Ski Touring News — Self Driving to the Trailhead & Historical Bohemia

Post by blogger | September 29, 2016      
Would a self driving car deliver us to WildSnow Field HQ? With colors like this, would we care? Click to enlarge.

Would a self driving car deliver us to WildSnow Field HQ? With colors like this, would we care? Click to enlarge.

I’m a huge fan of the self driving car concept. I love automobiles, from the individual freedom they provide to the fun of driving — it is amazing what we’ve created for ourselves. And yes Virginia, horrible choked traffic does happen and mass transit is great, where it’s great, but I’m tired of politicians yammering about how important it is that we all force ourselves into crowded buses and grunged out subway cars.

What if self drivers become in effect a form of mass transit, only offering privacy and customized door-to-door service? Clearly, the word “disruptive” is weak when it comes to what self drivers are going to do to transit, mass or otherwise. Further, promote mass transit and diss cars all you want, but nearly anywhere you ski tour it’s more than likely you’ll need an automobile.

A big step in the development of self driving cars took place recently when the feds released their policy of basic self-driver standards. Good. There needs to be a baseline. As for ski touring and the fun of driving, I hope they keep a steering wheel and human driver option. Even if driving isn’t something you’re interested in, I highly doubt the self drivers will be able to handle rural, snow choked trailheads any time soon.

I always enjoy reading about Michigan’s Mount Bohemia. Even the name makes me want to visit. A couple of chairlifts, 900 vertical feet, lake effect snow, hike-to terrain. Now it sounds like they’re adding some “hut” style lodging at their log cabin “hostel.” Do they allow uphill skiing? Anyone got the beta?

Industry news: You’ve got one more day to enter the BCA contest, win fully two Link radio sets (in our view, group communication is as important to avalanche safety as your beacon and airbag, and radios help). This is a special WildSnow contest, please participate by clicking the BCA banners in our sidebar and page head.

You also might notice the Scarpa F1 banners we’ve got going, as well as our F1 review yesterday. We do like the F1, with that “Scarpa” fit and easy mode changes. We were thus bummed when we had to send our samples back for a revamp this spring. Well, the minions of Montebelluna must have skipped their usual month-long vacation this year, as they’ve got the F1s shipping and looking better than ever.

Also, on the industry front, Dynafit has done their winter launche for their Mountopia branding campaign. Interesting, with a distinctly European flavor and also an interactive component. Check it out with this link, or if you see a banner to click on here you might get a special link.

By the way, I think we’ve got the nicest looking and best behaved banner advertising we’ve ever had. Interesting and varied banners, loading fast, no jinky stuff. If I do say, polite. Please check them out, we couldn’t do WildSnow without our sponsors, they bring you the content for free.

As I mentioned a few days ago, I’ll be at the ISSW avalanche snow science conference for a few days. Turns out I’ll be on a panel discussing the interaction of the public recreation with snow safety issues, e.g., skiers triggering avalanches above highways where a school bus full of kids might be traveling. As a recreation advocate, I tend to view most government implemented access restrictions with a skeptical eye, but some limits are of course no-brainers. I expect my views will become more nuanced after interacting with folks on the panel. In case you’ll be at ISSW, the panel is on Tuesday, 10:00 in the morning.

In our mountain towns here in the U.S., it’s always interesting to watch us humans fiddling around with “historical preservation.” In Aspen, for example, they’ll force homeowners to preserve downright junk from just decades ago, while seemingly oblivious to the fact that one of the most visible “historical” artifacts of the mining days was a nearly complete deforestation of the surround, which if implemented now would vastly improve the skiing. Or, shouldn’t the Aspen ski hills be taken back to their natural state, and re-forested? It comes down to interesting philosophical and cultural issues.

Speaking of cultural, near here the site of Camp Hale where the 10th Mountain Division ski troops trained for WW2 is sacred ground to some of us, including myself (for personal and cultural reasons). Ten percent of these guys didn’t come back from Europe, where among other things they helped remove the Wehrmacht from Italy. If there is any candidate for historical preservation, this should be it. One of the site’s most unique features (all the buildings are gone) is the excavated straight river channel. It’s what you see when you fly over or view the site from surrounding hillsides. Apparently a push to “restore” the unique river section to its natural curvy state has gained momentum. Is nothing sacred? Please, take your machinery and your do-gooder mentality downstream — leave Hale as a memorial to the real do-gooders. Article here.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


16 Responses to “Ski Touring News — Self Driving to the Trailhead & Historical Bohemia”

  1. Maz September 29th, 2016 1:14 pm

    So when you’re in Europe, how do you enjoy the “grunged out subway cars and crowded buses”? Do you perhaps realise that a focus on public transport/mass transit makes for liveable cities without gridlock and pollution, where you can walk and ride your bike?

