Letter from the Man – Part Two

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | October 6, 2006      

Someone asked if I’d publish the text for the Sheriff’s letter. No problem. It’s quite benign and reproduced below:

Fourteener climbing and backcountry skiing letter.

As mentioned, I don’t have any problem with making sure my route descriptions have adequate warnings about hazards myself and my editors deem worthy of inclusion, but since Holy Cross is one of the easier climbs, one wonders how much I really need to add for that particular peak. More, if I change the writing style for Holy Cross and add more safety info, should I not do so for all the routes in the book? As far as I know Holy Cross is nothing special when it comes to safety issues.

In the bigger picture, Sheriff’s letter begs the question: Automotive travel is known to be the most dangerous thing people normally do, and some say you’re safer from injury or accidental death in the backcountry than you are while driving. If that’s the case, should not the Sheriff ask for more warnings and safety information to be printed on things such as road maps? And come to think of it, the trail maps at ski areas could use a lot more safety info. Where does it end?


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5 Responses to “Letter from the Man – Part Two”

  1. Mark Worley October 6th, 2006 12:05 pm

    Sounds like a slippery slope…make your revisions to Holy Cross, and down you go from there.

  2. Brittany October 6th, 2006 12:59 pm

    I don’t think you need to go through and edit every single route description of your book to warn about everything! (Then you’ll sound like the dooms-day folk on the Weather Channel!) I do think the inexperienced hiker needs to be warned about a number of things- such as thunderstorms, making sure they have enough food and water as well as the proper clothing (pack your parachut. But, all this can be done at the beginning of a book, which if I remember correctly, you do. It does not need to be in the route description. At some point people need to just THINK with common sense and take responsibility for themselves.

    Since most people can read and the Internet is practically free, we have a wealth of knowledge and information in this country. The citizens need to make sure they are educated on the tasks they are about to undertake: Do research, go to the park headquarters and ask questions, go to a backpacking shop and glance over more books or ask the employees questions. Your book is a guidebook- hence it describes routes. It is not intended to teach people how to hike/climb/ski. Maybe that simple fact is all you need to state!

  3. ray b. October 6th, 2006 1:05 pm

    i have never been to the th (halfmoon?) that leads to so much trouble, but why couldn’t an obvious sign be fashioned and maintained at the th as a final warning?

    it seems so much less efficient to have authors, bloggers, and online trip-reporters edit hc information. it also does not guarentee people will run out and purchase/read and appreciate the updates, particularly the caliber of hikers that are getting lost.

    if there’s a big sign there, great! i’ve personally been on the backside (where most of them get lost) on three different occasions in the last two summers and have run into sar looking for the lost. if the sign is there, it’s not working! and neither will a re-write of your guidebook, at least in my opinion.

    love the guidebooks, and feel there are numerous instances throughout them where you point out the seriousness, difficulty, and danger involved with being in the mountains.

  4. B2 October 6th, 2006 7:57 pm


    I’m a great admirer what you’ve done and what you represent — PLEASE don’t open this door!

    THE LAST THING this great state needs is the opportunity for more warnings, kalis and the associated lawyers! Good Lord, what happens if someone gets hurt on the Mt. Yale climb?

    BTW, I’m a 5th-gen. native and we’ve all managed to survive without warning signs and the .gov being involved! (Hint: It’s CO, so prepare for 4 seasons on any given day…)

    Brian B.

  5. george corn October 7th, 2006 9:11 pm

    Time for a new sheriff.
    If he thinks the public will be deterred from the obvious and apparent hazzard of hiking or climbing 14ers by hassling guidebook writers to put even more warnings in their books, it’s selfevident he’s an idiot.

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