In a Rocky Mountain News article today, Joanne Kelley writes about how terrain park skiers in Colorado are beginning to lift their eyes, throw off their hoods, and look up at the other 99.99 percent of the ski mountain.
“Younger generations of skiers and snowboarders who built their skills in the daredevil environment of terrain parks have been driving a trend among Colorado resorts to introduce more challenging runs,” writes Kelley. “This season, at least six ski areas across the state will either expand their expert terrain or open new high-speed chairlifts that take visitors to places previously accessible only by hiking. In a fiercely competitive market, they see opportunity in catering to a new breed of experts ready for new challenges.”
Terrain parks are okay (so long as my son doesn’t break his neck in one), but moving out of the parks on to the whole mountain is a laudable trend. Anyone who loves skiing likes to see other skiers enjoying the whole experience — not limiting themselves to one arena.
More, when watching the ski media it appears that moving out of the ski resorts into real backcountry is also a continuing trend. My hope is that growth in backcountry skiing would drive a trend to more and better backcountry access. On the downside, more backcountry skiers could also cause more government regulation of our sport. As always, interesting to watch.
Department of backcountry skiing education:
Last night’s backcountry skiing safety seminar in Aspen was a worthwhile two hours. All four of our ski mountains presented their backcountry access policies (as always, amazingly friendly and liberal), and Brian McCall of our new Roaring Fork Avalanche Center gave a debut presentation. It’ll be interesting watching a new Avalanche Center gestate — I’ll be blogging that all winter.
This particular seminar has been somewhat dry over the years, with Forest Service folks droning on and on about avy whatnot. It appears they’re trying to do a better job. Last night’s presentations were short and crisp, a keg of ale set the tone, pizza kept the young folk’s blood sugar up, and the setting in one of Aspen’s top hotels yielded an amusing “gypsies in the palace” ethos. More, a video of gigantic avalanches set to music topped off the festivities. If you’re in this area, try to show up next year.
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.