Backcountry Skiing Fourteeners, Web Forum Choices (01-21-05)

Post by blogger | January 21, 2005      

Sean Crossen called this morning — the guy who’s looking to be the second person to ski all Colorado fourteeners (and do it quite a bit faster than the first ). He and Pete Sowar got in a good backcountry skiing descent of Colorado 14er Castle Peak yesterday, from the exact summit via the classic north face couloir route. Sean said it was all they could do to resist temptation to ski the east face route (an incredible extreme descent), but they knew there might be too much avy danger down low on the face, and on the egress route. Wise choice, given there is still some hang fire snowpack in the central Colorado rockies that could catch unwary backcountry skiers.

We heard from Hamish Gowans again yesterday (the guy trying to solo all 54 Colorado fourteeners in one calendar winter.) He’d mentioned some time ago that the Colorado Springs newspaper had published an article about him. (broken link removed)

Recent posts in the forums at Couloir Magaine’s website got me looking more at all the different web forums with backcountry skiing content. The rich variety out there is truly amazing. An informal club of core skiers and riders used to hang out at Powder Magazine’s forums ( They call themselves “maggots” and do huge amounts of posting. One day a while back Powder managed to delete these guy’s whole online history (GASP), so they moved their whole operation over to Teton Gravity Research (, where they continue a somewhat crude discussion that’s been likened to a “rowdy bar on free beer night.” Indeed, there is some stuff there that could be considered x-rated, so surfer beware and keep a shower handy for after you’re done surfing.

Then there is Telemark Tips, which came on the scene a few years ago and became a lively place for passionate telemarkers to hang their Peruvian toques (or helmets, if they’re under 40). Much of of “Teletips” appears to be created by bored skiers trapped at work, and looking to get in some socializing on the boss’s dime. Result is sometimes an amusing read (on my boss’s dime?), but if you want wheat there is a lot of chaff.

Other places covering backcountry skiing and riding include, with a distinct Canadian flavor, for snowboarders who get tired of post holing and getting yelled at for ruining skier’s skin tracks, and a host of other ski related forums where you’ll find backcountry is a frequent posting subject.

Back to Couloir Magazine’s forums, which I manage. About a year ago we noticed no one was providing a backcountry glisse forum that was focused on all aspects of the sport (snowboard, telemark, randonnee), and was moderated to reduce profanity, drug talk, and sexual innuendo. We decided to manage our forums to provide such a diverse but civil place. A place where all aspects of backcountry glisse could dialog in a positive way, without the elitism and downright mean spirited put-downs that we see all too often on the web. For example, we like our users to feel comfortable talking about using snowmobiles for backcountry access, cargo hauling, and what have you. Bring that subject up on some forums, and you inevitably get attacked. Instead, at Couloir you might get some tips on how to use a sled more safely and efficiently to assist with backcountry skiing.

It’s been an interesting experience. Some folks really like Couloir’s posting environment, while others get pretty chapped when their f-words end up as asterisks, or they get their posts deleted because of slander, personal attacks, etcetera.

Because the web provides so much diversity, I usually encourage such folks to try the Couloir forums a bit, and if they really don’t like our style, the forums I mention above might be a better fit. Even so, some folks get pretty angry — one guy nastygrammed me thus, “I don’t need your biased moderating, there are plenty of other places on the web where I can post.” I just laughed and didn’t waste time replying… In his own way, I guess he figured out how the web works.

Recreation news: I’ve gotten some good laughs from the controversy around a proposed new ski lift at Breckenridge, Colorado. Many of the folks who say it shouldn’t be built because it accesses crumby skiing in high backcountry terrain are the same folks who are hiking up there and skiing the same terrain. If it’s worth hiking for it must be half decent… Whatever the case, Colorado has a zillion acres of backcountry skiing terrain where it would take an act of Congress to build a ski lift. Laughing continued. And yes, I’ve never met a ski lift I didn’t like.


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