Ski Touring News Roundup Mid August 2016

Post by blogger | August 17, 2016      

Backcountry Skiing News

If you’ve observed our North American recreation culture for a while, it is obvious that the boom in human powered outdoor sports that began in the 1960s is alive and well. I’m not sure if the demographics show a percentage increase, or if what we see is simply the result of more population. In any case, one thing is clear, many places need more trail miles. While the Aspen area goes through what appears to be somewhat ridiculous agonal soul searching about their trails interfering with wildlife such as over-populated elk, it’s nice to see that in the North Eastern U.S. state officials are proposing beautiful additions to their trail network. Will agonal soul searching take place there as well? Stay tuned.

More in the Wildsnow department of tortuous excogitation: We often see the invocation of “scientific wildlife studies” to prove what is appropriate in human’s use of the land, such as trails. From what I’ve seen over the years, placing faith in “studies” however scientific can be suspect when they involve life forms, human or otherwise. The recent news coverage about how billions of dollars in human diet studies yield almost no useful results is the case in point. New York Times article is quite amusing. Read it, weep, immediately quaff a whole milk latte, scarf bacon for breakfast, and nibble quinoa for dinner. It’s all perfect, on paper somewhere in a file cabinet.

If you’ve spent much time in the Alps you know that alpine club membership is a key ingredient in everything from getting the best prices at huts, to having the correct rescue insurance for ski touring accidents. As a result, membership numbers are exploding. Check this report about the Swiss club. If you’re planning a mountain recreation trip to western Europe remember to join a club, our favorite is the Austrian’s just because they invented modern skiing — as far as we’re concerned, anyhow. Tip, to get the easiest English language version of the Austrian club, use their UK website.

Many of you voracious consumers of internet ski content have probably noticed that ski touring went mainstream a few years ago, evidenced by everyone from the New York Times to Outside Magazine ramping up their coverage. The cynical take on this is that all of us web publishers are mercenary and go where the interest is just so we can sell advertising. While somewhat true, that’s not necessarily dark (it brings the content). And each business is different.

Niche sites like ours stick to our mission not matter what our traffic or ad sales inspire. The Dawson family publishing web-pire has been blessed by supportive sponsors, but our primary goal is to share something we love, not sit here looking at spreadsheets. Other publishers have more a mix of passion and needing to keep a bottom line in the black. Ink-paper magazines, for example, clearly have to create cash flow for multiple employees and those printing presses. Along those lines, we’ve noticed a recent uptick in Powder Magazine re-publishing their older pre-internet content as look-backs — with associated Google listings as “news” articles. If anyone should be doing that, it’s them. We pity the intern (or Indian content factory worker) that’s tasked with keyboarding all the old stuff… but overall, hats off to Powder for honoring our sport by sharing the history as a “45th Anniversary Celebration.” Indeed, Powder has been more than 40 years faithful to human powered skiing while most other ski magazines shoved out amazing quantities of borish verbiage, mostly pertaining to the resort du jour, spiced with tips about mogul skiing. Example here.

And not to be left out, the first writing I ever got paid for in print was published in Powder Mag. My version is here, a bit embarrassing, somewhat amusing, and thoroughly humbling for me even many decades later.

There is a bit of a push happening media-wise regarding pioneer climber and ski mountaineer Fred Beckey. This AP article is pretty good, but the story of Fred could take volumes. Or a movie. To that end, check out this Kickstarter for a documentary film about Fred. Worth supporting. As for the AP article, it says Fred is obsessed with climbing. The man does probably have more first ascents than anyone in history (though some prolific climbers who focus on shorter crag routes might beat Beckey in shear number of lines). The article also talks Beckey’s “black book” of possible conquests — both climbs…and women. I keep hearing that the famous book is apocryphal, but I climbed with Beckey and my memory is that not only was he as obsessed with women as he was with climbing, but that he definitely had lists of both. As the saying goes, “you got any phone numbers, baby?”

(Fred Beckey is not currently known as a ski mountaineer, and indeed his career is mostly about climbing. But he did quite a bit of skiing in his younger years and has a few mentions in my publishing about ski touring.)

