Backcountry Skiing News Roundup

Post by blogger | December 2, 2006      

In cowboy country, Wyoming highway authorities have decided to enforce parking regulations on Teton Pass above Jackson Hole. With limited trailhead parking but large numbers of backcountry skiers accessing a gigantic inventory of public land, parking spaces fill fast and skiers can find they’re forced to park illegally or go home.

Teton Pass backcountry skiing parking
Teton Pass parking looks full this morning. Image from WYDOT webcam.

According to a local source, due to topography such solutions as building more trailheads or enlarging the parking are not practical. A shuttle bus from Jackson was considered last year, with generous funding promised by ski industry companies who wanted to advertise on the bus. Thanks to my favorite entity, the USFS, this terrific ideas was nixed because advertising wasn’t allowed due to USFS rules. More anti commercial weirdness with ridiculous results. (Update: Looks like I was at least partially wrong about this, see comments.)

Wintry Storm 11 (WS11) is yielding a bit of fluff here in Colorado. Good to see as some parts of the Colorado mountains have been developing a layer of temperature gradient (TG) crystals in the snowpack, due to thin snow and cold temps. Such can lead to avalanches, as most of you know but deserves mention. Interestingly, because of storm variations, some areas have little to no TG development, while others are scary.

Speaking of avalanches, on December 11 our local avalanche center is having its annual benefit at Restaurant Six89 in Carbondale, Colorado. If you’re in this area I highly recommend, as Six89 is an incredible restaurant and the $68.90 price includes a four course meal with fine wine — easily a dinner worth a c-note. Take a date. Meet other like minded backcountry skiing or sledding folk. Resos and info: 970-963-6890.

Sad news from the Northwest, another non-avalanche suffocation in a tree well. Word is the Black Diamond Avalung is the ticket for preventing this type of nightmare. If you ski or ride in areas with gigantic snowfall, get one.

I got an interesting press release from Backcountry Magazine. They’re promoting Conor Hurley, a guy who converted a 1982 Mercedes to run on vegetable oil, and plans on piloting his enviro-ride for a five-month backcountry skiing road trip. I guess the idea is to assuage enviro-guilt. Problem is, just about anything you burn for fuel makes that pesky stuff called carbon dioxide. Wasn’t Backcountry the magazine who provided us with that bombastic movie a while back about the global warming disaster waiting to happen, due to carbon dioxide? As far as I know, only (presently viable) solution to that is everyone on the planet basically quits driving. Backcountry road trippers might need to be reminded of this inconvenient truth.

On the other hand, we’re high on what Hurley’s doing because we don’t believe global warming can be stopped (due to geo politics), so we figure everyone should just keep enjoying prosperity, only do it as enviro responsibly as possible. While still pumping C02, Hurley’s project is a good example of doing just that. More, we like the automotive tweaking aspect of this. Next thing you know, Backcountry Mag will be featuring a vegi fueled snowmobile. Now that would be a TWEAK.

Our only concern about the automotive side of Hurley’s project is his vehicle choice. Around here a lot of backcountry skiing trailheads are best accessed with a 4×4 truck or at least something like an all-wheel-drive Subaru. With a set of chains Hurley’s Mercedes will probably do fine for most such places, but not all. If this were us we’d have converted a nice Dodge diesel 4×4 pickup, added an Alaskan camper, then hit the highway.

The PR says Hurley will be looking for vegetable oil while on the road. I think that means the chemically processed stuff that’s ready to use as fuel, not your extra massage oil. Making the stuff is no picnic, but could be fun if you’re into homebrew projects.


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36 Responses to “Backcountry Skiing News Roundup”

  1. Chris Crossen December 2nd, 2006 9:44 am


    Using 100% biodiesel for fuel reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 75%+ over petroleum diesel. Using a blend of 20% biodiesel and reg. diesel reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 15%. Plants (biodiesel) are still carbon, so yes, you’re going to have some emissions. Not sure what Hurley’s using, but that’s a pretty good start, especially compared to most of our emissions. In an age where coal-fire power plants provide almost 50% of our electricity and more are going up everyday (can you say goodbye view in the Canyonlands), every little bit helps. Even when you look at reg. diesel vs. gasoline, you’re talking about a product that’s better for reducing the affects of global warming. I’d sure like my child to be able to ski when their my age.

