Somewhere it is snowing. Somewhere, someone is backcountry skiing. Therefore, we will present.
First things: You guys wouldn’t believe how much time I’ve been spending on IT work behind the scene. Our beloved internet has changed, folks. It is more than ever the virtual playground for literally millions of criminals who are out to exploit websites in hundreds of different ways. Nothing is immune. Most “consumer” grade software such as the WordPress blogging lashup used by us and about 75 million (not a typo) other websites is in particularly heinous shape when it comes to security. Result, website owners and managers get to spend literally days defending themselves.
At least the cyberwar doesn’t involve guns — but the stress can get so high it as well might. The question, would it be easier to wield a Glock than my brain? Perhaps both? Open for answers.
A big shakeup in employees happened at Black Diamond a few months ago. The layoffs seemed too B-to-B for me to report on back then. But it is worth relating they did let go a bunch of people including Thomas Laakso, the brain who spearheaded the Black Diamond Ski Brand for the past decade. We always liked Laakso, he’s a guy who can engineer stuff for real-world use, while fulfilling roles as diverse as PR and training.
What the Black Diamond changes have wrought for consumers is an open question. In their financial Q1 earnings conference call after, it was related that they’ll be concentrating on their clothing line and some of their more financially rewarding segments (e.g. the POC brand). I couldn’t get much of a read on what will happen with the ski line, other than the obvious notion that changes won’t be too quick and drastic. In my opinion, this is because retailer orders have already been taken and will be filled. What’s on the menu at this summer and coming winter trade shows will probably tell the rest of the story.
According to CEO Peter Metcalf during the earnings call: “…For spring 2014, you will see a very meaningful reduction in the number of SKUs in the Black Diamond gear and equipment line. It will be a very substantial reduction, and we’ll give that number out at our next call, what that is, and when you see at the trade shows, you’ll know…looking at the numbers, we understand that we love product and our teams have allowed us to get too much product and it just doesn’t pay back on itself…we are looking at potentially getting out of, and we’ll announce this I think by the next earnings call, of potentially getting out of a category or 2 that isn’t meaningful to us from a profitability standpoint or a brand standpoint.”
Thus, dear readers, one has to wonder if the somewhat complex variety of BD skis will be simplified, and if their ski boot lineup is slated for something major? Rumors abound, of course. As mature bloggers we will not succumb to link baiting, but speculation in our comments is fair and welcome. Mainly, let’s hope they keep innovating on the carbonized ski side of the equation, as that Carbon Convert is indeed a player.
At any rate, back to Laakso. We wondered where a talented guy like him would end up. A few weeks ago he popped up over at Avatech, the snow safety startup whose website tells you absolutely nothing about what they really do. Perhaps Thomas can help upgrade their site. In the meantime, I’m here to say that yes Avatach is basically a brain trust, and yes they’ve got some good avalanche safety ideas. For example, what appears to be their lead project is development of a mechanical/electronic sensor that can read the snowpack as if you were to dig a snow pit profile. More, they’re focused on any sort of innovative snow-safety ideas they can come up with, especially involving data and the sharing thereof. More here.
Indeed we do have readers living in South America. WildSnow contributors may be down there soon as well so perhaps we’ll have blog posts such as last year. Sounds like Chile is getting a nice series of dumps that may result in a good spring. More here.
Another shout out to Kilian Jornet. His Denali speed climb was amazing, then he set a course record at the Hardrock 100 ultra marathon just a few days ago. According to this article, he checked out the course by ski touring on it last winter and also prepped by living in a high altitude “dry” cabin above Silverton. We like his style. Kilian is like the bighorn sheep ram they use for the Hardrock logo; a man comfortable with high altitude, making it all look easy as he prances over rock, ice and snow. Perhaps he’ll come and hang out at WildSnow field HQ if he’s got something to do over here in this part of Colorado? Kilian, you’re always on the guest list.
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.