Did a book signing yesterday at the Colorado Ski Museum in Vail. As always, incredibly fun to chat with all you backcountry folk who showed up. The variety of people interested in backcountry skiing always amazes me. A young man from Italy sounded experienced, but was having trouble meeting locals. Another kid from Slovakia also sounded super experienced, but was looking for places to go. Then there was the TV producer from New York state, sounded like he had a heart for adventure. I had a long conversation with a guy about how to access the goods up in Yule Creek, between Marble and Crested Butte. He said he might spend a month exploring up there this spring. Hey, leave some corn for the rest of us! The avalanche stories also flew thick and fast. Craig, 3 times is a charm, let’s not see a fourth. And least I forget, always fun to chat with Davey (why don’t I get to ski as much as him?) Thanks goes to everyone for showing up!
Also interesting to hear about the Vail area’s thick and relatively solid snowpack. Sounds like the backcountry skiing lines east of Vail are getting tons of traffic.
In Colorado, more backcountry skier traffic is frequently a welcome trend in avalanche safety, as skier compaction can sometimes keep avalanche slopes safer. Sound like that’s happening on some of the Vail backcountry skiing lines. Of course it’s tough to know how much influence skier compaction really has on a slope. Digging pits can help tell the tale, but knowing the history of the run is probably more important. Has it slid yet this season? Has it been tracked out after every storm? Is there still a loose sugar snow layer next to the ground? Does the slope usually avalanche several times a winter, or has it always slid infrequently?
Whatever the case, please, everyone ski those lines one-at-a-time. Recent avalanche accidents involving more than one person on a slope are disconcerting — to say the least.
In avalanche news: Yet another inbounds avalanche at a ski resort, this time at Fernie in Canada. I’m seeing a disturbing trend here, is anyone else?
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.