E-Bikes — Key to Ski Touring Kingdom or Electrons from H?

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | May 27, 2016      
E-bike backcountry access, we are convinced.

E-bike backcountry access, we are convinced.

We’ve been testing a couple of e-bikes, current steeds being being high-end Haibike mountain bikes powered by “pedal assist” motors goosed with big lithium-ion batteries mounted on the down-tube. After seeing the e-bike craze in Europe during our long spring and summer stint there a year ago, we’ve been keen to purpose e-bikes to solving the ski touring access problems we have here in Colorado, due to springtime roads becoming wheel navigable but gated to automobile traffic — or simply too rough to drive with anything but a real 4×4.

(Motorcycles can be a solution as well. I’ve used motos a few times for access, problems are they’re not stealthy and they’re difficult to schlep over snowbanks and rocky areas that are too difficult to ride while hauling baggage. ATVs (4-wheelers) are also an option, but they’re too similar to a regular automobile and can thus bring down the wrath of the man, as well as being difficult to lift over or drag under gates.)

Conclusion: E-bikes are IT. While the battery does limit your range (these are heavy machines, you’re not going uphill very far once you’re out of power), for most approaches we’re dealing with we seem to have plenty of juice — especially when most returns are downhills. Fire up the electrons, you can do some stiff, lengthy uphills or many miles of moderatly angled dirt or pave.

In my estimation, assuming you can coast back down, these Haibikes could reliably climb a moderatly angled mountain road or trail for around 10 miles at mid-range power settings, with attention to conservation such as not using pedal assist on flat sections. Fit riders willing to use more leg power can extend that range indefinitely, or at least until they run out of glycogen.

A few challenges have come up in our testing. The big one is how to carry skis and gear without pedaling with a loaded rucksack on your shoulders. In theory, wearing a backpack with A-framed skis and clipped boots seems like it would work. But I’m finding doing so to be extremely hard on my back and shoulders, especially on steep downhills when the weight of the pack is like a pile driver slamming between my shoulder blades. Remember, use one of these things and you might be covering way more distance than you normally would on a bicycle — with subsequent wear and tear on your body due to the lengthy downhilling required for your return journey.

Some sort of bike frame mount for at least the skis might be the ticket, or perhaps even a lightweight bike trailer holding both skis and backpack. The trailer might work especially well on pavement. I know some of you readers use bicycles for access, how do you carry all your stuff, just tough it out?

The other frustrating e-bike challenge reminds me of those times you see a cool automobile in Europe, and find out it’s not available in the U.S. because of “regulations.” Well, the same lame stuff is going on with e-bikes. Namely, e-bikes in Europe can have a “walk assist” feature that’s the ticket for slow journeys uphill in rough terrain or doing things like stream crossings. Hike-a-bike with a little help. My understanding is that e-bikes sold in U.S. can’t have walk assist. I have no idea of the technicality behind this, but remember these bikes are “pedal assist” powered, meaning you have to apply human power to the pedals before the motor kicks in and helps. Perhaps walk-assist makes the bike a fully powered “scooter” in the eyes of the regulators, invoking all sorts of red tape?

The Bosch and Yamaha pedal assist motors on these bikes are amazing. They’re easy to operate and clearly efficient. For extended range you could bring a spare battery, but they weigh about 2.6 kg and I don’t even want to know how much they cost. Water resistance is also an issue. It’s a bicycle so one would assume everything will be fine in extended wet weather, but our research indicates you don’t really want to submerge the motor, say during a stream crossing. We have wade crossings in Colorado that would certainly wash water up over the motor housing, and there is always the chance you could trip during a wade and let the bike fall over on its side.

In any case, other than the weight of these full featured downhill monsters with electric motors and batteries (getting them in and out of the truck took some thought), they’re simply one of the coolest things we’ve come across in our long history with bicycles. If you live in a place where access is limited by restricted automobile access, worth a look.

And yes Virginia, there is indeed some controversy about how e-bikes fit into the greater scheme of human powered enlightenment. Wildsnowers, I’d love to hear your opinions on that. But more, do you think e-bikes will solve the access problem many skiers in our fair land are frustrated by?

(Note: A vast variety of electric bicycles are available. Some are apparently even fully powered without pedaling. The pedal-assist type motor seems much less likely to engender hate from purists and is perhaps farther away from being against the rules on some paths and trails. It’ll be interesting to watch this. For those of you who’ve never ridden one of these, you do get a workout as you have to apply pedal torque to trigger the assist. The level of power is controlled from a selector unit on the handle bars, from a barely noticeable level that basically takes care of the bike’s weight, all the way up to “turbo” that zooms you up the trail amazingly fast but sucks down the battery as you watch. The electrical assist is speed limited as well, though hackers have already figured out numerous ways to bypass that annoyance.)

Is the motor on, or not? Only the rider knows for sure.

Is the motor on, or not? Only the rider knows for sure.

Of interest, conversion kits are available. Re-purpose that old mountain bike you never sold after an upgrade? Here is one kit that looks interesting.


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89 Responses to “E-Bikes — Key to Ski Touring Kingdom or Electrons from H?”

  1. NT May 27th, 2016 10:51 am

    I’ve been thinking more and more about the ebike for gated access concept; but they ain’t cheap.

    Check out the locally made Defiant Pack Gunslinger carry. Or just use some voile straps, but the gunslinger is pretty dialed.

  2. TW May 27th, 2016 10:59 am

    No, just no.

  3. Lou Dawson 2 May 27th, 2016 11:06 am

    NT, I’m not sure about how expensive getting into an ebike is. For creating a skiing access machine, conversion kits could be a very cool way to go, as it’s so easy to get good used bikes. I’m thinking a hardtail bike, with fairly fat tires and the Dillenger off road conversion kit I link to at end of post above. The nicer ebikes I’m seeing tend to be high performance for purposed riding such as gaining uphill for downhills. For access, a lighter simpler less costly bike would seem be more wise for many of us. Lou

  4. NT May 27th, 2016 11:18 am

    Conversion kit is interesting.
    As for the ebike debate, I’m nervous of seeing them on singletrack trails where dirt bikes aren’t allowed. If a trail is open to dirt bikes, I don’t see any harm to having ebikes there, but if it’s not, I don’t think ebikes belong. Thinking mechanized vs motorized and the speeds one can reach. Same goes for bike paths – if a dirt bike isn’t allowed, neither should an ebike.

  5. Kam DH May 27th, 2016 11:22 am

    I’ve made a few bike-access trips this Spring using my commuter bike. My carry solution is to strap the skis to the top tube and have them rest on the rear rack, with another strap there and the tails extending past it. That way, the ski doesn’t interfere with cables in front nor do my knees knock on the bindings. I also like to use panniers for the approach, to put boots and an item or two there to further lighten the load on my back. I’ve even tried clipping boots into the dynafits so they stick out horizontally, and that works too.

