I’ve been busier than a guy stripping skins during a rando race. Our new web hosting seems to have settled down, but questions have come up about it being robust enough to handle our mid-winter traffic. Getting our web hosting to work for for anticipated traffic involves a bunch of back-end tweaks for more efficiency — work that gets in the way of just sitting here blogging like I’m supposed to be doing.
Or I could pay someone manage our back office tech stuff and use up our advertising revenue for someone else’s paycheck. We’re in a funny place. Just large enough to have problems with server volume, but not large enough for the kind of ad revenue we need to compensate for expensive hosting. I guess it’s growing pains. To make it work I’ve got to keep going after the advertising. Apologies if the site is cluttered up as a result. Sometime before winter we’ll do a redesign for a cleaner look. And lets have a hand for the advertisers who are helping out! Click their banners to let them know you appreciate.
Meanwhile, some news items were worth a few keyboard strikes.
Whatever your opinion of animals vs people, you have to admit it’s interesting tracking the issue. This little tempest near San Diego, CA involves humans and toads. As we’re getting all to used to, the question is whether a few miles of road are that big a deal. At least the toads actually may be sensitive to such things. That’s better than prohibiting human recreation use due to the presence of tough populous (and sometime over populated) species such as elk, as happens all too often here in Colorado.
How about backcountry skiing news? I just got off the phone with Craig Dostie (former publisher of Couloir Mag). He’s working on an avy science article for Backcountry Magazine, and trying to get a sense of why this past season was our highest in avalanche deaths in a while, with a whopping 52 fatalities for North America. That’s our highest North American death count since winter of 2002-2003 (58 deaths), and one of our worst winters ever considering the numbers are significantly below that during many winters.
Craig asked me what I thought about this. Mostly, I noticed an obvious increase in the number of backcountry skiers last season. Our website traffic grew about 10%, and I saw quite a few more people out in the wild enjoying themselves. Thus, increased accidents could be a simple function of more people = more misfortune, with no net increase per capita.
Nonetheless, I believe I’ve noticed a trend of people being slightly less cautious (perhaps because of the numbers, packed skintracks, etc.), and this could be a factor as well. A good example of this would be an accident near Vail that involved a group deciding to ski known avalanche chutes during an unstable period, and unfortunately reaping the consequences.
More, one has to wonder if with increased numbers some of the new people lack experience. I’ll take no wild guess about that being a factor, and hope Craig can get a sense of it after taking the time to really dig into the stats. So look for his article in Backcountry Mag this winter. Should be good.
What do you guys think? Do we have more serious avy accidents simply because we’ve got more people? Or is there something else going on?
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.