Backcountry Skiing News Roundup – Thunderbolt, Roadless, More

Post by blogger | August 12, 2009      
Backcountry Skiing News

Despite recent unfortunate events, the tradition of citizen trail cutting continues in the northeast. Thing is, one has to wonder if they tried to cut the famed and historic Thunderbolt trail out of a virgin Massachusetts slope nowadays, if doing so would ever be allowed? According to the article: “It’s undoubtedly the most thrilling wooded run yet built in the country,” said national downhill champion Joseph Duncan, a Colorado native who skied Thunderbolt after a reroute of its lower third in 1936. “It beats anything in the Rockies.” Things have changed since 1936, but from what I hear the Thunderbolt is indeed special and worth caring for. Glad to see doing so is allowed.

Here in the West the political football of so called “Roadless Rules” continues in play. Indeed, your neck gets sore watching the ball passed from court to court and pundit to pundit. As always, all the proposed rules being considered actually allow motorized recreation and motorized trails, and are simply a way to block logging and energy development (and make politicians look good because they can utter sentences that include the word “roadless” ).

In terms of backcountry recreation, once critical point is that proposed Roadless Rules have no specific restriction against mountain bikes, so perhaps this is the backcountry land management system that’s more recreation friendly than legal Wilderness? Time will tell. I know for a fact that many environmental activists view some versions of roadless rules as gateways to legal Wilderness designation. So thinking this is the answer to managing backcountry land for combined conservation/recreation might be wishful thinking.

That said, if proposed Roadless Rules do not result in more than small additions of legal Wilderness, implementation could be good from a conservationist-recreationist view. This so long as any timber management specified by the rules is defined with modern science instead of 1960s philosophy, and thus useful for controlling wildfire in critical watersheds and urban interfaces (along with harvesting a reasonable amount of timber, which is an excellent sustainable/renewable product when utilized with care).

As for our ever present issue of snowmobiles, proposed roadless rules simply defer to Forest Service travel management plans, so don’t look to the roadless rules to change anything in terms of sled use (other than making snowmobiles and ATVs ever more useful, as backcountry access automobile roads are decommissioned or never built due to the rule.)

By the way, you might have heard about the lawsuit in Canada that attempted to sue a SAR team for negligence. That thing is ridiculous. Fortunately it sounds like sentiment is against success of the suit, lets hope that leads to the resolution we all hope for. More here.

Lastly, Mount Everest expeditions continue to try for every angle possible to set themselves apart as unique. These guys take the cake on that — goal is for eight people to ski from the summit, with the rest of the team picking up garbage. Interesting mix. More here.


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4 Responses to “Backcountry Skiing News Roundup – Thunderbolt, Roadless, More”

  1. RobinB August 12th, 2009 11:02 am

    “Fortunately the courts agreed.”

    Actually what that article says is that the outcome “was their own fault, according to those implicated in a lawsuit…” ie, the parties named in the suit are denying responsibility in their statements of defense. This case has not made it to trial yet, and continues to cause problems for those of us involved in SAR in BC and Canada…

  2. Lou August 12th, 2009 12:22 pm

    Well, let’s hope this gets to a more solid resolution ASAP! I changed the wording a bit to be more clear…

  3. pete anzalone August 12th, 2009 5:20 pm

    Great story about the Thunderbolt and lots of super stuff at

  4. Mark August 14th, 2009 6:22 am

    K2 Backside now on web: :w00t:

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