Last month, WildSnow featured an accident in the Teton’s Sliver couloir. That story elicited some excellent discussion on communication norms in the backcountry, specifically when it comes to tighter, more high consequence lines when parties have to potential to drop in on top of ascending parties.
The Fine Line, a Teton-based search and rescue podcast, released its well-produced documentation of the incident last week: THE SLIVER COULOIR: THE DOWNFALL OF MISCOMMUNICATION.The podcast includes wise words from ski guide Jessica Baker and solid insight from Ryan Burke, who was also interviewed for WildSnow’s story. The episode includes Michael Martin and Collin Binko, the two skiers involved with the incident.
An OR return to SLC?
Not exactly head spinning, but the been there and maybe going back again theme is in play for the Outdoor Retailer show. Long a biannual staple of the Salt Lake City convention scene, OR, as attendees refer to it, historically is a showcase of new gear. In 2017, with its lease ending in Salt Lake, OR jumped east to Denver. Before that, OR had a 20 year run in the beehive state.
The jump to Denver was as much politically motivated as anything else. At the time, Utah’s government leaders and representatives parried with conservationists over protections for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. The overriding sentiment among OR attendees and exhibitors was that an industry bent on recreating outdoors should put its money where its mouth is and move OR to a more friendly political climate considering the protection of public lands.
The Denver lease for Emerald X, the owner of OR, expires after this summer’s OR show. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, other locales vying for OR include Salt Lake City, Anaheim, California, Houston, Las Vegas, and Orlando, Florida.
A proposed return to Utah raised some hackles in the outdoor industry. Patagonia, Scarpa, The North Face, REI, and La Sportiva are among 34 signatories of a recent letter released by the Conservation Alliance opposing a potential SLC return.
Utah is still considered ground zero for the public lands debate. And its governor, Spencer Cox, recently made flip-floppy comments to the media both with a “good-riddance” and a “we’d love you back” vibe.
“We were told (the Outdoor Retailer shows leaving Utah) would be the end of the world, that our economy would crash, businesses would never move here, it would be awful for our state,” Cox said according to the Deseret News.
“Turns out, none of that happened. We have the best economy in the nation. Our outdoor industry is thriving, it’s stronger than it’s ever been. Which is one of the reasons they’re trying to move it back here.”
Cox then pivoted by saying, “If Patagonia and these other companies really care about this issue, they’d want to be here to have this discussion, not go somewhere where everybody thinks exactly like them. We would love them to come back. We desperately want them to come back.”
The weekend brought news of a sad series of events on Colorado’s North Star Mountain where an avalanche killed one snowshoer and two dogs. Two other snowshoers were caught but could extricate themselves from the debris. You can read a CAIC preliminary report here.
“A group of four people and two dogs traveled to a backcountry home in the lower portion of Yule Creek, outside of the Town of Marble,” stated the preliminary report. “The group traveled on snowshoes on an unmaintained road. Three of the people and both dogs moved to a road that cut mid-slope along the side of a steep gully. They triggered an avalanche and the moving snow pushed them down into the gully. The debris formed a deep pile in the gully bottom. Two people were partially buried, but able to dig themselves out of the snow. The other person and both dogs were completely buried and killed.
“The avalanche was approximately 50 feet wide and ran 250 feet vertically. The face of the crown was 1 to 2 feet deep. It released on a west-facing, below-treeline slope.”
The death brings the human toll to 12 avalanche related fatalities this season in the United States. A look at forecast across the West (on Feb. 28) includes large swaths of Washington, Idaho, and segments of Montana rated as “High” avalanche danger and “considerable” across Colorado.
Be safe out there.
Jason Albert comes to WildSnow from Bend, Oregon. After growing up on the East Coast, he migrated from Montana to Colorado and settled in Oregon. Simple pleasures are quiet and long days touring. His gray hair might stem from his first Grand Traverse in 2000 when rented leather boots and 210cm skis were not the speed weapons he had hoped for. Jason survived the transition from free-heel kool-aid drinker to faster and lighter (think AT), and safer, are better.