  6. Wade May 27th, 2016 11:34 am

    Does nobody see the hypocrisy in this? As a group, BC skiers are extremely proud of our inherent earn your turns nature. So……that only applies to the portion of your adventure that starts at the bottom of a pitch….all else is fair game to use motorized assistance? Not saying it is or not in my own opinion, just wondering where/if/when people see any boundaries or irony themselves?

  7. Lou Dawson 2 May 27th, 2016 11:41 am

    NT, where the debate gets sticky is that these pedal assist and speed limited bikes are clearly not high powered machinery like a motorcycle.

    Adding even more controversy, what about elderly or disabled people who can use the e-bike to do a nice bike ride on a bicycle trail, using pedal assist to simply be able to access the trail when they otherwise could not?

    The USFS relented a long time ago and said that wheelchairs were allowed in legal Wilderness even though bicycles and virtually all other wheeled contrivances were not. I’d imagine that applies to electric wheel chairs as well, as what ranger is going to ticket a disabled person for enjoying his rights to the land as U.S. citizen?

    It’s an interesting debate that ultimately will involve legal Wilderness philosophy.

    Meanwhile, most of where we see using the ebikes is simply for gated roads that allow bicycles and motorcycles but are closed to the evil citizen in their evil Jeep. But I’ll definitely try it on “bike only” trails and see how it goes.

  8. Lou Dawson 2 May 27th, 2016 11:43 am
  9. Lou Dawson 2 May 27th, 2016 11:54 am

    Wade, the “trailhead” is just a construct so it’s difficult to infer irony or hypocrisy in how we access it. Otherwise, we would all need to walk from our homes instead of driving. Or perhaps walk from our place of birth, or perhaps our place of conception (grin)?

    In my view, many ski touring routes have several trailheads, depending on snow cover and type of conveyance chosen. I don’t see any irony in that at all. I’m not up there skiing with only my human muscle power being what defines me, I’m interested in the whole package, yes at some point I prefer to be human powered, but I like good terrain and don’t prefer lengthy dirt hikes to get there. Yeah, that’s just me and thousands of other ski tourers who really don’t care how they do the “approach,” including those who ride cable to get to the tour, use or snowmobile, or drive a car.

    Clearly, it seems to sort itself out in most cases. If nothing else, here in the U.S. our legal Wilderness seems to create defined boundaries. What is more, the beauty of ebikes is they are low key. If you like using it, use it, or if you want to let the USFS define the trailhead, by all means park your car at the gate and start your human power there. Again, where the trailhead really starts is just a construct in many cases.


  10. Lou Dawson 2 May 27th, 2016 11:59 am
  11. Eric May 27th, 2016 1:19 pm

    bike + motor (gas or electric) = motorcycle

    You can talk about how current ebikes are low powered and speed limited, but each new generation WILL have more and more power. How do you distinguish between a low power ebike vs one with too much power? And then how do you distinguish between a very low powered motorcycle vs a high powered ebike that put out the same power?

    I don’t have anything against them, I think your suggested use of them looks pretty cool, I just think they are more motorcycle than bicycle and access should be any place motorcycles are currently allowed.

  12. Lou Dawson 2 May 27th, 2016 2:22 pm

    Eric, I pretty much agree other than “how do you distinguish.” For bike paths and such they’ve already encoded this sort of thing into law, in terms of maximum speeds and power. For example, I saw this explanation of a statute while doing some web browsing:

    “motorized bike with an electric motor whose motor does not exceed 750 watt and whose top speed does not exceed 20mph unassisted is considered a “bicycle” and can therefore use a bike lane. Anything more than that can be considered a “motorized scooter”, a “motorized bicycle(moped)”, or a motor cycle.”

    This is why pedal assist is important, as is the speed limiter. Yeah, I know, it’s all philosophical splitting hairs but they are encoding it all into law.

    I’ll put it out there and predict that within 5 years the majority of bicycles on trails and roads will have some form of battery assist.


  13. Sather May 27th, 2016 3:12 pm

    I appreciate your existence Lou. Well written.

  14. OMR May 27th, 2016 3:17 pm

    I’ve used both a mountain bike (pedal) and a dual sport motorcycle (gas) to access ski terrain via trails and dirt roads that are closed to autos in winter (behind locked gates). Both modes work great, although, I get stunned looks in the city while riding a motorcycle with skis sticking off the back.
    I’ve found it best to strap skis to the frame of said mounts, rather than strap skis to a pack. It’s easier to maneuver the bike/moto and it’s easier to jump off when the trail gets too technical.
    See my blog for photos of skis mounted to bikes and motorcycle; the most recent is “Farmington Canyon – 4/22/16.” (Search on “Grandview Peak” and “Farmington Canyon” for older posts with similar ski mounts).

  15. Eric Steig May 27th, 2016 3:38 pm

    I love the image of trying to squeeze an ATV under a locked gate. A bike (e-bike or not) seems like a much better solution.

    When I was biking in Sweden, I was passed on a difficult dirt path by a very large woman smoking a cigarette. It took me a while to realize that she had a hidden advantage in the form of an electric motor. Quite a bizarre experience!

  16. Matt May 27th, 2016 4:51 pm

    Bikes are human powered with the advantage of gears. Motor cycles are motor powered.

    E-Bikes are powered by a motor and therefor are motorcycles.

    Now getting that out of the way, If you can afford one, who is to stop you from using it to access terrain that is not close to an access point / trail head.

  17. Tom Gos May 27th, 2016 5:05 pm

    As a cyclist I’ve been looking down my nose at these e-bikes, but as a skier you’ve opened my eyes with this post. If you’ve got the coin you should check this out, made in Eagle CO: http://www.quietkat.com/ Although its not really an e-bike it would seem to solve some of the gear hauling issues.

    I don’t have any interest in this product other than I live in Eagle and see some of them buzzing around town, which used to annoy the crap out of me but now that I can imagine my own potential personal use…

  18. XXX_er May 27th, 2016 6:02 pm

    If A vehicle has an electric motor it’s a motorized vehicle wether it’s a car or a motor cycle or a sled it’s banned from motorized areas

    In many cases mtn bikers have built and maintain single track trails which would be subject to extra wear n tear of a motorized bike

    If electric bikers want to lobby for/build/maintain their own trails, I suppose there is nothing wrong with that otherwise keep non-motorized … non-motorized period

  19. Kristian May 27th, 2016 6:02 pm

    I have been using beater mtn bikes for decades on closed spring roads, particularly in the USFS Wilderness Indian Peaks just South of Rocky Mountain National Park.