    As for the Mercedes, Hurley could always contact Daimler Chrysler and see if they’d kick down for the new Bluetec SUV, join the classes of the Eco-Riche.

  2. Tim Carroll December 2nd, 2006 10:09 am

    Lou, thanks for that update on the biodiesel story regarding Conor Hurley. I agree with you that converting a Mercedes-Benz smacks of guilt assuasion. It’s like Mr Hurley wants the “status” and the “prestige” associated with driving a Mercedes-Benz car, and then wants to be able to triumphantly say, “but it’s bio-diesel.”

    It is, like most Mercedes-Benz cars, an eminently impractical machine, made for pompous pretentious people who care more about their image than the utility to which their car may be put.

    Hooray for you in challenging Mr Hurley and Backcountry magazine to find a better choice. And Hooray for you in exposing the phony guilt assuasion practiced by Backcountry Magazine, the magazine for the city dweller who wants to appear to be someone who spends time in the outdoors.

    Nicely done.

  3. Lou December 2nd, 2006 11:05 am

    Guys, I might have my predictable cynicism about this as an environmental statement, but I like the do it yourself aspect of it and nothing wrong with recycling some trash. Indeed, it would be fun to make automobile fuel in our garage!

    Chris, that 75% figure is specious. As far as my research can tell, C02 for biodiesel is the same as regular diesel when amount of C02 in exhaust is measured.

    According to one of the items I found “The “78 percent” figure is based on a dubious “carbon life cycle” … based on the idea that the fuel crops will fix carbon from the atmosphere, and not from the ground [as] in the case of fossil fuels…”

    As for “every little bit helps,” lets nip that myth. According to global warming experts we need an immense reduction in carbon economy. Little bits are nothing and will make no difference, and may even obfuscate the solution by assuaging people’s guilt. It’s like using two aspirin a day to medicate a 100 year old man who’s had a massive heart attack, and telling him “every little bit helps.” Come on, let’s get real here.

    For bio fuel to make any difference in global warming, even if CO2 numbers are true, we’d have to cover vast areas of the planet with industrial polluting agriculture. Like I said, if you want to stop global warming, stop driving, period. This stuff reminds me of religion: anything but petroleum from the ground is somehow perfect and will solve all our problems. Actually, there is one solution. It involves uranium, not soybeans, and no, it’s not perfect.

  4. Derek December 2nd, 2006 11:18 am

    As many long time Jackson locals say “Teton Pass has become a ski area without a lift”.

    I wonder what it would be like if the shuttle existed? More skiers? Everything getting tracked out quicker?

    Early bird gets the worm.

  5. Lou December 2nd, 2006 3:13 pm

    I would strongly suggest that locals identify and lobby for the building of at least one more trailhead with a big parking lot. It would cost a lot of money because of the topography (would have to perhaps be elevated or something), but that’s what existing state and federal taxes are for, or at least we hope they’re for (grin). That said, a shuttle is probably necessary as well and certainly easier to implement. Amazing that plan got shut down.

    This reminds me of rock climbing. For a while rock climbers fought about ethics, bolting, and such till they realized their climbing areas were tending to get shut down. They then formed the Access Fund and came together for common cause. Backcountry skiers need to do that. It burns me to no end that we have the Snowsports Alliance to defend us against the awful and dire threat of snowmobiles, but don’t have an outfit that focuses on access for backcountry skiers. Lack of access is the true threat to our sport, not snowmobiles.

  6. Derek December 2nd, 2006 3:53 pm

    Sheesh. Enough with the knee-jerk FS complaints already. I truly appreciate the ad-free zone that is my National Forest and hope it remains that way for generations to come.

