Ski Touring News December 2016 — Table Tossing and Monarch Uphill

Post by blogger | December 9, 2016      
Backcountry skiing news.

Backcountry skiing news.

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.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


15 Responses to “Ski Touring News December 2016 — Table Tossing and Monarch Uphill”

  1. Quasimoto December 9th, 2016 10:30 am

    Ever skied out east, Lou? Wind like that Scotland vid is pretty common, especially on NH’s Mt Washington but not only there. I can think of several times I’ve had to resort to crawling (skis on pack = sails). Or watching my lighter partner get blown 100′ sideways off the trail. A few years ago I skied St. Helens with my sisters, who live out west. I was plugging away uphill, in my own head, when they told me they wanted to turn around because of the wind. It hadn’t even occurred to me the wind was worth paying attention to. For the record, though, I get by through most of the winter with the same kit you carry: a windbreaker and a good puffy. Key is the puffy needs a decent outer shell.

  2. Shaun Pinney December 9th, 2016 1:27 pm

    log out of google and your searches will be general not local. You can also do a ‘incognito search’…

  3. Lou Dawson 2 December 9th, 2016 2:57 pm

    Shaun, thanks for the tip. I do know how to go incog, but didn’t think it made a difference with search. I’ll try logging out as well. Too bad Google Search doesn’t have a setting that de-localizes. Annoying. Lou

  4. Dan December 9th, 2016 5:36 pm

    I hate the way the googbrain assumes all I want to read about is American!

  5. nate porter December 10th, 2016 7:06 am

    Monarch is my home mountain. The dawn patrol skinning scene there has gotten pretty popular in the last couple seasons. Yesterday I did my first uphill laps during business hours- it was great! Thanks for adding up hill Monarch!

  6. Lou Dawson 2 December 10th, 2016 9:56 am

    Hi Shaun, I did some more experimenting, going Incognito doesn’t change the bias for North America though it might make the search less pinpoint local. I’ll try not being logged in. Interesting. Lou

  7. Bryan December 10th, 2016 10:57 am

    There are a bunch of tools out there that allow you to choose the location that you are “searching” from.

    Also, here’s the direct link to the Monarch uphill page (link in blog goes to Monarch homepage).

    Maybe someone can clarify, but it looks like uphill is only allowed before / after operating hours? This is a good way to split the drive to the southwest…

  8. Michael B December 10th, 2016 12:22 pm

    Lou, also try searching with

  9. Lou Dawson 2 December 10th, 2016 3:30 pm

    Thanks guys, I’ll ramp up my skills. Funny, you’d think a guy who was using search before Google existed would do better, I’m probably just expecting too much. Lou

  10. Rob S. December 10th, 2016 5:01 pm

    Lou – if this thing had a hip belt, I think it might be slick for slack country with a non-booted hiking component. A little pretty, but has some cool features.

    I’d love if you’d review one or suggest better options!


  11. Kristian December 10th, 2016 6:35 pm
  12. ptor December 11th, 2016 1:50 am

    Interestingly, the ‘uphill skiing’ trend has spread to cross-country skiing tracks, indoor skiing venues and stockpiles of zamboni snow outside of skating rinks where ski-mountaineers are skinning around causing safety and security issues. When confronted, beyond citing concerns over avalanche hazards and rising fuel costs impeding access to mountain trailheads they expressed their rights as ‘free-skinners’ in response to what they call discriminatory and racist policies . Spokesman Bob Wing stated their next step would be to organize a hunger strikes to protest the ban on uphill skiing. – Reuters/AP

  13. nate porter December 11th, 2016 6:18 am

    Bryan, Monarch is now allowing skinning during business hours, on designated routes.

  14. Lou Dawson 2 December 11th, 2016 7:46 am

    Thanks Kristian, that’s a good workaround, I changed your swimwear reference to skiing, just to keep things on track in our comment threads. Lou

  15. Kristian December 11th, 2016 8:54 am

    Makes sense. Be sure to search with native language words and not english language.

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