Backcountry Skiing News Roundup

Post by blogger | July 17, 2006      

Up here on the northern half of spaceship earth we are definitely in the dog days, but they’re having at it down south. In more ways than one. I was amused by this ditty from Ingrid Backstrom about the interesting attitudes one encounters “down” there.

“The people are really amazing and friendly, they just take a different approach,” says Backstrom in Stellar magazine, “When we were in Las Lenas, two ski patrollers were bombing a huge peak that emptied into one of the busiest runs on the mountain—at 11am, during full busy hours!”

To top that, I once met a ski patroller who told me the story of when he’d been at Portillo, Chile and the ski patrol shack was wiped out by an avalanche (sometime back in the early 1970s). Several people were killed, the power went out because of the massive blizzard, and all the transportation out of the resort was closed. Running out of food, the ‘trollers and stronger visitors decided to ski and walk out by traveling the railroad tracks that lead to a tunnel going over to Argentina. For some reason they decided to sledge the dead bodies with them. The guy’s story of their ragtag group dragging cadavers through the blizzard was way too weird. Yep — they just take a different approach.

On a lighter note, I just got news of another guidebook release. “Island Turns and Tours” covers backcountry skiing for Strathcona Park and Vancouver Island in Canada.Looks bueno.

As for backcountry skiing in the northern hemi, summer sliding is still sweet in many areas. Check out this report from Mount Lassen, where you can “discover Lassen is one of those rare big mountains that provides a descent from the actual summit. ” Is this a nod to our little debate in Colorado about how important it is to try and ski from the summit of 14ers during glisse descents? Who knows, but it seemed an interesting chunk of words to find in a fluff piece.

Alpinist and backcountry skier Aron Ralston is in print again, this time as the subject of an interesting profile by Joanne Kelley of the Rocky Mountain News business section. The article focuses more on Ralston’s career since his self amputation launched him as a celebrity. While not shirking his role in the pantheon of backcountry celebs, Aron is always one to keep it in perspective when it comes to being defined by missing an arm. As written in the article: “Ralston notes that explorer John Wesley Powell lost his arm in the Civil War, and it became “almost a footnote” to what he accomplished.”

Lastly, the little town of Silverton here in Colorado is fast taking over Crested Butte’s reputation as the “town where every skier has to live, once.” According to Silverton pilgrim Michael Constantine as quoted in the Rocky Mountain News: “Living here in Silverton in the middle of the San Juans is the closest thing to living in Alaska that I’ve ever experienced in the lower 48 states, but we don’t have the short days, you don’t need to own a helicopter or a bush plane to access all of the best trips, all you need is a Jeep,” he said. My kind of guy! But he didn’t mention that in Silverton you can’t shoot a moose for dinner whenever you feel like it. Oh well, nothing’s perfect…


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2 Responses to “Backcountry Skiing News Roundup”

  1. Mark July 17th, 2006 1:40 pm

    I didn’t realize how much Aron has financially made from his misfortune in Blue John Canyon, but actually it’s not too much of a surprise. Some people would rather excoriate him for his getting in the predicament in the first place–and think it unseemly the financial gain that followed. To them I say try tieing your shoes, opening a can of soup, pushing a mower, or just about anything with only one hand. For all his good fortune financially, Aron will always have just one hand, a fairly immeasureable and terrible cost.

  2. Mark July 18th, 2006 6:49 am

    Sounds like the Las Lenas ski patrol might need a new plan for reducing avalanche hazard. Bombing right above a hugely popular run full of skiers simply makes no sense to us here in America, but I wonder if they, in Argentina, have what has been described to me as a lack of cause-and-effect thinking. When in Eastern Europe I had it described to me in the context of how most people drive there. Disorder truly reigns in many places, and it culminates when an accicent happens; involved parties act as if they have no idea how the incident could have happened. Hopefully the Las Lenas patrol won’t act this way if slides do damage or kill people.

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