizes it or not. Outside my hometown of Bend, Oregon, you can’t start skiing from any of the main, non-motorized trailheads outside earshot from snowmachines. Just another reason to buy a motorhome and use the rest of the planet’s fossil fuels as quickly as possible– the only way we’ll move on from these nasty machines. PS: I did see a Pine Martin track a couple weeks ago while skinning up Tumalo Mtn., but it had been a while. With 7 billion humans on earth by 2012, we’ll need to start making decisions based on degrees of disruption, and it may well be the slow and quiet road. Still fun, just slower and quieter (on the way up anyway).

  225. Jason Gregg May 9th, 2009 7:51 pm

    Lou I went back and read through this to see if you would make any comments about the situation on Maroon Creek road. It’s not really like snowmobiling across a lake but it is supposed to be closed in the winter. The number of cyclists I saw up there today was impressive, mechanized vehicles in a wilderness…

    An incredible amount of back and forth went on in this one. My only observation is that Andrew McLean’s position that 99% of the challenge of skiing 14’ers is in non-mechanised access seems to underestimate things a bit.

    As far as our Spring here goes it’s looking like the sn-irt has really wrecked it a bit unless you go way high, like up Independence Pass, but that road’s closed too.

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