  7. steve December 2nd, 2006 4:26 pm

    There is always a lot of hype about Teton Pass in the early season…because none of the lift served areas are open yet and it tends to be a zoo. I think WYDOT, FS and the Sheriffs Office just want to get the word out about the regs.

    Most of the time during the winter it is not that big of a deal. Maybe a bluebird day…after a big bump…and on a weekend.

  8. Lou December 2nd, 2006 5:13 pm

    Okay, I’ll shut up (g). Time to get positive and file some trip reports from the ad-free zone!

  9. Mark December 2nd, 2006 9:18 pm

    Teton Pass – Derek is right on – you shooze you loose-or hitch a ride w/ a friend. The parking lot is big enough, and there needs to be some rules enforced on top or someone will get hurt. I frequent the pass – 4 times / week – and I have no problem getting my share. Have fun, be safe, and please! control your dogs or leave them home.

  10. Carl Pelletier December 3rd, 2006 8:01 am

    Lou, I heard that those folks from WYDOT were getting serious this season, last year they threatened, but I do not recall any action. Three comments I’d like to make, two about the parking situation and one random comment.

    Forest Service vs WYDOT? Did the forest service nix the shuttle idea? Wouldn’t this be a WYDOT issue? If it is an advertising issue I think that this is lame, look at all of the van/trucks/cars heading over the pass with a business name, phone number and logo painted on the vehicle. What’s the big deal. Those chumps!

    Second rant: the WYDOT plowing staff….Talk about user conflict!! Last year I met a friend on top of the pass for a pre-work ski. It had snowed the night before and we parked at the far end (Eastern) of the parking turnout. The plow operator got out of his vehicle and proceeded to begin “chew us” a new one (he was speaking collectively for all of the plowers and collectively to all of the skier/snowboarders that utiilize the parking area). He made it very clear that he did not like “our kind” and the fact that we were parking on the pass (in the right place) seriously interfered with his work. We were essentially a major pain for him. I could go on about this for a while, but it’s sufficient to say that this is a good indication of the mentality / mindset of those that work for and administer HWY 22.

    Third rant: PLEASE FILL IN YOUR AVY PITS. Lou, I love safe skiers, but skiing in Marble last weekend I skinned by 8 to 10 gavy pits of varying sizes that were left wide open (and hard to see) for descending skiers. What’s your take on this Lou? Fill them in or keep them open for others to observe? I always thought that it was good form to fill them in after use.

  11. Andy December 3rd, 2006 8:55 am


    Your comments about Global Warming bother me. I understand you advocate ‘enjoying prosperity … as enviro responsibly as possible” — but you seem to believe, ultimately, that the problem is intractible, and that you, as an individual, cannot make a difference.

    I believe you can.

    You already know all the ways you, Lou Dawson, can reduce your energy use, so forgive me for listing a few: turn off lights when you’re not in the room. Turn off the TV when you’re not home (and maybe when you are). Skip a shower once a month or once a week. Ride your bike to the store now and then instead of driving. Keep that old beater shell jacket for an extra season instead of getting a new one.

    If you do these things, you’ll make a miniscule direct impact on the problem. But you just might have a significant direct impact on someone else who watchs what you do and listens to what you say. And they might just have the same effect on someone else. And so on.

    That is the power–and responsibility–of leadership.



  12. Lou December 3rd, 2006 9:14 am

    Hi Andy, we already do all of the above, and more. Doing so aint gonna stop global warming.

    It just amazes me that people think we can reduce worldwide C02 production by 50 percent in a few years (that seems to be the minimum credible recommendation by scientists), when we haven’t cured AIDS or stopped world hunger — or stopped war, for that matter. Why is completely reinventing worldwide industrial civilization supposed to be so much easier? Please explain.

    I’m not advocating being an environmental slob — we do believe in stewardship of our world. But I’m a realist. Perfect stewardship would mean not existing as humans. There are wackos who believe that’s that answer. Not me.