    When politicians are talking about these issues, they are not out to get you or to ruin your ski touring lifestyle – they are trying to reduce our dependence on private motoring.

  2. Shar September 29th, 2016 1:39 pm

    If your subways cars are “grunged out”, then that is a reflection of the lack of civility in your population, not the lack of appropriateness of mass transit.

  3. Lou Dawson 2 September 29th, 2016 1:46 pm

    In Western Europe, I sure see a lot of people driving… it’s not the nirvana of mass transit, that’s for sure. But they of course have more than we do, of course as a result of population densities. Whatever the case, self driving cars might be personal motoring and mass transit all in one! Disruptive of the paradigm. As for grunged out subway cars, if the shoe fits, wear it, otherwise, kudos. Lou

  4. Jeremy C September 29th, 2016 1:53 pm

    Unfortunately for anyone who likes driving, self drive cars will slowly erode that pleasure. All the current driver aids that have led up to self driving cars, such as; lane departure, automatic parking, blind spot warning, automatic braking systems etc, are basically all systems that say I don’t pay attention when I drive, but my car will stop me from crashing.

    Since most crashes are caused by driver inattention, and it would be political suicide to ban people who can’t drive, I guess self drive cars are the answer. Of course we have these already, they are called taxis or cabs.

    The biggest question with self drive cars, is who is insured/liable for a crash, and I guess the answer is the vehicle manufacturer. In Europe Audi, BMW and Mercedes have just announced that their future cars will be able to communicate with each other, which could be scary.

    I terms of ski touring, would you plan to load the vehicle the night before, wake up early for a dawn patrol, and fall asleep on the trip to the trail head? Have such vehicles even been tested in winter conditions to pick out a snow covered road, between snow covered banks.

  5. Chris September 29th, 2016 2:08 pm

    Clean, affordable, and efficient mass transit (whatever form that might take) and private transportation are not mutually exclusive. In fact, if we don’t get on the bandwagon with our mass transit system now and in the near future, all of us will suffer in many, many ways. Of course, we could get serious about population control as the fix to most of our problems. But, how many politicians will even bring that up as a topic of discussion today?

  6. JCoates September 29th, 2016 3:41 pm

    Lou, I grew up in rural Montana so “I get it” when you’re talking about the pleasure of being able to drive your own pickup deep into the heart of the wilderness and have the place to yourself. I don’t think “those Goddamn Socialists” on here are trying to take that freedom from anyone. I’ve also lived in Europe for most of the last decade and seen how the other-half lives and I think they have it figured out. Mass transit in the US is analogous to how Americans make cheese and bread…most American have never had the real thing and don’t know what they are missing. For example: I’m in Austin this week. Very progressive city and they actually put in a beautiful metro system made by the same company as the German S-bahn system. Only problem is, is that they only run two meesly trains on it so it only runs every 30 minutes to an hour. Plus, it shuts down at 8pm. If you can’t make a system that improves a persons quality of life by making it more convinient for them, than don’t even bother spending the money. For anyone who has ever hiked, biked, or ski toured in Switzerland, then you realize they have it figured out. But they had to invest in the system in the first place and that’s something Americans can’t seem to commit to.

    Self-driving cars are great and I’m sure the bugs will be worked out for my daughter or possibly grandchildren, but what I’m concerned about will be that there really won’t be much snow left at the trailhead anyway for those self-driving cars to take them to if we don’t get our heads out regarding convinient, comfortable public transportation. Rant done…

  7. Aaron Mattix September 29th, 2016 6:36 pm

    Bohemia has been high on my radar of interest. Would love to hear more feedback on it.

