It’s a debate as timeless as the pyramids. Ok to share the local stashes with outsiders? Or have you somehow through your own scoring system qualified yourself as a “local,” and you strongly dislike (or in private, hate) “outsiders” enjoying your “backyard” ski touring?
Rather than being extremists, most of us probably practice a mix of NIMBY (not in my backyard) and generosity. We’re generous with friends, and don’t get too uptight when we see strangers. But we might not chat those guys driving a rig decorated with out-of-state plates — and back home we might grumble to our mate about those “people from fill-in-the-blank, don’t they have any other place to ski?”.
Others get downright venomous about everything from guidebook writers to altruistic individuals happily sharing local stashes with their out-of-town friends.
I’ve never been comfortable with NIMBYism (though I’m sure I’ve dabbled in it myself over the years, especially as a youngster). I don’t like it when individuals somehow reward themselves their own exclusive rights to a public backcountry area, and try taking moral high ground while directing what is essentially hate speech at outsiders, guidebook writers, and perhaps just about anyone who’s not the royal “we.”
Our ski mountaineering culture clearly exalts the ethic of people going out and by their own sweat and volition reaping the rewards of backcountry fun. Similarly, our charitable ethic in theory says something like “if you have a lot of something good, share it.” Further, our economic system says if you can make your living sharing or otherwise facilitating enjoyable recreation (guide, publisher, whatever), then have at it.
A backcountry user practicing in this ethical framework might not be enthusiastic about newcomers on their favorite route, but they’ll agree that basic concepts of equality and justice dictate that the strangers have as much right to the powder as anyone.
In other words, if someone, somehow finds out about your stash and makes an effort to get it, they deserve it just as much as you do. Operate that way and you’re not a NIMBY. Otherwise, perhaps you are? And is that ok?
Reading on the web revealed a vast variety of writing about NIMBY, much having to do with housing issues. One article that resonated for me is The Ethics of NIMBYism, by Debra Stein. I have no idea who Stein is, but she’s a good writer and presents a well ordered progression of views about NIMBY related to affordable housing (another issue dear to our hearts).
Your views, dear readers? Summer discussion fun?
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.