    Easiest to wear running shoes and carry the skis with the boots clipped in A Frame style. Get off and push over snow drifts. Hide the bike 20+ meters away from the trailhead.

  20. swissiphic May 27th, 2016 6:24 pm

    XXX’er: re: “In many cases mtn bikers have built and maintain single track trails which would be subject to extra wear n tear of a motorized bike”

    … now, I ain’t no rubber tire guy (anymore) but recalling mtn. biking uphill 25 years ago and without perfect technique in technical terrain on then skinnier tires, chewing up softer trail and getting wheelspin, wouldn’t ebike’s with fatter tires and computerized traction control (don’t know what the state of the art is but probably coming down the pipe?) result in less wear on the trails in certain conditions/scenarios? or, for the layman (me) please share your wisdom about wear and tear due to ebikes on trails issue, I honestly got no clue and my brain is on still on skiing so I ain’t gonna think about it too deeply. 😉

    Regarding E anything; after slogging uphill through coastal mank and cement for the past 25 years, my kingdom for E powered ski skins. I’m old enough to desire an easier up; ethics, ego, social mores, style, morals, haters be damned.

  21. XXX_er May 27th, 2016 6:58 pm

    More people being able to ride a trail means more people/more wear n tear and a motor is a motor period

    Just using an e bike to get up a mining road or skidder trail is one thing but where does it stop, at trail head or as far as one can go?

    In any case I am sorry you are over the hill, we will still wait for you if you come to sweeny

  22. JCoates May 27th, 2016 9:30 pm

    I can see how if you didn’t have any experience with e-bikes they might sound awful, but I’ve watched these take hold in Europe–and like it or not–they are going to be the next big thing in the US. They are that cool…

    They are quiet and I usually only notice a bike has a motor assist when I get passed by someone who appears in worse shape then me passes me looking relaxed. They are no more intrusive than bikes though and SHOULD be allowed on bike trails. Really the only downside to these (other than jealousy when passed by one) is the motorcycle price tag.

    Most people I know in Europe who invested in them use them for commuting to work. That way you can show up to work relaxed and not covered in sweat but then get some exercise on the way home.

    Not sure if Lou will be correct in his position that everyone will have one, but they will be the next big think in biking.

  23. Aaron Mattix May 27th, 2016 9:37 pm

    I’ve been reluctant to embrace e-bikes from a mountain biking standpoint, because of the sticky access/regulation issues they engender for on singletrack. Ski touring access seems like an ideal application, as it seems more likely to occur on roads rather than singletrack. An e-bike with an ExtraCycle conversion, or a Surly Big Dummy with an electric motor would go a long ways to solving the ski-toting delimma.

  24. XXX_er May 28th, 2016 12:29 am

    Actualy the cast majority of comments I read in NA sites about e bike are rabidly against E bikes on trails the.Thot being that if you can’t make a trail by fair means, if all you are gona do is put more wear and tear on a single track you should stay away

    I think t hink e-bikes are great on the roads or in europe or where ever non-motorized travel is allowed but not on the single track I help maintain

  25. Jeremy C May 28th, 2016 12:59 am

    I think e-bikes fall into the same category as personal photo drones (quad-copters). To paraphrase Jurassic Park, “They spent so much time wondering if they could, rather than if they should”.

    Just enter “ebike derestrict” into your search engine, and you will find everything you need to remove the requirement to pedal, and to remove the speed limiters. There are already dedeciated companies providing this service, with the get out clause of “For private land use only”.

    There are also companies producing “e-bikes” with 5kw motors, which are electric motorbikes with a crankset.

  26. ffelix May 28th, 2016 1:21 am

    Ie-bikes are a brilliant urban solution that is definitely the future of cities.

    But in the backcountry, it’s now just an arms race, with whoever can’t or won’t buy into the motor ethic being left with worn out scraps: trashed trails, chundered snow. This is a development that benefits people who sell motors, not anyone else…even if it does make it easier to skip the boring access bits.

  27. Lou Dawson 2 May 28th, 2016 5:43 am

    xer, sure, if folks don’t want them on non-motorized MTB specific trails then the will of the people will probably prevail and so be it. I can attest that the bikes we’re using would not put any more wear on a trail than a non battery bike, perhaps even less because they’re so smooth going uphill, but if the bike was hacked for speed and power I’d imagine it could behave more like a motorcycle. I think beyond that, there are some grey areas as well as roads and trails where ebikes are clearly appropriate if a person wants to use one, this especially so with the speed limited and pedal assisted type bikes, for example on an urban type bike path. IMHO that’s already a done deal, due to how wonderful ebikes are for the less physically capable elderly and the disabled.

    One point: It’s probably pretty easy to demo an e-bike in many parts of the country now. No reason anyone shouldn’t at least try a few models in a few situations so they can have a super informed opinion. If someone told me “I rode one and I hate it” I’d have a lot more respect for their opinion rather than “I got passed by an old lady and I hate her.” (grin)

  28. Kristian May 28th, 2016 7:22 am

    There is a growing clash conflict during between Fat Bikes and Cross Country Skiers. Fat Bikes are new and are now regularly appearing in the winter on long established cross country ski trails.

    The Fat Bikes destroy the ski tracks and rip up the snow coverage. The Fat Bikers correctly assert that although new, they have just as much right to be there.

    It’s only a matter of time before there will be E Motorized Fat Bikes – essentially motorcycle dirt bikes. And as cool as that sounds, it will be like snowmobiles & ATVs vs human powered backcountry sports.

  29. See May 28th, 2016 9:11 am

    For quite a while I’ve been thinking an electric bike would be a great way to get to places that most people access iusing high clearance trucks. I can’t justify getting a “real 4×4” myself when 99.9 percent of the time it would be used on paved roads. It’s seems hard to find fault with using an e bike in these situations. Now if only someone would popularize the e snowmobile…

  30. Dave May 28th, 2016 9:34 am

    Was first introduced to e-bikes in Zermatt. I was somewhat surprised at the acceptance of e-bikes there since the town is otherwise motorized vehicle free.

    But in my view e-bikes are motor bikes. Fine to use them on roads, paved, 4wd or otherwise that are open to vehicles and motos but they do not belong on bike paths or bike singletrack.

    As has been pointed out above technology will advance and low power, speed limited, range limited will all improve or be hacked to go further faster for longer.

    As to speed limited to 20mph unassisted – that is pretty darn quick – how many mtb rides have any of you done that average anywhere near that as a average speed. Sure maybe on pavement on a road bike, but MTB off road I don’t think so.

  31. See May 28th, 2016 9:36 am

    Likewise, imo, the best application for e bikes is as replacements for cars, not regular human powered bikes, even in an urban environment.