  13. Lou December 3rd, 2006 9:29 am

    Carl, good rants, thanks. When guite a few people ski an area and dig pits they don’t fill it quickly creates a minefield. I was always taught to fill pits if they were dug in a high traffic area. Lack of doing so is indeed poor manners. Perhaps the people with dogs could get their pooches to poop in the pits (PPIP), then fill them in. Solve two problems in one action!

    A freshly dug put could of course be useful for others, and that’s why if you dig in a low traffic area (say next to the uptrack but in a place where people don’t usually ski down), leaving a pit open can be nice. Judgment call.

  14. steve December 3rd, 2006 9:55 pm


    In fact, you WERE a big pain in the plow drivers ass!

    He’s trying to clear the lot at 6AM so the hordes of ski/board freaks can get their fix before work. I deal wiht some of those guys at the shop (selling them beacons) and they are just trying to do their job. Which is tough…can you imagine….trying to get a parking lot cleared by 7AM so ski addicts can get thier fix before work in additio tn making the highway safe for over 50% of th JH working staff.

    Hopefully you have learned from your mistake and now park on the proper…WEST side of the lot (common knowledge…unless you are JOJ) for dawn patrol!

  15. Carl Pelletier December 4th, 2006 9:01 am


    First off, I accidentally stated that I parked on the eastern side of the lot….I meant to say I parked on the western side of the pass parking lot – per the request of the DOT. I was skinning this weekend and as my mind was wandering I thought – “Oh crap, I put eastern side, people are going to jump on this one.”

    I was up there with a friend who is a lawyer in town. Pain in the ass or not, I’m parking on the correct side of the lot (closest to Idaho), this is where the Department of Transportation tells me where to park. Look at the law. I’m in the right. That civil servant had no right to chew us out. Bottom line!

    Help me out here – JOJ? What the heck are you talking about? And just because I’m skiing at 6:30am doesn’t make me a FREAK…just because I don’t have the luxury of working a job (such as a ski shop or on the hill) or a participating member of a trust fund that allows me to ski during the “normal” time. I’m just a guy living in Jackson, trying to make ends meet and get some skiing in too.

  16. Scott B December 4th, 2006 9:02 am


    Burning biodiesell does result in less newCO2 in the atmosphere than burning regular diesel even though the CO2 emissions out of the tailpipe are more or less identical. (Though I think vegetable oil results in less sulfur and possibly a few more undesirable emissions). Here is how I understand it, which isn’t that detailed and may have a few errors.

    When plants grow, they remve CO2 from the atmosphere. Through photosynthesis, they combine the carbon in CO2 they remove from the air with hydrogen from water to produce the complex hydrocarbons which make up the plant itself. The waste product from this reaction is free O2. When a plant dies and decays, the proocess is reversed and the hydrocarbons are converted back to C02 and water by microbes. You also get a few other things like methane, but overall you get about the same amount of CO2 that you started with. That is what is called the carbon cycle.

    The hydrocarbons in oil were created by plants who removed CO2 from the atmosphere long ago. They didn’t decay and complete the carbon cycle. You can think of the oil in the ground as a CO2 storage tank. When we burn the oil, the CO2 is released back into the atmosphere in roughly the same quantities that were removed by the plants during their lives. This is a net increase in CO2 when compared to last year.

    The hydrocarbons in the vegetable oil were removed from the atmosphere last year and now they are just being returned, resulting in no net increase in C02 over last year. If the vegatable oil had been allowed to decay, which is what happens to most vegatable oil, it would have released the CO2 as well.

    If we grow more plants to support vegatable oil burning, it won’t increase the CO2 in the atmosphere because the growing plants must remove as much CO2 from air that will be created by burning the plants. The only problem is that we can’t grow enought plants to support this. Plus agriculture requires a lot of energy usage, so many argue whether you would get a net energy gain through this method. Burning the vegetable oil from Micky D’s that would have rotted anyway, however, is undoubtably a good way to reduce the worlds net CO2 emissions by a small amount.


