As many of you know, it’s been as dry as an overcooked pancake here in the west. But it is FINALLY storming today in Colorado. So perhaps this will be a repeat of last year, when the heavens held off till we cried, then dumped a record snowpack? I just got a phone call from Jordan White, who’s up skiing “6 inches of powder” on Aspen Mountain. Of course, in the same phone call he was asking if he could borrow my base grinder. Oh well, some snow is better than no snow, eh?
This just in from the beef boot wars: Black Diamond has distributed and sold all remaining warehouse stock in the Factor boot. Thus, what retailers have is the last of this year’s production run. If you’ve got your heart set on the Factor, time for strategery. Wait till a sale, but your size might be gone by then? Or get ’em now?
Meanwhile, if you do find your chosen Dynafit compatible beef boot has been snapped up like the best brownies at a school bakesale, remember that virtually all the heavy duty AT boots on the market are tasty. If you need something super stiff and Dynafit compatible, Dynafit ZZeus is definitely an option that our comparisons show easily equals the Factor in rigidity. Other options we feel fit the bill are Scarpa Skookum, Garmont Radium, and the Black Diamond Method.
Uh oh, check this out. Dirtbags are less likely to die in avalanches. Yet another in a long line of neuron scorching statistical avalanche studies shows that the male backcountry skier, 25 to 29 years old, with a college degree and above average income is more likely to die in a slide.
On the enviro rant and land use issues front: White River National Forest here in Colorado is getting near to finalizing their Travel Management Plan. They’re accepting public comments till the 6th of January.
In my opinion the USFS public comments system is a form of mob rule. They take the comments seriously, so whatever group has an umbrella organization that pushes for letter writing tends to have more say, as do individuals who have the leisure time to write letters — or are confident enough in their own literacy to do so (letters and authors become part of the public record).
What’s more, regarding the anti-access Scrooge, I noticed government entities are even adding to the comment pool. Specifically, if you dig through the comments you’ll find one from Pitkin County recommending closure of a paved public road (upper Independence Pass) to winter snowmobile use! Those pols need to go jump in a lake. Pitkin County has a land grabbing industrial skiing complex second to none, along with an airport that’s a major source of pollution for the region — and they want to close a popular road to snowmobile use? Their reasoning is that it would prevent “Wilderness trespass.” Well, how about closing the airport to prevent pollution? Or closing Snowmass ski resort because it borders on Wilderness?
At any rate, we all might as well join the mob. Any one should comment if possible, even from out-of-state (and if you have a Travel Management Plan in development near you, remember to send in your comments for that as well). For White River, Colorado, you can send a comment letter to:
WRNF Travel Management Plan and SEIS
172 E 500 S
Bountiful, UT 84010
Or email to email@example.com
Important: Key to writing comments is to cover one specific road or trail, and keep the variety of issues to a minimum. This is tougher than just writing things like “keep all roads open.” But it’s essential. You can study the documents and look for something annoying, or just pick your favorite road or trail and write a support letter. Remember your letter and name become part of public record, so don’t write a rant you’ll regret later. Even if the route you pick is not slated for closure, a support letter will become part of the record and have influence on possible changes to the plan or future decisions. Following is an example of a letter I’ll email today:
To: White River National Forest Travel Management Plan
Document commented on: Travel Management Plan & EIS
Regarding: Montezuma Basin Road snowmobile use
From: Louis Dawson, address, phone
To whom it may concern, I’m writing to support continued management of Montezuma Basin Road as open to all vehicles, all seasons. I would like this road to remain open for all vehicle traffic to the traditional upper parking area near the base of the permanent snowfield and pond. I would like the road remain open to snowmobiles during snow seasons. Montezuma road is a historical amenity and resource that’s been in use for mechanized transport for more than a century. It’s a traditional motorized access route for backcountry recreation, and unique in that it allows motorized access to summer skiing on a permanent snowfield, as well as close access to climbing 14er Castle Peak for individuals less physically adept than those capable of longer hikes and climbs. More, I encourage the USFS to improve the parking area at road end, but to cease all but minimum upkeep and grading on the road so it remains a rough 4-wheel-drive recreation amenity as is its historic and traditional state. Fact is, motorized recreation of all forms is the fastest growing and one of the largest forms of recreation on White River National Forest, and roads such as Montezuma Basin Road are essential resources for motorized recreation as well as backcountry access.
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.