Backcountry Skiing News Roundup


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | March 21, 2007      

Capitol Peak backcountry skiing.
Capitol Peak in early spring during a good snow year.

Here in central Colorado we’ve got a storm system moving in after a lengthy period of warm dry weather. Climbers took advantage of the early spring-like conditions and made numerous ascents of fourteener Capitol Peak, including a nice one day car-to-car solo by Steve Bremner. Capitol is on many extreme skier’s lists and no doubt some of those folks will give it a shot this spring, but from Bremner’s photos it looks a bit dry. Spring can bring plentiful snow to Colorado’s mountains, so let’s hope Capitol gets a good coating over the next few weeks so summit ski descents are possible.

While checking news bits this morning I got a chuckle out of yet another media article (in the Rocky Mountain News, defunct link removed 2015) about the telemark “boom” that journalists have been writing about for the last decade or so. As one always amused by televangelism, I got curious if article writer Carol Kauder was perchance a telemarker herself who’s perhaps doing a bit of evangelical outreach. Turns out that might be the case, as she’s indeed a tele turner who frequently writes for the Boulder Daily Camera newspaper. Viewed in the light of televangelism these words of Kauder’s are amusing: “There is an unspoken cultish aspect among telemarkers…”

Well, I’m a blogger so I’ll go beyond the unspoken and say, indeed, if telemarking skiing is a cult, that could explain much.

On a more somber note, today the Aspen Daily News published an article commemorating (if that’s the right word) the suicide a year ago of backcountry skier John Fielder III, the oldest son of well known Colorado photographer John Fielder. The article brings up some painful and oft ignored realities of life in the west, mainly that Colorado leads the nation in suicide, and our local rate (Aspen area) is well above the national average.

Ideas are varied about what causes the increased suicide rate, but counseling experts say it’s because people here are often living far from their extended families, or they’re in a transitional lifestyle. While it’s not mentioned in the article, a counselor told me something once about depression and suicide that always sticks in my mind. He said one of our biggest problems here is that people seek to fill a special place in the hearts by recreation, rather than deeper relational and spiritual pursuits that the heart-space is really designed for. Something to think about.

Speaking of relational pursuits, one thing I’ve always liked about skiing is that it can be delightfully social.

Nonetheless, backcountry skiing newcomers frequently ask us how they can hook up with partners for the sport. My response: find activities that bring backcountry skiers together, and participate with enthusiasm. Do randonnee races. Volunteer for mountain rescue. Take avalanche courses. Enroll in a backcountry oriented first aid course. Ideas or experiences anyone? Comments on.



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Comments

13 Responses to “Backcountry Skiing News Roundup”

  1. Dostie March 21st, 2007 8:56 am

    [QUOTE]…people seek to fill a special place in the hearts by recreation, rather than deeper relational and spiritual pursuits that the heart-space is really designed for.[/QUOTE]

    Right on Lou! When I started Couloir mag I KNEW that part of the purpose was to motivate folks to spend more time in the mountains. There’s a reason Jesus went to the mountains to pray. Sad though, when they’re so close and yet so far away as in the case of Fielder.

  2. sherryb March 21st, 2007 1:16 pm

    I spent 3 years skiing lifts in-area to learn how to tele well enough to start backcountry skiing. I have a co-worker who has progressed with me in learning the avy stuff and acquiring the needed equipment. As my backcountry skiing improves I have been able to attach myself to others who have been doing this longer than me. Two I met on separate CMC trips, one of which is a member of Vail Mountain Rescue. I am now also volunteering for VMRG (maybe some of those people will let me tag along too, although I am usually the one who suggests and organizes these trips). I also work part-time for a local guide service and although we have a hard time matching schedules to go out together the intent is there and I’m sure it will come together at some point. The level II avy class I took was a good way to meet some more people and move up a notch on the skill level. Some of the people who were in my class are also in the rescue group AND work at the local gear shop! I may be unusual in the amount of time I have to devote to this type of thing, but my point is that it is a fairly small community and all the ways that Lou has mentioned are good ones and my experience is that they WORK. No one is going to look for you to play outside if they don’t know you exist; you have to put yourself out there. Do it!
    On a somewhat down note, I am such a snow geek now, I feel that my avy skills have surpassed my skiing ability. Oh well, I guess that keeps me honest in my choices of terrain! ; )

  3. Tyler March 21st, 2007 3:25 pm

    I agree. Mountains, Skiing, recreation are fantastic, but when recreation defines who I am (defines the heart) then I am left wanting. I just think that [QUOTE]heart-space[/QUOTE] cannot fully be filled with things such as equipment, achievements, etc. Seems like those kind of fill-ups only last till’ I compare myself to the next guy – then I want again. It is hard though, hard to not look to this kind of stuff for fulfillment.