  17. justin December 4th, 2006 9:04 am

    In Carl’s defense, I was skiing with him yesterday after he posted his rant when he realized he goofed and meant to write that he parked on the West end of the lot, not the the East end of the lot. He meant to post a correction to this, but he was driving the rest of the day and didnt get a chance to do it.

    I also find it disappointing that the Forest Service or WYDOT can’t accept a free shuttle service on the pass simply because they would have advertising. I’m sure they have policies that aren’t easily changed, but isn’t a bit of advertising a good trade off if it helps reduce the congestion and problems up on the pass?

  18. Lou December 4th, 2006 11:19 am

    Carl, your mistake in writing where you were parking resulted in some reasonable criticism and an attempt at humor. Best thing to do is accept it, in my opinion. Keep it light. We all make mistakes in editing and have to live with the consequences, that is unless the blog editor can go back and repair, I’d usually do that but in this case it’s difficult because of subsequent comments.

    My attempt at humor would be to suggest that WYDOT supplies all skiers with mandatory dog shock collars, then install hidden fence around the verboten areas that WYDOT could turn on and off remotely. This collar could also be combined with a personal locating beacon, avalanche cervical collar, avalanche beacon and perhaps a 2-shot espresso reservoir for true dawn patrollers. If that doesn’t work, perhaps they can supply compasses or GPS units (grin).

  19. Lou December 4th, 2006 11:29 am

    All, I’m indeed aware of the carbon cycle. So I guess burning 100% bio diesel could be said to contribute less C02. Problem is that number one, bio fuel is produced using petrochemical agriculture tons of fertilizer and huge amounts of water, not to mention the process of cooking the oil, which uses energy, industrial infrastructure and chemicals. This is why people argue rather convincingly that any net reduction of C02 production by bio fuels is less significant than we’d all like it to be — perhaps quite a bit less significant (which is my point of view). People seem to think you just drive up to a corn or soybean field and fill up your tank. Sorry, it just doesn’t work that way. And bottom line is of course the question of how much land do we want to cover with industrial biofuel crops? Conservation is the answer, as is atomic energy. I think a guy named Amory Lovins supports the conservation idea…

  20. Scott Stolte December 4th, 2006 11:54 am

    Alright, I tried to stay out of this one but alas here goes. The snow removal engineers that work Hwy 22 (Teton Pass) do have a tough job. And if I were one of those gents I would be really pissed at the FS for basically ignoring the problem and shooting down a possible solution. However, as a citizen of this glorious country and someone who really values and enjoys my right to use Public Lands, I don’t think this should be a battle between users and the Hwy Dept. If anything the Hwy Dept. and snow sliders should join forces and let the voice be heard. This is the main place to park/access the vast Teton Pass BC. Just yesterday I commented upon arriving to an almost full parking area how ironic it is that in spite of no places to park there was still plenty of peace and quiet (and even untracked!) to be had and all within 30 minutes of the car. An increase in parking is justified by the numbers of users. Period. I too have had negative interactions with the drivers who are “just doing their job”. While I am sure that they have frustrations, Derek’s mention of the early bird getting the worm is certainly true here. So, getting the goods early is part of the deal. Angry plow drivers taking it out on folks taking advantage of the small window they have each day to recreate is not appropriate behavior. Last time I checked there wasn’t a time limit on when you could use public lands. Is there a “too early”? Also, I failed to find any attempt at “humor” anywhere in these posts. I must say that it’s somewhat depressing that things turn negative so quickly & often in these forums. Can’t we all just shut up and ski happily together? You could live in Iowa you know!!!!! Then what????

  21. Lou December 4th, 2006 12:25 pm

    Can someone explain how the USFS has ANY jurisdiction in the Teton Pass shuttle matter? It would use a state highway right-of-way (ROW) which is state land, not Federal USFS land, and presumably could drop people off while still on that ROW. If the USFS said they were regulating because the shuttle was dropping off Forest users, then that means they’re saying anyone who drives up there to recreate is under their jurisdiction while driving? Insane! What is going on up there you guys? Give us the story. You’re in Wyoming for crying out loud, last time I heard you had some guts when it came to the Feds telling you what to do!

