Ski Touring News Roundup — November End 2016

Post by blogger | November 23, 2016      

UPDATE, Thanksgiving Day 2016. Best wishes everyone on this day of thanks. We are thankful for the wonderful alpine sports we all enjoy. We are thankful for the friends we have made here, and continue to make. To your health, wealth, and plentiful recreation of the powder persuasion! Lou and Lisa

Backcountry skiing news.

Backcountry skiing news.

Big news in the U.S. is here in Colorado, where dry and warm conditions have prevented many traditional Thanksgiving ski resort openings. I remember in highschool in Aspen, 1960s, when we had a winter like this. It seemed like half the kids in my class were in families running small mom-and-pop lodges or working for the resort, and in danger of going broke. Now our resorts are dominated by big hotels that can probably absorb the reduction in bookings, but a few small operations still exist. We wish them the best.

In a broader take, our warming climate is clearly causing part of this problem for the resorts. Reason being that if it’s cold and dry, they can still make enough snow for guests to enjoy, if the weather is warm you get the double whammy of rain instead of snow, along with no snowmaking. Clearly, time to adapt. How? Higher elevations and later opening dates. Will that happen? The later opening dates are already forced. Yet sadly, many of our existing (and nascent) resorts did once have the opportunity to build at higher elevations back when regulations were lenient and private land was available. Now, those doors have mostly closed.

Fortunately we have the sport of skiing without lifts and can pretty much go where we want. That’s how skiing was done before mechanization. Perhaps it’s going back to that. Meanwhile, the Alps are looking good.

And, Whistler opens one day early.

Are you a winter multi-sporter? One thing about dry winters, in some places that makes the ice climbing better. As a retired waterfall ice lover, I still have a place in my heart for the sport. So I noticed Scarpa is attempting to keep some ice content current on their corporate blog. Could be useful if you’re grabbing picks instead of sticks. See here.

Our WildSnow media travels are getting finalized for this winter. We’re not sure who will cover what. But we’re excited that Salomon will be introducing new gear that’s oriented to the high energy lightweight ski touring as practiced worldwide, and Dynafit may be introducing gear that’s specific to uphilling at resorts. We’ll also try to have at least one person at ISPO trade show again this winter, as we like the energy that injects into our blogging. The weird thing about all this is we end up raging about gear that won’t be available for up to a year. The blog posts get buried. I’m not sure what the solution to that is with a chronological blog. Always working on it.

Circling back to climate and weather. A new GOES-R weather satellite is up there now, said to “change the game when it comes to severe weather prediction.” We think GOES-R will also make animated images that are plain fun to watch, and could help with mountain storm predictions relating to skiing. As with former GOES sats these will listen for emergency beacons, only GOES-R will be able to detect weaker signals. More here. And a good FAQ that you can wile away your midweek time with.

According to the GOES-R FAQ: “Beginning with GOES-I, the Search and Rescue subsystem has been carried on each of the GOES. Distress signals are broadcast by Emergency Locator Transmitters carried on general aviation aircraft, aboard some marine vessels, and by individuals, such as hikers and climbers. A dedicated transponder on each GOES detects and relays signals to a Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking (SARSAT) ground station. GOES-R’s transponder will be able to operate at a lower uplink power than previous GOES transponders, enabling GOES-R to detect weaker beacon signals. Through a rescue coordination center, help is dispatched to the aircraft, ship, or individual in distress.”

Check out the locator beacons available on

The battle of free speech is always interesting. Exum Guides, that venerable crew based in Wyoming, recently signed a renewed contract with the Park Service. The new legalese includes a clause prohibiting Park Service concessionaires from talking to the media without permission. It’s a blanket clause, but clearly is directed at accidents and other “newsie” events. Exum’s situation is a good way to look at the issue from both sides.

In my opinion, full access for reporters ultimately results in better information that can enhance the progression of safe practices. On the other hand, during the initial stages of accident aftermath, incomplete information can result in pointless confusion and unnecessary ill will or grief. This article in the Jackson Hole News is a good take, worth a read.

From the WildSnow European desk: Be careful where you sport ski boots in Austria, you might get arrested. The mayor of ski resort town Ischgl responded to the dire issue of noisy ski boots clomping around town, and banned them after eight in the evening. Ishgl is where you begin the famed Silvretta ski touring traverse. Thus, the burning questions: Did they ban ski touring boots as well as alpine boots? And, will they have boot checking stations located around town to evaluate what type of shoes you’re wearing? News report here.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


7 Responses to “Ski Touring News Roundup — November End 2016”

  1. Ronald Cassiani November 23rd, 2016 2:10 pm

    Weather is about to flip so snow will be coming soon. We have already flipped here in the NE with most ski areas opening on Nov 25th.where as northern europe and asia are extremely snowy and cold now temps for DJF will be avg to above avg. Here in the CONUS the northern tier west to east will be cold and snowy.As for southern Co not so much as temps will be avg above normal for DJF

  2. Tay November 23rd, 2016 10:49 pm

    Wildsnow should do what Europe obviously has and sponsor a Gore “effect” Climate Summit each November, just to kick the ski season off with a bang……….