And lastly, what would you say if you saw me riding around Franz Joseph International on this? Save your legs for the hills, have time for a beer, but not burn calories like the usual airport hikes? Jury is out? Below is for another Kickstarter (that website provides more amusement than a powder day in Hokkaido, as a figure of speech, anyhow…).


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


25 Responses to “Ski Touring News Roundup Mid August 2016”

  1. Janey August 17th, 2016 11:00 am

    I love your news round ups, they,re always an amusing piece to read, Keep ’em coming.

  2. Stovepipe August 17th, 2016 11:33 am

    It’s disappointing to hear you minimize the relevance of scientific studies of wildlife as a means to reduce human-wildlife disturbance as we continue to use up habitat for development and recreation. As an advocate of backcountry use, I would hope that you would outwardly support efforts that help minimize disturbance to the wildlife populations that many of us believe enhance our backcountry experiences, whether we see the animals or just know they are there. As a conservation biologist, I suppose my views are somewhat biased, but understanding the long-term dietary effects of human diets are a far cry from studies looking at the distribution of wildlife, their movement patterns and habitat use, which are about as basic as science gets, with the obvious exception of Rube Goldberg devices to test release values of bindings, now there’s some high-value science!

  3. Jack August 17th, 2016 12:27 pm

    Finding that balance between human recreation and intrusion into the wilderness is difficult, for sure. As an Easterner, I’m proud of the mostly sensible use policies in the National Forests and mountain areas here.

    Though I have only an undergraduate education in Biology, I do know that untangling ecological interactions and effects is a difficult science.

    Perhaps a humble spirit is required? Let’s not ignore the Big One: global climate change and the rate of anthropogenic species extinction is big.

  4. Stovepipe August 17th, 2016 1:14 pm

    Well-said Jack, I agree with you. If we don’t use sound science to base our decisions on when it comes to finding that balance, what is the alternative? Developing wherever we want? I’m an easterner too, and applaud the Forest Service for working with RASTA to develop glades on green mt. national forest. I also think it’s great that Aspen is taking a close look at its open space with an eye toward maintaining biodiversity, but think they went a bit far in saying that recreation trails “fragment” habitats. Unless they’re more like roads, typical trails don’t fragment habitats.

  5. Jim Milstein August 17th, 2016 1:24 pm

    I’m reading this roundup, Lou, while pursuing my high-gluten, high-chocolate, low-vitamin diet. I feel great! Will publish soon. Gotta go, . . . time for my MSG shake.

  6. ptor August 18th, 2016 12:45 am

    For better human performance, we should remember that we are nature….there is no outside. Problem with a lot of modern science is it’s politically and commercially funded and driven goals. CO2 and AGW is a classic pseudo scientific redherring to deflect attention from the woes of the ongoing geo-engineering program. We’re constantly getting sprayed and zapped here in the alps.
    Austrian Alpine Club rocks…really good insurance along with the membership for traveling and skiing. I been a member for 10 years.
    It’s about time Fred got a lifetime achievement Piolet D’Or!!!! Last time I got to hang out with ‘the man’ was on the Monarch Icecap when he climbed Cerberus for one of his last alpine adventures. He’s on the wall at Renholds museum in Bolzano…not many are.

  7. Jernej August 18th, 2016 4:23 am

    Regarding Beckey and “more first ascents than anyone in history”… that may well be, but I would just like to point out Franc Knez with over 5000 climbs, over 700 first ascents (that he even bothered to report, an exception rather than rule with him) and probably more free solos than Honnold could dream off. All the while working a regular factory job, not having a driving license to get himself in the mountains in the first place and not climbing much since spinal fracture at age 44.

    Just sayin’… media coverage distorts reality somewhat. Some people prefer to stay out of sight.

  8. Lou Dawson 2 August 18th, 2016 6:06 am

    Good points Jernej, always fun to talk about who has the “most” in sports chatter.

