Avalanche Education and Aspen Real Estate

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | February 17, 2005      

Aspen Real Estate — Shameful Fantasy or Incredible Reality?
One of my most embarrassing fantasies is to live in Aspen again, at the base of Aspen Mountain, like I did for a period in the 1970s. We found a condo about 200 yards from the former location of the old Durant Mine Barn ski bum haven, and actually ON the ski slope. Eat your heart out. The million dollar price is easily affordable for a pro blogger.

No, WildSnow has NOT been doing THAT well — just kidding — but keep visiting here, perhaps we’ll move to Aspen yet (smile).

Avalanche education: Getting geared up again to help a group of backcountry skiing teenagers learn to survive. Those of us with decades of route finding experience can take a lot of things for granted. For example, we generally know how far to skirt the base of an avalanche path so a natural release doesn’t kill us. Kids may not have a sense of that. We’re teaching them to read terrain features, but also to use an inclinometer to catch the “alpha angle” of a slope, and thus determine where it could run. Alpha angle is just a fancy way of saying “average angle,” and is figured from the top of the slope to any arbitrary point at the bottom. To figure your backcountry skiing safe zone, you do a rough measurement with an inclinometer, and figure out where at bottom of the path you can measure from and get an alpha angle of about 23 degrees or less — and that’s as close to the monster as you want to get (unless the only route forces you closer — then it’s decision time…).

Several of this year’s backcountry avalanche accidents involved people being hit while below paths, perhaps a better sense of “alpha angle” would have saved them.

Randonnee bindings department: Just got off the phone with Garmont. They’re distributing 3 (yes THREE) models of the Silvretta Pure backcountry skiing binding for next season. We’re reviewing all of them (whew) for Couloir, but interesting rig is still the lighter weight “standard” Pure, which has been strengthened. While slightly heavier than Dynafit, Pure is possibly a viable lightweight alternative for backcountry skiers who don’t want to niggle with Dynafit’s quirks. More soon. Silvretta website here.


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