  32. Michael May 28th, 2016 10:41 am

    I agree with Dave and See. e-bikes are motorbikes. Great for getting around town. Personally I wouldn’t have a problem with them either on closed roads to access skiing. And fire roads that can be driven by autos is fine.

    They don’t belong on hiking trails or mtn bike singletrack. If you want to ride an e-bike on a trail, stick to dedicated OHV trails.

    I wonder what the dirt bike/ATV crowd thinks of these?.

  33. Rick May 28th, 2016 11:50 am

    Pedals, I’ll stick to my Turner or Ibis FS – *throttle*, I’ll continue to play on my KTM’s, thank you very much ..

  34. XXX_er May 28th, 2016 5:37 pm

    So putting 3 times as many people at higher speeds up/down a piece of single track will make absolutely no difference to the trails ?

    I haveridden enough mtb’s & off-road moto’s that I don’t need to demo an e bike to come to the conclusion they are motorized vehicles

    The mtn bike enthusiast seems to find the idea abhorrent while the ski tourer just see’s a great way to get the goods easier ?

    Let’s pretend somebody invented the E ski that allowed anybody to get the goods , to get to your goods. to do laps around your favorite cabin … the key to ski touring or electronic hell?

  35. Matt Kinney May 28th, 2016 6:25 pm

    Not sure you can go very fast, that being 15mph on E-bike. I ride that fast or faster at times on my regular bikes and barely miss people who panic. So I don’t think speed is a real problem even in a single track. You can only go so fast on a bike depending on one’s skill level.

    As far as skiing, it’s going to take a lot more power to power a bike across a packed snowy trail with a skier full of gear compared to packed dirt trails. There is a point of no return in energy spent vs time spent.

    Have yet to see the new evolution “fat tire” bike with E application. A fat tire bike is the better ticket for skiers anyway.

    I’m all for this technology and getting more people on bikes. Clean power, not gasoline..so to me it’s not even close to being motorized in the classic sense of that debate.

  36. Mitch R. May 28th, 2016 8:14 pm

    Get fatbike, add gear, and go. We all need as much physical work as we can get.

  37. Alan Trick May 28th, 2016 8:18 pm

    > Clean power, not gasoline

    Unfortunately, lithium-ion batteries aren’t exactly clean.

  38. Bar Barrique May 28th, 2016 9:05 pm

    Personally; I am waiting for a “kick ass” fuel cell powered electric self driving snowmobile. This thing will power me up, and, then drive itself back down to ride me up again. I will tear it up completely guilt free while blasting by the “self-righteous suckers” who are climbing on their own power.
    OK; I’m kidding, but I think that motorized is motorized, and, non-motorized is non-motorized. I don’t think think that electric power makes a difference.

  39. ptor May 29th, 2016 1:11 am

    The price of still being technologically repressed…
    We should all be flying around in zero-point anti-gravity machines by now.

  40. Joseph May 29th, 2016 3:03 am
  41. XXX_er May 29th, 2016 4:17 am

    Back in the day I borrowed juniors DH bike with an 8 ” boxer on the front, so I had to push it up a mountain to ride it down the other side but it was frickin awesume !

    With a little E help nowadays you could probably ride that DH bike up and down a mountain no matter how much you suck from an atheletic perspective

    So my point would be that IMO allowing E bikes on non-motorized trails will change the bikes becuz with a motor a spec that was too heavy to ride up hill will now make it up the steepest climbs, bikes will be heavier with more travel to go up and down hill faster

    Yeah they will be awesume but is it good for my biking?

  42. Wade May 29th, 2016 6:00 am

    Guess what I was getting at is not necessarily where the trailhead begins but the dumbing down of access and how.and where THAT ends. When do we stop making adventure easy/easier? The whole point of BC forays, whether they be skiing/biking/hiking is that they are not easy, which is the inherent beauty of them.

    Now, to be fair, one could say that i (or anyone) is free to make access as hard as I want. I could choose to bike, walk, or even crawl for that matter. Fair enough. However, one of the other great dividends of long approaches is the solitude or at least diminishing multitude, Far flung pitches and trails are special places, and IMO rightfully earned by those few who put in the hard work to get there.

    E assist bikes worry me specifically because they blur lines for future motorized transport in areas where it’s currently not allowed. To paraphrase JFK ” we choose to go the moon and do the other things not because they are easy but because they are hard”

  43. Kyle May 29th, 2016 7:24 am

    At that pricepoint, I would be nervous to stash an Ebike at the trailhead..

  44. Kyle May 29th, 2016 7:42 am

    A few thoughts..

    I think they could be great things for certain applications. Commuting, logging road approaches ect. I dont think they should be on bike trails however, unless they designate dual use areas. There is no doubt that these bikes will just get faster and more powerful. Like another commenter said however, they arent really clean per say, batteries are a dirty business unfortunately. Basically it just moves the pollution to somewhere else in the form of mining. Not to mention waste especially in the early days where each year people upgrade their bikes.

    I use a snowmobile occasionally for access to cut down the long logging road approach, so I am not against motorized use. But I think it has its place, and I like the idea of keeping sleds on logging roads and out of the alpine, at least in certain areas.

    As far as the human powered ethos, I agree that it should be preserved to a point, however we are all driving to trailheads, and using logging and mining roads to access the goods. We should all keep that in mind before we choke everyone around us in our smug. I have had some dirty looks from people who drove their toyota tundras by themselves 4 hours to the trailhead, and looked at me like I was killing babies because I drove a snowmobile 15 km up a logging road thats 40 minutes from my house with 3 other people.

    The way I see it is ebikes are here to stay, and it will be like everything else, it will get regulated, they will be allowed in certain areas only ect. Its just new, and will take a bit of time.

  45. Lou Dawson 2 May 29th, 2016 8:20 am

    xer, I’ll participate in your thought experiment, and attempt to be intellectually honest.

    “Let’s pretend somebody invented the E ski that allowed anybody to get the goods , to get to your goods. to do laps around your favorite cabin … the key to ski touring or electronic hell?”

    If we as a culture and civilization continue to see value in non-motorized recreation, I truly believe that we will sort things out. Me, while I don’t like the seemingly never ending quest to lock up more U.S. land in legal Wilderness making bicycles and other motorized 100% illegal, I’m comfortable with our legal Wilderness system doing a good job of segregating uses based on machinery (though I disagree with the limits imposed on using for example chain saws to keep trails open). This would include the e-ski you propose. Also, even our non Wilderness public land is subject to things like USFS Travel Management plans that can easily sort things out according to the public will and extant culture. Yeah, imperfect and subject to abuse, but public lands management is a dynamic system that’s in constant change, and can be influenced.