    I suppose it’s possible with Beckey that we need to somehow categorize the type of climbing, he spent a lot of time over the years on expeditions and doing alpine climbs, while others tended to stay on the crags where new routing can be a matter of hours instead of days.

    As for folks staying out of sight. That’s fine. But the assumption is when media reports a “first” or the “most” they are reporting that which is known and documented. Perhaps that should be clarified more often, but doing so ups the word count, as in “Fred Beckey is known for having the most documented first ascents in North America…”

    Perhaps that’s better, but wordy?

    Also regarding those who stay out of sight through personal preference or whatever. If they become known anyway, then they are not out of sight.


  9. Lou Dawson 2 August 18th, 2016 6:11 am

    Thanks for dropping by Ptor, good point about us being nature. Indeed problems with modern science… I just read another good article that mentioned how boffins doing studies aggressively pursue getting the study published when it has exciting results, and the pursuit of this tends to bias due to publication favoritism etc., and then the media gets involved, and sometimes the boffins go directly to the media with their exciting results so they can bask in the warm glow of additional funding. The system is a mess. Skepticism about scientific studies is healthy and wise. Actually, isn’t skepticism good science in of itself? Lou

  10. Lou Dawson 2 August 18th, 2016 6:23 am

    Regarding conservation biology, “sound” is the operative word in “sound science.” A land management outfit can’t just hire one guy with a piece of paper and take their word for what is, replicable studies are key, mixed with a healthy dose of common sense as well as being comfortable with the practical philosophy of knowing the only way to achieve edenic pre-columbian ecology would be to totally eliminate all modern human effects on the land, atmosphere, etc. for a given area. Which is impossible. And even then, to go pre-columbian we’d have to accept any native-American influences, which could actually be fairly heavy in some areas. Or perhaps we should go pre human with our standard for what’s normal as a target? In that case, science these days seems to be struggling with exactly how and when humans arrived in North America, so we’d need to have that date for certain, before we could try to turn back the clock.

    Thus, to live in our house, drive on our roads and hike in the woods we have to accept that we will influence wildlife and change biodiversity. To think we can do otherwise is silly.


  11. See August 18th, 2016 9:24 am

    If powers that be are spraying and zapping us from the sky, I want to know about it. But if it’s a baseless conspiracy theory, then it’s counterproductive because it distracts from the real problem— carbon emissions. I’m not a fan of geoengineering in either case. So Ptor, where’s the proof? What convinces you that this is real?

  12. ptor August 18th, 2016 5:26 pm

    Good question See and I’m not gonna convince you or anybody…just typing my ‘ got something to say’ but anyways… Number One it’s visible (you just have to look up and see it (if one can be distracted from their phone long enough)especially when you can begin to see the weather patterns it interacts with alongside the planes not leaving tracks and the sprayers ‘blinking’ sometimes (jet engines never turn off midflight) …also I’m 49 so I remember when jets flying at the same altitudes hardly ever left tracks like that and didn’t cause huge artificial clouds and milky skies). Number two, the technology has been discussed thoroughly and publicly since the 50’s spearheaded by Edward Teller the developer of the H-bomb( the patents are available for the technologies involved and everybody should know about HAARP and ionospheric heaters by now), number three the western military has openly pursued a policy of full spectrum dominance including ‘weather as a weapon’, number 4 there are many public initiated scientific analyses of rainwater and now finally the chemtrails themselves as well as jetfuel that correlate the abnormal presence of aluminum and barium particulates with the long ‘proposed’ technology. Number 5, all the science implied through the geo-engineering model are lab proven, from nano-particulate aerosol suspension models to using microwaves to induce and deter droplet nucleation and atmospheric vortices not to mention the enhancement of radar and communications in humid atmospheric with the infusion of metallic oxide nano-particles. Number 6 , the companies involved in the execution of this operation have been identified and link to alot of the original research in MIT. Number 7, this reality is already recognized and action taken like Shasta County in California due to the grave implications of creating atmospheric compressions and screwing with the jetstream that causes many of todays undesireable weather phenomenon and soaking humans and our environment with Aluminum.Italians are especially aware. Number 8, the crossover into financial markets for weather and crop futures is monstrous and link all the way to Monsanto. Not gonna soak the comments with links except for…

    …it’s all out there …including the artificial clouds produced regularly which no climate change alarmist modeler of the impossible to model is even putting into their equations. The negative implications of all this dwarfs any couple degrees C warming by many many magnitudes of 10. You don’t really believe the NY Times do you? We need more CO2 actually…it’s the food of the planet.

