Backcountry skiing news in northern hemisphere August? You bet.
It was sad to hear about the altitude related death of London businessman John Peacock during his Mustagata climb and snowboard trip last week. Apparently, the 7,500 meter mountain’s low angled and moderate terrain gets many folks into trouble because it’s easy to gain altitude.
Peacock was on the mountain with the so called “all-female” Lipstick Blonds expedition (defunct link removed 2014). The expedition blog reads like surreal fiction (google for the blog, it seems to have changed locations…). Mountaineering at these kinds of altitudes is frequently risky and demands expertise and skill, but the chatty writing larded with forced references to crochet projects and mini skirts makes you wonder if these guys were serious about what they were doing. This type of attitude and associated prose crops up occasionally during expeditions to the big peaks, and it always makes me ponder. Sometimes you have to laugh in the face of danger, but doing so doesn’t make a trip any safer, and could indicate you’re not taking things seriously enough. Perhaps I don’t understand British humor? Quite possibly…
The fabric of space and time was rent this past Friday when the web server at TelemarkTips.com melted down — their ever popular web forum was unavailable for five days! Word is a sudden increase in worldwide work productivity ensued, and is visible as a blip on financial statistics charts maintained by gnomes who study that sort of thing. Today the ether is back to normal, and the gnomes are scratching their heads over where that telemarking blip came from.
Back to Colorado. As many of you know, we have a serious problem with dust being blown in from the west and contaminating our snowpack. Off the cuff observations over the years have shown this speeds up spring melting of the snowpack, thus not only compromising the spring ski mountaineering season but messing with the gradual melting that Colorado water supplies depend on.
Now a scientific study by an organization directed by none other than pioneer extreme skier Chris Landry shows the dust is indeed doing what we thought. The easy part of proving the obvious is done, now they have to figure out where the dust is coming from. I’d guess western Colorado, Utah and Nevada, or if the Sierra has the same problem, perhaps Asia? For Colorado skiing, in my opinion this is a much more important problem than that of a few degrees temperature fluctuation due to global warming, so its definitely got my antenna up.