Backcountry Skiing News Roundup

Post by blogger | September 28, 2007      

An individual named Tap Tapley is a lesser known pioneer of our present day outdoor sports world. Tap trained with the 10th Mountain Division of WWII and was one of the soldiers along on the Trooper Traverse, when a group of young men made a high altitude winter ski from Leadville to Aspen, Colorado. He then went on to help found Outward Bound USA, and ultimately worked with Paul Petzoldt around 1965 to start NOLS. Tap is receiving a great honor from NOLS, as they’re naming their historical archive after him. Tapley is 87 and still enjoys diving off Baja, quite a fellow.

Do you enjoy skiing Crystal Mountain in Washington? I ran across what has to be the most complete report of summer resort hiking and ski area improvements ever accomplished. By the looks of things you Crystal skiers are in for a lot of new stuff this winter. Crystal is interesting because they just got approved for a major expansion, which of course includes the requisite opposition by those uncomfortable with “profit of a private company.” Of course those same folks don’t seem to ever mention that the same expansion might actually be enjoyed by “public people,” but when it comes to vilifying those evil corporations the negative is always more important than the positive. Right?

Crested Butte resort in Colorado is also vying for expansion, and naturally being opposed. What’s amusing about this one is that Crested Butte Resort actually had approval for their expansion from the halcyon ski area building days of the 1960s, then they sat on the approval until it expired. Dumb and dumber? Yep, for years Crested Butte Mountain Resort was not exactly known for its business acumen, though that appears to have changed.

At any rate, now CBMR wants to re-up their expansion and build lifts on a somewhat pristine area known as Snodgrass Mountain that’s used by backcountry skiers. Much of the opposition is coming in the form of trying to second guess how business smart the expansion is, which I guess in one sense is viable. After all, if the resort doesn’t really need the terrain why take public land for it? On the other hand, I know for sure that some of those opposed really could care less about the foibles of private business, and due to environmental or recreational concerns simply don’t want ski lifts built on Snodgrass. Thus, for me, when outfits such as “Friends of Snodgrass” come up with business arguments they always sound specious. But such arguments are perhaps a necessary evil since the US Forest Service is all about, yes, business.

Hey, a bit of toot my own horn style news: Welcome our new supporters K2 Telemark and Cloudveil! Click on their banners, find their contact link and leave them a message about how wise it was for them to advertise here at the penultimate backcountry skier’s blog.

Randomeo is up to good stuff over on his website as well. I laughed reading Steve’s prose about a recent road trip that included a stop for mystery burgers at some choke-and-puke he and a buddy picked at random. I guess the idea was you ate with a fork in one hand and fly swatter in the other. Apparently Rando needs a Probar sponsorship — my guess is he probably went to work on that after getting his stomach pumped. As they say, LOL.

Maps for a website guidebook.
Maps for an online backcountry skiing guidebook.

Back to WildSnow… I’ve been working on my carpel tunnel syndrome producing a map tileset for a new guidebook website I’ll be going public with shortly. Amazing what computers can do these days. Back when I built the map sets for my Fourteener Guides, it took me several days of work to make a decent annotated digital topo map. It’s still a time consuming process, but I’ve got it down to about 1/4 of that. But no free lunch — 25 maps takes some time, not to mention the hours taken building a whole website. I hope people find it useful. More about that soon when I do the public launch.

Have a great weekend folks!


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


8 Responses to “Backcountry Skiing News Roundup”

  1. Joel September 28th, 2007 3:42 pm

    regarding the CB snodgrass expansion: from what I understand they want to throw lifts on the south-east facing, low angle terrain. the good skiing on snodgrass is on the north-east facing, steep, cold side of the hill. I guess their logic is that this will bring in some more of the family crowd, which it may in fact do. It’s going to require lots of snow making. For us bc folk, it may present an access issue, but I’m not certain at all of the access issue. As long as access isn’t a problem, I’ve got no problem with it.

  2. Halsted September 28th, 2007 4:13 pm

    I knew that Tap was still around and living in New Mexico. From the photo he’s hardly aged…

    Tap was my gym and shop teacher in Jr. Highschool. He was the guy that got me started into backpacking and rock climbing. He is such a good teacher.

    Thanks for sharing that article Lou.


  3. Jason Hendrickson September 28th, 2007 8:13 pm

    Sooo…K2 Telemark advertising on Wildsnow is a good move? I dunno, Lou. I’m kinda tempted to send them a few of your archived blog posts. :D. Congratulations, man.

  4. steve September 29th, 2007 1:13 pm

    Sup Lou!

    Fun times in Idaho…sand skiing that is.

    I had that dilema with K2 as well Jason. So I bid HIGH!!

  5. Lou September 29th, 2007 1:16 pm

    He he, Jason, just shows you how long I’ve been in business! Things change…

  6. jeff troyer October 1st, 2007 8:41 am


    Just a few comments from across the range here in cb about the snodgrass issue. You are correct in the fact that many people could care less about the “foibles of private business” but what you say just before this stands on its own. WHY TAKE AWAY PUBLIC LANDS IF THE RESORT DOESN’T NEED IT. There are also issues with the amount of snowmaking it would take to keep south facing slopes covered in “snow” and the geologic stability of the slopes in question.

    Understand that the snodgrass debate has resurfaced in a time when the possibility of losing Mount Emmons “Red Lady Bowl” to The Lucky Jack Mine is a real possibility. That could potentially mean losing access to two significant backcountry areas at a time when backcountry skiing is at an all time high and resort skiing has been stagnent for many years.

    Thanks for covering this issue in your blog. It is good to see media covering both sides of an issue, something done far to little in this day and age.


  7. Chris October 16th, 2007 7:33 pm

    Hey Lou –

    Regarding the digital topo map project, I am wondering if you ever investigated using Google Earth for such a task. With a bit of sorcery you can easily overlay a USGS topo directly on a Google Earth image. If you haven’t looked at this already, you might find this link useful :

    Any opinions you have on this would be greatly appreciated as I have thought of doing something like this myself to document my forays in the BC, and I am wondering how viable this approach would be. Either way, It would seem that having a set of waypoints for your annotations that I could download directly to my GPS unit would be super useful.


  8. Lou October 17th, 2007 7:01 am

    Hi Chris, I’m working on all that so thanks for the link.. At this time I’ve not combined the Google maps with the topos, but rather have them as separate maps, both showing on the website pages. Also working on providing GPS tracks and waypoints. The whole thing will evolve this winter.

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