  22. Scott Stolte December 4th, 2006 1:20 pm

    Lou- Now that I really think about it you are exactly right. I don’t see how a shuttle service hauling people up/over Teton Pass would be any different than the trucks that carry the potatoes from ID to WY (except that potatoes don’t ski). Cargo is cargo. Does anyone understand what makes this different? Is the fact that the parking area is technically FS the issue? If so then why does WYDOT have to maintain it? The Coal Creek parking area, a much more “typical” trailhead is just down the West side but still in WY and is also plowed and maintained by WYDOT. I don’t understand why the FS can control vehicles driving on state highways. Can anyone shed some light on this? I need the education……

  23. frank December 4th, 2006 3:17 pm

    I find it kind of funny that the stinky hippie (and I do mean stinky- his shower must be broken) down the hall from my condo in Crested Butte has a bio-diesel Mercedes 300D. Must be pretty easy to get those old MB’s to run on bio.

    And Lou, I gotta disagree- Every little bit does help. Your analogy of a 100-year old heart attack victim taking aspirin- what if that gave him an extra week or two to say goodbye to his family? Sounds worth it to me. What if everybody doing little things to help the environment gain us a few years’ more time to find a more permanent solution? Sounds worth it to me.

  24. Scott B December 4th, 2006 4:04 pm

    No doubt that it won’t work for very many users. My only point was that this one guy is actually reducing his carbon emissions because he is burning oil which would have just rotted anyway. He didn’t cause any additional agriculture, just used a waste product that was available. We could actually do a lot of that if it would prove to be benificial or cost effective (things like salvaging methane from landfills). His individual actions are insignificant, though, and cannot be copied by a large number of others so the publicity is amusing, just as you noted.

    Nuclear will be helpful, but we only have a couple hundred year supply of minable uranium also, so eventually someone will have to come up with a better, sustainable, idea. This is where the whole conservation idea gains so much appeal. No matter what you suggest as an alternative for conventional energy production, it is finite, and there is a finite number of options, so eventually (if we make it that long) our progeny will need to converge on a totally sustainable lifestyle. Either that or we’ll have to figure out how to mine non-terrestrial bodies.

    Sounds like a lot of scientists are saying it is already too late to prevent warming for the foreseeable future by reducing emissions anyway. Some want to go into more extensive global climate engineering to prevent this. Such engineering seems inevitable. My only concern is that I don’t think we’ve had much success at predicting the results of having a warmer/cooler environment so we’re not sure exactly where to aim for. At least its safer to stick with what we know, even if a different global climate would actually be more beneficial to us — how do you measure the benefit, though?

  25. Michael December 4th, 2006 5:00 pm

    I agree that we all have to drive less to reduce carbon emissions and that conventionally farmed biofuel crops are not a solution to all the problems. Conventional farming with petrochemical fertilizer and pesticides accound for 20% of our petroleum use, a greater amount than automobiles. Industrial orgainic is only marginally better, because there is more tractor work in the fields. Nuclear energy has its own problems. Hydrogen fuel cells have potiential, but currently, electric vehicles could be a great option, especially if paired with renewable energy. I subscribe to our local “green” option where my power company agrees to buy energy from renewable sources equivalent to the amount of energy I use. If I could power my car with this energy, it would have no carbon emissions. Of course, one could always ride a bike to work, than there is only methane emission

  26. Lou December 4th, 2006 6:57 pm

    Everyone, editor at Backcountry Magazine confirms that indeed the Mercedes is rigged to run on filtered veggie oil. That means the engine usually has to be started using regular diesel then switched over to warmed veggie oil after it’s running. More, the engine and fuel system are modified.

    This makes the rig more environmentally friendly than using 100% biodiesel as the veggie oil just requires filtering and perhaps a slight bit of other tweaking that’s nothing like cooking biodiesel.

    Add 6 points to enviro score, but subtract 4 for doing so much driving (grin). But add another point for cool mechanical tweaking. All equals something we’d like to see here in Carbondale.

