Ski Touring News Roundup – Timber Cutting & Tibet


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | March 4, 2016      

Somewhere in the world, it is time for your Friday morning (or afternoon) coffee break? Draw another espresso and read on.

This guy is lucky to be alive, so lucky. You won’t believe the epic he and his friend went through back in January. Heli rescue in the dark, companion left wearing only his base layers, triggering avalanches while trying to ski out and not freeze to death. Best wishes for a lot of healing! Whew.

Beautiful, a coalition of advocacy groups in Vermont U.S.A. banded together and created a genuine uphill-downhill ski touring area, human powered. Located in Green Mountain National Forest, an uphill skin track and 1,200 vertical foot descents. Been going on for a while, time to begin doing more coverage. Looks a bit vegetated, but no more than some of the over-grown and poorly managed timber we ski through here in Colorado. Interestingly, in the article they allude that “combating” illegal cutting perhaps led to a more open process of legally creating ski runs. I was excited to see the video linked below explaining that glading can be done with zero negative impact on the forest. Lesson for the rest of our fair land? Pull those chainsaw ropes and let the forestry enlightenment commence! More here.

Ever wondered at what’s the highest lift served skiing in the world? Wonder no more.

Napkin sketch your backcountry safety plan while sipping that morning java? Apparently, that’s what financial planner Carl Richards does when he’s not making caffeine fueled investment decisions and has some extra paper laying around. Basic point here, but well done by who but the New York Times? Which reminds me, perhaps get a napkin sketch you can stick to your ski for the day, with THE PLAN. Your plan. The plan you are going to stick with?

Ok, with all the talk about safety and rescues, are you thinking about how good that helicopter pilot needs to be? I’ve always wondered about the details of “short haul” rescues, that rather hairball looking operation that involves dangling a SAR hero from a cable below the bird. I’ve been told that worldwide, short haul has revolutionized alpine rescue. But not without challenges and danger. Excellent article here. Any heli pilots or SAR folks care to comment?



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Comments

21 Responses to “Ski Touring News Roundup – Timber Cutting & Tibet”

  1. Chris B March 4th, 2016 8:24 am

    A human powered ski area!, I have been thinking about the same thing here in Colorado but we really already have it on places like Berthod Pass and many other popular locations. Now Colorado skiers need to find a way to get permission to thin the trees and expand the pie of below tree line runs.

  2. Charlie Hagedorn March 4th, 2016 9:43 am

    Thanks, Lou!

    There’s really nothing like writing down what you’re *not going to do*, even if it’s on a piece of duct tape on your ski. The AvySticker started with just a ruled-out list and a few prompts and improved from there. The ruled-out list is still the most important part.

    The act of planning is important; if you’ve made a plan, you can’t help but become more informed and prepared in the process. Formal tour plans, like those in the AIARE blue book, are loaded with great prompts that guide your day in good directions.

    Dallas Glass once pointed out to me something like, “Once I started planning my tours with ruled-out terrain, I’ve been skiing even more powder. The decision-making is just so much more efficient.”

  3. Kyle March 4th, 2016 1:11 pm

    @Lou not sure if you have seen the Hankin Evelyn backcountry area in Smithers, BC. Its a self powered backcountry area. I have only been once, snow was a little thin to fully appreciate. Good alternative for higher avalanche danger days.

  4. Lou Dawson 2 March 4th, 2016 4:25 pm

    Hi Kyle, I’ve tracked that from the start and did blog about it at one point, have been through Smithers but only in the springtime. Lou

  5. XXX_er March 4th, 2016 4:53 pm

    I’ve done a little work at Hankin and skied there lots, common up Lou and we can show you around

  6. Lou Dawson 2 March 4th, 2016 5:29 pm

    Xer. that is on my life list top 25 for sure. Just so excellent. Lou

  7. Jim P. March 4th, 2016 6:22 pm

    Lou, the avi story originated at the pen of Rich Landers of the Spokesman Review in Spokane. I noticed your link is to a Bend paper that reprinted it. Having done a big trip or two with Rich, I can vouch that he knows his stuff.

  8. See March 4th, 2016 6:37 pm

    Interesting how the article makes it sound like Mike B might have been so focussed on trying to ski out of the slide that he needed to be reminded to trigger the air bag. Best wishes for a fast and full recovery.

  9. Lou Dawson 2 March 4th, 2016 6:57 pm

    Jim, apologies for the redundant link, I hate that duplicated content… Sorry Rich. I’ll work on better linking. Lou

  10. See March 4th, 2016 7:50 pm

    I made the above comment because it is something that I try to take into account when rehearsing scenarios in my mind. As I see it, if at all possible, not getting caught is better, so I hope the advent of airbags doesn’t lead to a “pull the cord and hope for the best” mentality. But if there’s no getting out of it, best to pull the trigger. These are pretty complicated decisions that need to be made very quickly.

  11. Terry March 4th, 2016 9:15 pm

    Thanks for the Tibet story, Lou. It’ll be interesting to see if the Chinese government really does build a resort in Tibet. The area around Lhasa is dry in the winter, but it could work further north or south.

