A big thanks to Ortovox for making these post happen. Check out Ortovox's mountainwear for your next backcountry adventure.
I spent some time this week honing my internet search technique. Google sometimes just doesn’t cut it, they try too hard to customize search results and the AI is far from perfect. I hate the way the googbrain assumes all I want to read about is local (edit: while I’m logged in, anyway, see comments). While I can customize the overall Google News settings to paint wider, there appears to be no way to force a user search to ignore my being in North America. So I’m looking at other news aggregators. After a week of intense ski touring content work, how about some Friday laughs my experiments dug up?
One of my ongoing favorites is the Austrian news in English site, Thelocal. On the humor side, I’ve always wondered if Austrians really did like throwing tables off restaurant decks, down the ski slopes below. Apparently that really does happen. Someone table tossed, it hit a snowboarder, and the rest is history.
Table danger thus contributed to the fact that 330 Austrian skiers A DAY are ending up in the hospital (or worse), which supports my take: alpine skiing at European mega resorts can be terrifying, and not because of avalanches or weather. But because you might get hit by a table. Ski touring makes more sense. Oh, and here is how to behave in the Austrian sauna after the tour.
Have you ever noticed the constant search for our glise roots, by ski and snowboard historians? It’s like they’re a bunch of paleontologist chasing the missing link. Truth be told, even the cro-magnons probably slid down snow on flat rocks and dried beaver tails before the next evolutionary stage of mankind made the wooden planks that we tend to think of as the first skis and snowboards. But history is fun. This article about a snowboard precursor makes good Friday reading.
Considering this week’s WildSnow discussion of rucksack packing and weight, it occurs to me that what you carry is so ultimately dependent on where you’re ski touring, and the season. Here in Colorado we rarely get truly extreme conditions, and if so it’s easy to simply check weather reports and stay home. What do I mean by “extreme?” Wind you can’t stand up in, for one thing. Like this video from Scotland.
Going back local to here in Colorado, one of the traditional aerobic test in Aspen is how fast you can ski up the Aspen Mountain ski area. They have a race every year so you can make your personal best official. The fastest I ever made it, in the 1970s and unofficial, was around 50 minutes on fairly lightweight AT gear of the day (as you can imagine, I had some customized kit that actually worked well; superlight boots, mohair skins and stripped down bindings). The official record has hovered around 44 minutes. During this year’s race our local skimo prodigy John Gaston started out thinking he could do a fast but not record 45 minutes, then realized as he climbed that he could perhaps break 43 minutes. He ended up with the course record at 42:53 for the 3,200 vertical foot (975 meter) climb. He’s clearly ready for the European skimo time trials. That’ll be fun to watch! Go John.
Keeping on my skimo theme… One of our resorts here in Colorado has gone all in with uphill skiing. Monarch ski area in southwestern Colorado has added fully three designated uphill routes this season that “allow guests to trek from the base area to the top of the Continental Divide.” From what I hear, some of these routes include what you could call “sidecountry” skiing and thus may be hybrids of backcountry and in-resort skiing. All they need now is a night illuminated rodelbahn and the transformation would be complete to the European “whatever is fun” resort philosophy. Fascinating to watch our fuddy duddy Colorado ski areas gradually realizing their guests might enjoy doing things other than yo-yo. Info at Monarch website.
Back to funny stuff you can find. Did you know none other than Tommy Hilfiger was buried in an avalanche and rescued by a beacon search? You didn’t know this? Shame on you. Now you do.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.