    As an aside, another thought experiment. Say you couldn’t enjoy backcountry skiing unless you had a Marker Duke binding combined with BD Factor boots and a pair of 190 cm Volkl Katanas. You also needed three liters of athletic drink in a 3 kilo airbag pack and didn’t feel comfortable in anything but a 2 kilo pair of baggy freeride pants. Now along comes a skimo guy in lycra with a 1 kilo backpack, moving about three times your speed, he passes you and by the time you get to the top the skimo guy has done three laps and so have his 6 skimo friends. There is no untracked powder left in sight. One has to wonder, would the feelings the freeride guy have had towards someone doing the same thing on an e-ski mimic their feelings about the lycra clad human lungs who just shralped everything in sight? I’d love to be a mind reader on that one (grin).


  46. Lou Dawson 2 May 29th, 2016 8:38 am

    Wade, making things overall easier is not always the point. In fact, I’d say most people who use mechanized access of any sort for ski touring (including how far they drive to the trailhead, or what ski lifts they ride) are simply attempting to make their day more pleasant and aesthetic for reaching a goal they’re interested in, with “easier” only a small part of the equation, or no part of it at all. All over the world, various forms of mechanized access are simply used to get to a startinging point somewhere and do something quite challenging or difficult, the fact that the person got to their “starting point” via helicopter, automobile, snowmobile, chairlift or whatever is immaterial. Doing so doesn’t make it “easier” because without the mechanized part many folks would not do their chosen trip at all.

    Mechanized access is simply part of our sport, and will always be subject to tweaking in various ways. It’s ever changing unless as I mentioned above, we all agree that the human muscle powered portion of every adventure must begin at the geographic point where our parent’s gametes fused.

    As for where e-bikes fit into this, I’d suggest that worrying about them is misplaced energy. Agreeing on limits for helicopters and snowmobiles, and enforcing those limits, is where energy could be better spent.

  47. Kristian May 29th, 2016 9:21 am

    I have done USFS Wilderness backcountry timber felling and clearing using axes and one & two person tuttle tooth crosscut saws. They are fast and efficient lightweight tools that can be carried on multi-day trips.

    There is no way that you will be able to carry a heavy chain saw and fuel for any distance. So they are pointless.

  48. Kristian May 29th, 2016 9:44 am

    Thought Experiment:

    A person claims glory and fame for ascending and skiing a peak or set of peaks. But it becomes later known that much of the distance and elevation gain was done with snowmobiles (or other motorized means) . Is the record valid?

  49. Kyle May 29th, 2016 9:58 am

    @kristian good question

    Guess it depends. Do you have to start from your house under your own power? I would think if its a record breaking attempt there would/should be an unofficial starting area.

  50. Lou Dawson 2 May 29th, 2016 10:58 am

    Kristian, I’d think that the general culture and historical record would take care of that if there are no “official” rules. For example, when I skied all the 14ers I used snowmobiles here and there when they worked, and more often when they did not and just created more hassle, as well as using a motorcycle once on the Maroon Creek road, and I used the Silverton train to reach the Needleton trailhead, which you can hike to from parked car if you have an extra day. I’ve always been 100% comfortable with the places I used mechanized access beyond where I could drive to, and others who came after tend to simply do what they feel comfortable with which has been ok with those of us who pioneered the “Ski the Fourteeners” type of project. The general ski culture here in Colorado seems to be ok with how all that is going, as the general style is to simply do what’s legal and the mechanical access has lots of limitations (Wilderness, private property, terrain, etc).

    If in your thought experiment we add the word “Much” then that would drastically change things. But that’s a pretty vague broad term for a thought experiment. Nonetheless, if a person for example had the money to hire a helicopter to drop them as legally close to each peak as possible, then perhaps the culture’s consensus would be that was “Much.” Or, perhaps not?

    Another thing is that in sports with a “cultural” canon of rules, such as mountaineering, a person can come along and just say they’re doing a “first” under their own set of rules. Again using the example of the helicopter, they could be the first to heli between all the peaks instead of driving.

    Is that enough thought experimentation (grin)?

    Let’s quit the thread drift and get back specifically to e-bikes. They’re way different than a snowmobile or a helicopter.


  51. Lou Dawson 2 May 29th, 2016 11:07 am

    Kristian, with all due respect, you are 100% wrong about carrying a chain saw and fuel., and if you’ve worked in a Wilderness setting I’m pretty surprised at your take… A horse or mule packing operation can carry just about anything that’s not too bulky, they’re used all time in legal Wilderness for USFS and commercial applications. I’ve been around them for years and used myself more than a few times. Moreover, by simply saying “Ok” and signing something, the District Ranger can approve the use of a helicopter for Wilderness operation, such as recovering a wrecked aircraft, doing a rescue, or working something like a water or electrical installation as we have near here in the Fryingpan Wilderness. I’m pretty certain the District Ranger could approve the use of chain saws to clear, for example, a huge blowdown that blocked miles of a major trail, or for a forest fire that was in legal Wilderness but threatened to jump over the boundary and create risk to humans or human habitation. Lou

  52. swissiphic May 29th, 2016 11:16 am

    one more piece of thread drift please?

    Debate of the future: What to do about the hoards of personal drone skiers trashing all the pow while the skinning ski tourers are still grunting and sweating their way up the mountain? You know, in the future, when you can buy your personal drone at walmart for the same price as a lawnmower, quick charge it, partially disassemble it, huck it in the back of the pickup truck, bring a home base charge station with you, set up the micro tesla power wall, put skis in the basket, sit in the seat, fly to top of mountain, drone lands, you get off, send down drone on pre programmed g.p.s. logged route to home base charging station, it self quick charges and flies back up to pre programmed pickup spot. Rinse and repeat. 50 000 vert feet later you go home and watch the virtual reality full spectrum gopro with family and friends.

    The personal drone back country skiing revolution. How the heck are we gonna solve that one? Are there enough mountains for enough space?

  53. Lou Dawson 2 May 29th, 2016 11:29 am

    I’ll bite. If the majority of backcountry skier’s don’t want to be human powered any more in the future, than that is that. Me, I think the value of human powered experience will continue, and we will all thus work out where mechanized will be legally limited, as well as the places where all types of access will exist and be tolerated. Just like these days. Lou

  54. JimmyD May 29th, 2016 11:30 am

    I have used my old commuter bike to access trail heads that are behind closed gates. It’s funny the stink eye I get from dog walkers when I am on my way back to the car in the afternoon. I guess there will always be people against what others do for fun. As far as Ebikes go, I say bring them on! I could leave the car at home and do totally fossil fuel free spring ski tours! One less car.

  55. Trevor May 29th, 2016 6:54 pm

    So biking up something is very difficult. I could make it work for spring and summer adventures but winter was very very difficult. When desperate, i rode with my ski boots on. Of course its wonderful knowing you have a free pass down on your bike….
    Here in Nicaragua, “moto-bici” is very popular, with a small gas motor, they cost 300 bucks and get you where you want to go. the most efficient gas travel, I would imagine this would be more practical than batteries .