  4. carl March 21st, 2007 7:36 pm

    Lou,
    Thanks for the most recent blog – it hits home for sure. I find myself in Peru right now and still checking your website. It has a special place in my heart (the content and the passion). People are always seeking, what is authentic, genuine, real. For many of us the perfect powder on a pristine slope is it, but you eluded to something more in your in blog which I agree. The spiritual pursuit. I do however believe that if Jesus were still in human form today, he´d be a tele skier, and he´d say “this is good”. Seriously, everything in moderation, love, laugh and respect your fellow man (and if you´re lucky you can get a couple of fresh tracks in the process). Be well Lou, and welcome back from the Powder Keg! Carl

  5. Lou March 22nd, 2007 7:21 am

    Carl, Problem with the Naz on tele is the sandals . They just wouldn’t work with NTN…

    Seriously though, I know we’re called to smile and enjoy life, and whatever form of skiing helps with that is fine by me!

  6. Brownie March 22nd, 2007 8:07 am

    “I do however believe that if Jesus were still in human form today, he´d be a tele skier, and he´d say “this is goodâ€?. ”

    FACE SHOTS FOR JESUS!!!

    (Lou, I sent you an email).

  7. Tyler March 22nd, 2007 8:54 am

    Just imagine if Jesus had lived near mountains with more snow … think He (and maybe even the disciples), after praying, would have strapped on planks, grabbed his staff, and tightened up his robe/dress and made turns all the way back down?!

    I just have this image of the Jesus we see depicted in western art with flowing hair, flowing robe, crooked wooden staff arcing through the fresh with a big smile.

    I suppose, if the snow conditions had stunk, he wouldn’t have complained either … like I would have.

  8. tim carroll March 22nd, 2007 9:10 am

    Lou wrote —

    “Well, I’m a blogger so I’ll go beyond the unspoken and say, indeed, if telemarking skiing is a cult, that could explain much.”

    Dang, Lou. I laughed out loud at that one. Thanks!

  9. Mark Worley March 22nd, 2007 9:19 am

    The beauty of the mountain world is a testament to God. It’s no wonder so many climbers, skiers, and trekkers refer to the mountains as their house of worship. Perhaps is they’d just take this recognition one step further…

  10. Lou March 22nd, 2007 9:31 am

    Tim, yeah, I thought that cult thing was pretty funny so had to comment on it. All in good fun of course, as telemarking might have been kind of cultish at one time but is certainly not that way any more, as it’s pretty much mainstream.

    As for Jesus, joking aside, his model of humble and self assured reverence is also a model for humble reverence for the mountains, and is a good attitude for a lifetime of safe ski mountaineering. I can honestly say that model has helped me be a better mountaineer and kept me alive after my early arrogant screwups. That’s not saying I don’t make mistakes, but at least I’m not deliberately going out there and doing something stupid.

  11. Lou March 22nd, 2007 9:34 am

    Brownie, I didn’t get an email…

  12. Randonnee March 22nd, 2007 10:04 am

    Psalm 121 (KJV)

    I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.”

    One can find God anywhere, but the beauty and majesty of Creation and the mountains are Inspiring. Summits and the mountains are good places to ponder and pray, and with a cell phone are places to connect in important relationships.

    Since having a cell phone, I have used my randonnee ski summit times to call my out-of-state sibilngs and my father while he was alive. It is fun to share the day and the scenery. The last conversation with my father while he was still coherent last year was while I sat on my favorite frequent randonnee ski summit in the Wenatchee Mountains. He and I had a decade of mountain trips together in the past, and dad appreciated my enjoyment of the mountains and the fact that I called from my favorite summit. My cell phone has allowed me to mind important relationships even while on my many solo trips.

  13. Tyler March 22nd, 2007 3:12 pm

    Randonnee, Excellent story!

    Here’s another favorite to add to your Psalm:

    He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ Job 37:6

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