Many of you are probably familiar with the spirited writings of avalanche forecaster Drew Hardesty. He’s ramping up his web publishing under the subtitle “meditations on life not after death, but before.” After seeing his sources of inspiration, among them Basho and the Old Testament, I’m eager to partake. Browse here.
Let’s go out
To see the snow view
Where we slip and fall.
If there’s a prize for the best April foolie post out there, other than the perfection incarnated into our own exalted effort, it should go to BCA for their exposition of organic climbing skins. Kept me smiling for an hour, especially since it was close to a few real-world experiences I’d enjoyed over my storied (and sometimes forgetful) past. Check it out.
Congratulations to our home teams for their Grand Traverse race results. Our very own WildSnow editorial director Manasseh Franklin and her partner Alex Lee took 25th place out of 164 starting teams, and third in their co-ed age class. Check the team’s excellent long-form account here. And nearly making the podium, Cripple Creek Backcountry’s Doug Stenclik and partner Eric Poore nabbed sixth place overall! Though before I go totally tizzy over that, it should be noted that the winners, Cam Smith and Tom Goth, charted 6:06, thus breaking the previous course record of 6:37 by a significant margin and crossing the finish nearly two hours ahead of team Cripple Creek.
Overall, I’m amazed winning racers are pinning these GT times over 37 miles — that’s averaging around six miles an hour! Results here.
More Traverse stuff: If you’re not familiar with the aerobic anomaly otherwise known as Cam Smith, check this out.
Though it grieves me to go there, I’d be remiss not to mention the tragic death of WildSnow contributor Gary Smith, in an avalanche. He was a smart, vibrant, talented guy who’ll be greatly missed. Full report here. Our WildSnow remembrance here, and Gary’s WildSnow writings are here.
In the past, we’ve covered several exoskeleton options that might apply to backcountry skiing. I liken these to E-bikes, though they’ve got a lot of improvement ahead before they equal E-bikes in terms of acceptable performance. Here’s another one.
Sigh. Here we go again. Park City resort has closed a popular backcountry access gate, and it may stay that way indefinitely. Why do I sigh? Years ago, I thought the North American ski industry had for the most part adopted a more “European” model of resort boundaries. A sort of hybrid system that used clearly-signed gates in distinct rope lines or fences. The overarching concept: Access to public lands via a transportation system. Apparently I was wrong, and we still need to battle for our right of passage. Report here.
But wait. To be fair, one does have to acknowledge that some of these “backcountry” gates see droves of unprepared, downright clueless skiers who to the casual observer present a zombie-like demeanor as they pass the signs informing them of their imminent death. Why do I say “zombie?” Because zombies are already dead, so they don’t care about dying. This needs to stop. These people are not zombies. They are sons and daughters, fathers and mothers. What’s the ultimate solution? Simple. Put the gate in a place that requires a moderate uphill skin to reach the downhill goods. In addition, how about a tall, imposing gate that only unlocks with a beacon signal?
Condolences to the friends and family of Greg Harms, part owner of Tordrillo Mountain Lodge, who died along with four others in a recent helicopter crash. Apparently this happened while Alaskan heli-skiing. Harms had ties to the Aspen area, many friends here. Helicopter skiing has in my opinion a nearly miraculous safety record, considering the amount of hours the ships fly in mountain terrain. But sometimes the melding of man and machine falls short of the task. Report here, and the GoFundMe if you care to help out.
Dynafit has come up with the term “piste touring” to denote resort uphilling. I like it, snazzy, hip, Euro-centric. But I like our vintage term — uphill skiing — as well. Among other things, it makes for better bumper stickers. We’ll see what wins the jargon wars. Someday. Meanwhile, I ran across this interview with Dynafit CEO Benedikt Böhm, regarding the “piste touring boom.” Among his insights he notes: “If the service is right, we see a great willingness of tourers to pay for it.” We be watching. The interview is here.
The V-word (vaccination) is dominating the feeds. Apologies for stating the obvious. Which brings one to pondering risk versus reward. Where have I heard that term before? Just before launching my corpus down an avalanche path? My take: now that I’m vaxed I’ll hang out with my other vaxed friends, per CDC guidelines, maskless if they’re okay with it. As for the (rapidly diminishing) vast unvaxed, I’ll spend proximity time with them as well, masks or not, their choice after group discussion. Yes, the vax isn’t perfect, but I’m good with it.
Thoughts on the vaxed future: When covid is gone — or as uncommon as ebola — I’ll bet masking during air travel will remain commonplace. I’ll do it. Less chance of arriving to the dream vacation and waking up with a sore throat four days into it. As for pandemics in general, I was around during the polio epidemic, which was in many ways comparable to covid. I was too young to be scared, but remember the tray of vax impregnated sugar cubes they passed around our grade-school classroom. A shout out to the scientists who come up with this stuff, 1961 or 2021.
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.