  56. trollanski May 29th, 2016 8:30 pm

    We can all endlessly debate the merits of “fair means approach,” but it just seems to depend on the situation. Fat e-bikes have allowed me to blow off some really tedious approaches in spring the last two seasons in order to ski some great lines. At my age, shaving off 6-8 miles (each way) of closed road not skiing so that I CAN ski is brilliant.
    How about a review on Powered Para Gliders? Sure could use a Flat Top Ninja to get me to that next tasty bowl (grin).

  57. Bar Barrique May 29th, 2016 9:58 pm

    IMO; the thing that we should all realize is that backcountry skiers, and, hikers are the most privileged user group in the current regulatory environment. If there was any attempt to allow increased access for e-bikes, the other motorized user groups would certainly want to be included in any discussions.

  58. Wade May 30th, 2016 6:45 am

    Bar Barrique, yes…exactly correct. E bikes occupy a rather unique position in that unlike most other forms of motorized travel, they look and sound (or don’t sound in this case) like any other bike. Areas that clearly prohibit motorized travel can easily be “poached” and most will be none the wiser. However if the box does get opened, I too expect other user groups to argue that a motor is a motor is a motor.

  59. Stewart May 30th, 2016 7:17 am

    E-bikes are motorized, and as the battle lines are being drawn, that’s what will matter. Road access seems a pretty un-controversial use of them. Same with snowmobiles.

  60. Aaron Mattix May 30th, 2016 8:06 am

    As someone who’s spent quite a bit of time with both hand tools, and chainsaws, I agree with Lou that chainsaws are far from pointless when there is a significant amount of material to be removed. Hand tools are awesome for their packability and efficiency when there is a limited amount of clearing to be done, interspersed at broad intervals of travel. When there are multiple 20″+ logs across the trail, a chainsaw makes the difference between being able to clear the trail in one day with a limited crew, v. it becoming a very laborious multi-day project that is virtually impossible to recruit volunteers for.

    Back to e-bikes: The most volatile point of contention with e-bikes is their use on singletrack. In the question of using e-bikes for ski access, their use seems largely limited to roads, and double-track by virtue of the cumbersome gear being carried along. Look at the ski gear poking up, out, around, and all over from the e-bike rider. Who would really want to try to pilot such a rig down a singletrack trail? Perhaps a little more feasible on cargo-style e-bike, but the weight and mass of such a rig is going to necessarily limit the speed to a very sedate pace (think of fully loaded utility truck trying to follow a rally car down a nasty dirt road).

    Personally, it seems to me that slogging your gear in on foot over a service road to get to the point where you can actually use your ski gear seems a lot like the reasoning for beating yourself on the head with a 2×4: Because it feels so good when you stop.

  61. John May 30th, 2016 2:22 pm

    As a Cat 1 bike racer, bike designer, and ski mountaineer, I have for years pondered the impact of the Electric bike for both joy-riding and access.
    Bottom line is, more people will get in over their head more easily.
    Human powered sports limit us to our fitness and ability. When you have a motorized piece of equipment that can take you further or faster then your ability, accidents will happen more frequently.
    If conditions deteriorate, or a person travels into the wilderness further then they are capable of getting out alone (without motorization) then we are looking at an increase of potential exposure fatalities.

    I am somewhat guilty of this. I had used my sled to take pictures on a mountain several valleys from the nearest road. I got the sled stuck in a steep and deep location that was blocked dense trees from exiting downhill, plus it was USFS land.

    I had food, drink, light, and skis. No skins or sat phone. I had to skate out about 12 miles! Got to my car at midnight. The next day I skinned back in the 12 miles + about 8,000″ vert with a winch on my pack and full provisions. Got the sled winched up about 100′ to an old logging road, then the motor died on the logging road. I knew how to bypass the electrical system and was able to get it running and too a FS road. Retrieved later…

    Well, the moral of the story is, I don’t go further into the wilderness with a motor then I can on foot or ski.

    Sometimes you have to leave the motorized sh~t behind!

  62. Jim Milstein May 30th, 2016 5:21 pm

    I appreciate John’s story, but I can get myself into trouble without the help of motors. I have found myself benighted on occasion simply by not paying proper attention to time. Once on a clear moonless night I skied back to the trailhead by the light of Venus and the stars. I did have an early LED flashlight, but it destroyed my night vision; so it was kept in reserve.

    I don’t need no stinking motor to get into trouble.

  63. John May 30th, 2016 5:32 pm

    I finished biking the Arbany Kittle trail hours in the dark, all I had was my cell phone light. I totally mis-judged the time, and had to double back after a wrong turn.

  64. Shred or die May 30th, 2016 6:33 pm

    Can’t wait for the e-skins review! Human powered access? Can’t believe this article isn’t a joke. Might as well just ride lifts. A disappointing low for wildsnow.

  65. Bruce Moffatt May 30th, 2016 7:14 pm

    No, not now, not in the future.

  66. UpSki Kevin May 31st, 2016 9:13 am

    We pedaled bikes up lincoln creek and skied Grizzley peak on Sunday. a 2hour grueling bike ride, camping out, and having a blazing fire with friends was certainly an equally important part of the experience as was standing on the summit & skiing down.
    NT – thanks for mentioning our Defiant Pack ski carry!

  67. Lou Dawson 2 May 31st, 2016 9:29 am

    Thanks UpSki, appreciate you chiming in.

    For those of you (the vast majority of Wildsnow readers) who don’t know what UpSki is referring to, here near Aspen we have a gated road (Lincoln Creek Road) that a water department plows early in the season, about 6 miles of fairly stiff uphill to a legally defined trailhead for a nearly 14,000 foot mountain called Grizzly Peak. Over the years, nearly every manner of conveyance known to man has been used to get past those 6 miles while it’s gated. People backpack, run, motorcycle (and snowmobile before they plow it). It’s the perfect example of the type of access I’m referring to where ebikes are fine, and everyone can get along. We used the pedal assist ebikes on that same road yesterday morning and had a fun adventure as well. Some other guys used motorcycles a few days ago. Great example of where it’s all good and the real “trailhead” is clearly defined.


  68. Shawn May 31st, 2016 11:15 am

    I’m all for electric motorbikes. Aside from trailhead access, I’m more interested in using them for doing shuttles, skiing from one side of the mountain to the other, river running, down-winding, hang-gliding, hot-air ballooning etc., all with one vehicle and a sturdy, low-slung bike rack.

  69. Carl May 31st, 2016 11:42 am

    As long as we agree that they are light weight motorcycles that you can pedal and only use them in motorized areas e-bikes sound great. I could see having an e-cargo bike for around town with the hills here so I don’t have to drive.

