Ski Touring News Roundup August 2016 – GPS + Vogue

Post by blogger | August 10, 2016      

Vail Resorts bought Whistler Blackcomb. That’s either big news or signifies it’s time for a quiet nap. I don’t know. Anyone have any idea what’ll change? According to this Denver Post article, the buyers say “Whistler’s terrain is “well positioned” to face the challenges of changing weather conditions facing the ski industry as a whole..” They got sold a bill of goods on that one, it rains plenty hard at Whistler, as many skiers probably remember. The resort is even making snow to try and keep a glacier intact! A better purchase to avoid climate change shutting down the skiing would have been something high altitude on the Colorado plateau.

Another article in the Post attempts to bring up key points about the buy. But falls flat when you get to them quoting Forbes Magazine saying that Whistler has “some of the best food in any ski town” anywhere. I’m sure you can get good food in Whistler (I remember a nice breakfast there). On the other hand, Cortina exists. As do about a zillion other Italian tratoria and ristorante with nearby skiing.Article here.

Want to ski tour just miles from the nearest terrorist training camp? Here you go.

Looking to speed solo and ski Everest or another big mountain in the Himalayas? Better get it done soon, The Himalayan Times reports that solo climbing may be banned, along with climbing while over 75 years of age or as a double amputee. Why they obsess on that stuff is a mystery, I mean, if an old guy wants to give it a go why not? Perhaps the Nepalese Government is concerned about rescue costs, or just the excessive use of helicopters that by all accounts are now swooping around the mountain almost constantly when weather permits (the proposed rules also ban helicopter use above base camp, we assume with an exception for rescue). China owns part of Mount Everest as well, one wonders if they’ll do a reciprocal agreement that implements that same rules.

Just hope the regulators don’t set their sights on skiing, one can imagine they’d not look favorably on summit ski descent attempts any more than they favor solo climbers.

Wildsnow science report: What purpose do the most accurate clocks in the world serve to us backcountry skiers? It’s like this. For your GPS to work well it refers to a digital model of the earth’s surface, which is irregular, not a perfect sphere. The reference surface (“0 point”) for this is an imaginary sphere known as the “geoid” and the data the GPS refers to is the “datum.” You may have noticed that unless your GPS uses a datum that matches your chosen map system, it’ll be noticeably inaccurate (there are actually hundreds of datums, but the most common here in North America is WGS-84, which is used by Google Maps and USGS).

Apparently, using synchronized clocks to measure variations in gravitational force is one way of creating the best geoid, subsequently used as reference for creating datums. I thought the Swiss would have led the world in the most accurate clocks, but apparently Germany and France are leading. Technical stuff here. Also, if you’re interested in GPS tech get yourself up to speed on jamming, in case you’re a victim.

WildSnow local news: We love Aspen, both as the economic engine of our region as well as a source of amusement. The town’s command and control economy is always “interesting.” When the commissars start trying to figure out what the definition of “local” is we enjoy a few chuckles. More here.

Vogue Magazine gives up a story about skiing in Argentina. Standout sentence “I thought about taking a Xanax and decided against it.” Enjoy the whole sanduíche here. Honestly, I don’t know how my web browser ended up on Vogue magazine. Perhaps way too much longing for the crisp days of autumn.

I was thinking today about where my interest in affordable housing comes from. It’s probably due to living in everything from a van to a teepee at one time or another (not to mention tents and snowcaves), so I could exist as a mountain sports bum in a U.S. mountain town. Thus, while browsing the news, housing reports always grab me. I’m of the opinion that the whole “affordable housing crisis” we have in some of our mountain towns could be vaporized by a few politician’s signatures on zoning changes, such as reducing minimum home sizes to allow “tiny house” development, along with easing up on restrictions to owners creating accessory dwelling units. But the economic forces against those things are strong (e.g., tiny houses don’t generate massive tax revenue), as are legitimate concerns of people in existing neighborhoods where a limited amount of short and long-term rentals are hardly noticeable, but can reach critical mass and turn family enclaves into what are essentially unregulated hotel districts. The town of Jackson in Wyoming is struggling with all these issues, article here.

Check out the latest of Alan Best’s Mountain Town news if you want to find out who many of the real locals are in our Colorado mountain towns. (Hint, they shop meals by how high the price, rather than how low.)