    A lot of government announcements about projects in Tibet have fortunately not materialized, such as the tunnel to be blasted, using nuclear weapons, to bring water from the Himalaya to the desert in East Turkestan. Personally I hope no ski resort gets built in Tibet.

  12. 565 March 5th, 2016 8:05 am

    Mountain Rescue Aspen works with the amazing pilots of the Colorado Army National Guard’s HAATS unit out of Gypsum, CO. Some of the best pilots in the world teach there, and we are all lucky to have them work with us on mountain rescues.

    We do not do short hauls out of Blackhawks. Instead we hoist our way up and down between the helicopter and the ground. Though deploying and retracting the cabe takes an extra minute or two, it’s safer overall than flying with a 150′ cable dragging behind the ship while it’s moving. Plus it’s a lot warmer!

  13. AJ March 5th, 2016 11:07 am

    Once did a helicopter training course with Air Zermatt in Switzerland. Getting in and out of a hovering helicopter in steep terrain with the main rotor spinning close to rock, being ” evacuated” with the MERS technique, amazing piloting skills, unforgettable experience!

  14. Aaron Mattix March 6th, 2016 4:49 pm

    The trail builder in me gets stoked at the idea of glading ski runs. It would be awesome to see similar work done in the Williams Peak/Babbish Gulch area. Clearing dead & down timber would open up many more lines in an increasingly popular area.

  15. Lou Dawson 2 March 6th, 2016 7:16 pm

    Aaron, that area is within Sunlight permit area (here in Colorado, U.S.A.), they have the right to do trail work. I’ve always been surprised they don’t do more over there, or work with a ski club to thin timber. They could easily make a human powered ski area that would be incredibly cool, or just turn it over to volunteers. It’s just a big overgrown unmanaged aspen forest, and would be much healthier with a bit of thinning and some open areas for deer and elk grazing. Of course Ski Sunlight has had moments of visionary power (e.g., 24 Hours of Sunlight), but mostly they seem to not be very excited about anything, and with global warming the ski season there is only a few months even now…

  16. Jernej March 7th, 2016 7:52 am

    The heli rescue story reminds of one other example of amazing heli work of going into the whiteout and flying just above the trees as the only reference (use Google Translate, it does a reasonable job):
    http://sierra5.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1361

  17. Chris B March 7th, 2016 12:13 pm

    Lou, you have a good knowledge of Colorado ski terrain. Is there any place that comes to mind for an ideal human powered ski area. Much of the higher elevation places are tied up in Wilderness which precludes trail cutting and thinning. I have been looking for a likely location in the northern Front Range and so much of what could work is legal Wilderness or RMNP. The closest thing is the old ski area in The Park, Hidden Valley. New growth there is impeding what used to be great skiing in the 90’s right after they shut it down. Maybe the Forest Service would be open to tree thinning on Loveland Pass and Berthod Pass if it isn’t in wilderness. Both of those spots could be much improved for below tree line skiing. And as you pointed out in a post higher up this thread, tree thinning would improve wildlife habitat.

  18. Lou Dawson 2 March 7th, 2016 8:25 pm

    Hi Chris, nothing comes immediately to mind for “ideal.” Being close to population centers helps with making such an endeavor viable, but the more populous part of Colorado also tends to get a lot of wind and less snow, in my opinion anyhow. Ski resort areas such as Vail or Aspen have a population of uphillers, but Wilderness and existing resort permit areas take up much potential terrain. I have to wonder if the best solution presently is for the USFS to require resorts to provide some managed uphilling that doesn’t just march us up the piste like a bunch of robotic targets for helmet sporting 250 pounders wearing tent jackets and hauling a belly full of lunchtime beer. Lou

  19. Jim Dickinson March 7th, 2016 10:22 pm

    Lou, I love that video, it made my day. We have some real nice human powered ski areas here in Lake Tahoe Basin, a little stealth trimming is all that is needed to maintain the nice lines. I don’t think the USFS needs to know anything.

  20. Aaron Mattix March 9th, 2016 6:36 am

    Stealth trimming certainly works for keeping a few lines open for you & your buddies, but it falls short of addressing the needs of a larger group of people. How would you feel if someone got first tracks before you on the line you cleared out? Some people are able to accept this roulette of “stealth” work on public lands, other tend to think of features they have created on public lands as “theirs.”

    Annoying as wading through the bureaucratic process is, I think one of the main benefits to getting a project legitimized by the FS is that is spreads the sense of ownership & responsiblity across a much larger group of participants, rather than concentrating it in a few, who may become overly possessive of the hard work they have put into an underground project.

    Sunlight could use a boost in gumption. Everything from new ideas to basic maintenance gets strangled by a self-defeating view of “We can’t do that, we’re Sunlight…”

  21. Lou Dawson 2 March 9th, 2016 6:51 am

    Excellent thoughts Aaron, I couldn’t agree more!





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