    That said, they are motorized and are not allowed on non-motorized trails end of story.

  70. Lou Dawson 2 May 31st, 2016 12:13 pm

    Carl I get your point but I respectfully disagree, based on my experience using them I think the pedal assist speed limited ebike is clearly a bicycle with some help, and should be allowed in many places where motorcycles would be prohibited.

    Obviously, this whole thing will need some sorting out over coming years!

    The line of definition seems as if it’s becoming a few factors, such as max power and max assisted speed. But I think the “non throttle” bikes fall easily on the side of being bicycles. (There is a clear division in the industry between “throttle” bikes you can ride without pedaling, and those that only produce power when you pedal.)

    Last year California modernized their laws for bicycles and ebikes. Check it out:


    As I said before, all who are working on forming an opinion about this would be benefited by using the machinery in its various forms, but I’ll attempt to avoid the polemic pitfall of trying to invalidate opinions just because a person has not directly experienced something, at least not with ebikes, but perhaps with lightweight ski gear (grin).


  71. Quasimoto May 31st, 2016 12:26 pm

    People mentioned being curious about e fat bikes. Well, check out this (all-wheel drive electric fat bike):http://www.fullycharged.com/bh-emotion-evo-big-foot-pro-2016

    Now THAT looks like a great way to get to distant trailheads…(I’m not affiliated with the company in any way).

  72. Bar Barrique May 31st, 2016 8:23 pm

    Well it seems that many folks are excited about the potential for e-bikes. I am sure that there are some exciting designs out there, and, more to come. No doubt there are some places where accessing a road behind a gate can be nicely done with an e-bike. As Lou says “this whole thing will need sorting out over coming years!”.
    I still have to say that it is going to be an uphill battle to achieve “special status” for e-bikes in areas now designated as non-motorized. Non motorized areas generally have this status to limit entry, and, protect wilderness. Other non motorized areas are set aside for aesthetic reasons. Having someone blast by you on an e-bike is not going to fit into this scenario. E-bike advocates are going to have to argue with established motorized lobby groups for increased access. Still; I am sure that these e-bikes will find a niche, and, their environmental footprint is admirable.
    OK, lets talk about chain saws; I have a smaller light weight saw with a 16″ bar. After a couple of hours of cutting, I just stash it in the bush or under a log in the snow. Then I come back to finish the job at a later date.

  73. Lou Dawson 2 June 1st, 2016 10:25 am

    Everyone, here is something for your mentation: Some ebikes have regen, in that they charge battery while riding. What if you started out with such a bike having no battery charge, and charged it by riding, so you were storing your own muscle power? Is that a human powered bicycle just like using pedals? Or a motor cycle? Opinions appreciated. Lou


  74. Jim Milstein June 1st, 2016 11:28 am

    Cute, Lou!

    Your thought experiment would be more interesting if the bike could be charged only by regeneration but not externally.

    When the possibility of external charging remains, nothing is changed.

  75. Lou Dawson 2 June 1st, 2016 12:22 pm

    Rule is if the bike is charged at home, it has to be done with a stationary bike hooked up to a generator?

  76. Jim Milstein June 1st, 2016 12:35 pm

    Nice try, Lou. But, again, no cigar. Too easy to cheat.

  77. Lou Dawson 2 June 1st, 2016 12:44 pm

    Ok, so, we’ll have to have the Milstein certified wall charger lockout and moral framework booster, available on Amazon for only $19.95 (with Prime)!

  78. See June 1st, 2016 12:50 pm

    Not really an answer to Lou’s question, but charging an electric bike battery by pedaling while applying a regenerative brake would be ridiculously inefficient compared to just riding a regular bike. This may seem obvious, but I have a fair amount of electric bike experience and was often asked about this.

  79. Lou Dawson 2 June 1st, 2016 1:08 pm

    See, indeed, that is true. It would never work in real life unless the charging was done with extra stationary riding at home. But what does work according to real life is using regen to add a some power back into the battery during downhills and easy pedaling sections, for extended range. That is real, we have one friend who set up his own town bike with regen and he uses it for quite some time between wall charges.

    My hypothetical was of course purposed to refining any ethical or moral questions.

    The engineering is as you say, and does work to recapture some power in hilly terrain on the downhills, or if the user chooses to pedal harder than necessary.

  80. Bruno Schull June 1st, 2016 1:54 pm

    OK, I can’t resist. E-bikes. There are so many related ideas here…ski access, back country regulation, urban transportation, environmental impact, and so on…I guess that’s why this topic has generated so many replies. I’ll start with the most relevant issue–using e-bikes for access to skiing, and move on to other topics.

    E-bikes for access. I think that e-bikes make sense for this sort of thing, pedaling and/or pushing up a long/boring/steep roads to make ski tours possible. In this sense, they’re just another way to access the back country, falling somewhere along the spectrum between hiking in under one’s own power and talking a lift/helicopter to the top of a peak. I think Lou has a good sense of the regulatory issues, and the nuances involved in e-bike use, and I don’t have any problem with these machines used in this way. But…

    Regulation is tricky. I understand how e-bikes work–I’ve ridden one. I think the power and speed distinctions between less powerful e-bikes, that are more like bicycles, and more powerful e-bikes, that are more like motorcycles, make sense. So that would mean that whatever regulatory agency is involved–BLM, USFS, NPS, and so on–would have to regulate their use. For example, the less powerful models could be used on bike paths in a national park, while the more powerful models could only be allowed where motorcycles can go. It seems inevitable that’s the direction this will go, although there probably will be some controversy and back and forth as the laws evolve. But…

    Wilderness. I strongly feel that e-bikes, and mountain bikes in general, should not be allowed in wilderness areas, and by that I mean legally defined wilderness areas, not just “wild natural places.” There is a growing and vocal movement to allow regular mountain bikes into the wilderness, and I think that’s a step in the wrong direction. And, of course, if regular mountain bikes were permitted, it would be hard to ban less powerful e-bikes as well. I know that this issue is complicated. For example, if we keep wilderness as a strictly non-motorized human-powered place, we then restrict these public lands to the small percentage of people who are fit and strong enough to access them–that’s not really fair to other citizens who many not be as physically capable, but have every right to enjoy the wilderness. However, when I think about wilderness, I try to balance the fact that something might be unfair to one group of people, against the larger benefit to the whole wilderness area. I guess I try to look at wilderness areas not from the perspective of humans, but from the perspective of the land, and keeping it as undisturbed as possible, which was the whole point of the wilderness act to begin with. So, if I had to choose, I would put even more restrictions on wilderness areas (no horses, less user permits, and so on) instead of moving to open up these areas. Lou, I know you might disagree, and I would love to hear your views about bicycle access (or other kinds of access) to wilderness areas–I’m sure you have thought about it more than I have, and I would really value your point of view.