  13. Shawn August 18th, 2016 6:09 pm

    Lou emphatically stating his mission seems funny to me, having been led to this site after reading his print book, which oozes with bc skiing passion.

    On wildlife, I like the idea that if I build a birdhouse and avoid roundup-affiliated products that the wildlife should in turn grant me some wilderness singletrack, or the likes.

    I have no solid info about weather mods, but seeing the above nyt story recycled the other day throughout mainstream media got me thinking about it. If there’s nothing going on why are there 10 stories telling me nothing is going on?

  14. See August 18th, 2016 6:29 pm

    Thanks, Ptor. You’re right, I’m not convinced. But I appreciate the explanation, and I’ll look into it and give it some thought. As far as believing the NYT… I don’t believe everything I read, regardless of the source.

  15. Lou Dawson 2 August 19th, 2016 8:36 am

    Come on you guys, no comments about the motorized suitcases? It’s the gateway to an e-bike!

  16. Bruno Schull August 19th, 2016 8:45 am

    Hoverboards, Lou. It’s all about hoverboards. Motorized suitcases are old school.

  17. Lou Dawson 2 August 19th, 2016 9:27 am

    Bruno, thanks, I knew you’d be here to help (smile)!

  18. See August 19th, 2016 7:29 pm

    I’m seeing lots of electric skateboards lately. Regen brakes… I’m really tempted.

  19. Jim Milstein August 19th, 2016 9:14 pm

    The fusion-powered electric skateboards don’t need regen brakes. I’ve backordered one. For a few bucks more you can get the tech binding option to mount your luggage and cruise the finest airports in style. Skiing may be obsolete soon.

  20. Jernej August 19th, 2016 10:47 pm

    One anecdote about Franc Knez. A few years ago his regular climbing buddy (Silvo Karo) and him received some presidential lifetime achievement award or some such. When reporters tried to get an interview Franc said: “I don’t know what to say. If you want to know something just ask Silvo here.”

    Basically, most of what is known about him is because of his friends who are a bit less modest and shy.

    And don’t think he was just a cragging rat racking up short climbs. He did that on top of many trips. From all the European big climbs to Patagonia, Andes, Himalaya and some first ascents in Yosemite. A somewhat longer list here:

    PS people please ignore the spraying geoengineering bullshit. It is an insult both to common sense and science.p

  21. ptor August 20th, 2016 5:41 am

    Getting insulted by the BS since the 50’s…
    Please people just keep ignoring all those artificial clouds that ‘aren’t actually there’ so your eyes don’t get insulted by such ‘common sense’. All the documentaries made on the subject along with the documented introduction of the concerns of ongoing geoengineering in swedish and german parliament are just a big conspiracy funded by oil companies right?

  22. ptor August 20th, 2016 6:10 am

    Nothing in this fake document here that a company like Mitre Corp could do anything with to insult people…

    pure fantasy for all to ignore!

  23. Lou Dawson 2 August 20th, 2016 6:58 am

    Ptor, this is a little too much thread drift, please keep it related to skiing or mountaineering. Thanks, Lou

  24. ptor August 20th, 2016 9:12 am

    Sorry, just tortuously excogitating in response to other comments, all our obsessions with precipitation/weather/climate as skiers and as another ‘case in point’ of a lot of money spent on frivolous political/commercial driven research regarding anthropocentric matters as you were writing about.

  25. Lou Dawson 2 August 25th, 2016 8:48 pm

    Hi Janey, somehow your comment got held up in moderation, sorry about that. Thanks for the encouragement. Look for lots of News Roundups once the season gets jumping. Fun to write. So many issues that are important to ski tourers and mountaineers all over the world. Lou

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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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