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


12 Responses to “Ski Touring News Roundup August 2016 – GPS + Vogue”

  1. Jeremy C August 10th, 2016 12:50 pm

    If the Whistler Blackcomb village was 1000m higher I could see the value in the investment. There is something wrong with with the location of any resort which claims to get 10m+ of snow a season, but depends on snow making to keep runs open.

  2. Andrew August 10th, 2016 2:36 pm

    Funny to see the WB-bashing — your Colorado bias is pretty strong there, Lou!

    Local weather guru Cliff Mass argued that the dismal winter of 14/15 provided a look at what the future holds…

    That winter, while local ski areas around Seattle and Vancouver suffered — and the growing throngs who use them — Whistler fared decently because of the resorts’ 5k’ vertical. It wasn’t a great winter for WB by any means, but it was the only place for PNW skiers to score good resort conditions. Combine that data point with the year-round resort infrastructure (including the bike park), and plans to further the development of non-skiing activities, and it seems like a smart investment to me…

  3. Lou Dawson 2 August 10th, 2016 2:51 pm

    Glad to provide some amusement Andrew (smile). But I’m actually more biased to Cortina so please make your accusations accurately. Indeed, at least WB has some vert, though my guess it’s not going to be enough, as for many other resorts around the world — including some in Colorado such as Ski Sunlight. In my opinions resorts that do have higher altitude terrain are not developing it as fast as they should be and they’re going to get caught with their pants down. Lou

  4. Andrew August 10th, 2016 3:03 pm

    Thanks for piquing my interest in Cortina! A top elev. of 9,600′ at 46* lat isn’t too shabby… but it doesn’t yet seem like Vail Resorts is interested in the EU.

  5. Larry Gregerson August 10th, 2016 3:55 pm

    One thing is certain if you look at the other Vail owned resorts…skiing at WB is about to get a lot more expensive.

  6. Erroneous August 10th, 2016 6:12 pm

    The first time I went to WB, I was 12yo and a good portion of the “highway” was gravel. It was so much bigger than anything I’d ever experienced before, I thought it must be the best resort in the world. When I grew up and went to Cham, I realized it was a very poor copy. No offense Canadians!

  7. T August 11th, 2016 1:21 am

    @Larry Gregerson. WB will be added to Vail’s Epic Pass, cutting the price of a Whistler season’s pass in half, and throwing in 12 more resorts with the deal.

  8. Eric Steig August 11th, 2016 7:28 am

    As a climate expert, I gotta say I agree with Lou. I would invest in Colorado high altitude areas before I invested in the PNW. Of course, it depends on the time horizon of ones investments. Whistler/Blackcomb will still be open in 25 years, maybe 50. 100 years… not so confident. (I suspect in any case the Vail owners are also counting on the increasing summer revenue at Whistler/Blackcomb from the lift-assisted mountain bike crowd.

  9. zippy the pinhead August 11th, 2016 9:04 am

    Vail Resorts is precluded from any further expansion in the Colorado market due to anti-trust issues.

  10. Lou Dawson 2 August 11th, 2016 9:20 am

    Zippy, hmmmm, so perhaps Cortina d’Ampezzo will be their next acquisition? Lou

  11. Trent August 15th, 2016 8:11 am

    Looks like we are heading to Cortina in December/January with young children. Would love to talk to somebody offline with experience there. Questions include:
    1. best neighborhood to stay with access to lifts and bunny slope?
    2. good short (half day) touring spots? Might be limited to using the resort as an uphill gym because of family constraints.
    3. restaurants?
    4. flying from the east coast on Delta so maybe not much wiggle room, but best city to fly into?
    5. any general beta?
    Thanks. Lou, if this request is too narrow/selfish, please don’t publish.

  12. Lou Dawson 2 August 15th, 2016 8:51 am

    Hi Trent, your comment is fine. If someone wants to answer I’ll put you guys in touch. Just be sure to leave your correct email when you fill out the comment form. It remains private and I’ll share it privately between you.

    Or, if anyone want to help Trent just leave a few comments here.

    Me, I’ve only ski toured out of Cortina a few times and never done any lift skiing. It’s indeed quite a place and the greater area of the Dolomite is of course amazing.


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