  27. Andy December 5th, 2006 10:02 am


    I’ll give it another try.

    You seem to be saying the problem of Global Warming is beyond the capacity of any individual to correct, so party on until the world ends (I’m paraphrasing).

    You know what? You may be right. You may have the most rational response to the whole, nightmarish issue.

    But the problem remains, and it’s a big one. Do you choose to fight, even against seemingly hopeless odds, or do you lay down without a struggle? And remember, what you do today affects Louie, and every Lou and Louise who come after, for generations to come.

    I think George Bernard Shaw has the best take on this:

    “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

    The man who listens to Reason is lost: Reason enslaves all whose minds are not strong enough to master her.”

    – Man and Superman, “Maxims for Revolutionists” (1903)

  28. Lou December 5th, 2006 11:26 am

    Andy, I understand what you’re saying, but why only apply that principle to global warming? The person who spends $30,000 to take their home off the grid, shouldn’t they give $30,000 to an organization that feeds starving children? Or to an anti-war organization?

    I’m not saying fiddle while Rome burns, I’m only saying that fiddle or no fiddle, Rome is still going to burn, so deal with the consequences in a realistic fashion — and perhaps buy some food for a starving kid.

  29. Mike Geraci December 5th, 2006 4:44 pm

    RE: Teton Pass Shuttle…I was the point person for the shuttle. I was developing the idea for, they were to be the only “sponsor” of the shuttle. There wasn’t any “advertising” planned, that wasn’t the issue. The shuttle was scuttled…because by the time we sorted through jurisdictions and whether a permit was required, and who would do what and wen…it was Febuary and decided against doing it so late in the season.

    The folks at the USFS were actually very helpful in giving us direction in how to operate the shuttle without needing a permit, by giving us guidelines as to the best places to pick people up and drop them off. The USFS has jurisdiction over the Old Pass road parking area and the Coal Creek trailhead parking area. The top of the pass is also a USFS trail head, and, has joint management agreements in place with the state.

    It still amazes me that when I’m out at parties or even in restaurants, people still want to talk about the shuttle and is it going to happen.

  30. Lou December 5th, 2006 5:16 pm

    Mike, thanks for chiming in with source material! If that’s all how it went, there are a bunch of people out there who are woefully misinformed about what went down. I was basing my writing and opinions on such, and apologize if I was off base about the commercial/advertising issue. Seems like everyone I spoke or emailed with was blaming the USFS and the advertising issue and things not working. Where did that come from?

    At any rate, bottom line is that the shuttle didn’t happen… and it wasn’t for lack of trying, so something seriously got in the way. Perhaps next year?

  31. Joe December 5th, 2006 8:47 pm

    Alaskan Camper – good luck staying warm – before we bought our Lite-craft pop up we stopped in the AK Camper factory in WA – took a tour with the owner, fully expecting to buy one – one problem – no inusulation except in the roof- none on the sides. unlike the Lite-Craft – manufactured in CO and designed to hold over 2′ of snow extended, nice blue foam on the sides and 4 inches in the roof.


  32. Mike Geraci December 5th, 2006 8:55 pm

    Lou, in the beginning of the conversations about the shuttle, there was a fundemental disagreement between us and the USFS over whether we would need a USFS permit to operate the shuttle…our position was that we didn’t need a permit because our primary objective was not to generate income, which is one of the key determining factors under USFS guidelines for permitting. The USFS’s position was that it was a brand marketing vehicle and thus required permits, and our position was…in the end, the combination of enthusiastic community support and what everyone agreed upon was a very real need for a shuttle service convinced the USFS to work with us to find a way out of that gray area.

    Once we navigated that issue, I was asked to run our plan by WYDOT and the Wyoming Highway Patrol…again, this was late February, and we decided to punt.

    In retrospect, this might have been a one shot opportunity, with one company, (client plug) willing to completely fund the operation. Any other party that wants to do it for profit will need a permit and when that happens you can enter into the always pleasant realm of an EA and the associated political pressures.