  3. Phil November 24th, 2016 3:46 am

    I’ve been skiing laps in wonderful powder for the last three days here in northern Pennsylvania – which is a good start to making up for last winter’s 0.0 powder turns!

  4. Bruno Schull November 24th, 2016 4:08 am

    Hi Lou. I apologize in advance–I can’t resist. I have to confess that I experienced a touch of schadenfreude when I read about the recent dearth of snow in Colorado. I would not describe you as a global warming denier–on the contrary, I would say that you appear to be a global warming realist. At the same time, over the years, you seem to have engaged in a fair bit of global warming prodding. For example, jokes about tinfoil hats that poke fun at people who ascribe particular weather event to global warming, links to sites casting doubt on climate scientists, suggestions that people’s individual actions have no effect on global warming, and that people should redirect their frustration and anger over lack of progress on global warming into, say, meditation. And so I chuckled to myself when I read that it has not yet snowed in Colorado. Surely that reflects natural year-to-year variation and not some kind of long term trend? And don’t worry, if the snow levels continue to rise, we can just access the powder with pedelecs! As with the current political situation, I fear the worst, and hope for the best. Here’s wishing you a long sustained snowfall for Christmas! In the meantime…better get out those tinfoil hats! 🙂

  5. Lou Dawson 2 November 24th, 2016 7:13 am

    Hi Bruno, no problem, I just happen to think that a good percentage of global warming talk and attempts at action are B.S., based on the evidence before my eyes. I’m not a scientist, so perhaps my scientific approach of having a theory about what’s going on with global warming re human attempts to mitigate (which have nearly zero effect, clearly), observing then drawing conclusions is flawed. But that’s me, and I blog about it. If you’re having trouble with my take, it’s all in my “manifesto” blog post. Which I do a bit of editing on from time to time but has remained fairly consistent.

    As for science in general, it is definitely my opinion that it is frequently wrong and requires the utmost scrutiny. Most real scientists would agree with that, from what I’ve seen. That’s the whole point of science. If scientists were always right, we would know how everything works, have omniscient knowledge of the universe, and most scientists would be out of work. It’s axiomatic.

    I do like to joke and “prod” about GW because it’s controversial and directly related to snow sports. Makes for good thought exercises, fun writing and in the end it’s probably good to do anything to keep our attention on the problem.

    As for the current political situation, I did not see global warming slow down one zillionth of a degree over the past 8 years, and I don’t expect it to slow down over the next 4 or 8. What is more, it’s a well known scientific fact that for the world powers to slow down or stop GW as the decades progress, by implementing lifestyle changes, the steps that are necessary are drastic, even draconian, and a valid take is they’re simply not possible, in reality.

    If there is anything to fear, it is the general way we are handling GW as a worldwide civilization, not any particular political system or party. What I fear is because of politics and fear, we ignore solutions such as climate engineering. In other words, the fear of climate engineering is probably something to fear, rather than a particular political administration. In other words, the only thing to fear, is fear itself! There, how is that for a convoluted blog comment (grin)?

    And, following the logic trails, if science was so right most of the time, we could look to scientists to give us a definitive conclusion about using geoengineering to stop global warming. Instead, we we get debate and different takes. Science will never have all the answers, neither will philosophy (by definition?), and even believers in different religious faiths usually acknowledge there are mysteries that even their religious texts and teachers do not explain adequately. That’s the human condition, for better or worse…

  6. Eric steig November 24th, 2016 10:21 pm


    I generally agree with your irreverent take on science.

    One thing you’re quite wrong about, though, is this: “What is more, it’s a well known scientific fact that for the world powers to slow down or stop GW as the decades progress, by implementing lifestyle changes, the steps that are necessary are drastic, even draconian, ”

    Actually serious scientists and economists think we can make a massive difference at very small cost, perhaps even zero cost because of the way innovation — particularly when it’s invested in heavily — tends to spur economic growth.

    Geoeingeering? Maybe part of the solution. But not THE solution.

    You should read the now old paper about carbon “wedges”, in Science.

    Happy thanksgiving by the way.

  7. Lou Dawson 2 November 25th, 2016 7:27 am

    Ok Eric, I’ll keep studying. Innovation does spur growth, but cheap easy portable energy is acknowledged to be the foundation of the world as we know it — including the underlying economy that supports innovation. I don’t like petrol any more than the next guy, but reality bites. I’m sitting here in our off grid cabin, blogging on solar electricity, but I’m not under the illusion that everything I’m using and touching is NOT actually based on things we mine, including oil. The amount of coal-gas power I save by using solar over grid power is probably nearly zero, considering what it cost in petroleum to make all this stuff and keep it running.

    I truly believe that my situation here is a good example of how difficult it is to solve this problem.

    Oh, and then there is hydro and dare I mention nuke? Both are not free, and not exactly clean — though they do result in less CO2…

    As for science, you all know I’m as much a techie as anyone. I’m also a realist when it comes to tech. That’s why I dont’ buy a new Samsung phone every year (smile).

    I like Norway’s model. Drill like crazy, sell all your oil, run the whole country on hydro you make, and buy some refined oil back for the cars that are not electric. (smile)


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