    Urban use. I live in Basel, Switzerland. This is one of the cities in Europe with the most bicycle use for daily trips. Last time I checked, I think bicycles were used for a little more than 30 % of all trips in the city. In a city like Amsterdam, that number is closer to 50 %. So, in Basel, people don’t ride bicycles as much as the Dutch, but they do use bicycles more than most other Europeans and Swiss. I would say that about 10-20% of the bicycles I see on the street are e-bikes. The biggest user group is parents pulling heavy bicycle trailers with kids. The second biggest user group is commuters who want to get to work faster and with less effort than with regular bicycles. E-bikes are sold and serviced at most bike shops, and there are even some bike shops exclusively for e-bikes. There are some important problems. E-bikes are dangerous. There has been a sharp increase in bicycle accidents, including accidents involving pedestrians and cars. E-bikes are powerful and fast. The brakes and tires have perhaps not developed in step with the speed and weight. The people riding them are often not the most skilled and capable cyclists. They are silent. Pedestrians and car drivers do not correctly estimate their speed. Consequently, there has been an advertising campaign to try to educate people about their presence and use. So e-bikes are being integrated into the city, but there are positives and negatives. That said, I don’t think that here in Europe there will be the same issues as in the US because…

    History. In Europe over the last century, and especially between the World Wars, when the region was devastated, bicycles evolved as an established part of transportation, a tool for daily life. In contrast, in the United States, which was relatively well developed, cars became the preferred method of transportation, and bicycles have always remained mainly toys. For this reason, I think that e-bikes will become a big part of urban life here in Europe, while I am not sure that they will in the US. And, at the same time, I think that recreational vehicles, like e-mountain bikes, might become popular in the US, but not Europe. So e-bikes as urban commuting tools in Europe, and e-bikes as recreational vehicles in the US. Time will tell.

    Last issue kicking around in my head…Environmental impact. As several people have pointed out, e-bikes are not really clean or environmentally friendly. Most electricity to charge e-bikes is generated from fossil fuels–for example, from coal fired power plants. And the batteries and motors are not very green products. The regeneration systems are interesting, especially the Shimano system, which activates whenever you touch the brakes and works like using an engine to slow a car. I think it would be AWESOME if you could prop your e-bike up on a stand, and use it like an indoor trainer, getting fit at the same time that you powered the battery. And of course, you could charge your e-bike with solar, or a wind or water turbine. All possible.

  81. afox June 1st, 2016 1:58 pm

    ive been playing with ebikes for about 5 years now. When I tell people about my ebike “hobby” the biggest mis-interpretation I get is that people seem to think they are a replacement for human powered transportation. In my case and Im sure most peoples situations the ebike is in fact a replacement for GAS powered transportation. Now that I have an ebike I drive less. I am positive that more ebikes means less dirtbikes, atv’s, and OHV’s in general. Around town, more ebikes means less cars! I guarantee an ebike has less environmental impact than any gas powered vehicle. I, and every sane person agree that ebikes should not be allowed on non-motorized trails. What’s not to like about replacing noisy, smelly, gas motors with electric bicycles?

  82. XXX_er June 1st, 2016 3:00 pm

    I know a guy in Haida Gwai who uses a solar panel to charge his electric scooter and also run his hostel comlpletely on solar charging recycled car batteries, between solar and SAT internet hookup buddy is completely off the grid while still living in town

  83. See June 1st, 2016 7:54 pm

    To address Lou’s question, if it has a motor (not counting the rider) then it’s motorized. But I’m all in favor of putting an electric bike on a trainer and adding some charge while working out. Key is reduce waste.

  84. Jim Milstein June 1st, 2016 9:59 pm

    I think See has pointed the way to the solution. Since the rider doesn’t count as a motor, let’s put an autonomous robot rider on a mountain bike. It is then instructed to carry all our gear up to the trailhead. Maybe the skier can ride in a trailer or behind the robot on a tandem.

    The only flaw in this scheme is that the robot will be pretty expensive.

  85. See June 1st, 2016 10:31 pm

    Umm, that’s not what I said. The rider is the motor.

  86. Lou Dawson 2 June 2nd, 2016 7:09 am

    Bruno, thanks for the well thought posting.

    I’ve done quite a bit of writing over the years about big W wilderness issues, including bicycles. Myself and a few other guys did quite a bit of riding in the big W around here before using wheels became illegal due to an arbitrary interpretation of our Wilderness Act law.

    My opinion is that there should be a different land use designation that emphasises conservation but encourages relatively non destructive recreation such as bicycles, selected 4×4 routes, heavily used horse and hike trails, better trail and timber upkeep (including modern logging), etc.

    On the other hand, I do see the appropriateness and need for us to have designated big W here in the lower 48. I personally don’t want any more land to be designated as big W, as it gets too restrictive, but what we have is ok.

    As an aside, much of what we view as “Wilderness” here in Colorado is actually heavily impacted by human influences such as overgrown overpopulated timber, mining infrastructure, private inholdings, eroded horse trails and damaged high altitude hiking routes, not to mention regular incursions by mechanized poachers, oh, and the construction of virtual towns during hunting season. I could go on. Point being that making a god out of legal Wilderness is sometimes pointless, and such energy could be better spent on creating land designations that are friendly to certain forms of use and management, so we can move past the “you can’t do that, there — but I can” mindset to the “go over there, have fun, per the rules” mindset.


  87. Bruno Schull June 3rd, 2016 3:54 pm

    Thanks for the comments, Lou. That makes sense to me. Even in my limited experience, I have seen surprising things in the big W…for example, in the Wind Rivers, where I have spent a good deal of time hiking around, there are well-worn hiking trails, horse camps, hunting camps, and so forth. Once you have some ambiguity as to how much human impact there is, an alternative designation might make sense. I would just be afraid that, ultimately, the impact would grow. It’s an important issue, though, and I wish it got more attention. To return to the ebike topic: I would seriously consider an ebike with a utility trailer for errands as an alternative to a car. And I would like to so a multi-peak ski bike adventure…but I’d like to try under my own power, at least for a few more years! Enjoy the spring.

  88. Bruno Schull June 15th, 2016 12:39 am
  89. Jim December 26th, 2016 11:54 pm

    Check out Lectriccycle.com out of Las Vegas. They made me a real nice custom 750 Watt mid drive bike with Nuvinci Continuously Variable transmission and a Gate Carbon Belt drive on a Spot Brand Atlas. Real Nice, and I use it more than my car now for all my errands and short trips.

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

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    Backcountry skiing is dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. Due to human error and passing time, the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use.

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