  33. Jason December 8th, 2006 11:01 am

    TIM CARROLL: Do you know anything about anyone at Backcountry Magazine? My guess is you don’t. The company is located in an extremely small town in northern vt by a couple of people who just want to make a living doing what they love.

    You state: “Backcountry Magazine, the magazine for the city dweller who wants to appear to be someone who spends time in the outdoors.”

    I’m sure the editors really care about catering to city dwellers (eyes rolling).

    Also, where is the prestige in a $1,200 car that is as old as most posters on here?

  34. Lou December 8th, 2006 11:39 am

    So Jason, are you saying a publication located in a small town and run by few people is somehow superior? I’d agree with that and kudos to Backcountry Magazine for pulling it off, but where does that place the New York Times in your view? Is the NYT inferior?

  35. Conor Hurley December 23rd, 2006 10:19 pm

    Hello everyone,

    I am glad that my little endeavour has sparked a bit of a discussion. There have been some great points made and I am happy to see that there are so many people that are aware of the boons and the banes of alternative fuels.

    Let me fill you in with my take on the matter.

    First and foremost, waste vegetable oil (WVO) and biodiesel are not the solution to the whole problem; but there is a fair amount of wvo out there, and for those of us who want to be resourceful, it is a viable solution for our personal fuel consumption. However, there is not enough wvo or biodiesel out there to fuel our nation’s rate of petro-diesel consumption. Secondly, the production of biodiesel from plant matter, be it canola, soy or what have you, is extremely inefficient. Commiting our valuable croplands to fuel production would be a bad choice in my mind. Even if we did commit all our croplands to fuel crops, we still would not be able to produce enough fuel to satisfy our rate of consumption.

    In terms of my personal life, it is a viable solution. At home, I use B-100 (100% biodiesel) as a start up and shutdown fuel and run wvo the rest of the time. I know where my fuel comes from and I do my part in reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign oil. It makes me feel good and that is what matters to me. Frankly, I don’t care what others chose to do, as all I am concerned with is living my life in the most sustainable way possible.

    Why drive a 1982 Mercedes-Benz 240D? For the status? For the prestige? Sorry, but neither of those are the case. 240D’s are about the easiest car in the world to work on. I do all of my own mechanical work, so for me, having simple car to work on is key. Secondly, how many half-a-million mile cars do you know of? I know of several 240D’s that have surpased that milestone. They are also fairly fuel efficient, 31 mpg unloaded; however, I am getting about 25mpg with the box on the roof. Lastly, I felt buying a 24 year old car was a more sustainable choice than buying a new vehicle.

    The carbon cycle has already been mentioned, so I won’t bother getting into it. I will reiterate the fact that burning wvo doesn’t produce any net carbon emmissons, due to the carbon cycle.

    Believe me, while I was scheming up this trip, I did consider taking my truck. In my other life, I am a carpenter and I have a work truck which runs on wvo. However, it is a pig when it comes to fuel consumption. It was a much more socially responsible decision to drive my Mercedes. The Alaskan camper cap or any of its kin rub me the wrong way; they fit right into our consumer culture. What is wrong with using what I have roughing it a little bit? I’ve got a bed, I’ve got a stove and I have a set of wheels, so what more do I need?

    I do agree the 240D may not be the most capable vehicle in the world when it comes to navigating snow covered roads. However chains and driving like an old man have managed to get me over the river and through the woods. I am out here to ski, so would so terrible if I had to skin in a few extra miles to get to some skiing?

    Those are my two cents. I do look forward to bumping into those who are interested over the course of the winter. I would be happy to show you any of the modifications that I have done to my car as well.

    Take it easy,

  36. Lou December 24th, 2006 7:43 am

    Thanks Conor, an excellent and reasoned reply to my take! Nice to see you realize veggie fuels have their limits. Like I said in my blog post, what you’re doing is cool and works to the extent it’s appropriate.

    As for your Merc, I’d still like to see you in a nice Dodge diesel truck (grin).

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