  8. rob glieden September 29th, 2016 7:33 pm

    Bohemia is pretty legit. It belongs in your post Lou as the drive up the peninsula is worth it even if you don’t hit the lake effect perfectly. Stop in Calumet at the Michigan House. Great town, great place, great people. You’ll see XC and snowmobiling are far better established up there and that’s not a bad thing. Snowboarders from the Midwest have caught on quickly too. Still 90’s popular here.

    They are in business to sell tickets and lodging so you need a lift ticket to get to access their new hike to area. That said, things are extremely mellow. Terrain is a ton of tree skiing with a few runs you can open it up on when ripe. The lift skiing is quite good.

    I’m really considering exploring the Porcupine mountains that you pass on the way up as they have some small cabins in the wilderness with a pretty extensive trail system in addition to some left behind gladed runs along with a small ski hill. The touring/experience there could be pretty awesome but it won’t be as big as Bohemia but worth looking into if anyone is coming this far to begin with.

    Check with the Marquette MI ski shops as they know more and Joey Wallis on Vimeo is in the know to say the least. I’m in MPLS and can get to the front range or Red Lodge in 13 hours. It takes me 7 to get to MI and I’ve found myself in CO the last few winters but hope to make it to all three this winter. Will follow the snow.

  9. Bill H September 29th, 2016 8:00 pm

    Bright side of self-driving cars:

    It’s going to make point-to-point shuttle tours a lot more logistically simple. Drop yourself off in Crested Butte and just send the car back over to Marble or Aspen.

    Drop yourselves at Kenosha with your bikes and enjoy the CO trail all the way back to Breck without the burden of scooping the shuttle vehicle at dusk when you’re tired and just want to mow down some beers and a large pizza in town. Voila!

    Question is, can the car dig itself out when high centers itself trying to make the 14-point turn between all the poorly parked Sprinters, Subis, and Tacomas at the trailhead.

  10. Sedgesprite September 29th, 2016 11:29 pm

    “The best day of the war. The day I remember the best, was the day it was over.”
    -Sig Olson.

    I don’t want to read too much into that as an eager student of 10th Mtn lore, but the feeling was that the war was unpleasant and difficult, if necessary work.

    Can’t ask Sig his thoughts on Camp Hale, but maybe, as a wildlife biologist, he’d favor the stream restoration. Maybe survey the surviving troops? I favor a memorial, but I don’t think the effort had much romance in it for him.

  11. ptor September 30th, 2016 2:25 pm
  12. Lou Dawson 2 September 30th, 2016 2:39 pm

    Ptor gets it. On the other hand, I heard he’s driving a Citroen 2CV these days (smile).

  13. John Duke September 30th, 2016 9:25 pm

    Bohemia is as Homegrown as Midwest skiing gets. As a Michigan native, and NMU alum, I can attest that they stick to the roots of skiing:sliding down snow with a smile on your face, no matter the conditions. A full trip requires a stop at Gogebic Community College and their Ski Area Management program head, Jim VanderSpoel. A real brain to pick. As well as Brandon Croney, owner of Marquette’s The Compound Ski Shop. However, Bohemia still puts the adventure in resort skiiing, especially at the most northern part of Michigan.

  14. ptor October 1st, 2016 2:58 am

    Actually I’m working on a sponsorship deal with Ferrari to drive a GTC4 Lusso (untill I get my anti-gravity unit from Area 51) so I can outrun those dangerous Tesla clunkers…

  15. Zak October 4th, 2016 12:28 pm

    RE Mt Bohemia

    Historically it was a human powered area before the chairlifts. There does remain a few people that still do. Skinning up before the chair lifts start does happen, and AFIK there’s never been an issue with it in general, but I would guess that’s mostly because there are few that do it. Particularly since there are ways to ascend with minimal interference to downhill traffic. Overall, the whole experience is fairly unique. If you do want a solid connection for backcountry there in general, feel free to email me.

  16. Bob P October 19th, 2016 12:47 pm

    Lou…I don’t lurk here much, so forgive me if thoroughly discussed somewhere.

    It seems to me that a self-driving snowmobile is an obvious next step for skiers wanting to do backcountry laps. You drive the snowmobile from your preferred pickup point up a reasonable route to your preferred takeoff point, turn it around, and send it back to the pickup point via the exact path you just created. Ski down to it, and repeat ad nauseum. Thoughts?

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